Comic Creator André-Paul Duchâteau

André-Paul Duchâteau

D. Aisin, André Jean, André No, André Voisin, Michaël Nô, Michel Vasseur, Cap

(8 May 1925 - 26 August 2020, Belgium)   Belgium

André-Paul  Duchâteau

A.-P. Duchâteau by Tibet (1972).

André-Paul Duchâteau was a Belgian novelist, dramatist, radio & TV scriptwriter and comic writer. In his long track record as one of the most productive scriptwriters of Franco-Belgian comics, his crime and mystery stories starring detectives, spies and journalists stand out. His best-known co-creation is the private investigator 'Ric Hochet' (1955-2010). His adventures were drawn by Duchâteau's long-term "partner-in-crime" Tibet, for whom he also penned many episodes of the western comic 'Chick Bill' (1965-2010) as well as 'Le Club des Peur-de-Rien' (1958-1976). Sometimes he combined his crime plots with humor, like in 'Bob Binn' (1960-1977, with Édouard Aidans) and 'Les Casseurs' (1975-1994, with Christian Denayer), but he often interlaced them with science fiction, fantasy and supernatural elements. This was evident in not only 'Ric Hochet', but also in his stories starring the spies 'Mr. Magellan' (1969-1979, with Géri) and 'Pharaon' (1980-1999, with Daniel Hulet), the journalist 'Yalek' (1969-1985, with Christian Denayer) and the futuristic detective 'Carol, Détective' (1990-1991, with Eddy Paape). Duchâteau turned to full fledged fantasy in the dystopian sci-fi series 'Hans' (1980-2000, with Grzegorz Rosinski and later Kas), but stayed true to his roots in his comic book adaptations of Stanislas-André Steeman's 'Mr. Wens' (1989-1994, with Xavier Musquera), Maurice Leblanc's 'Arsène Lupin' (1989-1998, with Jacques Géron and Erwin Drèze) and other literary mystery classics in his own BDétectives collection at Claude Lefrancq Editeur. He also proved to be capable of other genres, venturing into race car driving for 'Alain Chevallier' (1971-1985, with Denayer) and treading historical grounds in 'Bruce J. Hawker' (1985-1996, with William Vance), 'Les Romantiques' (2001-2003, with Éric Lenaerts) and 'Terreur' (2002-2004, with René Follet). Throughout his long career, André-Paul Duchâteau has been mostly associated with the magazine Tintin and its publisher Lombard, for which he has also served as editor-in-chief (1976-1979) and literary director (1988-1997). Nicknamed a "gentleman storyteller" by his biographer Patrick Gaumer, Duchâteau's legacy extends far beyond comics alone, having an equally impressive career writing novels and radio plays.

Early life and career
André-Paul Duchâteau was born in 1925 in Tournai (Doornik). His grandfather was a printer, while Duchâteau's father was a Major General in the Belgian air force. An abusive man, he was rarely at home and if he was, he tyrannized his wife and children. Duchâteau barely knew his father and didn't even have a picture of him. When Patrick Gaumer wrote his biography about Duchâteau, he had to contact the Belgian military archives to obtain more information about his father.

At age 15, Duchâteau published his first short stories in the magazine Mon Copain. In that same year, his first detective stories were published in Le Jury, a bi-monthly literary collection overseen by the famous Belgian novelist Stanislas-André Steeman. Duchâteau contributed 'Meurtre pour Meurtre' (1940), 'Tout où Rien' (1940) and 'La Mort est du Voyage' (1940), while 'Pique-nique' (1942) appeared in Revue Heures d'Oubli later on. Duchâteau was lucky that Steeman sympathized with him, and helped the young writer being taken seriously by publishers. Duchâteau spent the rest of the decade contributing thrilling intrigues to magazines like Mystère-Magazine and Bonnes Soirées. Some of his titles were translated in English, published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Even decades later Duchâteau still used his teenage notes as an inspirational source for his novels and/or comics scripts. Among his literary influences were Arthur Conan Doyle, Stanislas-André Steeman, Paul Léautaud, Jean Cocteau, Ike Térouka, P.G. Wodehouse and Maurice Leblanc. His favorite comic authors have always been Edgar P. Jacobs and André Franquin, though later in life he also expressed admiration for Tibet, Jean Van Hamme and Bob De Groot.

