Comic Creator Paul Jamin

Paul Jamin

Jam, Alfred Gérard, Oncle Jo, Peter Klipp, Alidor, Kler, Pat

(11 August 1911 - 19 February 1995, Belgium)   Belgium

Paul  Jamin

Le Vol du Bourdon, by Paul Jamin
'Le Vol du Bourbon' (Spirou #1252, 12 April 1962).

Paul Jamin was a Belgian press cartoonist, working under pseudonyms like Jam, Alfred Gérard and Alidor. After working for scouting magazines and the Hergé-supervised Le Petit Vingtième, Jamin spent World War II making anti-semitic cartoons for pro-Nazi magazines and newspapers. After his post-war imprisonment, he returned to cartooning, making satirical drawings and comic strips for Pan and De Nieuwe Linie, as well as the comic story Le Vol du Bourdon' (1962) in Spirou magazine.

Early life and career
Paul Jamin was born in 1911 in Liège as one of five siblings. His father was a chemist and his mother worked as a primary school drawing teacher. His cousin Georges Jamin was a sculptor. Shortly after World War I, the Jamin family lived in a farm in the north of France, where Paul went to school in Vervins and served as altar boy. Within a couple of years, the family moved back to Belgium and settled in Brussels. During his high school years at the Institut Saint-Boniface Parnasse in Brussels, Jamin was a classmate of Paul Rémi, the younger brother of the future comic artist Georges Rémi, AKA Hergé. Jamin also attended the Institut Saint-Luc art school, but didn't enjoy the classical training and left.

Boy Scouts
At age 18, Jamin began his artistic life as an illustrator and editor for Scouting magazines, signing his work with Jamin, J. or Jam. For Le Boy-Scout Belge, he created his first comic serial, detailing the history of his home country, under the title 'La Belgique à travers les Ages' ("Belgium through the Ages", 1930-1931). Inspired by the Parisian press cartoonist Jean Sennep, Jamin eventually shifted towards political cartooning.

Cover for Le Petit Vingtième (19 October 1933)
Cover illustrations for Le Petit Vingtième of 19 and 26 October 1933.

Le Petit Vingtième
In March 1930, Jamin joined Le Petit Vingtième, the weekly children's supplement of the conservative Catholic newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle and notable as the original homebase of Hergé's 'Tintin' stories. Paul Jamin started out as a jack-of-all-trades, doing production chores, inking duties and tracing of foreign cartoons. Within a short while, Jamin - as "Jam" - began making cover and illustrations and editorial work, including the edifying editorials of "Oncle Jo" and the news section 'Ce Qui Se Passe'. After leaving Le Petit Vingtième in 1936, Jamin always kept in close touch with his friend Hergé, whom he often handed gag ideas for the 'Quick et Flupke' series.

Between 1936 and 1944, Jamin worked for several other magazines, signing his work with mostly Jam, Jamin or Alfred Gérard. In 1936, he left Le Petit Vingtième to become the lead caricaturist for the Belgian fascist party Rex and its house organ Le Pays Réel, both headed by Léon Degrelle. Degrelle himself was once a journalist for Le Petit Vingtième, so he and Jamin already knew each other well from before. Jamin's artwork also appeared in the Rexist humor weekly L'Oasis. A selection of his cartoons was collected by Rex in the 1936 book 'Les Dernières Cartouches: Dessins de Jam', which had a foreword by Degrelle. In a 1939 interview, Hergé stated that (with his artwork) "Jam did more for Rex than all of Degrelle's speeches". Apart from Rexist publications, Jamin also worked for the weekly Cassandre and for L'Ouest, a newspaper founded in 1939 by the later editor-in-chief of Le Soir, Raymond de Becker.

Jam cartoon for Le Pays Réel (1938).  The man eating oysters is Socialist politician Paul-Henri Spaak. Inside his oyster is the face of Prime Minister and christian-democratic party member Paul Van Zeeland. Translation: "Watch out for food poisoning." 

