Pierre Christin, portrayed by Philippe Aymond for the autobiographical graphic novel 'Est-Ouest' (2018).

Pierre Christin is a French scriptwriter, novelist and journalist. His comics, novels and plays are characterized by their social, cultural and political engagement, feminism and left-wing humanist orientation. He is best-known as co-creator of the groundbreaking science fiction comic series 'Valérian & Laureline' (1967-2010), together with his childhood friend Jean-Claude Mézières. The comic innovated the genre through Christin's intellectual writing and Mézières's visionary artwork. Christin gives grim sociological visions in his contemporary graphic novels with Enki Bilal, collected in the 'Légendes d'Aujourd'hui' (1975-1977) and 'Fins de siècle' (1979-1983) series. His collaborations with Annie Goetzinger are on the other hand character-driven portraits of strong, independent women. Among the other comic artists with whom Christin has collaborated are Jacques Tardi, Philippe Aymond, François Boucq, André Juillard, Patrick Lesueur and Jean Vern.

Early life and influences
Pierre Christin was born in 1938 in Saint-Mandé, a commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris. The foundations of the lifelong friendship between Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières were laid in 1943-1944, when the two met as kids in one of the Saint-Mandé air-raid shelters. Unaware of the danger, the boys had fun playing together. They picked up their friendship as teenagers, and were joined by another future comic artist, Jean Giraud. While Mézières and Giraud shared a passion for drawing and comics, Christin's interests lay with politics, literature and sociology. He was also fascinated by jazz music, popular cinema and the American way of life. With Mézières, he made an ill-fated attempt at making an animated western movie. The project stranded with only 45 seconds being finished. However, Christin's initial ambitions tilted towards intellectual studies rather than a creative direction. He attended the Paris Institute of Political Studies and the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he obtained a PhD with his thesis 'Le Fait Divers, Littérature du Pauvre' ("Man-bites-dog Journalism, the Poor Man's Literature").

Traveling teacher
After his studies, Christin became a professor of French literature at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. It was the first of many sojourns abroad. Throughout his life, he remained an avid traveler, visiting the United States, the Eastern Bloc countries, Cuba and the Middle East for different lengths of time on research trips. Later in life, his impressions and experiences formed the basis for the illustrated memoires series 'Les Correspondances de Pierre Christin' (1997-2002), featuring memories, photos, fictional and non-fictional texts, illustrated by his artist friends.

During his 1960s stay in the United States, he was joined by Jean-Claude Mézières, who explored the country on an extended hitchhiking journey. Penniless, he crashed at Christin's home in Salt Lake City, where the two rekindled their friendship once again. Together with producer S. Holbrook, they made a 16mm film called 'Ghetto' in commission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which denounced the segregation of the black community by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. By the late 1960s, Christin returned to France, where he continued his teaching career at the University of Bordeaux. He also joined a group of university friends in setting up a new journalism institute in the center of Bordeaux, known nowadays as the IJBA - Journalism Institute of Bordeaux Aquitaine. He ran the school for several years, and remained an associate for many more.

'Le Rhum du Punch', first collaborative comic by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières (Pilote #335, 1966).

Pilote magazine
In the meantime, Pierre Christin had begun a separate but not less fruitful career as a scriptwriter. His venture into comics was completely coincidental. While still in Utah, he scripted two short comic stories for Mézières. The first was 'Le Rhum du Punch' (1966), a MAD-style spoof on the rum trafficking between the American colonies and the West Indies. It was followed by 'Comment réussir en affaires en se donnant un mal fou' (“How to succeed in business by going to great lengths”, 1966), another humor feature. The two friends sold them to Pilote magazine in France, so that Mézières could buy his plane ticket back home. When Christin returned to France as well, he continued to write short comic stories for Pilote magazine, most of them illustrated by Mézières. In addition, Christin and Mézières oversaw the final version of Total Journal (1966-1968), a promotional comic magazine for Total petrol stations, published by Benoît Gillain's P.E.G. imprint. They brought along several Pilote artists to fill its pages, including Claire Bretécher, Gotlib and Nikita Mandryka.

