'Iznogoud l'Acharné' (1974).

Jean Tabary was a French comic artist, and the co-creator of the humorous series 'Iznogoud' (1962- ). The futile attempts of this diabolical grand vizier to become "caliph instead of the caliph" have delighted readers for over half a century. Originally written by René Goscinny, 'Iznogoud' is a fun mix of puns, self-reflexive comedy and silly nonsense. The series exists in three different formats: as short stories, full-length adventure tales and as a political satire gag comic. In France, "Iznogoud" has become a byword for pathetic power-hungry politicians. But even outside the country's borders, the comic has been successfully translated and adapted into films, TV series and video games. Early in his career, Tabary worked for Vaillant/Pif Gadget magazine, creating the detective duo 'Richard et Charlie' (1956-1962), the imbecilic duo 'Grabadu et Gabaliouchtou' (1958-1968) and, most notably, the children's gang comic 'Totoche' (1959-1982) and its spin-off 'Corinne et Jeannot' (1965-1972). For Pilote, Tabary and Goscinny also created the poetic tramp 'Valentin Le Vagabond' (1962-1974). Additionally, Tabary was notable for launching his own publishing company and various (pocket) magazines built around his characters.


Totoche - 'Belleville City' (1961).

Early life and career
Jean Tabary was born in 1930 in Stockholm, Sweden. His father was a plasterer, but also toured as a violinist with the company of the Parisian music hall Théâtre Mogador. His pregnant wife accompanied him during one of his trips to Stockholm, where she went into labor. As a result, their son Jean was born in the Swedish capital. The boy had eight other siblings, whom he entertained with improvised stories. In adulthood, his brothers Jacques and Pierre Tabary became illustrators too. As a child, Jean Tabary loved to draw, but he had no particular interest in comics. In interviews, he only cited Erik, Pellos and André Franquin as his main graphic influences. After World War II, he worked a variety of jobs, including newspaper salesman and extra in the theatre company Comédie Française.

Initially wanting to become an editorial cartoonist, he whipped out several one-panel cartoons, modelled after the ones he saw in magazines such as Ici Paris and Franche-Dimanche. Some of them were printed in magazines like Vénus-Appolon, Marius and Paris-Flirt, but without much success. So instead, Tabary decided to switch to comics. In order to develop his own style, he deliberately avoided looking at other comic artists for inspiration. Interviewed by Henry Filippini in Les Cahiers de la BD (issue #29, 1976), the author explained that his nervous, vibrant drawing style was influenced by his restless personality.

Richard et Charlie by Jean Tabary
Richard et Charlie - 'L'Évadé'.

Richard & Charlie
In August 1956, Tabary presented some of his comic pages at the offices of Vaillant, a comic magazine aimed at the communist youth. As it happened, most of the staff was on holiday, but chief editor Roger Lécureux was present in the building. He showed sympathy for the 26-year old artist and accepted his proposal for a comic strip. On 4 November 1956, the first episode of Tabary's 'Richard et Charlie' (1956-1963) was serialized. Richard is black-haired with a moustache, Charlie has blond, spiky hair. Originally, the two were tramps, but they later became detectives. In the second story, they are joined by a private investigator named Rififi, a nod to the French film noir 'Du Rififi Chez Les Hommes' (1955). However, Vaillant was bombarded with letters from concerned parents to remove this shady, violent detective, so Tabary had to write the character out of the series. But in the next story, his identical twin Firifi made his entrance, although eventually, Tabary continued his series by focusing solely on Richard and Charlie. Richard moved into the role of straight character, while Charlie brought comic relief. During one of their investigations, the two heroes encountered the Vlugubu, a strange goblin creature from the center of the earth, who accompanied them on their further adventures. The team enjoyed ten humorous adventures until the series ended on 7 July 1963. In 1977, Glénat released one story, 'Richard et Charlie au Japon', in book format. Between 2008 and 2013, Éditions Regards reprinted four old stories.

Totoche by Jean Tabary
Totoche - 'La Bolide' (1962).

