Lanfeust de Troy, by Didier Tarquin
Lanfeust de Troy #5 - Le frisson de l'Haruspice

Didier Tarquin is the artist of Éditions Soleil's best-selling high fantasy franchise 'Lanfeust'. With writer Scotch Arleston, he has worked on the epic cycles 'Lanfeust de Troy' (1994-2000), 'Lanfeust des Étoiles' (2001-2008) and 'Lanfeust Odyssey' (since 2009). The property has spawned a magazine called Lanfeust Mag (since 1998) and several spin-offs, including the gag strip 'Gnomes de Troy'.

Tarquin was born in 1967 in Toulon in the south of France, but spent most of his childhood in the Sahara environment of Touggourt, Algeria. He first encountered the comics medium through the magazine Pif Gadget, where he especially enjoyed reading André Chéret's 'Rahan'. When the Tarquin family returned to France in 1976, Didier started reading the more mature comics published in Métal Hurlant. Although his family had no artistic background, they supported him in pursuing his ambitions to become a comics artist. He broke off his studies in Plastic Arts in Aix-en-Provence, because he felt out of place. He then passed his entrance examination for the Art Academy of Angoulême, but decided to join Mourad Boudjellal in his new publishing label Soleil Productions instead. Tarquin has learned most of his trade from studying the work of fellow artists like Albert Uderzo, Claire Wendling, Régis Loisel, Hermann, Michel Plessix, Jean-Claude Mézières and Jean Giraud. Fantasy and science fiction movies and TV series are also major influences on his work.


Roq #2 - Le Prince Creux

Tarquin knew Mourad Boudjellal from his Toulon-based comic book store, and was one of the first artists to sign up for his new publishing effort in 1989. Boudjellal wrote the script for Tarquin's first comic album, the fantasy story 'Les Maléfices d'Orient' (1990). It was no success, but did establish Soleil's specialization in (heroic) fantasy comics. After his military service, Tarquin launched 'Röc' (1992-1993), another series in this genre, created in cooperation with writer Béatrice Avossa. The ill-fated comic was cancelled after two volumes, however. His luck changed when he teamed up with scriptwriter Scotch Arleston. Arleston was working on a concept called 'Le Monde de Troy', for which Patrick Prugne had made a couple of test pages. Tarquin was asked to give it a try as well, and was eventually picked out as the definitive artist to draw the series. The first album of 'Lanfeust de Troy' ('Lanfeust of Troy') hit the stores in September 1994, and was an instant hit.


Lanfeust de Troy #6 - Cixi impératrice

Lanfeust lives on a planet called Troy, on which all humans have a unique and single magic power, but only when they're in the presence of a sage of Eckmül. The first story cycle deals with a magic sword that gives its owner full use of all the magic powers of Troy. The sword is mended from the ivory of a legendary magical beast called the Magohamoth by the apprentice blacksmith Lanfeust, and it goes without saying that the young hero has to encounter all sorts of dangers to keep his magic safe. The main antagonist is the renegade sage turned pirate Thanos, who wants to use the ivory's magic for his own evil purposes. Luckily, Lanfeust has an excellent bodyguard in the troll Hébus, who is under a magic spell to prevent him from becoming his murderous and savage self again. Although the series has all the elements of epic heroic fantasy, the stories rely a lot on comedy. The artist furthermore enjoys hiding little easter eggs in his drawings, like cameo appearances and winks to other comics characters, artists and his favorite movies. The 'Lanfeust' comic has managed to please both male and female readers, largely because of the difficult relationship between Lanfeust's love interest C'ian and her rebellious sister Cixi. While Lanfeust is fearless when confronting a dragon, he is far more naïve, unsure and innocent when confronted with women.


Lanfeust des Étoiles #7 - Le Secret des Dolphantes

Tarquin and Arleston hit it off and settled on a steady production of albums. Within six years, the original cycle was completed in eight albums. The duo then embarked upon a second cycle of another eight albums called 'Lanfeust des Étoiles' ('Lanfeust of the Stars', 2002-2009). The setting was changed to another planet, and the stories got a more serious tone while relying more on science fiction than fantasy. After this space opera interlude, the character returned to Troy in the third cycle, 'Lanfeust Odyssey' (2010-2018). Lanfeust himself had aged two years, while nearly twenty years had passed on Troy, where the young hero had received legendary status for saving the universe. While Arleston's scripts and Tarquin's artwork entertain a steady fanbase, the colorists also contribute a lot to the personality of the series. Throughout the years, Yves Lencot (1994-1998), Claude Guth (1999-2008), Frédéric Besson (2009) and Tarquin's wife Lyse (since 2010) have lended their talents to the franchise.


