Guy Dessicy
Guy Dessicy in the Belgian Comic Strip Center. Picture © D. Pasamonik

Guy Dessicy was a member of Studio Hergé. While his comics career was short and in Hergé's shadow he did have a significant impact on the Belgian comics scene as the head of Publiart, a commercial agency specializing in comic book merchandising. He was also a co-founder of the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels. His name is often misspelled as Guy Decissy.

Dessicy was born in 1924 in Sint-Gillis (Saint-Gilles), near Brussels. His father was a mechanic and his mother a clothes designer. He was 12 years old when he first met Hergé who already enjoyed national fame thanks to the success of 'Tintin'. He met the comics legend through a teacher with an interest in art and who also introduced him to Belgian novelists and poets Maurice Carême, Jean Libert and Geo Norge. Dessicy went on to study architecture and painting at the Academy of Brussels, but dropped out after two years. 


Reworked edition of Hergé's Popol et Virginie Chez des Lapinos

In 1947 he joined the Studio Hergé. He colourized the reprint of Hergé's 'Popol et Virginie Chez des Lapinos' (originally published in black-and-white in 1934) and redrew some backgrounds. He also colourized some 'Tintin' albums that were redrawn and republished around the same time. Hergé originally considered Dessicy as a successor to his former assistant Edgar P. Jacobs, but since the young man wasn't that good in drawing he merely hired him as a colourist. Still Dessicy had some significant impact on the 'Tintin' stories in other ways. Dessicy often took poses, so that Hergé, Bob De Moor, Edgar P. Jacobs and Jacques Van Melkebeke had a model to base their sketches on. He also claimed that he inspired the Tintin character Abdallah. Dessicy had read a a short story by O. Henry, 'The Ransom of Red Chief' (1907), in which two gangsters kidnap a child that turns out to be such an obnoxious brat that they are more willing to get rid of him than to keep him hostage. After telling Hergé the basic outline of this story most of the plot in 'Tintin in the Land of Black Gold' (1950) eventually took shape. Yet Dessicy always insisted that he merely gave Hergé a vague idea with which he still he did his own thing. Apart from Hergé, Dessicy anonymously colourized other comics artists' work too, including Willy Vandersteen's first 'Suske en Wiske' story for Tintin magazine: 'Het Spaanse Spook' (1948-1950).


Publi-Art advertisement for Victoria chocolate by François Craenhals (1955)

In 1953 Dessicy left Studio Hergé because the production process slowed down. Hergé had hired extra colorists and most of the time the young intern had nothing to do. Raymond Leblanc, head of the Tintin magazine, offered him a job as head of the in-house publicity company Publiart. Dessicy took it and kept this position for more than 35 years. The company specialized in advertisements which made use of comic strips and comic art, as well as merchandising based on already existing Belgian comics characters. Dessicy was also appointed head of Tintin's publicity department and did his job so well that he provided the same job for Tintin's rival Spirou too.


Publi-Art advertisement for Ajax bicycles (1959). Artist unknown, maybe Tibet?

This allowed Publiart to broaden its scope and basically create advertisements around comics characters from the best-selling Belgian comics magazines of that period in history. Among the many icons who started their career drawing comics for Publiart were Berck, François Craenhals, Raymond Macherot, Paul Cuvelier, Dany, Mittéï, Géri, Philippe Geluck, Jean Graton, Hermann, Tibet, William Vance, Carlos Roque and Albert Weinberg. Publiart made ads for many companies, including Parein cookies, Rombouts coffee, Côte d'Or chocolate, Salik jeans and the Walibi theme park in Waver, Belgium. For the latter he also designed their mascot in 1975: an orange wallaby. He also thought up the classic advertising slogan "As-tu ton Tuc?" ("Do you have your Tuc yet?") for Parein's cookie brand Tuc. 


Publi-Art advertisement for Hacosan by Géri (1959)

Dessicy had a passion for Art Nouveau, particularly the work of Belgian architect Victor Horta. In 1979 he bought the Maison Cauchie (Cauchie House) in Etterbeek, which had been designed by Horta in 1905 but was threatened with demolition 70 years later. Thanks to his efforts the building was restored and turned into a museum. Dessicy purchased another ruinous building by Horta around the same time, namely the Wauquez department store. The original plan was to turn it into a museum about Hergé, but the creator of 'Tintin' felt it had to be a museum for all Belgian comics artists. The project was sponsored by the Flemish and Walloon comics organisations De Stripgilde and Upchic, who managed to convince the Belgian government to make enough money available to make the project a reality. Eddy Ryssack oversaw the proceedings on the Dutch-language side, while Dessicy took care of the French-language side. In 1986 a special happening was organized to promote the idea and collect more money. All living Belgian comics artists of certain name and stature were there. After renovation by architect Jean Breydel the Belgian Comic Strip Center opened its doors in 1989 in the presence of king Baudouin and queen Fabiola. Many examples of Publiart comics are part of the permanent exhibition. 


Publiart comic strip for Whip lemonade by Mittéï (1962)

Dessicy resigned as head of Publiart in 1988 and was succeeded by Michel Leloup. In 2015 he made headlines once again when he donated the correspondence between Hergé and his secretary Marcel Dehaye to the King Baudouin Foundation. He passed away on 29 July 2016 at Watermaal-Bosvoorde (Watermael-Boitsfort).

Walibi logo
Original Walibi logo design by Guy Dessicy

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