In this early stage of his career in comics, he used the pen name Linus, based on the character from Charles Schulz's 'Peanuts' comics, although he later admitted he was not fully acquainted with the comic itself. In general, Christin had no background in comics, so his main influences lay mostly in literature, sociology and ethnology.

Valérian & Laureline
After these early projects, Christin and Mézières were ready to try something more enduring. They initially wanted to do a western, but the genre was already well represented in Pilote magazine. Always open for innovation, editor-in-chief René Goscinny then greenlighted their switch to science fiction. The authors wanted to deviate from the traditional sci-fi adventure comics that mostly featured repetitive good-versus-evil plots. Instead, they took inspiration from sci-fi novelists like H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, Jack Vance and Isaac Asimov, as well as the fantasy elements from E.P. Jacobs' 'Blake et Mortimer' comics. Christin envisioned a more solid futuristic approach, with room for philosophy and political references. In one of the volumes of the 'Valerian & Laureline Complete Collection', he later explained: "In sci-fi there are two major schools. The first is pessimistic. It's based on the threat of nuclear war, on the fear of cataclysms, or on the globalization of evil and misery. On the contrary, the second school believes in rationalism and a bright future. It postulates that man will always be there. Valerian stands halfway between these two schools."

Still signing with Mézi & Linus, the authors' debut episode 'Valérian contre les Mauvais Rêves' ('Valerian against the Bad Dreams') took off in Pilote issue #420 of 9 November 1967. The album series was launched by Éditions Dargaud in 1970. The 'Valérian' adventures are set in a distant future, when most of mankind is in a permanent virtual-reality dream state, programmed by the so-called "dream service". Only the Technocrats of the First Circle and a handful of spatio-temporal agents are still in active duty. Valérian is one of those agents, loyally devoted to Galaxity, the Earth's capital and the center of the Terran Galactic Empire. Coming from the 28th century, he travels through time and space to protect the empire's interests. In the debut story, he follows a rogue dream programmer to 11th-century France. During his adventure, Valérian is saved by the peasant girl Laureline, who by accident discovers he is from the future. To protect his cover, Valérian has to take Laureline with him to Galaxity. By accident - the authors initially didn't envision such a long-term comic book series - a unique duo was born. Also signing up with the spatio-temporal service, Laureline took the lead in many subsequent stories. Ever since the success of Jean-Claude Forest's sexy space heroine 'Barbarella' (1962-1964), the road had been paved for strong female characters. However, Laureline was far more than mere eye candy.

Valérian - themes
The key element in Christin and Mézières's stories is the relationship between Valérian and Laureline; initially platonic, later also romantic. More importantly, their constant personality clashes make them one of the most authentic comic duos of their time. The authors took a powerful feminist stance by making Laureline the true hero of the series. As the more sensitive and intuitive, she is the voice of reason as opposed to the stubborn and uptight Valérian, who follows every order Galaxity gives him. Not coming from the same background and century as Valérian, Laureline doesn't share his blind loyalty to Galaxity and its imperialist politics. She often rebels against her superiors and reprimands Valérian for his by-the-book compliance. Valérian is basically an anti-hero; the complete opposite of muscled space heroes like 'Flash Gordon'. With these strong but flawed characters, Christin and Mézières added a sense of plausible realism to their highly imaginative fantasy adventures. In addition, putting focus on a young male/female duo was groundbreaking. At the time, most comic book heroines were either sweet young girls or feisty old tarts. It however took until the 20th album and the subsequent reprints before Laureline's name was added to the official series title. Before that, the books appeared under the banner 'Valérian - Agent Spatio-temporel'.

