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

Jean-Paul Walravens, pen name Picha, is a Belgian artist and animator, who is best-known for his satirical and provocative 1975 film 'Tarzoon: La Honte de la Jungle' ('Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle'). He studied at the Saint-Luc's Institute of Fine Arts in Brussels. His first cartoon was published in Pourquoi Pas? when the artist was only 15 years old. From 1960 on he 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

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.

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') spoofed Tarzan and every jungle stereotype in existence, combined with pornographic jokes. The estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs tried to sue him for plagiarism, but the judge ruled in Picha's favor that the film was obviously satirical in nature. Johnny Weissmuller Jr., son of the iconic Tarzan actor, took the film more humourously and even voiced Tarzoon in the American dub. 'Tarzoon' became an international cult hit and similar provocative sex comedy animated features, such as the Stone Age parody ' Le Chainon Manquant' ('The Missing Link', 1980) and the futuristic war epic 'Le Big Bang' ('The Big Bang', 1987) followed. Both films were later adapted into comic book stories. 'The Missing Link' was pre-published as 'De Ontbrekende Schakel' in the Flemish magazine Spetters in 1981.

Tarzoon by Picha
Tarzoon film poster

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. Another series, 'Les Jules... Chienne de Vie' (1996) featured the adventures of two unfortunate dogs named Jules and their canine friends.

In 2007, Picha returned to making 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.

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

Cartoon by Picha

Series en boeken door Picha op voorraad in de Lambiek Webshop:


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