Comics writing
In 1948 Duchâteau joined the comics studio of Tenas and Rali. He helped the two artists with their story production for Bravo! magazine, penning comics serials like 'Le Capitaine Hardell', 'Phill Blue-Eyes', 'Cyprien Bravo' and several Walter Scott and Paul Féval adaptations (such as 'Le Bossu'). He also served as editorial secretary for Bravo!, Story and Mickey Magazine, all publications filled mostly with Tenas-Rali productions. A notable contribution was the script for the duos's 'Les Mystères de la Tour Eiffel' (1950-1951), an original story starring Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, published in the first 34 issues of Mickey Magazine. In the same studio he met a young artist known as Tibet, with whom he would enjoy a decade-spanning creative partnership. Duchâteau always attributed its success and longevity to the fact that he and Tibet had been friends long before they were colleagues. Their first collaboration was 'De Avonturen van Koenraad', a chivalry story serialized in the Flemish magazine Ons Volkske between 9 August and 25 October 1951. As a foursome, Tenas, Rali, Duchâteau and Tibet created the pirate adventure serial 'Le Triangle de Feu' (1952) for Spirou, using the collective pseudonym D. Aisin. Duchâteau then anonymously helped Tibet with the plots for his hard-boiled private investigator 'Dave O'Flynn' (1950-1952) in Fernand Cheneval's Héroïc-Albums. By 1954 André-Paul Duchâteau began his long association with Tintin magazine, initially penning mainly short comic stories. Years later, between 1962 and 1964, Duchâteau teamed up with Tenas once again to create the title comic of the new Dutch comic magazine Pep.

Move to Belgian Congo
Between 1955 and 1958 Duchâteau and his wife spent three years in Congo. During their stay, he wrote for the Congolese edition of Pourquoi Pas?, as well as L'Avenir and Actualités Africaines, while sending comic scripts back to his home country. However, riots and the demand for independence became more heated and the couple eventually moved back to Belgium. In 1960 the colony became independent. Five years later Mobutu Sese Seko committed a military coup and became dictator. Duchâteau actually met him several times at the editorial board of the political weekly Pourquoi Pas?, back when he still was a journalist.

Early appearance of Ric Hochet in the riddle feature 'Relevez le Gant!' (Tintin #53, 1958).

Puzzle/riddle sections
From the mid-1950s until the early 1980s Duchâteau wrote many editorial pages for various comic magazines, either under his own name, or under his regular pseudonym Michel Vasseur. Besides entries about famous detective stories, he used his own imagination for a great many riddle and puzzle sections. Some were illustrated text features, others had a comics format. Especially the readers of Tintin had their brains working overtime, trying to solve Duchâteau's plots. Illustrated by Tibet, he scripted the crime-riddle feature 'Relevez Le Gant!', which appeared sporadically in Tintin between 1959 and 1962. Together with Édouard Aidans, he developed a game and activity section, know as either 'Jeux Variétés' (1960-1961) 'Faites vos Jeux' (1961-1967) or 'Faites Vous La Main' (1961-1962). However Duchâteau's name wasn't credited any longer after halfway 1962, suggesting that he either quit or continued anonymously. Duchâteau's first collaboration with Eddy Paape was 'Voulez-Vous Jouer Avec Toah?', a game page starring an alien, running in Tintin on an irregular basis in 1969 and 1970.

For the short-lived comics supplement of Le Journal du Dimanche, L'Illustré du Dimanche, Duchâteau wrote another crime riddle comic. Based on one of Duchâteau's radio serials, 'Commissaire Marin' (1967) was illustrated by Antonio Parras, and later continued in Pilote magazine under the title 'Le Commissaire Jeudy' (1967-1969). Similar in idea were his features for Spirou. 'Inspecteur Spirou sur la piste' (1971-1977) was a text feature, illustrated by Christian Denayer, while 'Les Enquêtes de l'Inspecteur Corniche' (1980-1981) was a weekly comic page drawn by Jacques Géron. In the 1990s Duchâteau and Bernard Swysen collaborated on a series of monthly riddle comics about crime mysteries published in the French youth magazine Télé7 Jeux.

First and final album of 'Ric Hochet' by Tibet and A.-P. Duchâteau.

Ric Hochet
Having worked together on a couple of projects since the beginning of the decade, the steady collaboration between André-Paul Duchâteau and Tibet took off in 1959. Ric Hochet, the reporter-detective from their riddle feature 'Relevez Le Gant!' began appearing in short comic stories from 1959 on. Thanks to readers' enthusiasm, a first full-length serial was started in 1961: 'Signé Caméléon'. It marked the beginning of the longest series in Duchâteau's career, of which he would pen 78 albums until Tibet's death in 2010.

With the series' upgrade, the cast was also expanded. Ric Hochet works as a young reporter for the Parisian newspaper La Rafale, where his best friend is journalist Bob Drumont. Ric often tries to solve mysterious crimes in the presence of commissary Sigismond Bourdon and his assistant-inspector Ledru. The extended story length allowed Duchâteau to indulge in more complex plots, filled with seemingly supernatural threats, like ghosts, werewolves, vampires, zombies or monsters. This lead to many suspenseful and chilling moments, even though these creatures are usually revealed to be merely human imposters. Many of Ric's investigations concern murder cases, which became increasingly more bloody and graphic over the years. 'Ric Hochet' was one of Tintin's flagships and often ranked in the top spot in reader's polls. Youngsters loved the intrigue, suspense and the fact that the stories weren't as childlike as other series. The comic's violent action and sometimes spooky scares were appealing.

