From: Bobo Magazine (Spirou #1682).

Maurice Rosy was the artistic director of the Belgian comics weekly Spirou from 1956 until 1973. Initially hired by publisher Dupuis as "man-of-ideas", Rosy's wild imagination proved to be a fruitful source for new series and concepts. Along with chief editor Yvan Delporte, he was responsible for Spirou's success during its Golden Age. They initiated the inventive fold-in mini-books in the magazine's center, while Rosy also oversaw Spirou's art studio and the creation of the audiovisual department TVA Dupuis and the 'Gag de Poche' pocket book series. As a scriptwriter, Rosy was the creator of enigmatic characters like the iconic villain Mr. Choc in the 'Tif et Tondu' series (1955-1968, art by Will), the intelligent secret service dog 'Attila' (1967-1973, art by Derib) and the zany world of the Inzepoket prison, which houses the prisoner 'Bobo' (1961-1972, with Paul Deliège). After retiring from the comics industry, he became a productive illustrator of children's books, magazines and advertisements.

Early life and career
Maurice Rosy was born in 1927 in the Walloon muncipality Fontaine-l'Évêque. The young man worked in his father's spikes and nails factory, while spending his spare time in the Charleroi art scene. In 1953 he managed to get one of his drawings published in the French news weekly Paris-Match. As a pianist in jazz and blues bars, Rosy came in touch with Yvan Delporte, who was already employed by the publishing house Dupuis. Dupuis was the homebase of the satirical magazine Le Moustique and the children's comics magazine Spirou, which were in need of modernization.


Covers for Le Moustique from 3 July 1955 and 28 May 1964 (the 2000th issue).

Man-of-ideas
In 1954 Maurice Rosy was hired by Dupuis as a "man-of-ideas". The profession didn't really exist, but was created specifically for him. Rosy began publishing cartoons and drawings in Le Moustique, while gradually assisting the magazine's reformation. This was largely established by giving more freedom to the editors-in-chief, function titles which didn't even exist under the reign of the Catholic Dupuis family. René Hénoumont was put in charge of Le Moustique, while Jef Anthierens would transform the Flemish counterpart Humoradio into a more independent title, which by 1958 changed its title to 'Humo'. Rosy illustrated a few long-running column logos in Humo, among them their letters department 'Open Venster'. Spirou and its Flemish equivalent Robbedoes was also still rooted in the somewhat paternalistic tone of the war years. By 1955 Yvan Delporte officially became editor-in-chief, and in the following year Rosy became artistic director. Together they turned Spirou into a playful landmark of Franco-Belgian comics, where no idea was crazy enough and the artists were given the freedom to fully exploit their talents. This was also made possible because the magazine went from 24 to 32 pages, and most of the licensed American comics were dropped.

Spirou
When he first began at Spirou, Rosy served as sparring partner for the artists team. He urged André Franquin to bring back Fantasio's evil cousin Zantafio in Spirou's title comic, and came up with the pink Métomol gag which softens metal into a rubbery substance, in the story 'Le Dictateur et le Champignon' (1953-1954). Rosy later crafted Incognito City, the modern city of the future (to 1950s standards) for Franquin's 'Spirou et Fantasio' story 'Les Pirates du Silence' (1955), which had background art by Will. His collaboration with grandmaster Jijé for the episode 'Yucca Ranch' (1954) of the western series 'Jerry Spring' was more of a challenge. The spontaneous Jijé would not hesitate to alter the script whenever he felt like drawing something else, forcing Rosy to use all his creative powers to keep the story in line. Maurice Rosy was known for sketching full storyboard scripts, a rare working method at the time.

Tif et Tondu
Rosy's biggest challenge was taking charge of the 'Tif et Tondu' series for the young artist Will in 1955. 'Tif et Tondu' was one of the original series in Spirou, created by Fernand Dineur for the first issue in 1938. Will had taken over the drawing pen in 1949, and had worked with several scriptwriters up to then, including Dineur. Rosy felt the two main stars, the one bearded and the other bold, were quite one-dimensional. They simply fell from one adventure into the other, without having much personality. Rosy spoofed this theme in several of his stories. Tif and Tondu were usually relaxing from their many adventures, planning to retire or write their memoirs, when they are launched into yet another narrative. Rosy filled his stories with mysterious puppets and villas, strange inventions and a baroque atmosphere, full of clair-obscur, while Will's drawing style blossomed.

