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Blueberry is an atypical western hero; he is not a wandering lawman who brings evil-doers to justice, nor a handsome cowboy who “rides into town, saves the ranch, becomes the new sheriff and marries the schoolmarm. The series spawned out of the Fort Navajo comics series, originally intended as an ensemble narrative, but which quickly gravitated around the breakout character “Blueberry” as the main and central character after the first two stories, causing the series to continue under his name later on.
The older stories, released under the Fort Navajo moniker, were ultimately reissued under the name Blueberry as well in later reprint runs. Two spin-offs series, La Jeunesse de Blueberry Young Blueberry and Marshal Blueberrywere created pursuant the main series reaching its peak in popularity in the early s.
Born on 30 October on Redwood Plantation near Augusta, GeorgiaMichael Steven Donovan is the son of a rich Southern planter and starts out life as a decided racist. On his flight toward the Kentucky border, he is saved by Long Sam, a fugitive African-American slave from his father’s estate, who paid with his life for his act of altruism.
Inspired when he sees a blueberry bush, Donovan chooses the surname ” Blueberry ” as an alias when rescued from his Southern pursuers by a Union cavalry patrol during his flight war had broken out between the States. After enlisting in the Union Armyhe becomes an enemy of discrimination of all kinds, fighting against the Confederates although being a Southerner himself, first enlisting as a bugler in order to avoid having to fire upon his former countrymenlater trying to protect the rights of Native Americans.
He starts his adventures in the Far West as a lieutenant in the United States Cavalry shortly after the war. On his many travels in the West, Blueberry is frequently accompanied by his trusted companions, the hard-drinking deputy Jimmy McClure, and later also by “Red Neck” Wooley, a rugged pioneer and army scout.
Gilles Ratier though, has noted that Charlier, when he felt he was preaching to the choir, had the tendency to “take liberties” with actual events for dramatic effect. Charlier had in effect already written several Westerns, both comics and illustrated short prose stories, in the period for various previous magazines.
Leutnant Blueberry, Band 21, Gebrochene Nase
One such short entailed the text comic ” Cochise ” in Jeannot magazine, Julydealing with the historical ” Bascom Affair “, which leutnanf years later would become the apotheosis of the first Blueberry story, “Fort Navajo”. Furthermore, Charlier had already visited the South-West of the United States inresulting in several Native-American themed educational Pilote editorials. Inthe magazine sent Charlier on a reporting assignment around the world lehtnant its editorials, and one of his last ports of call was Edwards Airforce Base in the Mojave DesertCalifornia.
He took the opportunity to re- discover the American West, returning to France with a strong urge to write a peutnant. Blueberry was first published in the October 31, issue of Pilote magazine  — hence Charlier’s corresponding October 30 birth-date for his fictional character, when the magazine was printed and ready for dissemination. Initially titled “Fort Navajo”, the story grew into 46 pages over the following issues.
Charlier came up with the name during his American trip: When I began to create the new series, and everything started to fall into place, I decided to reuse my friend’s nickname, because I liked it and thought it was funny. In the first album, Blueberry was called Steve. I forgot that first name and then I named him Mike. So, in order to get things straight, I coined him Mike Steve Blueberry eventually; This kind of forgetfulness happens to me often.
Due to the fact that Blueberry became the most popular character so early on in the Fort Navajo story-arc, Charlier was forced to do an about-face and started to write out the other main characters he had in place in order to make room for Blueberry.
However, in one instance that had an unexpected side effect; when Charlier killed off the Native-American lieutenant Crowe in the fifth and last installment of the story-arc, “La piste des Navajos” “Trail of the Navajo”the editorial offices of Pilote received many angry letters from readers accusing Charlier of murdering a sympathetic protagonist.
Taken aback, Charlier later stated, “It was too late to do anything about it, it was done. A strange experience, Giraud in particular took it very hard. Actually, and by his own admission, Charlier had originally written McClure as a temporary, minor background character, but Giraud was so taken with the character that he asked Charlier to expand his role in the series, and which stands out as the earliest known instance of Giraud exercising influence on the scripts of his senior colleague.
In post-war Europe, it has been tradition to release comics in “pre-publication” as serialized magazine episodes, before publication as a comic book, or rather comic album in North-American understanding though, ” graphic novel ” is the more applicable terminology in this case, the distinction being a non-issue in native Francetypically with a one to two year lag. In French, Blueberry has firstly seen pre-publication in Pilote issue31 October — issue23 August and fr: Super Pocket Pilote issue 1, 1 July — issue 9, 19 October  from publisher Dargaud, bpueberry parent and main publisher of Blueberrywith Giraud frequently creating original Blueberry art for the letunant covers and illustrations for editorials, aside from creating on occasion summarizing, introduction plates, none of which reprinted in the original book editions.
The very first French Blueberry comic album, “Fort Leunant, was released in September and originally appeared as the 17th and last volume of the La Collection Pilote series. In order to give these releases a more “mature” image, the books were from the start executed as hard cover editions.
