The 10 "official" albums

These ten volumes were designed for and published by Dargaud and became part of the series Poisson Pilote founded by Dargaud editor Guy Vidal. Vidal died unexpectedly in 2002, and Trondheim dedicated the series to him, using a quote from Vidal as its motto:

"Les gestes tendres que l'on a envie de faire, it faut toujours les faire."
(The acts of tenderness that you want to do, always do them.)


Slaloms

Vol. 0: Slaloms

Paris: Dargaud, 1997
(1st edition in black and white: Paris: L'Association, 1993.)

English: "Slaloms" (no English edition available)
German: "Slaloms". - Hamburg: Carlsen, 1999.

Blurb:
"This zeroeth volume of the Formidable Adventures of Lapinot will delight those who like downhill racing, ski tows, chair lifts, powdery snow, and the Cloclo dance."

Summary:
Lapinot, Richard, Titi and Pierrot take a week off to go skiing. Bad weather and wolves cause some delays, but Lapinot meets a nice girl called Nadia.

Memorable quote:
Lapinot: "I'd like to rent ski boots and sticks."
Shop assistant: "No problem. What is your shoe size?"
Lapinot: "Erm... 88." [i.e. US size 19]
(Shop assistant looks at Lapinot's huge feet, somewhat desperately)
Shop assistant (to Pierrot): "Hmmm... and you, sir? Are you in a hurry?"
Pierrot: "Uh... no, no, I'm with him, and I only need a pair of normal gloves with 4 fingers."

Review:
This volume is a good example of what the Lapinot series is about: there's not much action, but the dialogue is brilliant and often verges into the philosophical. If you are not a keen skier, you may find this either boring or brilliant, but if you've ever been to a winter sports resort, you'll find all of this spot-on and very funny.

Order: French edition | German edition


Blacktown

Vol. 1: Blacktown

Paris: Dargaud, 1995

English: "Blacktown" (no English edition available)
German: "Blacktown". - Hamburg: Carlsen, 2000.

Blurb:
"This first volume of the Formidable Adventures of Lapinot will delight those who like western, humour, philosophy, and plates of big red beans."

Summary:
The Wild West: Lapinot, who is pursued by some dangerous bandits, comes to a village where he is is not particularly welcome. When he becomes witness of a murder, all the people in the village suddenly are very keen on killing him, too.

Memorable quote:
Richard: "It's almost dusk... we can arrange that you can spend the night quietly in Blacktown."
Lapinot: "Uhm... no thanks... that's very nice of you, but I prefer to sleep with the cougars and the grizzlys."

Review:
Blacktown is very much in the tradition of Mildiou in that it is mostly a game of catch between Lapinot and the villagers, and much of the suspense is built on how he will escape them (and how they manage to catch him again). It works better here than in Mildiou as the dialogues are much better, the story itself is stronger (and shorter), and the characters are somewhat better developed. Not terribly substantial, but wonderfully entertaining and funny.

Order: French edition | German edition


Pichenettes

Vol. 2: Pichenettes

Paris: Dargaud, 1996

English: "The Hoodoodad". - Seattle: Fantagraphics, 1998.
German: "Verflucht!". - Hamburg: Carlsen, 1998.

Blurb:
"This second volume of the Formidable Adventures of Lapinot will delight those who like Scrabble, marbles, flippers, and Central European esoterism."

Summary:
Lapinot gets an allegedly cursed stone that used to belong to the Svalonian dynasty of Pÿkchnetz. While he seems to be spared of the curse, strange things start to happen to Richard. While they are trying to get rid of the curse, Lapinot is faced with the additional problem of whether he should phone Nadia about a date.

Memorable quote:
Lapinot: "Compassion is what separates man from the animals, Richard."
Richard: "Oh? I thought it was his ability to wage thermonuclear war."

Review:
This volume plays a lot with elements of the fantastic: can a tiny stone really cause all the trouble? Up until the end it's not clear whether there is an actual curse or whether things just go wrong because people believe they go wrong. Richard is in prime form here, caught between slapstick and being genuinely tormented. The dialogue is strong as ever, and many of the scenes are just hilariously funny (my favourite being the exorcist who did a correspondence course).

Order: French edition | English edition | German edition


Walter

Vol. 3: Walter

Paris: Dargaud, 1996

English: "Harum Scarum". - Seattle: Fantagraphics, 1998.
German: "Walter". - Hamburg: Carlsen, 1997.

Blurb:
"This third volume of the Formidable Adventures of Lapinot will delight those who like far-fetched intrigue, savoury feuilletonesque adventures, spiritual sophistication, and huge monsters."

Summary:
Paris around 1900: After making an important invention, the notable scientist Professor Walter has mysteriously disappeared. Which of the gangs of spies, criminals and shady characters has kidnapped him? And why are there huge monsters in his abandoned apartment?

Memorable quote:
Thug: "Get in there and sit yourself down."
Richard: "That's just 'sit down'."
Thug 2: "We say sit yourself down."
Richard: "Why do these guys dare to give me English lessons?"
Lapinot: "Because they're armed."

Review:
Walter is probably the most sophisticated and the funniest of the "catch-and-escape" stories, mostly because of the rich mixture of horror, crime, spy and science fiction influences that allow the story to progress far beyond where Mildiou and Blacktown have gone before. The pace is extremely fast, the mystery very mysterious, the jokes are hilarious and the dialogues brilliant. One of the best of the series.