In their second and third adventure, 'La Cité des Eaux Mouvantes' ('The City of Shifting Waters', 1968) and 'Terre en Flammes' ('Earth In Flames', 1968), Valérian and Laureline visit the post-apocalyptic New York City of 1986. For 28th-century Valérian a date in the faraway past, for the 1968 reader years ahead in the future. In the comic's chronology, a nuclear disaster caused an enormous tidal wave, ending the world and laying the foundations for mankind's conquest of the galaxy. In the following seven episodes, the 'Valérian' comic grew to its full potential, with the two heroes visiting faraway worlds on behalf of Galaxity. Every planet exposed Valérian and Laureline to new civilizations and lifeforms, meticulously visualized by Mézières. Christin used these fictional worlds as allegories for Western imperialism, feminism and the conflict between ecology and industry.

In both 'L'Empire des Mille Planètes' ('Empire of a Thousand Planets', 1969-1970) and 'Les Oiseaux du Maître' ('Birds of the Master', 1973), populations have to unite to overthrow totalitarian regimes. 'Le Pays Sans Étoile' ('World Without Stars', 1970-1971) illustrates the meaninglessness of war through a literal battle of the sexes. According to Christin's left-wing humanitarian ideas, solutions are found by exploring, learning and communicating. Instead of defeating the enemy, reaching mutual understanding is the ultimate goal. Galaxity's own questionable politics are the subject of two standout episodes. In 'Bienvenue sur Alflolol' ('Welcome to Alflolol', 1971-1972), the peaceful Alflololians return to their home planet, only to find it transformed into Earth's industrial colony Technorog. The loyal Valérian and the rebellious Laureline have to find a way to enable the natives and the colonists to live together in harmony. In 'L'Ambassadeur des Ombres' ('Ambassador of the Shadows', 1975), Valérian and Laureline accompany an Earth ambassador to an intergalactic United Nations of different space races. The dominant position Galaxity takes is a clear reference to the western world's role in global politics.

Valérian - new story arcs
By the late 1970s and early 1980s, the 'Star Wars' movie series by George Lucas dominated global pop culture. The authors noted that the films shared much of their imagery with the 'Valérian' books: giant floating spaceships, organic designs of sci-fi cities and buildings and a unique depiction of "incidental aliens". It was one of the reasons why the authors decided to return to Earth-based episodes. The other one was their tight deadline. In the series' outset, life on Earth as we know it was destroyed by nuclear disaster in 1986. With that year growing closer, the authors had to reconcile the real-life 1986 with the fictional one. In their next four-volume story arc, tackled in the albums 'Métro Châtelet, Direction Cassiopeia' (1980) through 'Les Foudres d'Hypsis' ('The Wrath of Hypsis', 1985), Valérian and Laureline team up with several allies to investigate strange supernatural manifestations on Earth. In the final episode, they prevent the Earth from destruction, which results in a time paradox and the disappearance of Galaxity from space time. In the next episodes, referred to in English as the 'New Future Trilogy' (1988-1994), Valérian and Laureline are space and time wanderers for hire as freelance trouble-shooters. The later installments were characterized by longer, multi-episode storylines, but also by longer interludes between album publications. Growing older, the authors decided to round up their saga and end it with a bang. The final trilogy was named 'In Search of the Lost Earth' (2004-2010) and showed Valérian and Laureline investigating the disappearance of Earth. The 21st and final album, 'L'Ouvre Temps' ('The Time Opener', 2010) brought back many characters and settings from the previous episodes. It concluded the official series with a surprise ending, with Valérian and Laureline starting a completely new life.