Le retour de Choc, by Will
'La villa du long–cri' , artwork by Will.

Monsieur Choc
Already in their first collaborative story, Rosy and Will launched one of the most enigmatic villains in European comic book history. Inspired by popular criminals from French pop literature, Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain's 'Fantômas' and Maurice Leblanc's 'Arsène Lupin', Choc would torture and fool Tif and Tondu in many adventures to come. Tall, stylish, superintelligent and a master in disguises, the man with the cigarette pipe and iron mask is the mastermind behind the criminal organization La Main Blache ("The White Hand"). His greeting card alone can send shivers down his victims' spines. After his introduction in 'Tif et Tondu contre la Main Blanche' (first published in Spirou between 6 January and 2 June 1955), Rosy and Will brought him back on many occasions. Choc not only fools his adversaries, but also the readers. In his second appearance, 'Le Retour de Choc' (1955), his true identity is apparently revealed, but the next story already explains that the bearded and bespectacled face was nothing more than a latex mask! In 'Passez Muscade' (1956), Choc appears to be killed in a plane crash, and in 'Plein Gaz' (1957) arrested once and for all. Choc indeed disappears from the series for many years, only to return in 'Choc au Louvre' (1964). In between, Will had briefly left the publishing house Dupuis, during which the 'Tif et Tondu' series was taken over by Marcel Denis, who made two more down-to-earth stories in cooperation with respectively Rosy and Marcel Remacle.

The reintroduction of Choc was therefore a return to form in more ways than one, as artist Will also returned to the series. Choc's sinister plots become even more grotesque. In 'Le Réveil de Toar' (1966) Choc awakens a legendary menhir knight who lay dormant under the ground, while in 'Le Grand Combat' (1967) the master villain hijacks dreams and turns hem into nightmares. Rosy's final contributions to 'Tif et Tondu', the diptych 'La Matière Verte' (1967) and 'Tif Rebondit' (1968), relied more on slapstick and suggested that the writer had lost much of his inspiration. He left the writing duties to Maurice Tillieux, who transformed the series into a true detective comic. For years, Rosy had kept the rights to Monsieur Choc to himself. By 1984 he allowed Tillieux's successor Stephen Desberg to use him again in new stories. 'Tif et Tondu' remained a regular feature in Spirou until 1997, the final years under the reign of scriptwriter Denis Lapière and artist Alain Sikorski.

New talent
As Spirou's art director, Maurice Rosy was also a talent scout. He helped Marcel Remacle with the creation of the humorous pirate comic 'Vieux Nick', which debuted in 1958. On some occasions he had to use clever tricks to persuade his publisher Charles Dupuis. Dupuis was, for instance, not impressed by the work of the young artist Jean Roba, while Rosy was. He therefore let Roba draw an unsigned full page of his new family comic 'Boule et Bill', colored and printed it, and put it between the material for the upcoming issue. Dupuis was instantly attracted to the new comic, and asked who the maker was? Roba got the opportunity to introduce his characters in the short story 'Boule contre les Mini-requins' (1959), which was written by Rosy as part of the new section of fold-in mini-books. Based on an idea by Yvan Delporte, Spirou's center quire featured a complete comic strip, which the reader could extract from the magazine and fold into a mini-book. Launched in 1959, it was originally a spot for Spirou's core team to experiment and play around. Peyo, for instance, launched the solo career of his famous blue Smurfs in this section, while MiTacq spoofed his own 'Patrouille des Castors' with 'La Patrouille des Zom' and Franquin made a story with one of the more obscure side characters from 'Spirou et Fantasio', the little boy Noël.


Part of a 'Bobo' mini-book by Rosy and Kornblum from Robbedoes #1655.