Despite the success, there has been only one attempt at a film version. In 1968 a 25-minute long film was made, 'Signé Caméleon' (1968), based on the very first album. Daniel Vigo played Ric, Jacques Lippe Bourdon, Mireille Baert Nadine and Michel Pleix the inspector. Tibet and Duchâteau had cameos as police officers. The film failed, which Tibet blamed on the director, who previously only made documentaries. A 1985 radio adaptation of 'Ric Hochet', titled 'Les Enquêtes de Ric Hochet', was written by Duchâteau.

Cameo of André-Paul Duchâteau (on the left) and Tibet (right) in the 'Signé Caméleon' film (Belgian Tintin #15, 1968).

Other collaborations with Tibet
As if their decade-spanning collaboration on one icon of Franco-Belgian comics wasn't enough, Duchâteau and Tibet's collaboration extended way beyond 'Ric Hochet'. In fact, Duchâteau became Tibet's scriptwriter for most of his other projects as well. Together with their assistant Mittéï, they created the adventure comic about three boy scouts, called 'Les 3A' (1962-1967). Duchâteau wrote the stories under his pen name Vasseur, while Mittéï drew the backgrounds and Tibet anonymously contributed the character art. Around the same time, Duchâteau began writing scripts for 'Le Club des Peur-de-Rien' (literally: "The Club of Those-Who-Fear-Nothing") as well. This comic feature was originally created by Greg and Tibet in 1958, and starred a kids' gang led by the mascot of Junior, the children's supplement of the family weekly Chez Nous. The series ran in Junior and its Flemish counterpart Ons Volkske until 1976. Duchâteau wasn't the series' only writer however; some episodes were scripted by Tibet himself, others by Bob de Groot. By 1965 Duchâteau additionally provided plots for Tibet's signature western comic 'Chick Bill', while Tibet continued to make the final scripts himself. Originally started as a funny animal strip in Junior, it had become the main humorous feature in the otherwise serious Tintin magazine. For years, the authors created separate adventures with the cowboy Chick Bill, sheriff Dog Bull and his deputy Kid Ordinn for both Junior (60 page stories) and Tintin (30 page stories). While the series ended in Junior in 1973, Tibet and Duchâteau continued to work on new installments until the artist's death in 2010.

Collaborations with Édouard Aidans
Another character that originated from Tintin's game pages was 'Bob Binn', drawn by Édouard Aidans. The young reporter-photographer began appearing in Tintin's two-page puzzle features in 1960. Not much later, the first long comics serial took off. Duchâteau wrote the first two stories of this humorous series: 'Bob Binn contre... XYZ' (1960) and 'La Course Aux Millions' (1961). From then on, Jacques Acar became the regular scriptwriter. Duchâteau and Aidans worked together again in 1965, this time for Pilote magazine. The stand-alone story 'Ici Mr Personne' starred a young man called Alex Vainclair, who pursues a group of robbers. In 2012 the story was reprinted in album format by Pan Pan.

Le Soir-Jeunesse
In the late 1960s, André-Paul Duchâteau became a prominent writer for Le Soir-Jeunesse, the youth supplement of the Belgian newspaper Le Soir. Many of the comics were either continued or reprinted in other magazines of the Rossel publishing house, such as Le Soir Illustré and Samedi-Jeunesse. Duchâteau wrote the first stories of 'Klaxon et Mycroft' (1969-1972), before being succeeded by J. Daniël (Daniël Janssens). The artist was the supplement's editor, Henri Desclez, who signed with Hapic. Desclez and Duchâteau also made the short-lived humor comic 'Saint-Fauston' (1969) in Tintin, as well as the science fiction comic 'Richard Bantam' (1970) for Spirou (signed by Duchâteau as Heric). The latter was reprised by Duchâteau and the artist Henri Decoster in Le Soir and Le Soir Illustré in 1975-1976. Another collaboration in Le Soir-Jeunesse marked the official debut of the Swiss artist Cosey: three stories with 'Monfreyd et Tilbury' (1971). With Gilbert Declercq, he made some short stories of 'Hugo des Ombres' (1974) for Le Soir. But Duchâteau's most enduring team-up was with another young artist, Christian Denayer. It would prove almost just as fruitful as the scriptwriter's association with Tibet...