Valerian - success
During their 43 years working on 'Valérian', Jean-Claude Mézières and Pierre Christin created one of the most emblematic comic book series of all time. In addition to the comic albums, the two men compiled an encyclopedia with all the alien creatures found in their 'Valérian' books: 'Les Habitants du Ciel: Atlas Cosmique de Valérian et Laureline' ('The Inhabitants of the Sky: The Cosmic Atlas of Valerian and Laureline'). It received a special mention by the jury at the 1992 Angoulême International Comic Festival in the Youth Prize 9–12 years category. A supplemented reprint edition was released in 2000. Between 2007 and 2012, Dargaud compiled the full series in seven large volumes. In 2018, Hachette re-released the individual books in a boxed set. 'Valerian and Laureline' has been translated in English, German ('Valerian und Veronique'), Dutch ('Ravian en Laureline'), the Scandinavian languages ('Linda og/och Valentin'), Finnish ('Valerian ja Laureline'), Spanish ('Valérian y Laureline'), Portuguese ('Valérian, agente espácio-temporal'), Serbian ('Valerijan'), Italian ('Valérian e Laureline agenti spazio-temporali'), Turkish, Polish, Indonesian and Standard Chinese. 'Valérian' is one of the few French comics with considerable success in English-speaking countries. 'Ambassador of the Shadows' was the first story to appear in English, serialized in the USA in Heavy Metal magazine in 1981. During the 1980s, Dargaud divisions in the USA and Canada released several graphic novels in English, and in 2004 iBooks published 'Valérian: The New Future Trilogy'. The complete series was compiled by UK publisher Cinebook in individual books between 2010 and 2017. In 2017-2018, Cinebook also released the French "Intégrales" reprints under the title 'Valerian: The Complete Collection'.

Although the official 'Valérian' series has come to an end, new projects with the characters have been started. In the two albums 'Souvenirs de Futurs' ('Memories from the Futures', 2013) and 'L'Avenir est Avancé' ('The Future is Waiting', 2019), the Mézières-Christin duo presents post-scripts and "what if" variations to Valerian and Laureline's earlier adventures. Pierre Christin also wrote the youth novel 'Lininil a Disparu' ('Lininil Has Disappeared') with his characters, published by Mango Jeunesse with a cover illustration by Mézières. Under the banner 'Valérian vu par...', other comic creators were invited to give their personal take on the characters. The first was Manu Larcenet, with the homage graphic novel 'L'Armure du Jakolass' ('The Jakolass's Armor', 2011). Scriptwriter Wilfrid Lupano and artist Mathieu Lauffray followed with 'Shingouzlooz Inc.' (2017), a graphic novel focusing on the three Shingouz, bird-like creatures with snouts, specialized in trading important information. An animated series called 'Time Jam: Valerian & Laureline' (2007-2008) was made as a joint production between Éditions Dargaud, Luc Besson's EuropaCorp and the Japanese animation studio Satelight. Luc Besson then adapted the series into live-action motion picture, based on the comic book episode 'Ambassador of the Shadows'. 'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets' was released in July 2017, and starred Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline.

The second cover is a reference to Jean-François Millet's famous painting 'L'Angelus'.

Comic scriptwriter
With 'Valérian', the writer-professor Christin firmly established himself as one of the leading authors of the comic medium.He worked on many other productions outside of the sci-fi genre, although fantasy elements were never far away. Most of them shared the same humanist values as the 'Valérian' books, but the positivism of the 1970s gradually made place for the grimmer worldviews of the 1980s. What remained were Christin's loathing of war and totalitarian systems, the rejection of aggression, a love of freedom and individuals, compassion for the meek and distrust in the powers that be. Besides Mézières, Pierre Christin found a new collaborator in Jean Vern, with whom he shared an interest in music and utopian views. Between 1970 and 1977, they combined these sentiments in a series of Pop Art-inspired short stories for Pilote, as well as the serial 'Music Power contre Machine Gang' (1972). They were collected in book format by Dargaud under the titles 'En Douce le Bonheur' ("Happiness on the Sly", 1978) and 'Sixties Nostalgia' (Dargaud, 1983). The two men collaborated again on the one-shot comics 'La Maison du Temps qui Passe' ("The House of Passing Time", Dargaud, 1985, first serialized in Charlie Mensuel), 'Le Mycologue et le Caïman' ("The Mycologist and the Cayman", Dargaud, 1989) and the British detective comedy 'Morts sous la Tamise' ("Death under the Thames", Dargaud, 1993). Between 1976 and 1978, Pilote additionally ran short stories about environmentalism, made by Christin with the artist Patrick Lesueur. They were later collected in the album 'En Attendant le Printemps' ("Waiting for Springtime", Dargaud, 1978).

