XIII, by William Vance
XIII #8 - 'Treize Contre Un'.

William Vance was a Belgian comic artist and writer, best remembered for his signature series 'XIII' (1984-2010), co-developed with scriptwriter Jean Van Hamme. 'XIII' is an action-packed crime mystery about an amnesiac and his quest to uncover his true identity. Van Hamme's suspenseful narrative, full with political and military intrigues, is complimented by Vance's superb atmospheric and well-researched artwork. 'XIII' rose to become a global bestseller, translated in dozens of languages and adapted into two TV series. Yet Vance drew other realistic adventure comics for mature audiences too. He was the third artist to continue the comic book adaptation of Henri Vernes' novel series 'Bob Morane' (1971-1980). He illustrated Greg's espionage series 'Bruno Brazil' (1967-1979), which marked a wave of more adult comics in the magazine Tintin. Vance specialized in historical comics, like the naval series 'Howard Flynn' (1964-1973) and 'Bruce J. Hawker' (1976-1996) and two comic series set in Spain during the Middle Ages: 'Rodric' (1972-1974) and 'Ramiro' (1974-1989). He was a master in depicting fast-paced action sequences and went to legendary lengths to get every detail right. Vance was one of the bestselling Flemish comic artists worldwide, only behind Morris and Willy Vandersteen, but at the same time a prime example of Belgian unity, since he often worked together with Walloon scriptwriters.

Tintin cover by William Vance
Cover illustration for Kuifje/Tintin issue #50 (Christmas 1966).

Early life
William Vance was born in 1935 in Anderlecht, near Brussels, as William van Cutsem. He was raised in a Dutch-speaking family and studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, despite the fact that everyone spoke French there and his knowledge of this language was still minimal at the time. Among his graphic influences were illustrators like Frank McCarthy, Ken Riley, Tom Lovell and Bob Peak and comic artists like Hergé, Edgar P. Jacobs, Hugo Pratt, Sirius, Morris, Alex Raymond, Hal Foster, Burne Hogarth and particularly Jijé and Hans G. Kresse. Halfway his third year at school, Vance suddenly received a business deal from Fabelta and their advertising division Publi-Synthèse. He therefore abandoned his studies and went to work for them. The college drop-out mostly illustrated advertisements and provided lay-outs for them. Later Vance fulfilled the same function at another advertising agency: OTP. Among his clients were companies such as Dreft washing powder, Jupiler beer, Volkswagen, Shell, the Priba and Bon Marché supermarkets and the Sabena airline company. In 1961, he joined the agency Publicem, who created ads for the Belgian wing of the Dutch company Philips.

Walter Bonatti by William Vance
'Walter Bonatti' (Kuifje/Tintin #16, 1963). Dutch-language version.

Tintin magazine
While advertising paid well, Vance felt the job was quite boring. He foresaw that advertisers would prefer to use photographs rather than illustrations to advertise products. Therefore he wanted to become a comic artist. Since Spirou and Tintin were the leading Belgian comic magazines at the time he applied for both and was rejected twice. But as fate would have it, one of Tintin's top artists, Liliane Funcken, happened to notice Vance's rejected drawings in the office. She felt he was a genuine talent who deserved a chance. When more comic legends like Tibet and Albert Weinberg expressed the same opinion, Vance was offered a contract. He was employed to illustrate Tintin's weekly one-shot historical-biographical comic strips. Together with scriptwriter Yves Duval he created about sixty of these short stories. He also made a great many full color illustrations for text stories by Pierre Step and Jacques Acar.

