René Follet is one of the most remarkable Belgian comic artists and illustrators. During his long career he has made many comics and illustrations, and he is widely admired among comic artists, although he has remained relatively unknown with the general public.
Born in Brussels, Follet had his first professional assignment at the age of 14, drawing a series of lithographs illustrating Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island' for chocolat factory Aiglon. He also contributed illustrations to the scouting magazine Plein Jeu. From 1949, he created illustrations for Spirou using the pseudonym Ref. In the following year, he made his first comics, which were installments in the Spirou series 'Les Belles Histoires de l'Oncle Paul'. In that year, he was also present in Tintin, at first illustrating tales and in 1953 the western story 'Rocky Bill' as well as historical comics scripted by Yves Duval.
He focused on illustration work in the following year, working for publishers such as Dupuis, Casterman, Lefrancq and the Dutch magazines Pep and Donald Duck, published by De Geïllustreerde Pers. In 1956 he made another comic story, 'Peggy, petit Oiseau sans Ailes', for La Semaine de Suzette.
1967 marked his return as a comic artist, with the publication of 'Alain Brisant - S.O.S. Bagarreur', a comic scripted by Maurice Tillieux, in Spirou. With Yvan Delporte he created the series about traveling circus company 'Les Zingari' for Le Journal de Mickey in 1970. These stories were reprinted in Spirou in the 1980s. In addition, Follet assisted MiTacq on 'Jacques le Gall' in Pilote and 'Stany Derval' in Spirou, and William Vance on 'Bob Morane' and 'Bruno Brazil' in Tintin.
In 1974, he created his first continuing series 'Ivan Zourine', about Russia in the early 20th Century, with writer Jacques Stoquart. This series, with scripts by either Stoquart or André-Paul Duchateau, was later continued in Spirou and the Dutch magazine Eppo. Also for Eppo, he created nine adventures of 'Steven Severijn' ('Steve Severin') between 1975 and 1981 (scripts by Delporte, Stoquart and Gerard Soeteman). During the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Follet provided artwork for a number of short stories, published in Tintin, Spirou, Pep and Eppo.
Ivan Zourine - Testament de Sibérie
In the early 1980s, Follet drew two new stories with the classic Jijé character 'Jean Valhardi', from scripts by Duchateau and Stoquart. He began a fruitful collaboration with Editions Lefrancq as the illustrator of novels in the series 'Bob Morane' (by Henri Vernes) and 'Edmund Bell' (by Jean Flanders).
As a comic artist, he turned to making comic adaptations of literature, starting with his 1982 adaptation of 'The Iliad' with Stoquart. Together with Martin Lodewijk, he made four comic adaptations of 'Edmund Bell' stories, starting in 1986, and he cooperated with writer Loup Durand on two comic books based on Durand's novel 'Daddy' in 1990.
Although Follet has mainly been active with doing illustrations for advertisements and non-fiction and fiction books, he made the comic series 'Ikar' with Makyo for Glénat in the mid 1990s. He worked with André-Paul Duchateau on the diptych 'Terreur', about the life of Marie Tussaud, in the Signé collection of Le Lombard in 2002 and 2004. Follet first used the technique of direct colors for this comic, and he used this same style in his following books. These include his Casterman books 'Shelena' (with writer Jéromine Pasteur in 2004) and 'L'étoile du soldat' (with Christophe De Ponfilly in 2007). He worked with Pascal Bresson on 'L'Affaire Dominici' for Glénat in 2010, and then made his debut in Dupuis' Aire Libre collection with his Robert Louis Stevenson biography 'Stevenson, le pirate intérieur' together with Rodolphe in 2013.