Légendes d'Aujourd'hui
'Rumeurs sur le Rouergue' ("Rumors in Rouerque country", 1972) was Christin's first contemporary comic with strong political motives. Drawn by Jacques Tardi and serialized in Pilote in 1972, it dealt with the coming of multinationals and the foretold end of the traditional world. Tardi didn't really enjoy drawing the story, and afterwards turned to making his own comics, set in the Belle Epoque. Still, 'Rouergue' is considered a forerunner to the socio-political graphic novels Christin made with the France-based Eastern European comic artist Enki Bilal from 1975 on. Labeled as "contemporary fairy tales", Christin and Bilal's first collaborations dealt with modern day towns confronted with fantastic circumstances, mostly caused by ruthless corporations or governments. Even though they are stand-alone stories, they are collected as the 'Légendes d'Aujourd'hui' series ("Today's Legends", published in English as 'Townscapes'). In 'La Croisière des Oubliés' ('The Cruise of Lost Souls', 1975), the people of Liternos adjust their everyday life to the fact that their village suddenly levitates in midair as a result of military experiments. 'Le Vaisseau de Pierre' ('Ship of Stone', 1976) reveals the supernatural secrets of the Celtic French region of Brittany, as everyday townsfolk join with strange forces to fight against corporate developers. The third installment, 'La Ville qui n'Existait Pas' ('The Town that didn't Exist', 1977), deals with the building of utopia to overcome unemployment and everyday misery and weariness.

For their next collaborations, Christin and Bilal revisited 20th-century history to chronicle tales of Cold War politics and Old World terrorism, known as the 'Fins de Siècle' diptych (literally "Century's Ends", published in English as 'The Chaos Effect'). In 'Les Phalanges de l'Ordre Noir' ('The Black Order Brigade', 1979), a group of veterans from the Spanish Civil War are called back to service when a group of fascist soldiers resurfaces and causes a series of terrorist massacres. By request of Enki Bilal, their next story was set in Eastern Europe, close to the artist's roots. Generally considered their standout story, 'Partie de Chasse' ('The Hunting Party', 1983) is about a group of Warsaw Pact representatives taking part in a hunting weekend. Set against a frozen landscape, they are suddenly confronted with their old suspicions and bloody histories, until a deadly game of murder and political intrigue unravels. Post-1990 reprints of the story added an epitaph chapter that in retrospect reflected the comics' events, since the Eastern Bloc had collapsed in 1989. Pilote magazine serialized most Christin-Bilal collaborations, before Dargaud released them in book format. Through their English-language serialization in Heavy Metal magazine, 'The City That Didn't Exist' and 'The Hunting Party' reached American audiences too. During the 2000s, Humanoids Publishing and DC Comics collected the stories as English-language graphic novels.

Enki Bilal and Pierre Christin appear as themselves in the prelude to the story 'The Cruise of Lost Souls' (1976).

Fictional graphic journalism
In 1984, Christin worked with Bilal again, but this time for an illustrated graphic report. 'L'Etoile Oubliée de Laurie Bloom' ("Laurie Bloom's Forgotten Star", Autrement, 1984) mixed fact with fiction during the search for a long forgotten Hollywood star. Christin used the same construction for 'Lady Polaris', a 1987 non-Valerian collaboration with Jean-Claude Mézières, retracing the rambling journey of a cargo ship along the ports of Europe. By 1988, Christin and Bilal rejoined forces to create 'Coeurs Sanglants et Autres Faits Divers ("Bleeding Hearts and Other Stories", Dargaud, 1988), a graphic novel-style reworking of Christin's PhD dissertation subject on "man-bites-dog journalism". After the fall of the Berlin wall, Christin spent some time in Germany, where he and publisher Andreas C. Knigge compiled an anthology about the changing times. Released simultaneously in eleven countries, 'Durchbruch' ('After the Wall', 1990) had contributions from comic artists from a variety of European countries.

