The Belgian artist couple Fred and Liliane Funcken have been making a variety of historical comics since their first cooperation in Tintin magazine in 1956. Their work is characterized by a realistic, precise style which gives their comics a classic touch. Fred Funcken was born in Verviers, and already published his first commercial drawings for a local paper. He began his professional career as an illustrator for the Dupuis magazines Spirou, Bonnes Soirées and Le Moustique in 1939. He drew his first comic stories after joining the studios of Guy Depière in the following year. In his early work, he used a variety of, mostly anglicized, pseudonyms, such as Fred Gu, Fred Dye, Dick John's, Ranch, Mac Bones, Léo Lyon and Hector Hugo.
Clem et Shorty (Heroic, 1956)
Throughout the 1940s, he illustrated such series as the western 'Bob Hunter' for L'Eclair, 'Bricole', 'Tommy Tuller', 'Wolman' and 'Roberjac' for Bimbo. He was sent to Germany to do forced labour in 1943. He returned in 1944 and and resumed 'Tommy Tuller', while also collaborating with Marcel Moniquet and Fernand Cheneval on 'Akkor, Roi de la Planète' and 'Robin Moderne'. Funcken's art also appeared in Jeep ('Gogo Laroulette') and Blondine ('Les Aventures héroïques de Geneviève'). His comic 'Le Cimetière des Baleines' was published by Campéador in 1947. He was also hired by Havas Belgique as a dummymaker and advertisement artist, and made comic adaptations of Jack London and Rosy Aîné stories for L'Explorateur.
By 1948, he followed his Épierre colleagues Moniquet, Cheneval and Maurice Tillieux to Cheveval's new magazine Héroic Albums. He continued several of his series from Bimbo but also created new ones like 'Yves et Jannic' (1953) and 'Clem & Shorty' (1956).
Le Comte de Monte-Cristo (Tintin, 1955)
He also returned to Dupuis through the World's Press agency and illustrated several 'Belles Histoires de l'Oncle Paul' by Octave Joly, and some romanticized biographies for Bonnes Soirées under the pen name Kendy. It was by then that he started a collaboration with Liliane Schorils, his future wife. He had met her in 1949 while designing displays for the Innnovation department store in Brussels, where she was an executive secretary. Liliane, who was born in Soignies in 1927, had been writing stories for Spirou and Bonnes Soirées before she started co-writing, inking and coloring Fred's drawings.
They continued their unique collaboration with Tintin magazine in 1952, where they drew a great many short historical stories scripted by Yves Duval, as well as a variety of adaptations like 'Les Aventures du Chevalier de Lagardère', 'Les Trois Mousquetaires', 'Le Comte de Monte-Cristo' and 'La Tulipte Noire'. Between 1955 and 1962 they made over 1,600 drawings for the series 'L'Histoire du Monde' by abbot J. Schoonjans.
Harald le Viking - L'Escale de la peur (1968)
Their first series was 'Le Chevalier Blanc', a medeival series based on an idea by Raymond Macherot. The first series of stories ran from 1953 to 1963. According to the authors, this comic was the first continental series to be published in English. They created the naval series 'Harald le Viking' in 1956 at the request of the publisher. They created three long stories until 1962 and a couple of short ones until 1967. Other series were 'Jack Diamond' (script by André Fernez, 1959-1960) and several creations in collaboration with Yves Duval, such as 'Lieutenant Burton' (1962-1967), 'Capitan' (1963-1971) and 'Doc Silver' (1967-1969).
The Funckens continued to work with Duval in the 1970s and 1980s. They made the historical epic 'La Plus Grande Histoire du Monde' in 1974, and then 'La Famille des Saint-Preux' in 1983 and 1984. They also made new stories with 'Le Chevalier Blanc' from 1984, this time in cooperation with Didier Convard. In 1993 and 1994, they created two historical comics about Napoleon for La Dernière Heure, 'La Chute de l'Aigle', about the battle at Waterloo, and 'Le Sultan de feu'. Their knowledge of history and their fine documentation, led to their illustrated collection 'L'Encyclopédie des Uniformes et de Armes de Tous les Temps', that appeared in seventeen books from 1965 to 1982. An extra book called 'Les Soldats de la Révolution' followed in 1988. Fred Funcken passed away in Brussels on 16 May 2013 at age 91, Liliane on 26 September 2015, at age 88.
Capitan - Mission Spéciale (1973)