Passe moi l'ciel!, by Stuf

Stéphane De Becker was a Belgian comic artist and the colorist of all Tome and Janry's projects from 1985 until his untimely death in 2015. Under the pen name Stuf, he served as the artist of the gag series 'Passe-moi l'Ciel' (1990-2015) in Spirou, starring Saint Peter and other inhabitants of the hereafter.

Early life and education
Born in Brussels in 1959, he met Philippe Vandevelde (Tome) and Jean-Richard Geurts (Janry) in 1974, while studying art in Woluwé-Saint-Lambert under the guidance of comic artist Guy Brasseur. The three students enjoyed themselves with making a western strip called 'Pétard Guy', of which the main character was based on their teacher. The authors also appeared as Dynamite Stef (De Becker), Cactus Phil (Tome) and Coyote Janry. While Tome and Janry became the assistants of Dupa, De Becker continued his art studies at the Institut Saint-Luc in Brussels in the late 1970s. Largely inspired by the French alternative scene, he published a couple of realistically drawn comic stories in some fanzines.

Colorist for Tome and Janry
In 1985, he rejoined his old friends, who were by now the new authors of the classic comics series 'Spirou et Fantasio' for Spirou magazine. Not satisfied with the work of the magazine's regular coloring studio, Studio Leonardo, they suggested working with De Becker instead. The team eventually settled in Tome's atelier in Woluwé-Saint-Lambert, near Brussels, where they were joined in the following years by Bruno Gazzotti and Dan Verlinden. De Becker provided the coloring for Tome and Janry's 'Spirou' albums from 'Le Réveil du Z' (1985) onwards. He subsequently did the same for the duo's spin-off series 'Le Petit Spirou' (1987) and Tome's crime comics series 'Soda' (1986), which was drawn by subsequently Luc Warnant, Bruno Gazzotti and Dan Verlinden.

Jeux d'Enfer by Stuf
'Jeux d'Enfer'.

Jeux d'Enfer
De Becker additionally made his appearance in Spirou magazine with a couple of cartoons and illustrations, which he signed with either Stuf or Staif. With Janry as his scriptwriter, he launched the game comics feature 'Jeux d'Enfer' (1988-1990) in Spirou issue #2622 (13 July 1988). Much like Tome and Janry's previous section 'Jeuréka' (1980-1981), it was a clever mix between a riddle page and a gag comic. Saint Peter who poses three questions or riddles to the dearly departed who are waiting in line for their spot in Heaven, mostly with the cause of their death prominently visible. With the right answer, one can proceed to the holy grounds, but otherwise it's a one-way ticket to Hell.

Passe-moi l'Ciel
Tired of coming up with games, the authors turned their game feature into a comic strip and changed the title to 'Passe-moi l'Ciel' (1990-2015). The main setting remained Heaven, with Saint Peter as the central character. The hereafter is still treated as a hotel, with St. Peter keeping track of all new applicants by use of a computer. New about the series was that we also get a glimpse of everyday life inside Paradise. Saint Peter likes to play some pool with his friend Nestor, a.k.a. the Grim Reaper, for instance. Other gags feature the "downstairs neighbours" in Hell, who maintain a similar bureaucracy, or show the activities in the hereafters for flies, snails, elephants, mushrooms, sausages, pickles, etc., which all have their own Saint Peter. 'Passe-moi l'Ciel' appeared on an irregular base in Spirou between 23 May 1990 (issue #2719) and 2015, and was collected by Dupuis in seven albums between 1999 and 2015. In Dutch, it was translated as 'Oh! Lieve Hemel'. 

Death
On 22 July 2015, Stéphane De Becker passed away from a heart attack in Vollore-Ville, France. He was only 56 years old. The sudden death of their close friend was a heavy blow to both Tome and Janry, and put their ongoing projects temporarily on hold. It took Janry until 2020 before creating new gags with 'Passe-moi l'Ciel', this time with his own drawings.

Legacy
Since July 2002 'Passe-moi l'Ciel' has its own comic book mural in the Rue des Minimes / Minimesstraat in Brussels, as part of the Brussels' Comic Book Route. It even inspired a theatrical show, which was first performed by La Comédie des Suds in Cabriès in the Summer of 2015.

Passe moi l'ciel by Stuf

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

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