Collaborations with Annie Goetzinger
Another important Christin team-up was with graphic novelist Annie Goetzinger. Together, they created intimate portraits of powerful female characters, which reflected the authors' shared passion for feminism, music and psychology. In 1979, serialization of the first story, 'La Demoiselle de la Légion d'honneur' ("The Young Lady of the Legion of Honor"), took off in Pilote, and in the following year, Dargaud released it in book format. Three more installments were published in Dargaud's 'Portraits Souvenirs' collection: 'La Diva et le Kriegsspiel' ("The Diva and the Kriegsspiel", 1981), 'La Voyageuse de la Petite Ceinture' ('The Railway Stroller', 1985) and 'Charlotte et Nancy' (1987). In the following years, Goetzinger worked with Pierre Christin on more graphic novels, including 'Le Tango du Disparu' ("The Tango of the Disappeared", Flammarion, 1989), 'Le Message du Simple' ("The Simple Message", Le Seuil, 1994), 'La Sultane Blanche' ("The White Sultana", Dargaud, 1996) and 'Paquebot' ("Liner", Dargaud, 1999). Between 2001 and 2012, they released seven installments of 'Agence Hardy' (2001-2012), a retro-styled detective series starring female private investigator Edith Hardy, set in the world of 1950s perfumers and scientists.

One-shot collaborations of the 1980s and 1990
During the 1980s, Christin's associations expanded. At the start of the decade, he appeared in Gotlib's humor magazine Fluide Glacial with 'Les Leçons du Professeur Bourremou' (1980), a series of educational spoofs drawn by François Boucq. In each episode, an eccentric professor offers his extraordinary views on subjects like morals, ecology, geography, contemporary history, economy and philosophy. Also in 1980-1981, Pierre Christin oversaw the collective project 'Paris sera toujours Paris(?)' ("Paris shall always be Paris(?)"), which first appeared in Pilote and then in book format. Each chapter is a comic interpretation of a Christin rhyme about one of the French capital's districts. Participating artists were Jean-Claude Mézières, Daniel Billon, Kelek, Jean-Claude Claeys, Picotto, Jean Vern, Pierre Wininger, Patrick Lesueur, Al Coutelis, Chantal Montellier, Jean-Pierre Andrevon, Carlos Giménez, Max Cabanes, Annie Goetzinger, Michel Blanc-Dumont, François Boucq, Jacques Tardi, Jean-Pierre Gibrat, Enki Bilal and Collilieux. The 1980s also brought one-shot co-productions with the artists Bernard Puchulu and Jacques-Henri Tournadre. For Puchulu, Christin scripted the espionnage mystery thrillers 'La Boîte Morte, le Vengeur et son Double' ("The Dead Drop, the Avenger and his Double", Dargaud, 1984) and 'La Jeune Copte, le Diamantaire et son Boustrophédon' ("The Young Copt, the Diamond Dealer and her Boustrophedon", Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1988). With Tournadre, Christin made the detective stories 'Un Cercle Magique' ("A Magic Circle", Dargaud, 1986) and 'L'Œil du Maître' ("The Master's Eye", Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1990). In 1992, he wrote another political thriller, this time about the Third World countries: 'La Nuit des Clandestins' ("The Night of the Illegals", Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1992). Daniel Ceppi provided the artwork.

Canal Choc
In 1989, the final issue of Pilote magazine appeared. A further downfall of comic magazines occurred in the 1990s. This void made it more difficult for young and upcoming artists to get their start. Pierre Christin teamed up with the publishing house Les Humanoïdes Associés in an attempt to create a new stepping stone for debuting artists. The result was the comic series 'Canal Choc' (1990-1992), about a group of journalists. Christin wrote the script, and Mézières supervised the artwork, which was outsourced to a collective consisting of Hugues Labiano, Philippe Chapelle and Philippe Aymond. Each episode had additional artwork by experienced guest stars, such as Moebius, Enki Bilal, Philippe Druillet and Annie Goetzinger. The four-part miniseries was well received, but not a commercial success. Still, in the subsequent years, the three young artists turned into seasoned professionals. Philippe Aymond in particular remained one of Pierre Christin's regular collaborators.

