Raymond Macherot was one of the classic artists of the franco-belgian school, who has published his work in both Tintin and Spirou. He was a master in poetic and satirical animal comics, as can be seen in his two main series, 'Chlorophylle' and 'Sibylline'. The sharp humour and funny characters make his series some of the best in the genre. Born in Verviers in the Belgian Ardennes, Raymond Macherot developed his love for nature while with the boyscouts. He enrolled at the University of Liège to study Law during World War II, but broke off his studies in February 1945 to join the Royal Navy. He returned to Verviers after the war and eventually found employment with the local paper Le Courier du Soir as a journalist.
Chlorophylle - Zizanion le terrible (1958)
His main interest was drawing, however, and contributed his first cartoons to the satirical magazine Pan, using the pen name Zara. He used his spare time to develop comic projects, that he presented to publisher Le Lombard in Brussels. The publisher hired him to work in the art studios of its magazine Tintin in 1953, filling the vacancy that was left by Tibet. Macherot made several editorial illustrations for the magazine, and also illustrated advertisements for Victoria chocolate. His personal comics creation, the realistic midieval comic 'Le Chevalier Blanc', was accepted, but the publisher assigned Fred and Liliane Funcken to draw the story.
He created his first and best known animal series, 'Chlorophylle et Minimum' in 1955. Macherot drew the series until 1963 (with one extra story in 1966), during which he changed the setting from a realistic natural environment to a more humanized animal world in the tradition of Disney. Macherot commented on many social en political issues through the view of the rodents Chlorophylle and Minimum and their continuing problems with vicious gangs of rats and ferets. Many artists had their turn on the comic in the years that followed, such as Pierre Guilmard, Hubuc, Dupa and Walli, but the charm of the Macherot era has never been surpassed.
Les enquêtes du colonel Clifton (1960)
While drawing 'Chlorophylle', Macherot had several excursions outside of his animal world. He created one-shots like 'Père la Houle' (1957) and 'Klaxon' (1958), as well as the famous British detective 'Clifton'. Macherot wrote and drew three episodes of the series himself in 1960 and 1961, and after a long break, it was revived by artists like Jo-El Azara, Turk, Bédu and Michel Rodrigue in the decades that followed. Macherot was additionally responsible for the illustrations of a nature section in Tintin between 1959 and 1961.
Macherot left Tintin in 1964 and joined Spirou magazine, where he made his debut with the brilliant animal comic 'Chaminou et le Khrompire', about an aristocratic cat detective and his battle against carnivorous kidnappers in the kingdom Zoolande. 'Chaminou' was deemed to cynical for Spirou's young audience, and thus lasted for only one story. The comic got a cult status over the years, and from 1989 the series was revived by Denis Bodart and Yann and later by Olivier Saive and Macherot himself.
By 1965, Macherot came up with 'Sybilline', a series in which he continued the themes he had previously explored in 'Chlorophylle'. The initial focus was the battle between house mouses Sybilline and Taboum and the cat Pantouffle, but from the third story Macherot returned to the setting of a humanized animal world. Sybilline's initial enemy, the stupid cat 'Pantouffle', got a short-lived spin-off in 1966, written by René Goscinny.
In the 1970s, Macherot teamed up with writer Raoul Cauvin to begin the gag series about the cat 'Mirliton'. Raymond Macherot also cooperated with Yvan Delporte on the creation and the scripts of 'Mulligan' (drawn by Berck) and 'Isabelle' (drawn by Will).
Mirliton (early 1970s)
Over the years, Macherot added a great many colorful characters to his animal world, such as the villain Anathème Percemiche, police officer Verboten, business bird Flouzemaker, the vampire Burokratz, the journalist duck Patakes and the killer ferret Croque-monsieur. The author, who regularly suffered from depressions, was aided by Deliège for the scripts in the 1970s.
Sibylline s'envole (1974)
He added more and more fantastic elements to the series throughout the years, until his retirement in 1990. In 2005, Éditions Flouzemaker was launched by Stephan Caluwaerts in cooperation with Macherot in order to reprint Macherot's older work and to revive certain classics. Macherot supervised a relaunch of 'Sybilline' by artist André Taymans in 2005, and of 'Mirliton' by Cauvin and artist Erwin Drèze in 2007, while Bruno Wesel was hired for the coloring. Raymond Macherot passed away in September 2008.
Sibylline - Le violon de Zagabor (1982)