Totoche
In the beginning, Tabary didn't make enough money at Vaillant to give up his regular job. But by the end of the 1950s, his editors Roger Lécureux and Jean Ollivier offered him more pages and payment, which motivated him to become a full-time comic artist. As an additional series, he was asked to develop a feature about a children's gang. On 11 January 1959, Vaillant ran the first episode of 'Totoche' (1959-1982). It started out as a gag comic, spread over two pages a week. One day, one of the Vaillant artists failed to turn in his weekly page amount. In search for quick substitute filler, chief editor Georges Rieu asked Tabary to expand 'Totoche' with longer storylines. As luck would have it, Vaillant organized a readers' poll around the same time and audiences voted the new, longer 'Totoche' stories high to the top. The series ran in Vaillant and its follow-up Pif Gadget for decades, with the final episode concluding in July 1982.

Totoche, by Jean Tabary
Totoche #11 - 'Sa Dernière Course' (1968).

Totoche Ribarta is a boy in the Parisian suburb Belleville, where he and his friends hang out in an abandoned shack on an unused piece of land. Totoche's last name is an phonetic anagram of Tabary's surname. Inventive, courageous and lucid, Totoche leads his friends through several adventures and mysteries, that often lead them away from their own neighborhood. Some of Totoche's pals, like Christian, Bob and Paulot, lacked specific personalities and were therefore reduced to mere side characters. Others are more memorable, such as the bespectacled boy Hyacinthe, a smart and crafty inventor. Since he hates his real name, everybody nicknames him "L'Ingenieur" ("The Engineer"). Bouboule is an always-hungry obese boy. Much like Chic Young's Dagwood Bumstead, he loves devouring large sandwiches. The breakthrough characters of the 'Totoche' series were the unlucky, spiky-haired boy Jeannot, and the only girl of the gang, Corinne Larose. She was named after a cousin of Tabary, who worked as a doctor. Corinne and Jeannot provide most of the comic relief. The boy is hopelessly in love with the girl, but she constantly plays sadistic tricks and pranks on him.

Between 1961 and 1963, about 120 'Totoche' gag strips ran in the newspaper L'Union. The success of the series prompted Éditions Vaillant to launch a pocket magazine, Totoche Poche, that ran from June 1966 until March 1976. While many episodes were reprints from Vaillant, others were brand new. The first 24 issues were drawn by Jean Tabary, the other 16 by his brother Jacques. Scripts were provided by Jean-Marie Nadaud, Pierre Castex and Michel Motti, among other writers. A 1999 reprint of the 'Totoche' album 'Totoche. Le Meilleur Ami de l'Homme' (1963), came with a foreword by legendary model/actress Brigitte Bardot.

Corinne et Jeannot by Jean Tabary
'Corinne et Jeannot'.

Corinne et Jeannot and other spin-offs.
Especially popular in Tabary's children's series 'Totoche' were the pranks and counter-pranks of the naughty pony-tailed Corinne and the naïve Jeannot. On 19 December 1965, their spin-off series 'Les Jeudis de Corinne et Jeannot' (1965-1972) was launched in Vaillant. Each episode was a one-or-two-page gag in which the children set up practical jokes for one another. Corinne is the eternal victor. The bright-grinning girl always succeeds in getting Jeannot into trouble. Many episodes end with her laughing at him: "HA HA HA, qu'il est bête! Qu'il est bête!" ("HA HA HA, how stupid he is! How stupid he is!"). Since Jeannot is hopelessly in love with her, he cannot bring himself to actually harm or distrust her. Whenever Corinne comes up with a lame excuse or explanation for her suspicious behavior or obvious ploy, he simply accepts it. Unavoidably, he falls into all her traps and schemes. Although he tries to retaliate, he is not bright enough to think two steps ahead. Tabary also introduced a third character, Agent Bodart. The strict police officer often falls victim to Corinne's pranks or Jeannot's attempts to get even with her. Not much brighter than Jeannot, he often makes the wrong deductions and assumes the boy was the culprit. In several gags he even throws the boy in jail!

Corinne et Jeannot by Jean Tabary
'Corinne et Jeannot'.

