Arsène Lupin, by Erwin Drèze
'Arsène Lupin'.

Erwin Drèze was a Belgian comic artist, who first made his mark as one of the modern Clear Line artists in Tintin with 'Les Aventures de Louis Valmont' (1986-1989). He was a regular illustrator for the religious children's magazine Tournesol, and has worked on several commercial comic albums with the scriptwriter Benoît Despas. He was furthermore an assistant for Édouard Aidans, Jacques Martin and André Taymans, and involved in the short-lived revival of Raymond Macherot's 'Mirliton' in 2007.

Early life and career
Drèze was born in 1960 in Ciney, a Belgian city not far from Namur. He grew an early interest in comics. After hearing a radio interview with Raymond Macherot, of 'Chlorophylle' and 'Sibylline' fame, Erwin's father took his son to the home studio of the famous comic artist. During the mid-1970s Macherot learned the teen the basic tricks of his trade. But instead of continuing into Macherot's comical funny animal drawing style, Drèze switched to the Clear Line, inspired by the masters Hergé and Edgar P. Jacobs. He spent some time at Studio Aidans, where he worked on an episode of the 'Dic Dinn' comic for the daily newspaper Vers l'Avenir.

Louis Valmont - 'Le Combat des Brigands' (Dutch version from Super Kuifje #36: De avonturen van Lowie de Wit - 'Bandietenstrijd').

Louis Valmont
By the mid-1980s he found his way to Tintin magazine, for which he initially made a couple of short stories in cooperation with scriptwriter Jean Dufaux (1985-1986). With Bom he created 'Les Aventures de Louis Valmont' (1986-1989), a comic set in the 1930s, about an antiquarian/adventurer (and his cat) who gets involved in all kinds of intrigues with the wealthy brother and sister Hubert and Clio. Two semi-long stories, a short story and one album-length adventure were created, the latter only appearing in Tintin's Dutch-language equivalent Kuifje. The story, 'Le Piège des Sables', was about the early days of desert auto racing and saw its first French publication in 2016, when the Swiss publishing house Paquet released it in album format in its Calandre collection. A second album was announced but never realized.

Work in the 1990s
From the 1990s on Dréze was a regular illustator for Tournesol, a biblically themed Swiss children's magazine. With scriptwriter André-Paul Duchâteau he made 'Victor de la Brigade Mondaine' (1998), the final album in the series of adaptations of the stories about gentleman-thief 'Arsène Lupin' for Claude Lefrancq Éditeur. The previous installments were drawn by Jacques Géron, who had passed away in 1993.

'Le Secret de Maredsous'.

Commercial projects
Since 2000 Erwin Drèze and scriptwriter Benoît Despas have worked on several comics in commission. Their first was 'Miracle à Maredsous' (Coccinelle BD, 2000), a comics biography of Dom Columba Marmion (1858-1923), an Irish monk who ran the Belgian abbey of Maredsous in the early 20th century. The story was written by Despas in cooperation with Paule Fostroy. In 2010 and 2011 Drèze was one of the artists for the "interactive treasure hunts in comic book format" which Despas wrote for European Treasure. They guided visitors through the history and hotspots of the area surrounding the touristic city of Durbuy in the Belgian Ardennes. Drèze provided artwork for four of the seven installments; the others were drawn by Benoît Roels. In the same fashion, Drèze and Despas created 'Le Secret de Maredsous' (2012), a treasure hunt about the abbey of Maredsous and its famous library, art school, cheese and beer. Subsequently, the two men made a comic book about for Bebat, the company responsible for the collection of batteries in Belgium ('De Geheimen van Batterijen', 2014).

By 2005 Stephan Caluwaerts had launched Éditions Flouzemaker to preserve the legacy of Raymond Macherot. New episodes of the master's classic series were also planned. André Taymans worked on new albums with 'Sibylline', and Drèze was asked to revive a lesser known creation of the 1970s, 'Mirliton'. Drèze dropped his Clear Line style and cooperated with the original scriptwriter Raoul Cauvin on new stories about the gentle cat who is unable to hunt. The two new albums, both published in 2007, collected older episodes of Macherot, completed with some new stories by Drèze.

Work with André Taymans and Jacques Martin
Drèze assisted André Taymans on the artwork of his installments in Jacques Martin's 'Lefranc' albums, namely 'Le Maître de l'Atome' (2006), 'Londres en Péril' (2008) and 'Le Châtiment' (2010). He additionally illustrated the China volume in Jacques Martin's educational series 'Les Voyages d'Alix' ('La Chine', 2008), while also helping Taymans with the backgrounds of his detective series 'Caroline Baldwin' (2011-2012). Later, Dréze and Taymans drew the album 'L'Oisseau Blanc' (2017), scripted by Pascal Bresson for the Cockpit collection of Paquet. It told the history of the legendary French White Bird plane that disappeared during an attempt to make the first non-stop transatlantic flight between Paris and New York City in 1927.

Erwin Drèze passed away in Namur from a brain tumor in the night of 17 and 18 March 2020. He was 59 years old.

Mirliton by Erwin Dreze

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