Collaborations with Philippe Aymond
Following Pierre Christin's solo trip around the big metropolises of the northern hemisphere, he created a travelog dealing with the circulation of money and power, 'L'Homme qui fait le Tour du Monde ("The Man Who Travels Around the World", Dargaud, 1994). Philippe Aymond provided the artwork for the narrative, and Max Cabanes made additional pastel illustrations. Christin and Aymond's next joint effort was the crime thriller series 'Les 4x4' (Dargaud, 1997-2000), of which four books were published. They turned to a more fantastic approach for the one-shot 'Les Voleurs de Villes' ("City Thieves", Dargaud, 1997), about the sudden and mysterious disappearances of parts of the planet's architectural wealth. In 2018, Christin and Aymond teamed up once again, this time for 'Est-Ouest' (Dupuis, 2018), a travel memoir. Recounting his trips from the great American West through the most remote areas of the Communist bloc, the graphic novel offered a subjective chronicle of the second half of the 20th century.

Comics in the new millennium
During the 2000s, Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières concluded their ongoing 'Valérian' series, while Christin left the Bordeaux school of journalism. Even though he reached retirement age, Christin continued to launch new projects, although mostly one-shots (with a notable exception being the 'Agence Hardy' series with Annie Goetzinger). In 2004 and 2005, he was present in the recently relaunched comic magazine Pif Gadget with short stories about a group of reporters, published under the title 'Images Mirages' and drawn by Sébastien Verdier. With Alain Mounier, he made the graphic novel 'Mourir au Paradis' ("Die in Paradise", Dargaud, 2005), another social study about a group of wealthy New York City youngsters who out of pure boredom indulge in Nazi sympathies. André Juillard also asked Pierre Christin for a new project. The writer had the desire to work with Juillard for many years, and immediately set to work. The first installment of their adventure series 'Léna' was released by Dargaud in 2006. Set against a spy story backdrop, the series presents not only the leading lady's travels around the world, but also her own inner journey. To uncover Lena's cloaked mind, Christin regularly uses an inner monologue, a technique he had pioneered in comics in the 1980s.

'Sous le ciel d'Atacama' ("Under Atacama's Sky", Casterman, 2010), drawn by Olivier Balez, was another work of graphic journalism, dealing with the installation of a Radio Astronomy Observatory on Chile's Chajnantor Plateau. Christin and Balez worked together again on a comic biography about New York's "master builder" Robert Moses (Glénat, 2014). In 2010, Christin was the guest scriptwriter of the third installment in Frank Giroud's 'Destins' series ('Le Piège Africain', Glénat, 2010), drawn by Yves Lécossois and Luc Brahy. With Sébastien Verdier, Christin made the graphic novel 'Rencontre sur la Transsaharienne' ("Meeting on the Trans-Saharan", Dupuis, 2014), about three groups of youngsters, all leaving their homes on different parts of the planet, to see their paths cross on the Trans-Sahara Highway. Also with Verdier, he also made his second comic biography, this time about British novelist George Orwell ('Orwell', Dargaud, 2019).

In addition to teaching and scriptwriting, Pierre Christin found time to release several novels too. His short story collections 'Le Futur est en marche arriere' ("The Future is Coming in Reverse", Encre, 1976) and 'Les Prédateurs Enjolivés ("The Embellished Predators, Robbert Laffont, 1976) emphasized on the author's political and ecological preoccupations, and chronicled a dilapidated near future. Christin's own Parisian suburban environment was the inspiration for his novels 'ZAC' ("Joint Development Zone", Grasset, 1981) and 'Rendez-vous en Ville' ("City Meetings", Flammarion, 1994), about the clash between real estate development projects and working-class neighborhoods. 'L'Or du Zinc' ("The Bar's Gold", Albin Michel, 1998) dealt with bar owners and alcohol merchants from South-Central France who, after making their fortune in Paris, returned to their still profoundly rural home region behaving like lords and conquerors. Now retired from his teaching job, he felt free from confidentiality and released two open-hearted novels about the academic world: ‘Petits Crimes contre les Humanités’ ("Small Crimes Against the Humanities", A.-M. Métailié, 2006) and 'Légers Aarrangements avec la Vérité' ("Slight Arrangements with the Truth", A.-M. Métailié, 2011).