The 'Corinne et Jeannot' feature was notable for featuring a mean girl as the protagonist. Many of her pranks are quite sadistic and disturbing. In one beach-themed episode, she pushes a beach cabin over, trapping Jeannot inside. When the tide rolls in, the boy almost drowns. In another gag, Corinne makes Jeannot go to school in make-up and with torn clothes, to act as if his father beat him. After his dad is taken into custody for child abuse, Jeannot confesses it was a joke that went out of hand and that Corinne was behind it. Yet after he washed his face clean and changed his clothing, Corinne puts a bar of soap on the stairs. Jeannot falls and now actually looks battered, making his story less convincing to his parents and teachers. Corinne and Jeannot also frequently break the fourth wall, confiding in the reader how they will trick each other next. Or in Jeannot's case, to gloat about Corinne's beauty or complain about being fooled again. These are elements that 'Corinne et Jeannot' has in common with Tabary's other series, 'Iznogoud', which also revolves around one basic running gag, self-reflexive moments and a merciless schemer.

Corinne et Jeannot by Jean TabaryCorinne et Jeannot by Jean Tabary
Le Magazine de Corinne et Jeannot, issues #3 (April 1999) and #9 (November 1999).

'Corinne and Jeannot' survived Vaillant's name change in 1969 as Pif Gadget and ran in this magazine until the 3 July 1972 issue (#1414). Jean Tabary wrote and drew most of the episodes himself, but his brother Jacques assisted him as background artist and inker. An attempt to give another 'Totoche' character a spin-off comic, 'Les Bonnes Recettes de Bouboule' (1969), didn't catch on. Between April 1979 and June 1980, Éditions de Seguinière published a pocket series, 'Les Vacheries de Corinne à Jeannot', lasting 14 issues. Between February and November 1999, the characters were stars of their own short-lived magazine, Le Magazine de Corinne et Jeannot. In 1980, two 'Corinne et Jeannot' albums were published in Dutch under the title 'Jantje en Carina'.

Grabadu, by Jean Tabary
'Grabadu et Gabaliouchtou'.

Grabadu et Gabaliouchtou
Another regular Tabary feature was 'Grabadu et Gabaliouchtou' (1959-1962), about two mind-boggingly dumb men. Grabadu is short with a moustache, while Gabaliouchtou is tall and clean shaven. The idiots debuted in Vaillant issue #715 of 25 January 1959 and bumbled along on and off for three years. The feature marked a change in Tabary's style. From this comic on, his humor became more madcap and sarcastic, paving the way for 'Iznogoud'. In 1977, the hare-brained shenanigans of Grabadu and Gabaliouchtou found a temporary new home in Fluide Glacial, followed in 1984 by a compilation album, published by La Séguinière. In 2001, all episodes were collected in an complete edition, issued by Éditions Tabary. Cartoonist and Fluide Glacial creator Marcel Gotlib wrote a foreword, naming Grabadu and Gabaliouchtou "the dumbest comic heroes ever."

Expansion to other magazines
Apart from his extensive workload for Vaillant, Jean Tabary also made occasional appearances in other magazines. In 1959, he created the detective comic 'La Famille Hautympan', scripted by journalist and writer Jean-Jacques Marine. Two stories ran in the monthly Rallye-Jeunesse, a sister magazine of Bayard. One was in 1961 reprinted in Champion-Pierrot Magazine. During the early 1960s Tabary also illustrated short stories in the girls' magazine Fillette Jeune Fille, of the Société Parisienne d'Edition. For the magazine Les Garçons et Les Filles, he created 'Luc et Laura' (May-October 1963), two hip teenagers appearing in six three-panel short stories. In 2000, all episodes were compiled in book format, published by Regards.


Iznogoud - 'Le Jour des Fous' (1972).

Iznogoud
Amused by Tabary's 'Grabadu et Gabaliouchtou' comics, scriptwriter René Goscinny approached the artist for a collaboration. The successful team-up resulted in no less than two creations in 1962 alone: 'Valentin le Vagebond' in Goscinny's own magazine Pilote, and 'Les Aventures de Caliph Haroun El Poussah' in Record, a new children's monthly published as a joint venture by Dargaud and La Bonne Presse. The latter series proved to be the most iconic. In the 1961 episode 'La Sieste' of his 'Le Petit Nicolas' series - illustrated by Sempé - Goscinny had Little Nicolas listen to a tale about a "caliph and his evil grand vizier'. This provided the spark for Goscinny and Tabary's famous comic series, set in ancient Bagdad. In the debut issue of Record (15 january 1962), the first episode of 'Les Aventures de Caliph Haroun El Poussah' saw print. The short stories initially focused on caliph Haroun El Poussah (Haroun El-Plassid in the English translation), a good-natured, but lazy and dim-witted monarch. He spends most of his time sleeping, eating and drinking, while his reign is threatened by his evil grand vizier, Iznogoud. The short-sized and short-tempered politician desperately wants to overthrow Haroun, which he voices in his iconic redundant catchphrase: "Je veux devenir caliphe à la place du caliph!" ("I want to become caliph instead of the caliph!").

