Paul Gordeaux was a French journalist, writer, theater critic and humorist. He wrote for French magazines and newspapers from 1908 until his death in 1974, and was the first editor-in-chief of the French news magazine Paris Match. He was furthermore a scriptwriter for operettas and comedies, and most notably the creator of the vertical comic strip in French newspapers. He has written thousands of strips for the true-story comics features 'Le Crime Ne Paie Pas' (1949-1972) and 'Les Amours Célèbres' (1950-1972) for the France-Soir.

He was born as Philippe Georges Emanuel Gordolon in Nice in 1891. His father was architect and industrialist François-Félix Gordolon (1852-1901), who had worked with French engineer Gustave Eiffel and was the founder of the local illustrated weekly Nice-Artistique et Littéraire. Philippe assumed the pen name Paul Gordeaux when he began his collaboration with the local Nice publications Phare du Littoral and L'Éclaireur de Nice in October 1908, and with Le Petit Niçois one year later. He was also writing cabarets with another local author called Altéry. Most shows were performed at Les Revues de Variété, and starred some of the best actors from the Nice area, as well as the comedian Valentin Sardou from Marseille.

He served as a hussar and then as a mountain gunner during World War I, and subsequently began an association with the conservative newspaper L'Écho de Paris, one of the largest dailies of France. He was an influential critic in the showbizz section, and later became head of the theater page of the Parisian newspaper Le Soir. He had a steady working relationship with journalist and future media tycoon Pierre Lazareff, whose career began in Gordeaux's section in 1925. Gordeaux was also the person who coined the phrase "blablabla" for claptrap. His friend Pierre Bénard started using the expression in his paper Le Canard Enchaîné, after which it began to lead its own life.

During World War II, Gordeaux served as a permanent envoy of the Prouvost Group newspapers in London, where he became head of the translations of foreign newspapers. With his friend Pierre Dac he also participated in the radio broadcast 'Les Français parlent aux Français' on Radio Londres, in which Dac parodied popular songs to mock the Vichy government and the Nazis. When Gordeaux returned home, he resumed his work for Paris-Soir and became a member of the resistance group Lenoir. In 1944-1945, he was editor-in-chief of the Lenoir publication L'Ergot, in which he wrote several articles for claiming back the towns Tende and La Brigue, which had been part of Italy since 1860. Both towns became French soil again in 1947.

In 1938, Gordeaux had been appointed editor-in-chief of the right-wing newspaper L'Instrasigeant by Jean Prouvost. Gordeaux decided to turn its sports supplement Match l'Intran into a French version of Life magazine. Match became a new weekly until its disappearance in June 1940. It returned as Paris Match in 1949 and Paul Gordeaux served as its first editor-in-chief. The magazine still exists to this day, but Gordeaux left after only one year, when he became literary editor of France-Soir. He continued his work as a noted drama critic in this paper, making an equal amount of friends as well as enemies in the theater and music hall world as a result.

Le Crime Ne Paie Pas by Jean-Albert Carlotti
The vertical strips were sometimes edited to horizontal strips when they were syndicated to other publications (artwork by Jean-Albert Carlotti)

He is however best-remembered for his contributions to the comics section. Newspapers at the time all presented their comics in a horizontal format, but Gordeaux wanted his comics to have a cinematographic touch and resemble a piece of film. And so the typical French phenomenon of the vertical comic strip was born. The first episode of 'Le Crime Ne Paie Pas' ('Crime Does Not Pay') appeared on 16 November 1949. It was a series of true crime cases, told in a text comics format. The strip shares its theme and name with the American comic book 'Crime Does Not Pay' (Lev Gleason, 1942-1955), for which Charles Biro was the main artist.

Gordeaux documented the subjects and wrote the informative texts, while several of the top illustrators of the time were assigned to provide the artwork. The first was Jean Bellus, and in the next to decades he was followed by Jean Ache, Regino Bernad, Jacques-Armand Cardon, Jean-Albert Carlotti, Roger Chancel, Bernard Duc, Jean Effel, Gorce, Jacques Grange, Étienne Lage, Jacques Lechantre, Jean Lenoir, Mant, Louis Moles, Jacques Pecnard, Charles Popineau, Jean Randier, Jean Reschofsky, Andreas Rosenberg, Jacques Taillefer, and even Albert Uderzo, the future artist of 'Astérix'. About 300 crime stories were covered in about 6.200 daily strips. An additional feature covering famous love stories called 'Les Amours Célèbres' was launched one year later, and kicked off with 'Romeo and Juliette' on 22 November 1950. While some stories ran for only a couple of days, others ran for weeks or even months. For instance the publication of 'Napoléon et les femmes' lasted 196 days!

Les Amours Célèbres, by Charles Popineau

'Le Crime Ne Paie Pas' also appeared as a magazine supplement, of which 9 monthly issues were published between 15 April and 15 December 1953. At the time the series was popular enough to inspire a 1962 live-action film adaptation by Gérard Oury, starring such film stars as Gino Cervi, Michèle Morgan, Philippe Noiret, Danielle Darrieux, Richard Todd and Louis de Funès. 'Les Amours Célèbres also inspired a live-action comedy film, namely 'Les Amours Célèbres' (1961) by Michel Boisrond, starring - among others - Jean-Paul Belmondo, Philippe Noiret, Simone Signoret, Alain Delon, Pierre Brasseur and Brigitte Bardot.

Paul Gordeaux was furthermore responsible for the comic strip adaptation of 'Signé Furax', a famous radioplay by Pierre Dac and Francis Blanche. It ran in Paris-Soir from 25 February 1957 until September 1960 and was produced by Henry Blanc (art) and Robert Mallat (texts). Paul Gordeaux was for a long time one of the most widely read comics authors of France with his daily publications in a paper with a circulation of 1,115,700 copies in 1961. The strip had such an impact, that director François Truffaut sent Gordeaux's strip about American crime couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow to the scriptwriters of the 1963 'Bonnie and Clyde' film when he was approached to direct it. With over 10,000 strips to his name, Gordeaux was succeeded as the scriptwriter for both 'Le Crime Ne Paie Pas' and 'Les Amours Célèbres' by Robert Mallat in 1966.

He has furthermore written articles for publications like Combat, Comœdia, Le Nouveau Candide, Le Rire, La Petite Gironde, Record, and Jours de France. He passed away in Nice on 4 March 1974.

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