Tintin en Suisse by Efdé
'Tintin en Suisse'.

Filip Denis, also known as Efdé, is a Belgian comics artist who gained infamy as the creator of the porn parody 'Tintin en Suisse' ('Tintin in Switzerland', 1976), which spoofed Hergé 's series 'Tintin'. He was sued by Studio Hergé and Casterman for plagiarism, while the book was banned in Belgium and France. In an ironic twist of events 'Tintin in Switzerland' became more sought after by collectors and was bootlegged by several other anonymous artists.  All these events explain why the album is the most legendary of all Tintin parodies. 

Early life and career
Filip Denis was born in Belgium. In the 1960s he was part of the artistic circle around Pierre Goffin, founder of the L'Entonnoir movement in Namur. Denis learned much from Goffin's provocative stance and artistic vision. During the 1970s he contributed to the new wave magazine Soldes which circulated in Namur. 

Tintin in Switzerland
In 1976 Filip Denis drew a pornographic parody of 'Tintin', which was published by Charles Callico as 'Tintin en Suisse' ('Tintin in Switzerland', 1976). Despite its title, Tintin already had been to Switzerland in the original franchise, namely in 'L'Affaire Tournesol' ('The Calculus Affair', 1955-1956). And even in 'Tintin en Suisse' he spent more time in Africa and the Middle East. However, the comic had the young reporter experience adventures of a whole different kind. Here Tintin is depicted as an unshaven drunk and junk who gets involved in all kinds of sexual escapades. Other familiar cast members like Haddock, Castafiore, Snowy, Calculus, the Thompsons,... all get their piece of the action too. All things considered the book is a rather average porn parody. The drawings are clumsy while the plot is unfocused and repetitive. Much imagery is blatantly copied (even photocopied) from Hergé's classic stories.  

Ban and other legal issues
Yet in 1982 Denis and Callico were sued by Studio Hergé and Éditions Casterman for plagiarism and the adult nature of the book. Callico was eventually condemned to a fine of 50.000 Belgian francs (1.239.47 euros or 1401.22 dollars). The judge ruled that the entire print run had to be destroyed and 'Tintin en Suisse' was effectively banned in Belgium and France. Many comics fans felt all this was undeserved. Particularly since nothing in 'Tintin en Suisse' made it any different than the hundreds of other amateuristic Tintin parodies already in existence. In fact, the ban only increased its notability, rarity and therefore its market value. The Dutch underground magazine Caramba published the story in episodes under its translated title 'Kuifje in Zwitserland' (1978). It didn't take long before they were sued too. Yet to many people's surprise, the judge ruled that the comic book was obviously a parody and thus not prosecutable. As such 'Kuifje in Zwitserland' became legally available in the Netherlands, moving its way up to a collector's item. By that point 'Tintin en Suisse' had already been bootlegged all over Europe. Illegal copies were translated in Dutch, English, German, Spanish and Swedish, often with covers and images redrawn by anonymous artists. More than one observer noted that the contested story had became more widespread than ever before. 

Other artists' reactions
In 1982 Belgian provocateur Jan Bucquoy decided to launch a counter-attack. In the same month 'Tintin en Suisse' was banned he published another risqué porn parody of Tintin in the underground magazine Spetters. His spoof, 'Kuifje in Holland' ('Tintin in Holland', 1982), was scripted by Pieter-Jans and drawn by D'Arcosta. Not only was the tone far more vulgar, it was also more politically charged. The story attacked Hergé's war past in extreme-right magazines by depicting him and Tintin as Nazis. In the same Spetters issue the editors stated that the sentence against 'Tintin en Suisse' was unconstitutional. Oddly enough Bucquoy was spared from judicial prosecution, but in 1992 he was sued over another pornographic parody, 'La Vie Sexuelle de Tintin', yet won his case.

All the fuzz about 'Tintin en Suisse' took an even more ironic turn when the parody became subject of another parody! In 1983 Willy Linthout drew 'Kuifje en de Vervalsers' (1983), which satirized the controversy around the album. In the story Hergé reads a copy of 'Tintin en Suisse' and is outraged that "his son" behaves this way. Yet Tintin denies the allegations and eventually discovers that the quiffed junk in 'Tintin en Suisse' is an imposter! A confrontation between the "real" and "fake" Tintin ensues...

In 1994 Belgian cartoonist Baudouin de Duve also read a copy of 'Tintin en Suisse' and felt it was a very "vulgar and badly drawn book." Yet it did inspire him to create his own 'Tintin' parody 'Tintin in Thailand' (1999), in which clumsily traced Tintin characters visit the red light district in Bangkok. Surely a "less vulgar and badly drawn" Tintin parody than 'Tintin en Suisse', the irony went even further when a judge also banned 'Tintin in Thailand' from distribution. 

Series and books by Filip Denis in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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