In each storyline, Iznogoud hatches up a convoluted scheme to depose the caliph. He is aided by his loyal servant Dilat Larath (Wa'at Alahf in the English translation), who carries out the dirty, exhausting, dangerous and disgraceful parts of the plans. Dilat often complains, but nevertheless grudgingly obeys his master. Also, he is usually the first and only one to realize the major flaws of his master's plans. In some stories he even predicts how everything could go wrong, but Iznogoud is too stubborn to listen or admit his mistake. Needless to say, all of Iznogouds coups backfire, either by bad luck or his own stupidity. Although the readers know this beforehand, the fun comes from observing how he will screw up this time. Goscinny and Tabary found clever ways to keep the predictable premise fresh, funny and – ironically – unpredictable. The situations build up to ever-increasing complications and unforeseen problems. In some cases they get plain ridiculous. In 'Le Pique-Nique' (1964, collected in 'Les Complots du Grand Vizir Iznogoud'), Iznogoud takes the caliph into the desert, hoping to kill him from thirst. But wherever they go, it suddenly starts to rain or they find unexpected water sources, from people selling refreshments to swimming pools.


Iznogoud - 'Le Pique-Nique' (1964).

Iznogoud goes through preposterous lengths to achieve his goal. The feisty vizier organizes complicated uprisings, coups and foreign invasions. He tries to pit rival despot Sultan Pullmankar (Sultan Streetcar in the English translation) against the caliph, but to his chagrin, they actually get along fine with each other. For his ploys, Iznogoud collaborated with Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and even Satan himself. Many stories start with Iznogoud meeting djinns, fairies, magicians, mad scientists and – in one story – extraterrestrial aliens. In the short story 'Sports dans le Califat' (1968), Iznogoud tries to let a magician to make it snow in Bagdad, so the caliph can have a winter sports accident. In 'La Machine à Remonter Le Temps' (from the 1967 album 'Les Complots du Grand Vizir Iznogoud'), he uses a time machine, but constantly ends up clubbed by the caveman Glouk (a character that returned in later stories). In 'La Tête de Turc' (from 1975's 'La Tête de Turc d'Iznogoud'), Iznogoud buys a magic jigsaw. Whenever he finishes the puzzle, the person he thinks of shall disintegrate. Iznogoud naturally wants to use this magic on the caliph, but the jigsaw counts over 10,000 pieces and is constantly kicked over. As Iznogoud has to keep starting over, he has to go through his exhausting ordeal again and again.

Amazingly enough, the only person in Bagdad blissfully unaware of Iznogoud's megalomaniacal coups is caliph Haroun. Even when Iznogoud and Dilat are caught red-handed, he brushes it off as if they are mere innocent victims of circumstance or slander. Only in the story 'Une Carotte Pour Iznogoud' (1971), Haroun realizes Iznogoud indeed "is no good". In order to "cure" him, he searches a magic carrot. The tale is extra unusual since the caliph is the main protagonist, while Iznogoud and Dilat are hardly present in the narrative. In 'L'Enfance du Iznogoud' (1981), it is revealed that Iznogoud was actually a nice boy as a child, who only turned evil later.

Iznogoud by Tabary
Iznogoud #7 - 'Une Carotte Pour Iznogoud'.

Iznogoud: style
'Iznogoud' is set in 9th-century Bagdad, depicted according to stereotypes associated with the Ancient Middle East. The caliph lives in a fancy palace, where he enjoys smoking a waterpipe from the comfort of large cushions. His home is guarded by soldiers armed with scimitars and daggers. The streets of Bagdad are full with camels, large jars and bazaars. Outside the city lies an endless desert. Just like Goscinny's other series, 'Astérix' and 'Lucky Luke', the authors never let anachronisms get in the way of a good joke. 'Iznogoud' is not at all historically accurate. The stories take direct inspiration from the 'Arabian Nights' tales, complete with flying carpets and genies fulfilling wishes. The wacky tone is reminiscent of Goscinny and Gotlib's madcap, self-reflexive series 'Les Dingodossiers' (1964-1968). Anything can happen. The characters in 'Iznogoud' use magic, travel to outer space and even to other dimensions. In interviews, Tabary explained that he used no documentation, and created a fictional rendition of Bagdad from his imagination.