In 1969 Tibet encouraged his assistant Christian Denayer to create his own comic series. Duchâteau was willing to write the stories, albeit aided by Stephen Desberg for one episode in 1977-1978. The end result, 'Yalek', appeared in Le Soir Jeunesse from 22 October 1969 until 5 March 1975 and then in Le Soir Illustré from 8 July 1976 until 14 September 1978. In the meantime the series also ran in Samedi-Jeunesse between February 1974 and April 1976. The first albums were published by Le Soir's publisher, Rossel. The title hero was a young journalist and a descendant of a Native American chief. He and his best friend Donald Book, nicknamed "Pocket", work as reporters for the TV station TV Verity. During their investigations they get caught up in exciting, sometimes quite far-fetched science fiction adventures. A female English journalist, Sabrina, often accompanies them. In 1979-1980 'Yalek' continued his reporting activities in Super As magazine, but then Jacques Géron as the new artist. Despite the disappearance of Super As in late 1980, new albums kept appearing at Novedi and Hachette until 1985.

Racing heroes
From 1971 on, Duchâteau and Denayer were also the creative team behind another series in Le Soir-Jeunesse, using their collective pseudonym Cap. 'Alain Chevallier' (1971-1985) was an answer to Jean Graton's hugely popular car race comic 'Michel Vaillant', for which Denayer was once an assistant. Just like Vaillant, Alain Chevallier is a succesful race car driver. His best friend is his car mechanic John John, nicknamed "Steack". Alain also has a steady fiancé, Tina Rex. In 1975 Graton wanted to leave Tintin magazine and take 'Michel Vaillant' with him. This led to a court battle, while the magazine desperately needed a similar series to fill in the void left behind. From 19 April 1977 on, Chevallier therefore drove off to Tintin magazine, not coincidentally during Duchâteau's editorship, where he kept riding until 1985. For Spirou magazine, Duchâteau (as Vasseur) and Denayer made three stories about another race car driver - 'Patrick Leman' (1971-1974). All three stories were published in a single volume book collection by La Vache qui Médite in 2011.

Mr. Magellan
His excursions to the press and other comic magazines didn't keep André-Paul Duchâteau from remaining a pillar of Tintin magazine. The 1970s were a busy period for the writer, who additionally served as the magazine's editor-in-chief from 1976 to 1979. In 1971 he became the new scriptwriter of the realistic spy comic series 'Mr. Magellan' (1969-1979), launched by artist Géri and scriptwriter Jean Van Hamme in 1969. The central character is Magellan, a cigar-smoking mechanical engineer who works for the ITO (International Testing Organisation). Together with his red-haired female assistant and antique dealer Capella they are secretly active as spies. Magellan is a whizz in electronics, while Capella is strong and a martial arts expert. Their recurring nemeses are the criminal organisation Le Soleil Rouge and the extraterrestrial mad scientist Casimir Bodu, aka "the Blue Man". Duchâteau's first 'Mr. Magellan' story, 'Opération Crystal', was serialized in 1971, and the writer continued to work with Géri on new episodes until 1979.

Collaborations with Eddy Paape
The 1970s also marked new collaborations with Eddy Paape. After their game page 'Voulez–vous jouer avec Toah?', the two men created the pirate series 'Yorik des Tempêtes' (1971-1973), Several stories varying from 7 through 16 pages in length appeared in Tintin and its pocket specials Tintin Sélection. Yorik is a pirate capitain accompanied by his shipmates Farfadet and Tête d'Enclume. A fourth crew member, Le Penseur ("The Thinker") is a prisoner whom they saved from the pirate Garcia le Nyctalope. The stories are self-contained, but follow a longer framing narrative. The full story was published in book format by Lombard in 1975. Duchâteau and Paape joined forces again in 1978 for the late 19th century adventures of Udolfo. Udolfo is a "public writer", who reads and writes letters in commision for the illiterate population of Paris, and thus gets caught up in all kind of intrigues. A second episode was serialized in 1980, drawn by Paape in collaboration with his student Andreas Martens. Years later, Paape and Duchâteau created 'Carol, Détective' (1990-1991), which ran in Tintin's follow-up Hello Bédé. The female title character is a futuristic detective accompanied by an anthropomorphic cat called Zhyl, very similar to Puss in Boots. Around the same period, Duchâteau scripted 'Mission en 2012' (1990), an short story of Eddy Paape's science fiction series 'Luc Orient'.

