La retour de la colonne Durutti
'La retour de la colonne Durutti'.

André Bertrand was a mid-20th century French activist who made a four-page socially conscious comic strip 'La Retour de la Colonne Durutti' (1966), which was distributed as a pamphlet at the University of Strasbourg and later became more widespread during the student demonstrations of May 1968. Virtually nothing is known about the identity of this mysterious artist. 

La Retour de la Colonne Durutti
During the mid-1960s Bertrand worked with student activists in Strasbourg, and must have been a follower of the Situationist International movement. His 4-page comic strip, 'La retour de la colonne Durutti' ('The return of the Durutti Column', 1966), was handed out at Strasbourg University on 26 October 1966 during a student protest at the opening the school year, and was a companion piece to Mustapha Khayati's pamphlet 'On the Poverty of Student Life'. It later became a standard amongst the student masses who revolted in May 1968 in Paris and elsewhere. The Durutti Column referred to the anarchist military unit established during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). In Bertrand's comic, existing powers were under attack and leftist student protest was worded. It was made with the "détournement" technique. This was a process of using and contorting images, often well-known drawings and pictures, by adding text balloons and inventing completely new graphic stories around them.

La retour de la colonne Durutti by André Bertrand
'La retour de la colonne Durutti'.

Cultural impact
In 1978 an anarchist punk band, The Durutti Column, used the frame with the two cowboys in the comic strip for their debut album 'The return of the Durutti Column' (1980), named after Bertrand's comic. The used the same image on promotional flyers. 

British appearance
In 1967 or 1968, André Bertrand most likely made another titleless comic strip, which dealt with the philosophy of the Belgian writer Raoul Vaneigem that the "only free choice is the refusal to pay". Instead of photo collages, Bertrand traced photographs to create photo-realistic drawings. To heighten the socialist-anarchist revolutionary spirit he used a lot of red. The comic was also translated in English and appeared on the cover of the International Times, aka It Magazine, in the period 16-29 February 1968. However, the editors accidentally misspelled his name as "André Bertram". The presumably original French publication is unknown.


The comic strip on the front page of The International Times, by "André Bertram".

Read the 4-page Durutti Column comic online

Series and books by André Bertrand in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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