The cast of 'Iznogoud' is fully aware that they are in a comic and frequently break the fourth wall. Dilat often looks at the reader whenever his master says or does something stupid. When characters argue back and forth, he comments that "this dialogue won't win a Nobel Prize for Literature soon." Near the end of the 1966 short story 'Le Sceptre du Calife' (from 'Iznogoud et L'Ordinateur Magique'), Iznogoud forgets a password. Realizing the readers are laughing at him, he challenges them whether they remember it: "And don't flip back to the previous pages to peek!" The authors, Goscinny and Tabary, regularly appear in cameos. In 'Le Complice d'Iznogoud' for instance, Iznogoud struggles with putting on his turban, when suddenly Tabary interrupts to explain: "It's my fault: I always had trouble drawing a turban." In 'Qui à Tué Le Caliphe?' (1998), Iznogoud curses at Dilat, expressed in typical curse symbols, such as bombs, axes and skulls & bones. Thinking that Iznogoud wanted these objects delivered to him, Dilat then throws all these objects at his master. In 'Le Miroir au Zaolouet' (from 1976's 'Le Conte de Fées d'Iznogoud'), the nefarious grand vizier finds himself in a mirror universe, where all dialogue is reversed. The comic book Tabary complains to the comic book Goscinny that he doesn't want to write all dialogue in mirror script. When the writer refuses to listen, Tabary pulls out a revolver and forces him to change his mind. In some later stories, Tabary also apologizes to the readers that certain violent or sexual scenes in his stories were censored, blaming it on his wife.


Iznogoud - 'Le Tapis Magique' (1973).

Many stories of 'Iznogoud' end with the character being transformed, sent away to a far away destination or seemingly killed off, only to have him return in the next episode as if nothing happened. In 'Les Retours d'Iznogoud' (1994), Tabary provides alternative endings to several of these stories, explaining how Iznogoud managed to return to Bagdad and regain his original appearance and function. However, in his foreword, Tabary also mocks the concept, saying: "Perhaps you, dear reader, never wondered about this, but we authors do." In one instance, Tabary creates an alternative ending to a previous alternative ending and gives it the subtitle: "The Return of the Return of the Return of Iznogoud, or how the authors finally quit mocking their dear readers."

Like the 'Astérix' stories, 'Iznogoud' uses a lot of word play. English-language speakers will easily get the pun in Iznogoud's name ("is no good"). Other jokes are more difficult to translate. The name Dilat Larath, for instance, refers to the phrase "dilate la rate" ("burst into laughter"). Some jokes are hidden in titles ('Des Astres Pour Iznogoud', literally means "Stars for Iznogoud", but also sounds like "disastres pour Iznogoud", or "disasters for Iznogoud"). 'Iznogoud' also contains pop cultural references. An example can be found in 'Le Conte des Fées d'Iznogoud'. While wandering through the desert, Iznogoud is challenged to a test of endurance. He refuses, claiming: "Ils devraient se trouver un autre cobaye" (meaning: "They should look for another guinea pig."). Out of nowhere, Morris and Goscinny's cowboy Lucky Luke turns up, asking him: "Did someone ask for me?", making a pun on the words "cobaye" ("guinea pig") and "cowboy". Other stories had random cameos by Captain Haddock ('Une Carotte Pour Iznogoud') and the pirates from 'Astérix' ('Le Tapis Magique').

Iznogoud by Tabary
Iznogoud #4 - 'L'Infame'.

