The Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée (CBBD) in Brussels is preparing to host an exhibition to celebrate an early work of E.P. Jacobs, friend and colleague to Hergé, and also the "father" of Blake & Mortimer.
George recently mentioned here
that the book The U-Ray
is to be released in English for the first-time ever.Le Rayon "U"
(The U Ray
) is a romantic science-fiction space-opera written and drawn by Jacobs in the style of Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon
. Jacobs' first-ever strip-work was as a Raymond copyist, providing Flash Gordon
episodes to a Belgian paper during WWII, after the occupation made it impossible to get new episodes from the U.S. when it enterd the war; the German authorities quickly forbade the paper to publish American material in any form, and Jacobs turned his hand to creating a new original work in a similar vein.
Of special interest to readers of Blake & Mortimer
are some of the characters who appear in The U Ray
, as not only does the cast resemble some of the figures one would find in the echt Flash Gordon
, they bear uncanny resembelances to even more familiar friends: Marduk
is the the story's Professor Zaroff analog, but who's face is that of the figure who later became Mortimer; Calder
is the story's Prince Barin, who resembles Blake, and Dagon
is the villain of the piece who transformed into Olrik (and is a self-parody of Jacobs himself).
The new exhibition, ODYSSÉE aux origines de Blake et Mortimer
, is designed to spotlight this period in history, and to look at Le Rayon "U"
as a bridge between American and European comics, and the rôle it played in the development of Jacobs' later series.
It is to run from the 7th of April to the 1st of October, 2023 at the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée - Musée Bruxelles, Rue des Sables 20, 1000 Brusells, and will be undoubtedly worth a visit if you are in the city (it always is, but even moreso on this occasion )!
It's also been mentioned
(some time ago now), that Jean Van Hamme (XIII
, Largo Winch
) has been writing a new volume featuring Marduk, Calder & Cº, which continues the adventures started in The U Ray
; La Flèche Ardente
(The Flaming Arrow
), scripted by Van Hamme and drawn by Christian Cailleaux and Étienne Schréder will be published on the 24th of March 2023, as Volume 2 of the series Avant Blake & Mortimer
(Before Blake & Mortimer
As Volume 1, Le Rayon "U"
itself gets a relaunch at the same time - as a bibliophile edition of the 1943 Bravo
version (recoloured in period style by Bruno Tatti, using the same palette of colours as Jabobs did), and in a standard (also recolourd version).
It's not yet clear to me if the bibliophile edition is to be presented in the original landscape orientation, as cover thumbnails I have seen use the portrait version of the regular version. I also will need to investigate more to see if the "standard" edition makes use of the Bravo
version, and if so, if this stands along side or replaces the revised standard version made by Jacobs in 1974 - do let me know if you have the information!