De Ontbrekende Schakel, by Picha
'De Ontbrekende Schakel' (Spetters #1, April 1981).

Picha is one of the most famous Belgian animators in the world, along with Raoul Servais. Contrary to Servais, though, he is not critically acclaimed and mostly known for low-brow sexual animated feature films such as his signature work, 'Tarzoon: La Honte de la Jungle' ('Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle', 1975). Despite his notoriety he also made more child-friendly animated TV series, such as 'Zoo Olympics' (1990-1991), 'Zoo Cup' (1992-1993) and 'Les Jules... Chienne de Vie' (1996). He was also a cartoonist in the underground press during the 1960s and 1970s and adapted many of his animated films into comic books.

Early life and cartooning career
Picha was born in 1942 in Brussels as Jean-Paul Walravens. He studied at the Saint-Luc Higher School of Arts in Brussels. His first cartoon was published in Pourquoi Pas? when the artist was only 15 years old. From 1960 on Picha worked as a cartoonist for magazines like God, Nederland en Oranje, Pan, Hara-Kiri, National Lampoon, La Libre Belgique, Vrij Nederland, Spécial and The New York Times. He published several comic book albums, including 'Paranoia' (1970), 'Picha au Club Méditerranée' (1971), 'Chastity' (1973), 'Au Secours' (1973), 'Persona non Grata' (1975) and 'Démocratie Belge' (with Pierre Bartier, 1976).

Persona Non Grata by Picha
From: 'Persona Non Grata'. The military officer asks the prisoner what his final wish is? He answers that he wants to see a doctor, because he has palpitations. After a check-up the doctor says that the prisoner needs to be hospitalized. 

Near the end of the 1960s, he worked for the Belgian television network RTB for the pop music show 'Vibrato'. In 1972 Picha designed the film poster for Benoît Lamy's documentary 'Cartoon Circus', a Belgian documentary about cartoons and comics,  in which he also appeared alongside Siné, Roland Topor, Cabu, Jean-Marc Reiser, François Cavanna, Professeur Choron, Gal, Georges Wolinski, Willem, Joke and Jules Feiffer. He also designed the film posters for Benoît Lamy's 'Home Sweet Home' (1973) and Thierry Zéno's 'Des Morts' (1979). Picha acted in the live-action short 'Fumeurs de charme' (1985) by Frédéric Sojcher, which also starred the French singers Serge Gainsbourg and Bernard Lavilliers.

Tarzoon: The Shame Of The Jungle
Inspired by the success of Ralph Bakshi's X-rated animated feature 'Fritz the Cat' (1972), Picha became an animator in the mid-1970s. His debut film, 'Tarzoon: La Honte de la Jungle' ('Tarzoon: The Shame of the Jungle', 1975) spoofed Tarzan and every jungle stereotype in existence, combined with rather infantile jokes about sex and nudity. For only four seconds the film also lampoons Hergé's 'Tintin in the Congo', with a scene where Tintin is seen converting little black boys to Christianity, banging one over the head with his crucifix because he isn't paying attention. Still, Picha didn't run in trouble with Hergé but with the estate of 'Tarzan' novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs, who sued him. While the judge ruled in Picha's favour that the picture was obviously satirical in nature Picha still took the precaution of changing the title from 'Tarzan' to 'Tarzoon'. Some U.S. versions felt even this was too dangerous and retitled the picture: 'Jungle Burger'. Johnny Weissmuller Jr., son of the iconic Tarzan actor, took the film more humourously and even voiced Tarzoon in the American dub. Nevertheless, 'Tarzoon' became an international cult hit.

The Missing Link / The Big Bang
During the 1980s Picha created two more animated features: the Stone Age parody ' Le Chainon Manquant' ('The Missing Link', 1980) and the futuristic war epic 'Le Big Bang' ('The Big Bang', 1987). He adapted both films into comics too. 'Le Chainon Manquant' was prepublished as 'De Ontbrekende Schakel' in Jan Bucquoy's magazine Spetters in 1981. Nevertheless both films failed to make an impression at the box office and are nowadays forgotten.

One of the animators on 'Le Chainon Manquant' was Carine de Brab. Other noteworthy people who once worked in Picha's animation studio were Touïs , Borge Ring and Nicole Van Goethem, the latter most famous as the winner of the 1987 Academy Award for Best Animated Short, which she received for her film 'A Greek Tragedy' (1987).

Legacy and influence
Picha was an influence on Philippe Moins.

Tarzoon by Picha
'Tarzoon' film poster.

TV animation
Apart from making cartoons aiming at adults, Picha has also made more child-friendly animated series for television, including 'Zoo Olympics' (1990-1991) and 'Zoo Cup' (1992-1993), which respectively spoofed the Olympic Games and the World Cup Association Football with anthropomorphic animals partaking in the events. The idea wasn't entirely new, though. In 1971 the Walt Disney Company already made the live-action film 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks', which has a famous animated segment where a group of animals play a football match. And in 1980 Steven Lisberger had directed the animated TV film 'Animalympics' (1980) which featured various animals partaking in the Olympic Games. Another children's TV series by Picha, 'Les Jules... Chienne de Vie' (1996), featured the adventures of two unfortunate dogs, both named Jules, and their canine friends. Writer Jean Cheville and illustrator Nadine Forster adapted four episodes into a series of illustrated books for Lombard in 1995. Picha was also involved with an animated TV adaptation of Paul Cuvelier's comic strip 'Corentin', in cooperation with Média-Film, Saban International and produced by Raymond Leblanc's studio Belvision: 'Les Voyages de Corentin' (1993-1998). Jean van Hamme was screenwriter. 

Snow White, the Sequel
In 2007, Picha returned to animated features by directing 'Blanche-Neige, la suite' ('Snow White, the Sequel'), a self-declared "sequel" to Walt Disney's 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs', made 70 years earlier. Picha's version, however, featured more sex jokes. Once again the film was hardly the first new animated feature based on 'Snow White' since Disney's iconic 1937 version. Picha couldn't even claim he was the first to make a pornographic parody either. In 1973 David Grant and Marcus Parker-Rhodes made the 11-minute animated short, 'Snow White and the Seven Perverts' (also known under its German title 'Schneeflittchen unter den Sieben Bergen', 1973), which features orgies between Snow White, the Dwarfs and the Prince. This short was also included in Bruno Mattei's live-action film 'Sesso Perverso, Mondo Violento' (also known as 'Perversione del Sesso', 1982).

Documentary about Picha
Picha was subject of a documentary, 'Mon Oncle d'Amérique est Belge' (2006), directed by Éric Figon and Picha's niece Françoise Walravens. 

Cartoon by Picha
Translation: "This isn't a sleazy movie!" 

Series and books by Picha in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.