Godaille et Godasse by Jacques Sandron

Jacques Sandron was a longtime employee of the printery of the publishing house Dupuis, while working as a comic artist on the side. Together with scriptwriter Raoul Cauvin, he created 'Godaille et Godasse' (Spirou, 1975-1986), a comical adventure series about a hussar and his horse during the Napoleonic era, and 'Raphaël et les Timbrés' (Je Bouquine, 1986-1994), a gag strip about a mailman.

Early life and career
Sandron was born in 1942 in Le Lude, a small town in the Sarthe department of France, as the son of a miner. Destined to follow in his father's footsteps, the youngster attended the Falisolle miner's school in the Belgian Namur area. His career path took another turn after the 1956 Bois du Cazier miner's disaster in Marcinelle, which counted 268 casualties. By 1957, 15 year old Sandron was hired as an apprentice in the printery of the publishing house Dupuis, where he remained a loyal employee until his retirement in 1994. During his daytime job, he worked with comic pages made by the legendary artists of the time for Spirou magazine: André Franquin, Jijé, Roba, Will... As he had enjoyed drawing, painting and sculpting since his childhood, he developed an urge to create his own comics. An attempt to draw one of Spirou's fold-in mini-books was quickly aborted, but he did present editor-in-chief Thierry Martens one of his medieval comic stories. He was however turned down as the magazine already had Peyo's 'Johan et Pirlouit'....

'Madame Sans-Gêne' (1979).

Godaille et Godasse
Sandron got acquainted with Raoul Cauvin, who worked in Dupuis' photo lab and had emerged as Spirou's top scriptwriter in the previous years. The two men decided to join forces, and began working on a new comic which combined history with humor. This resulted in 'Godaille et Godasse', about a French soldier and his horse in Napoleon's army. It made its debut in Spirou issue #1938 of 3 June 1975. The initial short stories were generally situated on the Russian battlefields, where the spirited Godaille tells his fellow soldiers with much bravado about his victories against the cossacks. The young hussar is then usually sent on a special mission, along with his equally spirited yet more sensitive horse Godasse. After several short stories varying from 2 to 6 pages in length, the first full-length serial appeared in 1978, 'Des chariots dans la steppe'. Four more followed until 1984. In the longer adventures, Godaille and Godasse were often accompanied on their missions by fellow hussar Lafleur. The series also featured actual historical figures. Besides Napoleon I, the most notable introduction was Catherine Hubscher, the wife of Marshall François Joseph Lefebvre. Nicknamed "Madame Sans-Gêne", the pithy lady could embarrass an entire army with her foul language... In 1985 and 1986 Sandron and Cauvin returned to shorter stories under the title 'Les Mémoires d'un Hussard'.

Éditions Dupuis collected the last four 'Godaille et Godasse' serials in book format from 1982 onwards. The series was however terminated after four albums when the publisher was sold to Albert Frère and Hachette. Mourad Boudjellal's MC Productions released the first story as well in 1988, but then the series came to an end.

Godaille et Godasse, by Jacques Sandron
Godaille et Godasse - 'Révolte en Espagne' (1984).

Raphaël et les Timbrés
Sandron continued to work in the printery, but in the evenings he was by now already working on another comic in collaboration with Cauvin. For the educational monthly Je Bouquine of the publishing house Bayard Presse, they developed a gag series about a mailman, called 'Raphaël et les Timbrés' (1986-1994). In two pages per episode, all expected and unexpected problems a mailman can encounter are covered: messages in a bottle, biting dogs, mysterious orders, weird addresses, faster and more efficient methods of delivering, et cetera... Two book collections were published by Soleil in 1989 and 1990, and the series additionally ran in Bayard's English-language magazine I Love English. Sandron drew the comic until his retirement in November 1994. Sandron also contributed to 'Les Enquêtes de leurs Amis' (Soleil, 1989), a collective tribute album to Maurice Tillieux' hero detective 'Gil Jourdan'.

In the Dutch translation, Raphaël delivered a special message to Lambiek's Kees Kousemaker.

Since then, Sandron has made illustrations for the British publisher of school books Nelson Thornes. Sandron and Cauvin cooperated once again in 2006, when their short story 'S.P.A.' appeared in Spirou #3536. In 2010 Sandron contributed to 'Folklore Wallon en bulles', a collection of Walloon folk tales in comics format, published by Editions Dricot on the occasion of the Seraing comic festival.

Between 16 May and 10 July 2013 Sandron was one of several Flemish comic artists to exhibit original artwork during the 'Wereld van de Strips in Originelen' ('The World of Comics in Originals') exhibition in the Flemish Parliament in Brussels. The exhibition, organized by art critic and museum curator Jan Hoet and politician Dany Vandenbossche, later gained controversy when N-VA politician Jan Peumans objected to a French-language speech balloon on the official expo poster. Since the posters were already printed, the speech balloon was simply blanked. Numerous participating comic artists protested against this censorship, with several, including Sandron, asking to have their own cartoons and comics to be removed from the expo. 

Although they never received the bestselling status as some of Raoul Cauvin's other series, Jacques Sandron's comics are fondly remembered for their joyful and dynamic artwork. While his limited oeuvre quickly went out of print, 'Godaille et Godasse' have been subjected to reprints in limited print-runs in later years. The Dutch-language publisher Arcadia released the shorter stories of 'Slemper en Slof' (as 'Godaille et Godasse' are called in Dutch), in 2004 and 2018. In French, the small publishing house Hématine released a one-volume complete edition of 'Godaille et Godasse' in 2012. The retired artist enjoyed attending comic festival to sign copies of these books for his fans. Jacques Sandron passed away in Liège in the night of 17 and 18 February 2019, at the age of 76.

On 5 September 2019 a statue of Godaille & Godasse was erected in the Walloon village Tamines in the presence of Raoul Cauvin, Willy Lambil and Sandron's relatives. Jacques Sandron was a strong graphic influence on Herman Roozen.

Napoleon enjoyed reading 'Godaille et Godasse' on the back cover of each album!

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