Howard Flynn
On 28 January 1964, Yves Duval and Vance's naval comic series 'Howard Flynn' made its debut in Tintin's pages. Set in the late 18th century, the series revolves around the adventures of English navy officer Howard Flynn. Vance was a huge fan of C.S. Forester's 'Horatio Hornblower' novels, while Flynn's name was inspired by Hollywood swashbuckler movie actor Errol Flynn. Vance impressed many readers with his dynamic artwork and well-researched recreation of the time period. The artist always loved depicting scenes involving water, whether it be oceans, rivers, lakes or just heavy rainfall. Scenes like these can be found in all of his future comics stories. About eight 'Howard Flynn' stories of varying lengths were created until 1973. Vance would improve on maritime themes one decade later with 'Bruce Hawker' (1976-1996).

Howard Flynn by William Vance
'Howard Flynn'. Dutch-language version. 

On 23 September 1965, Vance went ashore and created the western comic 'Ringo' (sometimes known as 'Ray Ringo', 1965-1978). While the stories take  place in the Wild West, the title character isn't a cowboy or a gunslinger for a change. Ray Ringo works for Wells & Fargo, which enabled storylines to take place at virtually any location in the Far West. Ringo has to guard Wells & Fargo's coach rides and ensure cargos arrive safely at their destination. The premise gave Vance a chance to draw many brutal action scenes. It was also the first comic strip scripted completely by himself. In total, six stories of 'Ray Ringo' were created. Three of these, 'Piste Pour Santa Fe' (1965), 'El Diablo s'en Mêle' (1970) and 'Le Duel' (1978) were written by Vance alone. Jacques Acar co-wrote 'La Ville de la Peur' (1966) and 'Le Serment de Gettysburg' (1966), Yves Duval co-wrote 'L'Or des Déserteurs' (1970) and André-Paul Duchâteau 'Trois Salopards Dans La Neige' (1977). While the first two 'Ringo' stories were serialized in Tintin, later episodes only appeared in Tintin Sélection, a trimestrial supplement of the magazine. All comics in Tintin Sélection were later collected in pocket books.

Move to Spain
In the mid-1960s, Vance also met his future wife, Petra Coria. She was Spanish and therefore in 1979 the artist eventually moved to Santander, Spain. Coria was also important for his career, since she colored most of his comics. Her brother Felicisimo Coria would become Vance's assistant on many of his series.

Ringo by William Vance

Bruno Brazil
In 1967, Vance teamed up with Tintin’s then editor-in-chief Michel Greg to create ‘Bruno Brazil’ (1967-1979), though Greg used the pseudonym Louis Albert. 'Bruno Brazil' was a spy series, inspired by the popularity of the James Bond movie franchise and the TV series 'Mission Impossible'. The main characters are CIA agent Bruno Brazil, his military trained brother Billy, the tough Mexican Felipe "Gaucho" Morales, sharp shooting cowboy Texas Bronco, former race horse hockey Big Boy Lafayette, who uses a jojo as a weapon, and Whip Rafale, a woman who is quite adept with whips. Together they form Commando Caiman. Bruno Brazil leads their secret missions, though he is under command of Colonel L. himself. The team's nemesis is Rebelle, a diabolical female mastermind. Greg eventually felt this character was a bit corny. Therefore he let the team combat a more realistic enemy in later stories: the maffia. The first episode of 'Bruno Brazil' was published on 17 January 1967 as a short story. After five short episodes, it became a full-blown longer adventure series with the first serial 'Le Requin Qui Mourut Deux Fois' (1968).

Bruno Brazil, by William Vance
Bruno Brazil - 'Commando Caïman'. Dutch-language version. 

