Baker Street, by Nicolas Barral
'Baker Street'.

Nicolas Barral is a French comic book artist, who works both in the realistic as well as the humorous drawing style. Many of his comics deal with detective stories, though with an ironic edge. Together with Pierre Veys he made several parody comics, among them the 'Sherlock Holmes' pastiche 'Baker Street' (1999-2008) and 'Les Aventures de Philip et Francis' (2005), which spoofs Edgar P. Jacobs' 'Blake and Mortimer'. Barral is furthermore notable as the third artist to continue the 'Nestor Burma' comics series by Jacques Tardi, based on the eponymous detective novels by Léo Mallet.

Early life and career
He was born in 1966 in Paris, where he received his high school diploma with a focus on philosophy and mathematics. He studied Plastic Arts for one year, and then enrolled at the School of Fine Arts in Angoulême, where one of his teachers was Robert Gigi. He began his professional career in the teenager's magazine OK Podium, illustrating the serial 'Hélène et les garçons' for three years. The stories were written by Laurent Duvault, while Hugues Labiano helped with the inking of some pages. As he took part in a contest for young talent, his work was noted by editor Jean-Christophe Delpierre, who asked him to join the team of the humor magazine Fluide Glacial. He created the character of 'Ernest Mafflu' with Stéphane Couston, who appeared irregularly in short stories between 1994 and 1997. His main influences at the time were Daniel Goossens, Albert Uderzo and Morris.

Les Ailes de Plomb by Nicolas Barral
'Les Ailes de Plomb'.

Les Ailes de Plomb
He made his album debut with the 1950s detective/espionage series 'Les Ailes de Plomb' in cooperation with scriptwriter Christophe Gibelin, whom he knew from the Angoulême atelier. The first album inaugurated Delcourt's Sang-froid collection in 1996, together with 'Le Pouvoir des Innocents' by Laurent Hirn and Luc Brunschwig. Barral drew two more books of the series until 2000, after which Gibelin resumed the series as both artist and writer in 2006.

Pierre Veys' parody comics
By then, Barral had begun a collaboration with scriptwriter Pierre Veys, with whom he shares an avid passion for British humor. Their first collaboration was 'Baker Street', a humorous take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's master detective 'Sherlock Holmes'. Five books were published by Delcourt between 1999 and 2008, and the French Sherlock Holmes Society even awarded them a prize for their work. The gentlemen's next collaboration was another parody, this time spoofing the classic Belgian adventure comic 'Blake & Mortimer' by Edgar P. Jacobs, which has been published by Dargaud since 2005. Since 'Blake and Mortimer' has always been deadly serious it was an irresistible target.  The title, 'Les Aventures de Philip et Francis', refers indirectly to the main protagonists' first names.

Philip & Francis by Nicolas Barral
'Les Aventures de Philip et Francis'.

Work with Tonino Benacquista
He additionally associated himself with French fiction writer Tonino Benacquista for 'Dieu n'a pas réponse à tout' (Dargaud, 2007-2008), a humor series starring none other than God himself. The title means "God doesn't have an answer to everything" and the series chronicles all the everyday problems the Almighty has to deal with. Barral and Benacquista worked together again in 2014 for 'Les Cobayes', a psychological thriller about the pharmaceutical industry. Their third collaboration, 'Le Guide Mondial des Records' (2017), starred a validator of world records. Although the book contains humor and irony, the tragedy lies in the characters who are in desperate need of recognition and are willing to alienate everyone around them for a bit of fame.

Mon Pépé est un Fantôme
Barral served as scriptwriter for the children's humor series 'Mon pépé est un fantôme', which was drawn by Olivier TaDuc and published by Dupuis between 2008 and 2011.

Nestor Burma
Nicolas Barral is also an admirer of the French comics author Jacques Tardi. He got the opportunity to succeed Emmanuel Moynot as the writer and artist of Tardi's series of comic adaptations of Léo Mallet's novels about cynical private investigator 'Nestor Burma' for Casterman in 2013.


'Nestor Burma'.

Series and books by Nicolas Barral in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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