Iznogoud: success
Although Iznogoud never manages to replace the caliph in the stories, he did overshadow him as a title character. In Record magazine, where the series ran from 1962 to 1970, it was originally titled 'Calife Haroun el Poussah'. It wasn't until the episode 'Iznogoud le Vizir' was serialized in Tintin magazine (November 1966), that it first appeared under the 'Iznogoud' banner. When it ran in Pilote from the 25 April 1968 issue (#444) on, the feature title also started out as 'Calife Haroun El Poussah', until eventually changing to 'Iznogoud' on 3 August 1972 (issue #665). The series ran in Pilote until scriptwriter Goscinny's death in 1977, and then appeared directly in book format. In 1981, the episode 'L'Enfance d'Iznogoud' was serialized in Circus magazine, published by Glénat. Between 1986 and 1992, several 'Iznogoud' short stories and gags appeared in Pif Gadget.

Regardless of the title, Iznogoud is the real star of the series. He sets the plots in motion and provides the majority of the comedy. At the time, he was an unusual protagonist for a comic strip. Most comics starred good-natured characters. They could have their vices, but still had a certain likeability. Iznogoud, on the other hand, is a downright villain. He is egotistical, vain, stingy, short-tempered, impatient and obsessed with impaling. In French comics in particular, this was unseen. Louis Forton's earlier, classic series 'Les Pieds Nickéles' featured three scoundrels too, but they were still essentially heroes. 

The 'Iznogoud' series has been translated in many languages, including Dutch, English, German, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Icelandic, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Serbian, Croatian, Greek, Turkish, Arabic and Vietnamese. In most languages, the title and character's name remain the same, only spelled differently, like in Dutch ('Iznogoedh'), German ('Isnogud'), Norwegian ('Iznogood'), Swedish ('Iznogoud'), Polish ('Iznogud'), Greek ('Isnogúd') and Spanish ('Iznogu'). Only in Norwegian he is known as 'Ahmed Ahne' ('Ahmed the Greedy'), while in Icelandic he is named 'Fláráður Stórvesír' ('Grand Vizir Sly'). In the Turkish version, the caliph is a sultan, since a caliph has a religious function, while a sultan is a purely secular one.


Iznogoud on the covers of Record #37, (January 1965) and Pilote #446 (9 May 1968).

Iznogoud: cultural impact
In France, 'Iznogoud' had a strong cultural impact. In January 1984, 'Iznogoud et les Femmes' won Bédésup magazine's Readers Award for "Best Humorous Album". Albert Uderzo gave a little nod to Iznogoud in his 1987 story 'Astérix Chez Rahàzade' ('Asterix and the Magic Carpet'), where the evil Indian guru Kiwoàlàh is apparently Iznogoud's cousin who wants to become "rajah instead of the rajah". Many French politicians have been compared with Iznogoud in their attempts to become major, governor, party leader of president. Between 1992 and 2007, the Humor et Eau Salée Festival in Saint-Georges-de-Didonne organized an official mock award, the Prix Iznogoud, that was handed out to politicians, business people, entertainers and sports figures who failed in achieving their goals. In 1999, the politician Nicolas Sarkozy won the Prix Iznogoud, especially since he, like the comic character, is a small man. The joke turned sour in 2007, once Sarkozy did become President of France. But even so, satirists kept mocking him as a real-life Iznogoud. Tabary was once a jury member of the Iznogoud awards. Politician André Santini too, but even he wasn't safe from winning the dreaded prize, namely in 2004.


'Les Cauchemars d'Iznogoud', with an appearance by Jacques Chirac.

Political satire 'Iznogoud' gags
From 21 October 1974 on, 'Iznogoud' also ran in the Sunday paper Journal du Dimanche, under the title 'L'Ignoble Iznogoud Commente L'Actualité' ("The Honorary Iznogoud Comments on Current Affairs"). Presented as a weekly gag comic, Goscinny and Tabary created exclusive material. The jokes offer topical political-social satire, often directly inspired by current internal affairs in France. Even controversial issues are tackled, like prostitution and nuclear energy. In order to mirror real-life French politics, the gags deviate from the regular 'Iznogoud' continuity. For instance, the Bagdad parliament is modelled after the French parliament halls in the Palais Bourbon and the Palais du Luxembourg. Actual elections are held, while Iznogoud organizes press meetings and is invited to televised debates. Most of the satire covered general, timeless topics, allowing for easy reprints. Only in two episodes, real-life 1970s politicians are caricatured, such as French Minister of the Interior (and future president) Jacques Chirac and Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. The meeting between Chirac and Iznogoud was inspired by a real-life 1974 state visit of Chirac to Iraq, where he talked with Saddam Hussein.