'Bruno Brazil' often surprised readers with its audacity. Greg didn't shy away from killing off many of the series' major cast members, including Big Boy Lafayette in 'Des Caïmans Dans La Rizière' (1975). His death led to numerous angry readers' letters and other readers cancelling their subscriptons. Lafayette was replaced by the hippie Tony Nomade. When Greg wanted to have no less than four main cast members be murdered in 'Quitte où Double' (1977), Vance tried to convince him to change his mind, but to no avail. 'Bruno Brazil' nevertheless became Vance's first huge success and launched a new era in the magazine's history. Up to that point most comics in Tintin had been serious in nature, but still intended for a children's audience. As the 1960s progressed more comics strictly for adults emerged, with Jean Giraud and Jean-Michel Charlier's 'Blueberry' (1963) in Pilote as trailblazer. Greg realized Tintin couldn't stay behind and therefore allowed more mature comics in its pages. 'Bruno Brazil' was the first comic in Tintin to be part of this new wave. When it caught on, it opened the door for more mature comics with anti-heroes, less naïve and more complex storylines, brutal violence and occasional sly eroticism. Without its success, series like Greg & Hermann's 'Bernard Prince' (1966) and 'Comanche' (1969), Derib's 'Buddy Longway' (1973), Cosey's 'Jonathan' (1975), Jean van Hamme and Grzegorz Rosinski's 'Thorgal' (1977) and foreign translations such as Hugo Pratt's 'Corto Maltese' (1974) and Andreas' 'Rork' (1978) might not have been possible.

Bruno Brazil by William Vance
Bruno Brazil - 'Sarabande à Sacramento'.

As popular as 'Bruno Brazil' was, it remained stuck in development hell from 1978 on, because Greg went to the United States for some business deals. He gave Vance the first twenty pages of a new script in advance, but circumstances kept Greg too busy to ever send the conclusion. Ironically enough he'd already named a successor in case he wouldn't be able to finish the storyline, namely Jean van Hamme. But legally Vance and Van Hamme couldn't do anything as long as they didn't have Greg's official acceptance and signature on the contract. Since Greg stayed in the USA well until halfway the 1980s, 'Bruno Brazil' couldn't continue. And after his return he had lost interest in the series. It took until 1995 before a new 'Bruno Brazil' came out: 'La Fin... !??' (1995), but this was merely a collection of previously published short stories with the final unfinished story as a bonus feature. 'Bruno Brazil' was revived in 2019 by Philippe Aymond and Laurent-Frédéric Bollée.

Bob Morane by William Vance
'Bob Morane'. Dutch-language version. 

Bob Morane
While Tintin launched Vance's career, he actually created far more illustrations and comics for a different magazine: Femmes d'Aujourd'hui. This was a Belgian women's magazine with a Dutch-language equivalent: Het Rijk der Vrouw. In 1961, Vance had worked as an assistant of Dino Attanasio on the comic book adaptations of Henri Vernes' 'Bob Morane'. The comic was continued from 1962 onwards by Gérald Forton, who left the strip rather abruptly in 1967. Vance was brought in to draw the final two pages of the running story, after which he effectively became Forton's successor and the third artist to continue the thrilling adventures of Morane, the famous engineer with combat experience. Yet, much like Michel Greg, Vernes also had a reputation for being unable to deliver his deadlines on time. Therefore Vance sometimes adapted one of Vernes' original novels into a comic story all by himself. From 1968 onwards, Vance was assisted by René Follet on certain albums. In 1980, after eighteen 'Bob Morane' stories, Vance passed the pencil to his brother-in-law Felicisimo Coria.

Rodric by William Vance
'Rodric'. Dutch-language version. 

Other work for Femmes d'Aujourd'hui
The irregularity of working with Vernes also prompted Vance to start several other projects for Femmes d'Ajourd'hui. Vance and Coria created 'S.O.S. Nature' (1969-1970), an educational column with occasional illustrations. The scientific information was provided by Edgar Kesteloot, while journalist M. Colinon transcribed it for a general audience. Another collaboration for the same magazine was 'Mongwy' (1971-1972), which ran in its pages from 24 November 1971 until 19 April 1972. This comic strip was a western, but more inspired by the Italian spaghetti westerns that were in vogue at the time. The script and text were written by Lucien Meys. 'Mongwy' remained a one-shot story, but was reprised in black-and-white in Curiosity Magazine between 1973 and 1974 under the pseudonym Mail Syme (the final syllable of Vance's first name backwards and an anagram of Meys' last name.). In 1994-1995 the same story also ran in Hop!