Mini-books
The mini-books, however, became the perfect breeding ground for new talent. Rosy and Delporte gave the anonymous artists from the Dupuis art studio the opportunity to showcase their skills on these pages. Charles Degotte, Louis Salvérius, Serge Gennaux, Paul Deliège and Jacques Devos all made their debut in the mini-books and then transferred to Spirou's regular pages. Assistants from Studio Peyo were also featured, like Lucien De Gieter and Francis. Other artists remained staples in the mini-books alone, such as Mike and Noël Bissot. Some series were launched in the mini-books section and then became popular features in the normal Spirou, like the aforementioned Smurfs and 'Boule et Bill', but also 'Le Flagada' (1961) by Degotte, 'Génial Olivier' (1963) by Devos and 'Sam et l'Ours' (1968) by Lagas and Deliège. Another important newcomer was the prisoner 'Bobo' (1961), a co-production between Rosy and Paul Deliège.

Bobo
As the stories were printed on small format, the space within the panels was limited. The mini-books were therefore drawn in a simplistic style and relied heavily on slapstick humor. The concept of the 'Bobo' series is thus quite simple. 'Bobo' is a convict who tries every method to escape, aided by his outside assistant Julot-les-pinceaux. Because of his inventiveness, Bobo is nicknamed the "Mozart of escapes". However, none of his escape tunnels, self-constructed ropes and cleverly used prams, balloons and other objects actually help him get away. Despite his efforts, Rosy and Deliège's anti-hero remains interned in the zany prison Inzepoket. Rosy initially saw 'Bobo' as a pleasant distraction from his regular work: a fun comic with an unlikeable hero. But the series proved to be more enduring. The cast was expanded with the more brutal fellow inmate Joe la Candeur and Inzepoket's fatherly, light-hearted and gullible director, who seeks harmony in his prison and mostly enjoys St. Honoré cakes made by Inzepoket's pastry chef. Later came the poor prison guard Dupavé has to walk around all day with a spare stone of the prison wall, which had been replaced after a break-out attempt by Bobo. Rosy generally served as scriptwriter and Deliège as the artist, but on some occasions Deliège or Rosy made a solo story. After about ninety stories, the collaboration between the two men came to an end.

Le Petit Monde de Bobo, by Maurice Rosy
'Le Petit Monde de Bobo'.

Between 1969 and 1973, Rosy continued the series on his own, aided by his writing partner M. Kornblum. Bobo gradually left the mini-books and made his entrance in Spirou's normal pages, which, as Rosy once remarked, was in fact Bobo's only successful break-out attempt. In 1970 the character got its own four-page Bobo Magazine section, which was completely written, drawn and designed by Rosy and Kornblum. Presented as the Inzepoket newsletter, it truly showcased Rosy's experimental nature. Short news messages were alternated with advertisements and short comic strips in the film format. It also had a separate comics feature called 'Planète Pompus' (the "Apple Planet"). Bobo Magazine however failed to catch on, and was dropped after only a dozen appearances.

Appelplaneet by Maurice Rosy
'Planète Pompus'/ 'Appelplaneet' (Robbedoes #1687, 1970).

Other activities for Dupuis
During his tenure with Dupuis, Rosy was involved in several innovative projects. He served as editor-in-chief of Risque-Tout (1955-1956), a tabloid-sized comics magazine initiated for Dupuis by Georges Troisfontaines. In 1959 he was one of the founders of TVA Dupuis, the company's new audiovisual department. Inspired by the Belvision studios of main competitor Lombard, the TVA team worked on animated films with the characters from Spirou magazine, most notably Peyo's Smurfs. Eddy Ryssack was put in charge of the studio, which also employed Francis Bertrand, Vivian Miessen, Jean Delire, Charles Degotte and cameraman Raoul Cauvin. Rosy participated as a scriptwriter to the independent animated TVA shorts 'Teeth is Money' (1962) and 'Le Crocodile Majuscule' (1964). Another important project headed by Rosy was the 'Gag de Poche' collection (1964-1968). This new series of pocket books featured not only remounted editions of Spirou's own comics series, but also the introduction of a French-speaking audience to American newspaper comics like Charles M. Schulz's 'Peanuts', V.T. Hamlin's 'Alley Oop' and the cartoons of Virgil Partch. The collection marked the first book publications of Rosy and Deliège's own 'Bobo' and Guy Bara's 'Max l'Explorateur'. In the pages of Spirou, Rosy and Delporte furthermore launched 'Le Télégraphe' (1965-1966), a section with fun facts and news items illustrated by Eddy Ryssack, Guy Bollen, Carlos Roque, Michel Matagne and other artists.