The Journal du Dimanche-gags were collected in two albums, published in 1976 and 1977, under the title 'Iznogoud Commente L'Actualité'. René Goscinny scripted all gags until his untimely death in November 1977. The newspaper strip 'L'Ignoble Iznogoud' continued for a few more years, with journalist Alain Buhler as scriptwriter, until the final episode appeared in print on 17 June 1979. In 1994, the Journal du Dimanche gags were reprinted and retitled in album format as 'Les Cauchemars d'Iznogoud' ("Iznogoud's Nightmares"). For this occasion, the original black-and-white gags were colorized and became part of the official 'Iznogoud' series. In July 2021, the political 'Iznogoud' gag comic was revived as a webcomic on the site laviefrancaise.info, scripted by Olivier Andrieu and drawn by Elric.

Iznogoud: media adaptations
Plans to adapt 'Iznogoud' into a live-action film comedy were first considered in the 1970s. René Goscinny and producer Pierre Tchernia envisioned the popular comedian Louis de Funés in the title role. However, back then a live-action adaptation would require expensive special effects. Goscinny's death in 1977 put an end to the project altogether. It wasn't until 2005 before a film version came about. 'Iznogoud' (2005) was directed by Patrick Braoudé and filmed in Morocco. The title roles were performed by two actors with Moroccan roots, Michaël Youn (Iznogoud) and Jacques Villeret (Dilat). The picture did well at the box office, but was lambasted by critics. Between 1997 and 1998, an animated series based on 'Iznogoud' was produced by Saban International Paris, directed by Bruno Bianchi. It premiered on the pay channel Canal+ and reran on France 2. In Quebec, Canada, it was broadcast on Radio-Canada Television. The 'Iznogoud' series also inspired several video games.


'L'Anniversaire d'Iznogoud' (1987). 

Iznogoud after Goscinny's death
Between 1966 and 1976, Éditions Dargaud released the first twelve 'Iznogoud' book collections. In 1977, scriptwriter René Goscinny suddenly died from a heart attack. By the time of his death, he considered leaving Dargaud and setting up two separate publishing companies, one for 'Asterix', the other for 'Iznogoud'. Tabary decided to follow through on this plan. In 1978, the publishing imprint BD'Star was founded by Francis Slomka - a TV journalist reporting about comics on Antenne 2 - and Michel Lafon, the editor of Podium magazine. BD'Star brought out the 1978 album 'Je Veux Être Calife à La Place du Calife', consequently featuring the last stories scripted by Goscinny. However, Lafon used the profits for personal gain and BD'Star was quickly dissolved. Subsequently, Slomka and Tabary founded Les Éditions de la Séguinière, a new publishing company that released all Tabary series in book format. La Séguinière additionally launched two monthly magazines based on Tabary creations, Les Vacheries de Corinne à Jeannot (1979-1980) and Les Récrés de Totoche (1980), which lasted only two issues. Both magazines featured reprints of Tabary's older comics, but also some new material. Bouboule, a character from 'Totoche', was given a new spin-off, this time paired with a girlfriend, Bouboulina. Totoche's dog Bigrousse also appeared in his own gag comic. In 1981, Slomka left Les Éditions de la Séguinière to continue his medical studies and become a doctor. Continuing the publishing activities, Tabary changed the company's name to Éditions Tabary.

After Goscinny's death, Tabary began writing his own 'Iznogoud' scripts. The plots evolved from short stories to full-length adventures. While Goscinny had a very structured approach, Tabary preferred to make up gags and storylines as he went along, letting his characters guide him through the story. If he had a great final punchline, he sometimes drew the last page in advance and then figured out how his story could evolve to that point. This preference for improvisation was also one of the reasons why he often fell behind his deadlines. However, he never had to supply his editors with a full script, a brief story outline was sufficient enough. In 'L'Anniversaire d'Iznogoud' (1987), Tabary even introduced a new cast member, Le Grand Chambellan, who gradually grew into the role of Iznogoud's arch nemesis. Since he can't stand him, he tries to sabotage all of Iznogoud's attempts to depose the caliph.