Ramiro by William Vance
'Ramiro'. Dutch-language version. 

Meys was also the scriptwriter of a longer-running comic series by Vance for the same magazine: 'Rodric' (1972-1974). 'Rodric' was the artist's first entry into the Spanish Middle Ages, a time period he adored but due to the popularity of other series like 'XIII' was never able to explore much. Set in the 12th century, during the Crusades, the comic strip follows the adventures of a knight in the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. It was terminated after only two episodes, because Meys felt that there were already enough chivalry comics.

After his series 'Rodric' was cancelled, Vance was disappointed, but came up with another medieval comic: 'Ramiro' (1974-1989) by another scriptwriter, Jacques Stoquart, though Vance eventually wrote his own stories. The series takes place in 13th-century Moorish Spain and centers around Ramiro, the illegitimate son of the Castilian king Alphonso VIII. His squire Jos accompanies him during all his difficult missions. 'Ramiro' was serialized in Femmes d'Ajourdhui until 1975. After 1977, new stories appeared directly in album format until the final episode rolled out in 1989. In total nine albums were  published.

Bruce J Hawker by Vance
'Bruce J. Hawker'. French-language version.

Bruce J. Hawker
On 15 December 1976, Vance launched a new historical comic series, 'Bruce J. Hawker' (1976-1996), also in Femmes d'Aujourd'hui. It marked a return to the maritime adventures he'd explored before in 'Howard Flynn', though this series was set in the 19th century rather than the 18th. Another major difference was that 'Howard Flynn' offered a more raw, mature and far less romanticized view of the time period. The main protagonist is Bruce J. Hawker, a shipmate who is falsely accused of treason and disgraced. Only his good friend lieutenant George Lund believes him. Hawker tries everything to regain his good name and travels the seven seas in between. Originally 'Bruce J. Hawker' was serialized in Femmes d'Aujourd'hui, but from 1979 on it also ran in Tintin. At this occasion, Vance redrew the first pages of the first adventure. After a hiatus the comic strip was picked up again in the mid-1980s when Vance asked Tintin's chief editor André-Paul Duchâteau to write the scripts from the third story on (though his name was only credited from the fourth album on). Seven albums of 'Bruce J. Hawker' came out before Vance called it quits. Yet he always considered the series to be his personal favorite. In 2021 scriptwriter Christophe Bec and artist Carlos Puerta relaunched 'Bruce J. Hawker'. 

Vance also had a brief dive into science fiction with 'XHG-C3 – Le Vaisseau Rebelle' (1983, album in 1995).

XIII by William Vance
XIII #3 - 'Toutes les Larmes de l'Enfer'. Dutch-language version. 

Halfway the 1980s, Vance co-created his signature series and the biggest bestseller of his career: 'XIII' (1984). The concept was thought up by Jean van Hamme while he and Vance waited in vain for Greg's official contractual permission to create a new 'Bruno Brazil' story. Their original working title was 'Cobra', since Guy Leblanc, head of Lombard, planned to launch a new comic magazine under that name. Van Hamme and Vance's protagonist would be the mascot. But this project proved to be a dead end too. Therefore they just went to a different publisher altogether. On 7 June 1984 the comic strip, now retitled 'XIII', made its debut in Spirou. Yet the first album wasn't published by Dupuis but Dargaud. In October 1984, 'Dimanche Noir' ('Black Sunday', 1984) could be found in stores. The whole experience with Greg and Leblanc made Vance take a precaution. His contract stipulated that if Van Hamme would retire as scriptwriter Vance would be legally allowed to find a replacement.

XIII by William Vance
XIII #4 - 'S.P.A.D.S.'. Dutch-language version. 

