Les aventures de Zizette, by Davine
Les Aventures de Zizette (Spirou, 14 September 1939)

Blanche Dumoulin was a Belgian comics artist and writer, who was the wife of French comics artist Robert Velter, most famous as the original creator of 'Spirou' (1938). Dumoulin helped her husband out with writing and illustrating comics, among them 'Spirou'. She also had a comic strip of her own, 'Les Aventures de Zizette' (1938). She is also one of two people who used the signature 'Davine', the other being the painter/illustrator Luc Lafnet. For a long time it was presumed she was the only one behind this pseudonym, but Lafnet, a fellow student, actually originated it. While Dumoulin's comics career lasted no longer than a decade and mostly in the shadow of her male colleagues, she is still significant for being one of the earliest female Belgian comics creators, alongside her predecessors Jeanne and Laure Hovine.

Blanche Dumoulin was born in 1895 in Liège, Belgium, where she attended the local art academy. In the early 1930s she became a nanny and worked in Sydney, Australia. She didn't return to her home country until 1937, which explains why Luc Lafnet was probably the ''Davine" who drew the comic strips 'Bizouk et Pélik' in Le Journal de Bébé and 'Moustique Reporter' in Le Bon Point between 1936 and 1938. Though it is possible that she might have helped him write the texts. Shortly after returning to Belgium, she moved to Paris, probably to join Lafnet, who was a painter and illustrator in the Montmartre area.

Spirou, by Davine (1940)
Final Spirou page by Rob-Vel (Davine) from 17 October 1940

From then on, she shared the pen name Davine with Lafnet for her illustration work, while also operating as Lafnet's agent. She married the Frenchman Robert Velter, and began working as an illustrator for the magazines and novels published by Jean Dupuis in Marcinelle, Belgium. She aided her husband in the creation of the title comics for both the Parisian magazine Le Journal de Toto from 1937 to 1940, and Dupuis' Le Journal de Spirou starting in April 1938. Besides writing the 'Spirou' stories, she also created her own comic strip for the newly launched children's magazine, called 'Les Aventures de Zizette', although it is possible that she only wrote the melodramatic story. Some of the installments are signed with "Laf and Dav", with "Laf" referring to Lafnet.

When Rob-Vel was mobilized in 1940, she continued the Spirou comic on her own with the aid of several ghost artists, including J. van Straelen. Luc Lafnet had passed away in 1939. By October 1940, Jijé was forced to continue the running stories due to problems with sending the pages from France to Belgium.Velter and Davine returned to the strip in March 1941, but they had to abandon their creation once and for all in December 1942. Blanche Dumoulin published a book with publisher Armand Fleury in 1946 called 'Guy Voitoux, l'homme au gant' in 1946, but mostly disappeared from the spotlights after World War II. She passed away from cancer in February 1975.

The actual activities of Velter, Dumoulin and Lafnet were finally revealed in the extensive dossier by Christelle and Bertrand Pissavy-Yvernault in the collected 'Spirou' stories credited to Rob-Vel ('Spirou par Rob-Vel - L'Intégrale 1938-1943', 2013). The Davine-matter was further explored in the first volume of the Yvernaults' chronicle of the history of Spirou magazine ('La Véritable Histoire de Spirou 1937-1946, 2013).

Moustique Reporter, by Davine (1936)
Illustrations from the first issue of Spirou, signed Davine (21 April 1938)

Series and books by Davine in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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