Prudence Petitpas, by Maurice Maréchal
Prudence Petitpas - Fusils pour Macao (1967)

Maurice Maréchal had a modest presence in the pages of the Belgian comics magazine Tintin in the 1950s and 1960s. However, he did present the magazine's readership an atypical and remarkable comic character: an elderly lady called 'Prudence Petitpas', who solved mysteries in the small village of Moucheron.

Born in Waremme, Maréchal was well into his thirties when he began working as a comic artist. He was a teacher in French and Spanish languages at the grammar school of Verviers (one of his students was René Hausman), and developed the concept for his comic series in his spare time. He presented it to his neighbour, the comic artist Raymond Macherot, who published the popular animal comic 'Chlorophylle' in Tintin magazine. Macherot helped Maréchal with the sketches of the first 'Petitpas' stories, and introduced his neighbour to the editors of Tintin magazine at Éditions Le Lombard in 1957. Prudence Petitpas and her cat Stanislas made their first appearance in Tintin in that same year.

Prudence Petitpas
Prudence Petitpas et les voitures fantômes (1966)

Maréchal found a partner in scriptwriter René Goscinny, who had a fruitful production for Tintin at the time. The character started out as somewhat of a gullible old lady, but gradually evolved into a comic book Miss Marple, who starred in short stories and gags. By 1960 Goscinny had called it quits and Maréchal assumed full authorship of his comic. He started making longer stories and later got help from Mittéï and Pierre Seron for scriptwork and background art. In 1967, Maréchal dropped his comic activities and focused on his teaching job and his family life.

cover for Tintin by Maurice Marechalcover for Spirou by Maurice Marechal

It wasn't until after his retirement that 'Prudence Petitpas' returned, but this time in Tintin's main competitor, Spirou magazine. The character made occasional appearances in this magazine between 1984 and 1987 (with scriptwork by Maréchal, Didgé, Jiem or Mittéï), after which Maurice Maréchal retired completely. But Maréchal's spirited lady was not forgotten: an animated series of 52 episodes was produced by Odec Kid Cartoons and broadcasted in France and Québec in 2001.

Maurice Maréchal passed away in Polleur, Belgium, in 2008. Coincidentally, during the week of his death, Éditions Le Lombard published a compendium of Maréchal's work, called 'Prudence Petitpas mène l'enquête'.

Prudence Petitpas, by Maurice Maréchal
Prudence Petitpas in Spirou/Robbedoes issue 2570 (1987)

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