'XIII' centers around a mysterious man who washes ashore on the U.S. East Coast. An elderly couple nurses him out of his coma, but the stranger has no clue who he is and what happened to him. Since the couple discovers the number 13 tattoed on his collarbone, they name him 'XIII'. XIII soon discovers he is a wanted man, as a group of assassins track him down and try to murder him. He outwits them and realizes he is an expert in military combat. Determined to find answers about his past, he goes to the city, with a photograph and a key to a safe as his only clues. The intrigue thickens as XIII meets new people on his path, some friends, others enemies, though he's never sure who to trust. His closest ally is Major Jones, a young female African-American military lieutenant (later promoted to colonel) with whom he develops a relationship. Another person sympathetic to his cause is Jones' superior: general Benjamin Carrington who trained XIII into the combat expert he is today. XIII can also count on Colonel Amos, an older and one-armed man who works for a special commission trying the solve the murder of U.S President William Sheridan. Even though Amos has visual proof that XIII seems to be the assassin he doesn't want to jail him, but find out the conspiracy behind this unsolved political crime. By far the most dangerous opponent of XIII is Le Mangouste, a notorious assassin-for-hire who tries to silence him. Hundreds of other characters make XIII's quest for his identity one huge mysterious puzzle...

XIII by William Vance
XIII #7 - 'La Nuit du 3 août'. Dutch-language version. 

Van Hamme wrote 'XIII' as a clever mystery thriller. The initial tone was inspired by Robert Ludlum's novel 'The Bourne Identity' (1980), but he also drew inspiration from the Kennedy murders, McCarthyism, the C.I.A., the N.S.A., the K.K.K., the I.R.A., the Sandinista rebellion in Nicaragua and Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II's novel 'Seven Days in May'. Exciting intrigues and hard-boiled action form the core ingredients of the series. Conspiracy theories involving government and military cover-ups are interwoven in the plot. Each episode is full of surprising plot developments. One of the reasons 'XIII' remained suspenseful, even for the creators themselves, was that Van Hamme had no idea where the plot would take them. Sometimes he changed ideas at the last minute. Certain characters became less or more important as the narrative continued. It all makes up for a veritable page-turner whose cliffhangers kept readers longing for each new episode. The only downside is that one ought to read all titles chronologically, since it follows a continuous narrative. It's not impossible to read them out of order – a short recap is available at the start of each story – but it's better to follow and buy them all from the very start. Another downside is that some readers pronounce the series' title phonetically instead of by its proper name: "13".

XIII by William Vance
XIII #11 - 'Trois Montres d'Argent'. Dutch-language version. 

While the narrative of 'XIII' is mostly Van Hamme's merit, Vance gave it its visual style. The series reads like a clever and exciting Hollywood action movie. Vance was a huge fan of such pictures, even the more formulaic but spectactular ones. His joy of drawing fast-paced chase and fight scenes splashes from the pages. Therefore his favorite albums were 'S.P.A.D.S.' (1987) and 'Secret Défense' (2000). Vance loved drawing such sequences so much that he would've preferred more emphasis on action. But the artist was aware that this would probably lead to overload. His love for film can also be spotted in the physical looks of some of the characters. General Carrington, for instance, was inspired by Hollywood actor Lee Marvin while the vice President borrowed his physique from Paul Newman. When Vance saw 'The Bodyguard' (1992) with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, he decided to model Major Jones' haircut more like Houston's.

Vance did a lot of research for his artwork. The first 'XIII' story was just set in "anytown USA" and therefore Van Hamme simply instructed him to draw a typical American city. But Vance felt that the story would be more believable if the backgrounds depicted recognizable U.S. locations. He therefore collected countless photographs of landscapes, but also had a bottomless archive with documentation about military uniforms, weapons, helmets, ships, jeeps, airplanes, helicopters... The artist wanted to avoid readers spotting mistakes in his work. Even if he had the required documentation he still wanted to double-check whether it was up-to-date, since "it would be lazy to just use pictures from 15 years ago." The most notorious detail he wanted to get right was the Amrak railway service in 'Lâchez les Chiens!' (2002). He and his son searched the entire Internet to find images of not just the train, but also each station and the exact hours of arrival and departure! Still Vance denied being a detail freak. He didn't want to be compared to Edgar P. Jacobs or Jacques Martin in terms of perfectionism, since he only wanted to capture a certain atmosphere, not the tiniest of details. Interestingly enough, Vance never visited the United States in his entire life. 