In 2004, the 27th album and final 'Iznogoud' story written and drawn by Jean Tabary was published, 'La Faute de l'Ancêtre' (2004). Taking over from then on was the artist's son, Nicolas Tabary, who had assisted his father on the artwork and coloring for several years. Tabary's other son, Stéphane Tabary, and daughter Muriel Tabary-Dumas, became the new scriptwriters. In 2011, Anne Goscinny, daughter of René Goscinny, announced that the 'Iznogoud' series would be published by Les Éditions IMAV. Appearing under the new title 'Les Nouvelles Aventures d'Iznogoud' (2012- ), the new 'Iznogoud' stories were still drawn by Nicolas Tabary, but a new team of scriptwriters was brought in, consisting of Nicolas Canteloup, Laurent Vassilian, Jul and Olivier Andrieu. In 2021, Nicolas Tabary announced that he was passing the pencil to a new artist, Elric (Elric Dufau).

Valentin le Vagabond by Jean Tabary
'Valentin le Vagabond' (Pilote #716, 1973).

Valentin le Vagabond
Two months after Jean Tabary and René Goscinny introduced 'Iznogoud' to the readers of Record magazine, their second collaborative effort was launched in Pilote. The 1 March 1962 issue ran the first story of their poetic humor series 'Valentin Le Vagabond' (1962-1974), about a naïve, blond-haired tramp with a pacifist attitude. He roams the roads, enjoying the simple life. The vagrant adores nature and is always kind to others, regardless of other people's bad intentions. Most of the time, Valentin gets involved in funny series of misunderstandings in which others exploit his naïveté. The character has been described as a prototypical hippie, debuting only a few years before the subculture emerged in the United States. But he also has a lot in common with classic tramp characters, including Charlie Chaplin's vagrant persona. Because he already had enough work on his hands with 'Asterix', 'Lucky Luke' and 'Iznogoud', René Goscinny scripted only four 'Valentin' episodes, the rest was mostly written by Tabary himself. The only exceptions were the serial 'L'Alchimiste' (1969) and the short story 'La Réussite' (1970), written by Fred, the comic artist famous for the experimental series 'Philémon'. However, creative differences made Tabary give up drawing 'L'Alchimiste' after fifteen pages. His brother Pierre Tabary finished the remaining pages, using the pseudonym Peter Glay.

Between 1 March 1962 and 16 August 1973, 'Valentin Le Vagabond' wandered the pages of Pilote. In addition, he made brief appearances in Les Pieds Nickelés Magazine (1972) and Lucky Luke Mensuel (1974) too. The final installment concluded on 1 November 1974. Between 1973 and 1977, the 'Valentin Le Vagabond' stories were published in book format by Dargaud. Éditions Tabary reissued them from 1991 to 2001 reissued by Éditions Tabary. In 2018 and 2019, two luxury volumes with all the stories were released by IMAV Éditions. In the Dutch comic magazine Pep, 'Valentin Le Vagabond' appeared under the name 'Zwier de Zwerver'.


René Goscinny and Jean Tabary flying over Bagdad.

Other comics
In addition to his ongoing series, Jean Tabary worked on other projects too. In 1972, he drew a couple of short stories for Pilote with writer Serge De Beketch, including 'Les Sept Peches Capitaux' in issue #679 (November 1972), a collection of one-page gags inspired by the Seven Deadly Sins. As a scriptwriter, he worked with Mic Delinx on the humorous athlete series 'Buck Gallo' (1966-1968), created in 1963 by Delinx and writer Yves Duval.

Graphic contributions
In the late 1960s, Jean Tabary illustrated two school books on learning German, 'J'Apprends Allemand' (Didier Richard, 1968-1969). Jean Tabary also made advertising comics for Polistyl miniature cars, Palladium sport shoes and the theme park Le Pal in Saint-Pourçain-sur-Besbre, France.

Final years, death and legacy
In 2004 Jean Tabary suffered a stroke, motivating him to retire. A year later, the death of his beloved wife Collette brought him into a depression. In 2011, the veteran artist died at age 81, in his home town Pont-l'Abbé-d'Arnoult in the Charente-Maritime department, near the South West coast of France. His 'Iznogoud' series is still a household name and new installments are being produced to this day (2022). Jean Tabary has been cited as an influence by comic artists as diverse as Alain Dodier, Jean Mahaux and Nikos Nikolaidis.


Iznogoud and his creator in 'La Tête de Turc d'Iznogoud' (1975).

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