World War II collaboration
By the time World War II broke out, Paul Jamin contributed to other Nazi-controlled magazines, including the newly launched German-language Deutsche-Brüsseler Zeitung and the Flemish fascist newspaper Volk en Staat. Other cartoonists who once drew for Volk en Staat have been Buth, C. Dick, Armand Panis and Willy Vandersteen. He was also a prominent cartoonist for Le Soir, the Brussels newspaper under German editorial control (this rendition of the paper was later referred to as "Le Soir Volé" (the "Stolen Soir")). Together with Hergé and Jacques van Melkebeke, Jamin formed the original team of the youth supplement Le Soir-Jeunesse, launched on 17 November 1940. Jamin made drawings, and wrote editorials - often with a national-socialist undertone - using the pseudonym Alfred Gérard or the collective pen name "Monsieur Triplesec". Jamin also appeared on the propaganda radio station Radio Bruxelles, spoofing patriotic BBC news broadcasts set to marching music taken from Laurel & Hardy films.

Shortly before the Belgian Liberation in September 1944, Jamin and his family fled to Berlin, Germany, where the artist worked for the newspaper L'Avenir and the publishing house Toison d'Or. In Belgium however, Jamin was a wanted man. During the war, he had made over 500 anti-Semitic drawings, and also cartoons undermining the Belgian government-in-exile. Upon his return to his home country, in Hasselt, he was arrested. In March 1945, the Belgian War Coucil sentenced Paul Jamin to death, and a fine of five million Belgian francs (124,000 euros, without inflation). The Military Tribunal later lowered the fine to 100,000 Belgian francs, and by December 1946 his death sentence was turned into life imprisonment. Jamin was released from prison in Easter 1951.

Cartoon by Alidor
Cartoon for Pan about the post-war arms race.

Post-war cartooning
After his prison release in 1951, Jamin was however not able to resume his career. He initially went back to Germany, where he worked for the Ruhr Nachrichten, making a daily caricature under the name "Peter Klipp". Hiding behind the pen name Alidor, he also became one of the main contributors to the Brussels satirical weekly Pan, traveling back and forth between Germany and Belgium every two weeks. Eventually returning to his home country, Jamin also designed advertisements for Martini and Cinzano Vermouth. Under the pen names Kler and Alidor, his artwork also appeared in the Flemish Catholic opinion weekly De Vlaamse Linie and its follow-up De Nieuwe Linie. He was presumably also the cartoonist behind the pen name Pat, who drew the comic strip about the soldier 'Soldaat Joep' (1962-1965). Paul Jamin's cartoons additionally appeared in The Bulletin, Belgique numéro 1, L'Événement, Impact, Le Métropole, Trends, De Standaard, Ciné-Revue and L'Éventail.

Alidor cartoon for De Standaard (1973).

Spirou magazine
Between 1960 and 1964, Paul Jamin - as "Alfred Gérard" - was present as a comic artist in Spirou magazine. He drew nine stories for the fold-in mini-comics section, as well as a couple of gag pages and short stories. In 1962, Spirou ran his humorous comic serial 'Le Vol du Bourdon' ("The Stolen Clock"), starring the retired police sergeant Ernest Lecrac, who now works as a museum security guard.

Graphic contributions
In 1980, Paul Jamin was one of many Belgian comic artists making a graphic contribution to the book 'Il Était Une Fois... les Belges'/'Er Waren Eens Belgen' (1980), a collection of columns and one-page comics, published at the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Belgium.

Paul Jamin's contribution to 'Er Waren Eens... Belgen' (1980). In the story Hergé's Tintin disguises himself as E.J. Pinchon's Bécassine to tell king Baudouin/Boudewijn and queen Fabiola that he thwarted a coup. As a large flood puts the entire country under water, Tintin and the royal couple fled Belgium by ark. Tintin points out: "Your Majesty, apart from us, there are no longer any Belgians", which references a famous quote by politician Jules Destrée: "Your Majesty, there are no Belgians, only Flemings and Walloons." 

Final years and death
Alidor remained the house cartoonist of Pan magazine for nearly forty years. In 1990, both Jamin and former chief editor Henri Vellut left the paper out of dissatisfaction with the new management, and set up a new satirical weekly called Père Ubu. In 2010, Père Ubu magazine was bought by Pan, after which the two magazines into Ubu-Pan.

With about 20,000 drawings to his name, Paul Jamin died in 1995 in Ixelles, near Brusels. Three years after his death, a limited edition booklet honoring the friendship between Paul Jamin and Hergé - 'Complices Cités' (1998) - was published by Stéphane Steeman with assistance from the cartoonist's life partner Renée Meunier. Jamin's work was admired by Marec and Marc Sleen.

Le Vol du Bourdon, by Paul Jamin
Paul Jamin during the 1940s.

Series and books by Paul Jamin you can order today:


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