XIII by Vance
XIII #14 - 'Secret Défense'. Dutch-language version. 

Originally 'XIII' didn't sell much copies, also because there was little to no promotion involved. Publisher Dargaud defended this strategy since René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo's 'Astérix' also had a slow but steady climb to the top. Indeed, through sheer word-to-mouth advertising, 'XIII' doubled its sales with each new album. The first signs were notable in Flanders, where 'XIII' was prepublished in Robbedoes. The spark then skipped to Wallonia and the rest of the francophone market. In time the bestseller was translated in English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Finnish, Polish, Hungarian, Czech, Serbo-Croatian, Lithuanian and Tamil. Oddly enough Dargaud kept referring to 'XIII' as a "cult series", even though its huge sales and unanimous appreciation don't fit that definition well. The comic strip was prepublished in Tintin from 1990 on, although this didn't stop the magazine's demise three years later. 'XIII' has also been prepublished in the Belgian magazines De Morgen, Télémoustique and Le Soir and the French magazines Le Courrier de l'Ouest, Le Télégramme de Brest, Midi Libre, VSD and Libération. In 2000, the story 'Secret Défense' was made available online by the Belgian site Skynet and the French one Liberty Surf.

XIII #16 - 'Opération Montecristo'.

After the eighth album, 'Treize Contra Un' (1991), it was announced that the series would end. To promote this event, Dargaud created a 16-second long commercial broadcast in French film theaters. This unusual strategy for comic books paid off, because sales increased spectacularly. Fans didn't have to worry though, since the album merely tied the knots of the previous eight albums together. New media stunts were used to keep promoting the series. When 'Pour Maria' (1992) came out, Dargaud organized a contest. The winners received a voyage to Latin America in the company of Van Hamme, Vance and a camera team working for the French TV channel France 2. By the time 'Trois Montres d'Argent' (1995) rolled from the presses, Dargaud handed out a free copy to first class travellers with the French railway service TGV. The next story, 'Le Jugement' (1997), was accompanied by yet another theatrical promo and various merchandising products like T-shirts, watches, ties, hats, a tarot game, a CD-rom and a soundtrack album.

The next albums continued XIII's quest to find out his true identity. The second cycle was resolved with the twelfth entry in the series. The 13th album 'The XIII Mystery: L'Enquête' (1999) was an extra addition to delve deeper into the finer details. It would have been a nice symbolic touch to end the series with the thirteenth story and this was Van Hamme's actual intent. But Vance loved 'XIII' too much and wanted to continue. Van Hamme therefore wrote a new story cycle in which XIII further explores his past. Six more albums came out before Van Hamme finally pulled back from the project with the 2007 album 'Le Dernier Round'. In total, 19 albums had been created based on Van Hamme's scripts. Of these, 18 have been illustrated by Vance. The 18th album, 'La Version Irlandaise' was drawn by comics legend Jean Giraud and colored by Claire Champeval. In 2010,  Vance announced his retirement from the series. A new writer-artist duo was established. Originally Stephen Desberg was considered as writer, but the choice eventually fell on Yves Sente. The new illustrator became Russian artist Iouri Jigounov.