Les Casseurs, aka Al & Brock
With their collaboration established in Le Soir-Jeunesse in 1969, Duchâteau and Christian Denayer took their partnership to Tintin as well in the mid-1970s. In January 1973 the two men took a train to the first edition of the Angoulême Comics Festival. During their trip they discussed an idea for a new humorous comic series about two police offers. Similar TV shows and films enjoyed a rise in popularity during the decade, most notably 'Starsky and Hutch'. Since exciting car chases were a staple in Maurice Tillieux' work, Duchâteau originally suggested him as an inspirational source. Denayer and Duchâteau's comic strip debuted in issue #529 (January 1975) of Tintin magazine under the title 'Les Casseurs' (literally translated as "The Breakers"). The title refers to the fact that the main characters, Al and Brock, constantly cause collateral damage. Al, in full Alcibiade Russel, is a billionaire's son who has just finished police academy. The young recruit is teamed up with Pétrus Brockowsky, aka "Brock", a veteran police officer about to retire. Much of the comedy comes from the contrast between their personalities. Al is a spoiled playboy, while Brock is a rough, tough grouch who has a thing for black comedy. Many of their assignments in San Francisco end up in spectacular car and other vehicle crashes, rammed walls, and people getting injured. A running gag is their chief constantly telling them they're fired, despite the fact that they are reinstated by the next episode.

Like Duchâteau and Denayer expected, 'Les Casseurs' was an instant hit with the readers. It ran in Dutch ('De Brokkenmakers'), German ('Die Draufgänger'), Danish ('Brock-magerne'), Finnish ('Autopartio 525', also as 'Los Angeles Poliisin Autopartio 525') and Portuguese ('Cascadeurs'). The series kept running all throughout the next decade, although in 1990 it changed its title to 'Al et Brock'. Around that period a lot of reports about strikers who resorted to vandalism and violence dominated news headlines. The Francophone media nicknamed these people "casseurs". To avoid negative associations, Lombard insisted on the title change. By 1993-1994 Duchâteau and Denayer nevertheless felt the concept was tired out and threw in the towel. The fact that Tintin magazine had been discontinued also meant they no longer had a platform to serialize new stories. In December 1994 the final story therefore appeared directly in book format.

Some collaborations began for practical reasons. When Jean Van Hamme took a break from writing 'Thorgal', Tintin's editors wanted to keep the artist, Grzegorz Rosinski, on board. This resulted in another enduring Duchâteau co-creation, the science fiction series 'Hans' (1980-2000). Lauched in issue #32 of 5 August 1980, the stories are set in the then-distant year of 2027, and take place in a post-apocalyptic dystopian society on the planet Xanaïa. A young man, Hans, has lost his memory and only remembers his name. When a group of guards discover him he's arrested and taken to "The City", a totalitarian city and the only one left after a nuclear war which destroyed most civilizations. He manages to escape and joins a group of local rebels who hide outside the city. Hans falls in love with a young woman, Orchidée, with whom he becomes a couple and has a daughter: Mahonia. Together they lead an active resistance against the tyrant Valsary who is in control of the City, while Hans tries to recollect what happened to him before his memory loss.

From the fifth story on, 'La Loi d'Ardélia' (1990), Rosinski was assisted by Kas, who assumed full art duties one story later. 'Hans' continued in Tintin and its follow-up Hello Bédé until its cancellation in 1993. New albums of 'Hans' kept appearing until 2000. The series was also translated in Dutch, German, Italian and Polish (under the name 'Yans' because the name 'Hans' brought up too many negative associations with World War II). In 2000 it was discontinued.

Bruce J. Hawker
Another talent that Lombard didn't want to see going was William Vance. Vance had transferred his 19th century naval series 'Bruce J. Hawker' (1976-1996) from Femmes d'Aujourd'hui to Tintin in 1979. Hawker is a shipmate, falsely accused of treason, who travels the seven seas in order to regain his good name. The artist was however in need for scriptwriting assistance. In a 2008 interview with ActuaBD.com, André-Paul Duchâteau said that he began writing the scripts during his editorship, implying that his involvement began as early as 1979. Most sources however mention the fifth story, 'Press Gang' (1985), as Duchâteau's first. Duchâteau might have been confused with Vance's other series 'Ringo', for which he scripted the episode 'Trois Salopards dans la Neige' in Tintin Sélection in 1977. Notable for its raw, mature and less romanticized view of maritime life, 'Bruce J. Hawker' was discontinued in 1996.