'Le Télégraphe', from Spirou #1465.

Additional scriptwork
Occasionally, Rosy worked for other publishers and magazines as well. He made cartoons for magazines like Paris-Match, Adam and Pan. In 1955 he wrote the story 'Les Diables à 4' in the series 'Chick Bill' for Tibet, published in Tintin magazine. With Will, he made stories of 'Marco et Aldebert' (1962-1965) in Record. Around the same period he collaborated with Jo-El Azara on the short stories 'Cadeaux de Noël' (in Tintin, 1962), 'Suivez l'oeuf' (1963, in Pilote) and the series 'Mayflower' (1963-1965, in Pilote). In Spirou, Rosy furthermore made one serial with inspector Bébert (1963-1964) in cooperation with Deliège, and one serial starring Bara's explorer Max, 'Max et le Triangle Noir' (1964).

Abstract art, by Maurice Rosy
Abstract comic story from Spirou #1465, 1966.

The experimental Rosy
In his spare time, Maurice Rosy made abstract drawings, inspired by Saul Steinberg, Chinese calligraphy and the CoBrA art movement. Rosy enjoyed experimenting with abstract forms, far from the conventions of caricature. He sometimes made a comics page in this avant-gardistic style as well. One of his surreal pages in bright colors with hat-like creatures in a seemingly Martian landscape intrigued Yvan Delporte, who published it in Spirou #1465 of 1966. Since it was printed with no introduction or explanation, it is no surprise that the page puzzled both readers and editors. In the following year, it appeared in the anthology 'Les Chefs d'Oeuvre de la Bande Dessinée' by Planète, which presented the diversity of French-language comics of the time.

Attila
When Rosy quit writing 'Tif et Tondu', he embarked upon a new project. 'Attila' (1967-1973) was launched in 1967 and drawn by Derib, one of Peyo's former co-workers. The concept was again inventive. The title hero is a highly intelligent dog, trained by the Swiss secret service to read, write and talk in the four national languages of his country. His powers of deduction and reflexes were also enhanced, as were his qualities in negotiation. The dog manages to be adopted by mister Bourrillon, the manager of a dog kennel, who became his sidekick on all his adventures, starting with 'Un métier de chien' (1967). The little boy Odée joins the cast in 'Attila au château' (1968), followed by another talking dog, Z14, in 'Attila et le mystère Z14' (1970). Only four adventures of 'Atilla' were created by Derib and Rosy, as the two men were both on a turning point in their careers.

The mysterious "M. Kornblum"
By the late 1960s, Maurice Rosy had begun a collaboration with with a certain M. Kornblum. For years it remained a mystery to readers who this person really was? But from 1968 on, all of Rosy's productions were signed with "Rosy M.M. Kornblum". Maurice Kornblum actually had a background in trading. He ran a shop in sports and camping equipment, but also had a creative spirit. Rosy felt more and more alienated from his profession, especially after the departure of Yvan Delporte. A new generation of artists had come up, and the "man-of-ideas" felt he lost his grip. He found a working partner in Kornblum, who not only provided plot ideas, but also had a good sense for finances. Kornblum served as Rosy's agent, and the two men opened their own studio, which they called the "Bureau Centralisateur de Distribution et d'Estension" (B.C.D.E.), literally the "Central Office for Distribution and Expansion". An ambitious name for their activities in comic book writing and book editing, although the duo also developed its own perfume line, called Roko. As both Rosy and Kornblum were in the process of getting a divorce, they decided to live together in a large house in the fields of Baisy-Thy. Even though the two were merely friends and creative partners, their combined household and "new age" way of living led to much speculation and gossip.

Leaving Dupuis
Not everyone was too pleased with the contributions of Kornblum, though. Deliège was no fan of the man's work, and left the 'Bobo' comic in 1969. Derib also disliked Kornblum's ideas for 'Attila', for instance the introduction of Z14, and made the transition to Tintin magazine. By 1973 Rosy and Kornblum's creative spark had worn-out, and their partnership ended. Rosy left the comic book industry altogether, and moved to Paris. He sold the rights of 'Bobo' to Dupuis and the comic was continued by Paul Deliège, who wrote and drew it until his retirement in 1996. Deliège enriched the Inzepoket cast with several new characters, and his stories were collected in sixteen albums by Dupuis. A lost 'Attila' script by Rosy and Kornblum was eventually drawn by Didgé and published in Spirou magazine under the title 'Bak et Flak étonnent Attila' (1987), without Rosy's knowledge nor consent. Kornblum's name wasn't even mentioned at all.