Favorably received and though not being the first, the hard cover format became the norm in France definitively, where henceforth all comic albums were executed in the blueberrry — becoming indeed generally accepted as a mature part of French culture eventually  —whereas the vast majority of the other European countries continued to employ the soft cover format for decades to come, somewhat reflecting the status comic books had in their societies at the time.
These included for the time being French-Belgium as well, Charlier’s native country, where exactly the same collection was concurrently licensed to, and released by Le Lombardalbeit as soft cover only.
Charlier’s initiative was not entirely devoid of a healthy dose of self-interest, as over half the releases in the collection, were, aside from Blueberrytitles from other comic series he had co-created.
After “Fort Navajo”, the collection was suspended and each comic hero hitherto featured therein, spun off in book series of their own, including Blueberry or rather Fort Navajo, une Aventure du Lieutenant Blueberry as it was then still coined.
After Dargaud had lost publishing rights for over a decade for new Blueberry titles to firstly German publisher de: Any subsequent French magazine, or newspaper serialized publication occurred after the initial book bluebedry while Blueberry was housed at Novedi and its successor, Swiss publisher fr: After Charlier had died on 10 JulyGiraud, aside from completing “Arizona Love” on blueeberry own, wrote and drew five albums, from “Mister Blueberry” to “Dust” constituting the OK Corral story arcuntil his own death in Additionally, Giraud also scripted the intermezzo series Marshal Blueberrybut had no creative input for the La Jeunesse de Blueberry prequel series, after the first three, original volumes.
By the time Giraud embarked on the OK Corral cycle, publishing rights had returned to Dargaud, and that publisher decided to revitalize the blueeberry serialized pre-publication format as part of their marketing effort on behalf of Blueberry ‘ s return see belowalbeit with a twist; As Dargaud no longer had a comic magazine of their own Pilote had become defunct init was decided to farm out pre-publication to parties who showed the most interest, resulting in that Blueberry titles in that cycle became serialized in different publications, not all necessarily comic-related by origin.
The next title, “OK Corral”, was published in a similar manner in the summer of in the “L’ExpressMag” appendix of the non-comic weekly news magazine L’Express.
The mere fact that serious newspapers and magazines were by then vying for the opportunity to run Blueberry in their publications first aside from the above-mentioned publications, the newspaper France-Soir had already run the first two outings of the revitalized La Jeunesse de Blueberry series in and — see belowwas testament to the status Bluegerry and its creator s had by then attained in French society.
Blueberry (comics) – Wikipedia
With the growing popularity of Blueberry came the increasing disenchantment over financial remunerations of the series. Already inCharlier made his displeasure known in this regard, when he had “Angel Face” pre-published in Nouveau Tintin of industry competitor Le Lombard, the very first time a Blueberry adventure was not serialized in Pilote — nor would it ever be again in hindsight.
The magazine was forced to drop the announcement page it had prepared for the story. Then Giraud left on his own accord. While Charlier had no influence on this whatsoever, it did serve a purpose as far as he was concerned. Giraud had left Blueberry on a cliff-hanger with “Angel Face”, resulting in an insatiable demand for more, putting the pressure on Dargaud. Whenever Georges Dargaud asked Charlier for a next Blueberry adventure, repeatedly, Charlier was now able to respond that he was “devoid of inspiration”.
Leutnant Blueberry – Das eiserne Pferd
For Giraud the conflict was actually a godsend, “At that moment Charlier and I also had a financial conflict with Dargaud which came at the exact right time, because it provided me with an alibi [to leave]”. Very eager to return to Los Angeles as Jodorowksy requested his presence again, Giraud — who had returned to France for his other work during one of the lulls in the Dune production — greatly accelerated his work on “Angel Face”, then underway, breaking his “absolute record speed-drawing”, as he had coined it, and sheared off weeks from its originally intended completion date.
Upon his return, Charlier took one look at the pages completed in his absence, and continued where Giraud had left off without further much ado.
It was while he was working on two documentaries on the Mexican Revolution that he gained inspiration for his below-mentioned Les Gringos Western comic series, which started its run in at Koralle.
It was the first time that Giraud wrote for Blueberry by himself, and was, considering Charlier’s easy acceptance of Giraud’s writing, also testament to the close, and trusting working relationship both men had cultivated by that time. Yet, I think one can not discern its difficult birth; there are good scenes, pages I really poured heart and soul into.
It is true that [the art for] “Le hors-la-loi” “The Outlaw” had been quite weak, but “Angel Face” made up for it”. But it is no longer the same. I won’t be taken in by Blueberry anymore! On that occasion Charlier, owning a law degree,  stipulated an exemption clause for magazine pre- publications of his own co- creations.
Yet, Georges Dargaud refused to take the bait and the creators subsequently put forward the Jim Cutlass western comic as a last ditch effort to spell out to Dargaud that the creators had other options. Dargaud still would not budge. It was then that it became clear to Charlier, that he was left with no other option than to leave, and this he did taking all his other co-creations with him, to wit Redbeard and Tanguy et Laverdurewhich, while not as popular as Blueberrywere steady money making properties for Dargaud nonetheless.