Minor comics and contributions
Additional series of short comic stories written by Duchâteau for Tintin were 'Villard de Fer' (1980-1982), another naval hero, illustrated by Jacques Géron, and the post-apocalyptic 'Hypérion' (1979-1981), about a travelling salesman sold into slavery by pirates, drawn by Franz. Duchâteau also offered his services to artists in need of scriptwriting assistance, and so did anecdotal contributions to several classic comic series. He provided the basic plot for the final episode of the jungle adventurer 'Tiger Joe' ('Safari pour espions'), drawn by Jean Pleyers for La Libre Junior in 1967. As Héric, Duchâteau scripted the episode 'Le Manuscrit de Galilée' (1974), starring MiTacq's hero 'Stany Derval' in Spirou. When that same magazine tried to reboot Jijé's iconic 1940s detective hero 'Jean Valhardi', André-Paul Duchâteau teamed up with the new artist René Follet for the first two stories: 'Dossier X' (1980) and 'Les Naufrageurs aux Yeux Vides' (1982). In Spirou issue #2173 (6 December 1979), the 20th anniversary of Jean Roba's gag comic 'Boule et Bill' was celebrated with a special crossover tribute story drawn by various colleagues and written by Duchâteau and Spirou's chief editor Alain De Kuyssche. Since leaving his function as editor-in-chief of Tintin in 1979, Duchâteau got a more prominent role in Spirou altogether. Besides the previously mentioned riddle comic 'Enquêtes de l'Inspecteur Corniche' (1980-1981), he also scripted 'Trafic Caraïbes' (1981), the sole adventure 'Chris Melville'. Based on an idea by De Kuysche and illustrated by Daniel Hulet, the story revolves around a surfer who uncovers a local drug smuggling scheme in the Caribbean.

'Chris Melville' wasn't Duchâteau's only collaboration with Daniel Hulet. The two men had also created 'Pharaon', a spy comic set in Egypt. It was launched in issue #66 of the short-lived magazine Super As, the French edition of the German magazine Zack, on 13 May 1980. The stories revolve around a spy organisation, Cobra, led by the Admiral. Its core members are agent Pharaon, his female help Crystal and agent Quasimodo. The first series was published in book format by Novedi between 1981 and 1987. Two new installments appeared in Glénat's Grafica collection in 1996 and 1999.

Other 1980s comics
Among Duchâteau's other excursions during the 1980s was Glénat's Circus magazine, for which he made the adventures of 'Serge Morand' (1983-1987) with Patrice Sanahujas. Yet another mystery feature in his oeuvre, the series centers around a former soldier who works as a private detective in Reims. One day he is framed for a murder of a journalist which he didn't commit. He manages to escape and tries to find the real culprit. Collected in four books by Glénat, the series was also published in German at Reiner Feest Verlag. Duchâteau collaborated with Sanahujas again to create the science fiction two-parter 'Chancellor Enquêteur du Futur' (1986-1989) at Dargaud. With artist Xavier Musquera, Duchâteau developed the 1920s gangster series 'Peggy Press' (1984-1987), set in Chicago. The albums were published by Armonia. For Hello Bédé, Duchâteau adapted Mik Fondal's children's book 'Les Galapiats de la Rue Haute' (1991). Drawn by Didier Desmit, it was the first and sole volume in the series 'Les Enquêtes du Chat-Tigre', published by Le Lombard. In 1996 Duchâteau collaborated with Christian Denayer again to create 'Énigme à bord du Thalys' (1996), an eight-page comic to promote the Thalys train service.

Claude Lefrancq Editeur: BDétectives
In 1989 André-Paul Duchâteau began an association with Claude Lefrancq Editeur, where he supervised his own collection, 'BDétectives' (1989-1998). It contained several comic series based on the classics of crime literature. Duchâteau could fully endulge in his favorite genre by honoring his earliest influences. He'd already adapted several stories by Stanislas-André Steeman into theatrical and TV plays when in 1989 he developed the comic book series 'M. Wens' (1989-1994). The first three stories were drawn by Xavier Musquera. The fourth and final album by Didier Desmit. Gaston Leroux' literary detective 'Rouletabille' (seven albums, 1989-1997) inspired a similarly titled comic series where Bernard Swysen illustrated Duchâteau's scripts. It was popular enough to be translated in Dutch and Greek and win an award during the 1990 St-Nazaire Crime Festival. 'Arsène Lupin' (six albums, 1989-1998) followed the adventures of Maurice Leblanc's famous "gentleman-thief". The first five volumes were drawn by Jacques Géron and the final one by Erwin Drèze.

Duchâteau also wrote detective comics based on English-language novelists. The most famous detective novelist of all time, Arthur Conan Doyle, couldn't be forgotten. His signature series 'Sherlock Holmes' (1990-1998) inspired nine albums, where the artwork for each volume was alternated between Guy Clair, Stibane, Bruno Di Sano and Benoît Bonte. The Edgar Wallace thrillers 'The Yellow Snake' and 'The Green Archer' inspired respectively 'Le Serpent Jaune' (1992) and 'L'Archer Vert' (1995), drawn by Peter Li. In the same collection, Duchâteau's fellow scriptwriter François Rivière contributed adaptations of Gilbert Keith Chesterton's 'Father Brown' ('Abbé Brown', with art by Yves Urbain, 1991) and several Agatha Christie classics (with art by Jean-François Miniac and Frank Leclercq, 1995-1997), while René Follet adapted John Flanders' 'Edmund Bell' (1990-1993) and Loup Durand's 'Daddy' (1991). Luc Dellisse and Claude Laverdure adapted Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre's 'Fantômas' (1990-1995) and Jean-Claude de la Royère gave Rex Stout's 'Nero Wolfe' a comics treatment with the artists André Taymans and Philippe Wurm (1990-1992).