Theatrical and cinema work
In the late 1980s, Christin co-wrote the script for Enki Bilal's first feature film, 'Bunker Palace Hôtel'. The production shared its prophetic and dystopian thematics with Christin and Bilal's previous collaborations, and dealt with the underground flight of a president-dictator after a rebellion breaks out. The movie was released in 1989, the same year the Tête Noire troupe performed Christin's play 'Ce Soir on Raccourcit' ("Tonight We Cut It Short", 1989), which poked fun at the patriotic brouhaha of the bicentennial celebrations of the French Revolution. In 2017, Christin wrote the script for the opera 'La Citadelle de Verre' ("The Citadel of Glass"), with music by Louis Crelier and backgrounds and costume design by Enki Bilal.

Mézières used Pierre Christin's looks as inspiration for the scriptwriter in the 'Valérian' episode 'Orphan of the Stars' (1998).

Both Mézières and Christin have received much recognition for their landmark comic series. Individual albums of 'Valérian' were awarded on numerous occasions throughout Europe, the first time being the 1970 Prix Phénix in the category "Science Fiction". At the 1976 Angoulême comic festival, Christin won the award for "Best French Scriptwriter". Twenty years later, the Germans gave him the Max & Moritz Prize for "Best International Scriptwriter". In 2010, he additionally received a special Max & Moritz for "Outstanding Life's Work". Together with Mézières, he received the Swedish Adamson Prize in the category "Best International Author" for their 'Valérian' series. His autobiographical comic 'Est-Ouest' earned him the 2019 Prix René-Goscinny, awarded at the Angoulême comic festival. On 13 February 2015, Pierre Christin was additionally named Officer in the French Order of Arts and Letters ("Ordre des Arts et des Lettres"). However, the greatest honors the authors received were perhaps the thousands of Valerians and Laurelines that were born in France alone since the series' start. Among them is the cartoonist Laurel (Laureline Michaut), who in turn named her son Valérian.

Legacy and influence
Pierre Christin is considered one of the major scriptwriters of European comics. His collaborations with Enki Bilal, most notably 'The Hunting Party', are considered classics. With 'Valérian and Laureline', Christin and Mézières helped set the standard for a new approach of science-fiction comics. Launched around the same time as 'Luc Orient' (1967-1994) by Greg and Eddy Paape and 'Lone Sloane' (1966-1971) by Philippe Druillet, it boosted a renewed popularity of the genre in France, resulting in the launch of the groundbreaking sci-fi comic magazine Métal Hurlant in 1975. In France, 'Le Vagabond des Limbes' (1975-2003) by Christian Godard and Julio Ribera and the comic book cycles by Léo ('Bételgeuse', 'Antarès', etc.) were notable followers, as were the Spanish series 'Dani Futuro' by Víctor Mora and Carlos Giménez and 'Gigantik' by Mora and José Maria Cardona. In the Netherlands, male-female duos in sci-fi comics popped up in 'Arman en Ilva' (1969-1975) by Lo Hartog van Banda and Thé Tjong-Khing and 'Arad en Maya' (1970-1975) by Hartog van Banda and Jan Steeman. Will Eisner called 'Valerian and Laureline' "a wonderful balance of intellect and craft".

Christin and Bilal in magazine Pilote
Pierre Christin (left) and his regular co-worker Enki Bilal appear on the cover of Pilote issue #135 (1985).

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