The choice for the German publisher was made for their very ambitious international expansion strategy they had in place at that time. Fully subscribing to the publisher’s strategy, Charlier not only revitalized blufberry Redbeard and Tanguy et Laverdure comic series — having been equally “devoid of inspiration” for these as well in the Pilote -era because of the royalties issue —but created the new Western comic, Les Gringos art by Victor de la Fuentebluebwrry well.
Yet, for all Charlier’s business acumen, he had failed to recognize that Koralle’s exuberant expansion drive had essentially been a do-or-die effort on their part. In Koralle was on the verge of bankruptcy, and a scheme was devised to stave off this fate; international expansion. In the European comics world that was a rather novel idea at the time and Koralle did expand beyond the German border into large parts of Europe with variants of their main publication Zack magazine, with the revived Blueberry as its flagship, accompanied with comic book releases.
It were not only the Blueberry creators that were left in a pickle, as Koralle had managed to convince other well known Franco-Belgian comic artists to switch sides.
Leutnant Blueberry 23. Der Geisterstamm: BD 23
The most prominent of the latter was Hermann Huppen with his new post-apocalyptic Western Jeremiah for which he had abandoned that other famed s Franco-Belgian Western, Comanche written by Gregsecond only in renown after Blueberry at the time. As a token of leutnnt, a relieved Springer, as they now could turn over the current contractual obligations without much further ado, even allowed the French-language version of ZackSuper Asto run for a few issues longer in order to allow as many series as possible to complete their magazine run, which included “La longue marche”.
Novedi was established in November with its seat in Brussels, Belgium. Part of their strategy was to forego on a magazine of their own and instead release titles directly in album format, as it was noticed that the serialized comic magazine format had already started to wane in Europe as a format and actually one of the main reasons for Axel Springer to pull the plug on Koralleresulting in the advantage of not having to incur the expenses of maintaining magazine editorial offices.
Any still existing comic magazine elsewhere, willing to publish serialized comic series after the initial book releases, was merely considered an added bonus. Still, it took some time for the new publisher to get up and running, and some sort of stop-gap resolution had to be found for the intervening period blueherry order to secure income for the stable of comic artists.
On recommendation of Charlier, who has had previous dealings with the publisher,  the catalog was legally, but temporarily, housed at the French publishing house fr: As impromptu publisher, EDIBD published around two dozen album titles, including “La longue marche”, before turning the copyrights of these over to Novedi,  which started publishing themselves in EDIBD published their books for Bluebery and the Netherlands themselves, but farmed out licenses for other countries, including France somewhat surprisingly, where Giraud’s former alma mater and Hachette competitor Fleurus firstly became the album publisher for “La longue marche”.
Hachette incidentally, later acquired a special, one-time only license from Dargaud to reissue the entirety of the Blueberry series in as the 52 volume La Collection Blueberry anthology, each volume augmented with a six-page illustrated editorial. For a decade Blueberry resided in calm waters at Novedi. The s saw three additions to the main series completing the Rehabilitation story arc as well as four new titles in the newly created La Jeunesse de Blueberry series.
Lehtnant, despite the two Blueberry incarnations and Jeremiah being the top selling series for the publisher, it appeared that the financial base was too narrow for even a publisher the modest size of Novedi, as the publisher went out of business inafter having published approximately album titles, and despite having taken over the book publications for France themselves as well in the latter half of the decade.
On 10 JulyJean-Michel Charlier passed away from a heart condition after a short sickbed. By all accounts Charlier had been a workaholic throughout his career, working simultaneously on as much as a dozen projects at any given time, steadily increasing his workload as nlueberry grew older.
His heart condition had already troubled him in his later years and his death, while sudden, was not leutnwnt a surprise. There were always seven to eight scenarios underway. His life was bluebefry true path of self-destruction. You should have seen him working at his desk! Six months before his passing, I advised him to calm down. Very artistically, he replied: No, I have chosen this! Nonetheless, he never tried to hinder Giraud in the least, as he understood bluebery an artist of Giraud’s caliber needed a “mental shower” lektnant time to time.
Michel Rougewho was taken on by Giraud in for the inks of “La longue marche” “The Long March” painted a slightly different picture though. However, as he recognized quit early on that Blueberry occupied a special place in his body of work, he later made sure that only his Leytnant artists were provided with scripts in a timely fashion. Charlier’s method of working came at a cost however, as his scripts frequently contained continuity errors on the detail level, and which included those of Blueberrysuch as in his above cited instance of his hero’s first name.
The script being one-thirds ready blkeberry the time bleuberry Charlier’s passing, the completion of “Arizona Love” was postponed as Giraud needed time to come to terms with that fact. Due to his intimate twenty-five year familiarity with both the series and its writer, it was a foregone conclusion that Giraud would from then on take on the scripting of the main series as well, especially since it was already agreed upon in the “contracts signed with Jean-Michel” that “the survivor would take over the series”.
Furthermore, per French law, Charlier’s widow Christine remained entitled to 10 percent of the revenues from the existing and subsequent post-Charlier Blueberry titles, which provided her with a “decent” living standard, according to son Philippe, in effect to an extent contradicting his own claim on the same occasion.