Lefranq also launched similar collections with comic book series based largely on literature, such as 'BDÉcrivain' (1989-1992) and 'BDévasion' (1989-1995). In the first, Duchâteau published the comic 'Wilt' (1990-1991), based on the novel by South African writer Tom Sharpe. The drawings were provided by Yves Urbain. 'BDÉvasion' featured a comic book adaptation by Duchâteau and novelist Loup Durand of 'TNT' (1989-1992), the spy novel series by Michaël Borgia (a joint pen name of Durand and Pierre Rey). The art was by Christian Denayer, with assistance from Yvan Fernandez and Frank Brichau. A lesser known work by Conan Doyle, 'Challenger' (1990-1992), was adapted into two albums, drawn by Patrice Sanahujas in the 'Bédévasion' collection. Duchâteau also penned the original science fiction tale 'Space Gordon' (1993), drawn by Raoul Giordan.

Les Romantiques
Famous historical persons provided the inspiration for some of André-Paul Duchâteau final projects. With the artist Éric Lenaerts, he created three volumes of 'Les Romantiques' (2001-2003) for the publishing house Casterman. The story is set in the 19th century, when novelist Alexandre Dumas prepares his classic novel 'The Count of Monte-Cristo'. His assistant, a journalist named Lacaze, has kept files about people who are accomplices in an international secret society. Meanwhile a poet named Gérard explores Egypt in the presence of scientist Fonfrède to uncover archaeological treasures...

Duchâteau worked with René Follet on the diptych 'Terreur' (Lombard, 2002-2004), which delves into the life of famous wax sculptor "Madame" Marie Tussaud during the French Revolution. It received an English translation under the title 'The Fascinating Madame Tussaud' (2007), published by Cinebook.

For Joker Éditions, Duchâteau wrote another diptych, 'Vanity' (2007, 2010), with Congolese artist Thembo Kash. The main characters in the two volumes, 'La Folie du Diable' (2007) and 'L'Opéra de Satan' (2010), are insurance investigator Angela Sanders and police investigator Fanny Gennaux. Both try to solve a series of ritual crimes which involve witchcraft and satanism. Together with the final installments in the 'Ric Hochet' series, 'Vanity' marked the end of André-Paul Duchateau's activities as a comic writer.

As mentioned earlier, Duchâteau's literary career had started before he wrote comics. It took more than 40 years since his first crime stories of the 1940s before he found the time again to write actual novels. In the late 1980s and early 1990s he published several new crime novels, such as 'La Petite Fille à Gauche sur La Photo' (1987), 'Mourir à Angoulême' (1990) - both published by Éditions du Rocher - 'Palmarès Pour Cinq Crimes' (Le Masque, 1990), 'La 139e Victime' (Le Masque, 1990), 'Crimes Par Ricochet' (Claude Lefrancq, 1991), 'Sherlock Holmes Revient' (Claude Lefrancq, 1992) and 'Défis Impossibles' (Quorum's Police Fiction series, 1994). For the Hachette collection Labyrinthes he also wrote three works of historical fiction about the life of Charles Dickens: 'Les Chemins de Lune' (2000), 'Le Voleur d'âmes' (2000) and 'Les Anges de Cire' (2003). His story, 'In het teken van de slang' ran in a Dutch-language translated version by Paul Goris in issue #3056 of the Flemish children's book series Vlaamse Filmpjes (2001). Duchâteau additionally wrote the prefaces to several reprints of novels by Stanislas-André Steeman.

Duchâteau's biggest commercial success actually started out as a theatrical play, '5 à 7 Avec La Mort' (1960), made for the Théâtre du Grand Guignol. In 1970 he adapted it into an audio play, broadcast on Radio Genève, followed by the RTBF five years later. The same story was reworked as a novella (1970-1971) and a 1972 TV screenplay, 'Les Dupes', for the RTBF and again for Japanese television in 1986 and 1987. Duchâteau also made it available as a novel, '5 à 7 Avec La Mort' (1973-1974) and again under the different title, 'La 139è Victime' (1990), which won the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. Duchâteau also adapted Stanislas André Steeman's 'Autopsie d'un Viol' as a play, which was performed between 1988 and 1995.