Modes by Maurice Rosy
'Modes' (Le Monde-Dimanche, 27 January 1980).

Parisian years
In Paris, Rosy focused on a career as an advertising artist and illustrator. Through agencies like Grey, CLMBBDO, Havas and Accent, he designed advertising campaigns for Malabar chewing gum, Vittel water and Chanel, among many other clients. He made cartoons and illustrations for papers and magazines like Le Monde (1979-1994) and Le Nouvel Observateur (1980), and for children's magazines like J'Aime Lire, Pomme d'Api, Les Belles Histoires and Astrapi. Rosy also made illustrations for children's book series published by Bayard Presse, Nathan, Bordas and Hatier, including works by Jacques Duquesne ('Candido mène l'enquête', 1980), Jacqueline Held (the 'Croktou' series, 1986-1992) and Béatrice Rouer (the 'Jennifer et Laetitia' series, 1990-2006).

Malabar ad by Maurice Rosy.

Malabar
In 1977 Rosy was assigned by his agency Grey to make comic strips with 'Mr. Malabar', the mascot of Malabar chewing gum, which had been created by Jean-René Le Moing in 1969. Rosy made the first set of pantomime comics for the Malabar wrappers, in which the muscular hero always ends up saving the day by blowing bubbles with his gum. Many artists followed in his footsteps until the mid 1990s, including Philippe Poncet de la Grave, Frank Margerin, Jean-Claude Poirier, Philippe Luguy, Mic Delinx, François Dimberton, Régis Loisel, Olivier Taffin, Yannick, Michel Motti, Artur Rainho, Pierre Tasso and Brice Goepfert.

Other later comics work by Rosy included the Mode section of Le Monde-Dimanche and the children's comics 'Lucas Ramel' (1985-1993) in Pomme d'Api and 'Basile' in Maximilien. The latter was collected in two books by Nathan in 1993. In 1995 Maurice Rosy met his new wife, Danièle Gérault. She was a wine saleswoman, and from then on Rosy would regularly provide artwork to wineries and the catering industry. By 2002 he gradually retired from his professional career.

Basile by Maurice Rosy

Legacy
The mid 2000s marked a renewed interest in Rosy's career as a comic book writer. Dupuis began collecting its patrimony in luxury collections, including the 'Tif et Tondu' series (2007), as well as 'Attila' (2010) and the early small-format stories of 'Bobo' (2010). The publishing house Hibou launched the complete 'Bobo' in book collections in 2010; the first volume containing the stories made by Rosy and Deliège. Dupuis also captured its cultural legacy in documentary books, like the one about editor-in-chief Yvan Delporte, for which Rosy was extensively interviewed by Christelle and Bertrand Pissavy-Yvernault. The couple was also responsible for the dossier in the 'Attila' anthology, which finally revealed more information about Rosy's collaboration with Maurice Kornblum. José-Louis Bocquet asked Rosy to capture his own memoirs in comics format to coincide with the 75th birthday of Spirou magazine. Maurice Rosy began working on the project, but was not able to complete it. He passed away in his home in Paris on Saturday 23 February 2013. Dupuis published the book posthumously under the title 'Rosy c'est la vie!' (2014), combining Rosy's drawings with the transcript of an interview with the artist by Bocquet.

Shortly before his death, Rosy had given his blessing to Éric Maltaite (Will's son) and Stéphane Colman to explore the origins of the enigmatic Monsieur Choc. Unfortunately, he didn't live to see the end result: the critically praised spin-off trilogy 'Choc' (2014-2019). On 1 June 2019 Mr. Choc received his own statue in La Hulpe, Belgium, sculpted by Joachim Jannin, son of Frédéric Jannin. Interestingly enough, neither Tif or Tondu have a statue yet at this point. 

Rosy c'est la vie
Yvan Delporte introduces Maurice Rosy to Charles Dupuis (from: Rosy c'est la vie!).

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