Lanfeust Odyssey #1 - L'Énigme Or-Azur

In August 1997, several authors affiliated to Soleil founded the Gottferdom Studio in Aix-en-Provence. The name comes from "Gott ferdom mi", the Alsace phrase for "Goddammit", which the troll Hébus regularly exlaims. Tarquin was part of the original group, along with Scotch Arleston, Dominique Latil and Philippe Pellet, and worked at the atelier for about three years. Many authors have frequented the studio throughout the years. Around the same period, Tarquin became the writer of 'Les Ailes du Phaéton' (1997-1998), another heroic fantasy series published by Soleil. The artwork was provided by Serge Fino. After the first trilogy, Tarquin left the scriptwriting duties to Didier Crisse for the second cycle (1999-2002) and then to Isabelle Plongeon for the third (2003-2004).


Lanfeust des Étoiles #8 - Le Sang des Comètes

By 1998, Gottferdom became the editorial office of Lanfeust Mag, a monthly magazine launched by Soleil to tie in with the success of the 'Lanfeust' comic books. Edited by Scotch Arleston, the magazine serializes most of Soleil's series before their book publications. In need of a gag strip, Arleston and Tarquin launched 'Gnomes de Troy', which focuses on the childhood years of Lanfeust, Cixi and C'ian and their experiences at the school of master Nicolède. A sole album with gags and short stories was published in 2000, and it took ten years before the series was revived, in 2010. Throughout the years, several other spin-offs set in Tarquin and Arleston's popular 'Lanfeust' universe have seen the light of day. The best-known is 'Trolls de Troy' ('Trolls of Troy', since 1997), which is set two centuries before the main series, and stars the heroic troll Teträm. The series is produced by Arleston and artist Jean-Louis Mourier. Five installments of a manga version written by Arleston in cooperation with Tarquin, and with artwork by Ludo Lullabi, appeared under the title 'Lanfeust Quest' (2007-2010). The colonization of Troy is explained in 'Les Conquérants de Troy' ('Conquerors of Troy', since 2005) by Arleston and artist Ciro Tota, while 'Cixi de Troy' (2009-2011) by Arleston, Olivier Vatine (the first two books) and Adrien Floch (the third book) focuses on the character of Cixi. 'Les Légendes de Troy' ('Legends of Troy', 2010) is an entire collection devoted to the Troy worlds, mostly written by Arleston in cooperation with Melanÿn. The series thus far includes such one-shots and limited series as 'Tykko des Sables' (drawn by Nicolas Kéramidas, 2009-2014), 'Guerrières de Troy' (drawn by Dany, 2010-2013), 'Nuit Safran' (drawn by Éric Hérenguel, 2010-2012), 'L'Expedition d'Alunÿs' (drawn by Éric Cartier, 2010), 'L'Heure de la Gargouille' (drawn by Didier Cassegrain, 2011), 'Voyage aux ombres' (written by Arleston and Audrey Alwett, drawn by Virginie Augustin, 2011) and 'Ploneïs l'Incertain' (written by Arleston and Jean-Luc Sala, drawn by Éric Hübsch, 2014). A roleplaying game set on the world of Troy was released by Soleil in 2005.

Didier Tarquin was also involved in Gottferdom's group effort 'Krash Monsters' (2002). This superhero/disaster movie parody started out as a filler strip in Lanfeust Mag, and eventually one album was published. Tarquin provided the storyboards and had the supervision, while his former pupils Olivier Dutto and Guillaume Bianco drew the characters, and Adrien Floch took care of the robots and backgrounds. He is also the scriptwriter of 'S.P.E.E.D. Angels' (2012-2013), a science fiction series about monster/alien hunter Jane Blond, drawn by Tony Valente. Didier Tarquin furthermore contributed to a collective homage to Albert Uderzo, 'Astérix et ses Amis' (Les Éditions Albert René, 2007), and also drew a story for the third volume the collective thriller series 'Les Véritables Légendes Urbaines' (Dargaud, 2009) by Rémi Guérin and Éric Corbeyran.

Gnomes de Troy, by Didier Tarquin
Gnomes de Troy (Lanfeust Mag #165)

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