For Radio Luxembourg he wrote the audio play series 'Les Enquêtes du Commissaire Marin' (1955-1960), later continued on RTBF (1963-1976). The series was translated in Italian and German and broadcast in Germany (Deutsche Rundfunk), Switzerland (Radio Genève) and Italy (Rai). It inspired a riddle comic illustrated by Antonio Parras for Le Journal du Dimanche and Pilote in the late 1960s. Between 1972 and 1973 Duchâteau also made 'L'Inspecteur Lefranc'. Naturally he was closely involved with a 1985 radio adaptation of 'Ric Hochet', titled 'Les Enquêtes de Ric Hochet' (1985).

André-Paul Duchâteau wrote various screenplays for mystery thrillers, mostly original works, such as 'Boomerang' (1955), 'Un Pion de Trop' (1959), 'L'Homme Derrière La Porte' (1962), 'L'Inconnu du Téléphone.' (1960), 'Keskinvapa' (1971-1972), 'Le Crime de Minuit Quarante' (1973), 'Le Cinquième Coup de Feu' (1973) and 'Vous Oubliez Quelque Chose' (1988). Duchâteau also adapted two detective novels by Stanislas A. Steeman into TV scripts, such 'Le Condamné à Meurt à Cinq Heures' (1969) and 'Les Atouts de M. Wens' (1970). To nobody's surprise, he also adapted a 'Ric Hochet' story, 'Signé Caméleon', into a 1968 TV short, produced by Belvision, the animation department of Tintin magazine. Tibet and he had cameos as policemen in this film.

Editorial work
In several articles about the man, including Gaumer's biography, it is noted that André-Paul Duchâteau has "lived several lives in one". His career has indeed not limited itself to scriptwriting alone. Already in the 1940s he did editorial work through Tenas and Rali's studio. In the following decades he had been a journalist for Pourquoi Pas?, and editorial manager of Éditions Rossel, the publisher of the newspaper Le Soir. At Lombard, he has served and editor-in-chief of Tintin magazine from 1976 to 1979, when he passed the function to Jean-Luc Vernal. A decade later, on 1 December 1988, he was named literary director of Tintin's publishing company Lombard. His good friend Bob De Moor became artistic director, and was succeeded in 1992 by Tibet. Duchâteau held his function until 1997. During his tenure, he additionally oversaw the 'BDétectives' collection at Claude Lefrancq. In an interview with Nicolas Anspach for the ActuaBD.com website in 2008, Duchâteau recalled one of the more hectic periods of his career, the second half of the 1970s. In the mornings he visited the offices of Pourquoi Pas? and the Groupe Rossel, then had lunch with his wife, before heading off to Lombard in the afternoon. In the evenings he was present at the broadcasting company RTBF, where he was a jury member in the game show 'Voulez-vous jouer?' (1975-1980). He wrote his comic scripts in his weekends.

A.-P. Duchâteau by Tibet (1972).

André-Paul Duchâteau won the 1970 First Prize for the Radio Sottens contest and the 1974 Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, both for 'De 5 à 7 Avec La Mort'. The first volume of his 'Terreur' comic with René Follet won the Prix Saint Michel (2003) for "Best Script", while he received a Grand Prix Saint-Michel for his entire oeuvre in 2010. In 1991 Duchâteau was knighted by King Boudewijn/Baudouin in the Order of Leopold.

Retirement and death
The death of his good friend Tibet also marked the retirement of the productive scriptwriter, by then well in his eighties. Duchâteau and the artist's heirs gave their permission to scriptwriter Zidrou and artist Simon van Liemt to reboot 'Ric Hochet' in a more contemporary rendition. The first album of 'Les Nouvelles Enquêtes de Ric Hochet' appeared in May 2015. The veteran scriptwriter passed away in Uccle on 26 August 2020, at the age of 95.

André-Paul Duchâteau, labelled the spiritual heir of Stanislas-André Steeman and a "gentleman storyteller", leaves behind a more than impressive oeuvre. His plots for comics, plays and novels are well-crafted and a fine showcase of their author's fantasy and imagination. Like no other he could construct mysteries which either one of his heroes or the readers themselves had to solve. With his background in comics and TV, Duchâteau has explained in interviews that his writing was deliberately visual. He also took great care in his documentation. However, most of the time he began stories of which he didn't know the end yet, citing George Simenon: "How do you want me to experience something that has already been experienced?"

Books about André-Paul Duchâteau
For those interested in Duchâteau's life and career Patrick Gaumer's 'André-Paul Duchâteau, gentleman conteur' (Lombard, 2005) is highly recommended. Duchâteau also wrote an autobiography: '7 à 77 Ans. Souvenirs d'un Scénariste' (Transparences, 2002).

A.P. Duchâteau photographed by J.P. Stercq for the 'Galerie-photo de Tintin' (Tintin #19, 1973).

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