Bernard Hislaire did his first steps in the comics field through fanzines like Robidule. He studied at the Saint-Luc Art Institute in Brussels and got the opportunity to draw a comic story for the 'Carte Blanche' section of Spirou magazine in 1975. In the following years, he contributed artwork to several of the magazines editorial sections, under the guidance of Jean-Marie Brouyère. By 1978 he made his first continuing comic story from a script by Brouyère, 'Coursensac et Baladin au Pays des Tahétéhus'.
Bidouille et Violette
During that same year, he started his breakthrough series, the poetic and romantic 'Bidouille et Violette'. Hislaire's series about the love between two adolescents was unique for its time, especially in magazines like Spirou. It called in a new wave of more personal comic stories, that was also represented in Spirou by Geerts' 'Jojo' and Wasterlain's 'Docteur Poche'. The series continued to appear in Spirou until 1986, when Bidouille and Violette's young love ended tragically in a car accident.
While working for Spirou, Hislaire additionally made illustrations for La Libre Belgique between 1980 and 1983. At the time, Hislaire shared a studio with Christian Darasse and Marc Michetz above an old Mazda garage. This resulted in the partially autobiographical comic series 'Le Gang Mazda', that appeared in Spirou from 1987. The artwork was done by Darasse and Hislaire contributed the scripts for the first two albums.
Hislaire himself had radically changed his drawing style in 1986. He assumed the pseudonym Yslaire and began 'Sambre' with scriptwriter Balac (a pseudonym of Yann) in publisher Glénat's Circus magazine. This critically acclaimed and darkly romantic saga about the impossible love between Bernard Sambre and a young farmer girl during the French Revolution, was drawn in a far more realistic style than Hislaire's previous work and contained several literary references. Yslaire took over the scriptwriting from Yann while working on the second episode in 1987. He has made several new albums that have been published with large intervals by Glénat since then.
The 'Sambre' series consists of several cycles, each telling the story of another generation of the Sambre family. Yslaire additionally began a spin-off series called 'La Guerre des Sambres'. This series also contains several cycles and delves further into the Sambre dynasty. Yslaire writes the scripts and has called in the help of artists Jean Bastide and Vincent Mézil for the first cycle, and of Marc-Antoine Boidin for the second.
By 1997 Yslaire started a second ambitious project. Resulting from a website he launched in 1997, he created the series 'Mémoire du XXe Ciel' in cooperation with psycho-analyst Laurence Erlich. The first version of the comic book was published by Delcourt in 1999 and a completely redone edition was published by Les Humanoïdes Associés under the title 'XXeciel.com' in 2001. The graphic novel chronicles famous events from the 20th century through mysterious e-mails sent to an elderly psycho-analyst. In 2001, the sequel, 'Mémoires99' was released.
Le Ciel au-dessus de Bruxelles
Using the pen name Sylaire, Hislaire wrote the script for the diptych 'Trois Vierges', that was drawn by Jeanlouis Boccar and published by Glénat in 2003 and 2007. This was followed by Yslaire's war protest 'Le Ciel au-dessus de Bruxelles', for which he did the artwork himself. The story was published in two books by Futuropolis in 2006 and 2007. In 2009 he made the album 'Le Ciel au-dessus du Louvre' with Jean-Claude Carrière in commission of the Louvre museum in Paris.