XIII: Spin-offs
'XIII' also inspired a spin-off, 'XIII Mystery' (1999), where every album focuses on the background of one major character. Originally Van Hamme and Vance felt nothing for the idea, but at the instance of Dargaud they created a first book, listing backgrounds to all 130 characters up to that point. Vance even created some new comics to function as bumpers between each chapter. Van Hamme's research came in handy when 'XIII Mystery' effectively became a series. A different scriptwriter and artist are hired for each new title. Van Hamme acted as a supervisor and insisted that the writers and artists always should be people who never collaborated before. Since 2017 the associated writers and artists have been Xavier Dorison and Ralph Meyer, Éric Corbeyran and Philippe Berthet, Yann and Éric Henninot, Alcante and François Boucq, Fabien Nury and Richard Guérineau, Laurent-Frédéric Bollée and Steve Cuzor, Joel Callède and Sylvain Vallée, Frank Giroud and Colin Wilson, Matz and Christian Rossi, Fred Duval and Michel Rouge, Luc Brunschwig and Olivier TaDuc. Van Hamme wrote down a list of rules which the writers and artists need to respect. Among them that the authors don't try to imitate Van Hamme and Vance, but put their own mark on the franchise. Van Hamme is very strict and has been known to refuse some of the scripts and even creators involved if he felt they were sub-par.

XIII by William VanceXIII by William Vance

XIII: Media adaptations
'XIII' also conquered other media. In 2008, a two-part miniseries, 'XIII: The Conspiracy' aired on the pay channel Canal+ with Stephen Dorff in the starring role, Lucinda Davis as Major Jones and Val Kilmer as The Mongoose. The series was continued with another TV mini-series, 'XIII: The Series' (2011-2012), produced by Prodigy Pictures and Cipango. However it had other actors in the starring roles, namely Stuart Townsend and Aisha Tyler. To avoid unfavorable comparisons with the popular 'Bourne' film franchise based on Robert Ludlum's books, the plot was slightly changed in some scenes. The comic strip was also developed into a board game, 'XIII: Le Complot' (2001) and two video games, 'XIII' (2003) and 'XIII: Lost Identity' (2011). 

Marshall Blueberry by William Vance
'Marshall Blueberry'. Dutch-language version.

Marshall Blueberry
Since 'XIII' took up so much of his time from 1984 on, Vance had rarely time to work on other comic series. In 1991 he was hired by publisher Alpen to illustrate a spin-off of Jean Giraud's 'Blueberry' named 'Marshall Blueberry' (1991-1993). Jean Giraud provided the plots, but Vance was free in his graphical interpretation. Giraud's plot for the second story was reworked into a script by Thierry Smolderen. Vance refused to draw the third installment of the trilogy, because he didn't like the story's ending. Therefore the third book was drawn by Michel Rouge and published in 2000.

Graphic contributions
Vance was one of several artists to make a graphic contribution to 'Pepperland’ (1980), a collective comic book tribute to the store Pepperland, to celebrate its 10th anniversary at the time. 

In 2005, Vance received the Bronzen Adhemar - the most important Flemish comics prize - and in 2009 the city of Brussels named him a honorary citizen. 

Final years and death
Between 2003 and 2011, publisher Le Lombard launched the series 'Tout W. Vance', which collects his short stories with Yves Duval, illustration work, 'Howard Flynn', 'Rodric', 'Ringo' and 'Ramiro'. A year later, Vance announced his retirement from the comic industry due to Parkinson's disease. He passed away in 2018 at the age of 82.

Legacy and influence
'XIII' remains one of the most critically and commercially succesful comic series of all time. Since 15 November 2010, 'XIII' also has his own mural in the Rue Philippe de Champagne/Philippe de Champagne Straat as part of the Brussels' Comic Book Route. William Vance was a strong influence on Anco Dijkman.

Books about 'XIII'
For fans of XIII, the special 'XIII, Dans lLs Coulisses d'une Oeuvre Mythique. Hors Série L'Express BD' (L'Express, 2015), which appeared in the magazine Le Vif/L'Express is highly recommended. The book has special commentary by Jean Van Hamme about all entries of 'XIII' up to that point and contributions by various famous French celebrities.

William Vance
Self-portrait from 1993.

Series and books by William Vance you can order today:


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