Order: French edition | English edition | German edition


Amour et intérim

Vol. 4: Amour & intérim

Paris: Dargaud, 1998

English: "Love and other pastimes" (no English edition available)
German: "Liebe und sonstige Kleinigkeiten". - Hamburg: Carlsen, 2000.

Blurb:
"This fourth volume of the Formidable Adventures of Lapinot will delight those who like swimming pools, potato crisps, big motorbikes, and statistic theology."

Summary:
Out of the blue, the Damocles Society, a mysterious company, offers Lapinot a job — that of managing director, no less. Lapinot is trying to figure out just exactly what the company is doing, but the fact that he is a bit absent-minded because he is trying to get closer to Nadia while being the object of desire of both his secretary and of one of Nadia's friends doesn't really help.

Review:
Slower in pace, and somewhat darker than the previous volumes, Amour & intérim deals strongly with moral, theological and philosophical questions, mostly about the nature of good and bad and who can judge which is which. The subplot, Lapinot's possible relationship with Nadia, also works well. This is more subdued and not as funny as other volumes (number 8 excepted), but still successful.

Order: French edition | German edition


Vacances de printemps

Vol. 5: Vacances de printemps

Story by Frank Le Gall, drawings by Lewis Trondheim
Paris: Dargaud, 1999

English: "Spring Vacation" (no English edition available)
German: "Frühlingserwachen". - Hamburg: Carlsen, 2001.

Blurb:
"This fifth volume of the Formidable Adventures of Lapinot will delight those who like romance, open fires, the English countryside, domestic servants, and not-too-ardent love."

Summary:
England, 1870: Will Lapinot win the heart of his childhood love, the beautiful Miss Nadia, or will his rivals Richardson and McTerry be more successful?

Review:
This is the volume that I am probably least satisfied with, not just because Frank Le Gall's scenario of 19th-century English incarnations of our heroes fighting over the love of Nadia isn't particularly substantial (we would have needed a few more subplots), but also because it doesn't fit in particularly well into the present-day episodes of volumes 4 and 6, where such behaviour from the present-day incarnations of our characters seem inconceivable. It's still not bad and quite enjoyable in many places, but unless you are a completeness freak, you can probably go without this volume.

Order: French edition | German edition


Pour de vrai

Vol. 6: Pour de vrai

Paris: Dargaud, 1999

English: "But Seriously" (no English edition available)
German: "Ganz im Ernst!". - Hamburg: Carlsen, 2001.

Blurb:
"This sixth volume of the Formidable Adventures of Lapinot will delight those who like people who talk, people who discuss, people who blah blah, and red cars."

Summary:
Lapinot and Nadia spend a few days in the countryside with her uncle Tonton, while she is trying to piece together a few features for her first broadcast, an interview a famous actor, and another one with a farmer who claims he saw a demon come out of the ground on one of his fields. Later, Richard and Félix also show up, joined by some fake and some real demons.

Memorable quote:
Uncle Tonton: "Oh, there are some bizarre lights, and when a singer dies, I hear his songs in the corridor that night. Dental floss disappears, and yoghurts empty themselves without having been opened. Only the raspberry ones, though. Nothing extraordinary, really."
Lapinot: "Nothing extraordinary?!"
Uncle Tonton: "No. It's enough simply not to buy any raspberry yoghurt."

Review:
This acerbic satire on what some people will do to get into the media and what some people will do to not get into the media is easily my favourite of the series. It also has some great character development with almost all of the characters involved — Lapinot, Nadia and Richard emerge as much fuller personalities here — and it balances brilliantly on the fine ridge between realism and the fantastic. Plus, it features nicely the full range of emotions present when a man and his girlfriend are on a walk and they meet his ex.

Order: French edition | German edition


La couleur de l'enfer

Vol. 7: La couleur de l'enfer

Paris: Dargaud, 2000

English: "The Colour of Hell" (no English edition available)
German: "Die Farbe der Hölle". - Hamburg: Carlsen, 2002.

Blurb:
"This seventh volume of the Formidable Adventures of Lapinot will delight those who like catacombs, dog dirt, spit, and sentimental relationships."

Summary:
Nadia and Lapinot discover that personal and professional relationships should better be kept apart when they work together on a series of features for Nadia's radio programme and interview a group of radicals who started by marking the dog dirt on the streets with spray paint, but now have more sinister plans. In the meantime, Richard is convinced that his neighbour is an alien from outer space.

Review:
Another pretty good shot at life in the city. The two mystery plots — the sinister plans of the "Pink Purple" society and the possible alien creature in Richard's neighbour's apartment — are well balanced against the first crisis in Lapinot and Nadia's relationship. Not as rich as some of the previous volumes, but still eminently enjoyable.

Order: French edition | German edition


La vie comme elle vient

Vol. 8: La vie comme elle vient

Paris: Dargaud, 2004

English: "Life as It Goes" (no English edition available)
German: "Wie das Leben so spielt" (to be published by Carlsen in June 2005)

Blurb:
"This eighth volume of the Formidable Adventures of Lapinot will delight those who like comics in hardcover binding, books in colour, animal characters, and death."

Summary:
What was meant to be just a nice evening among friends goes totally awry when the Svalonian tarot cards predict that one of them will die.

Review:
This is the last volume in the series (volume 9 was published a year previously), and it is the darkest and most depressing of the series. Not only do Lapinot and Nadia accidentally break up, but after being beaten up by a violent neighbour Richard falls into a coma, and a little later Titi is diagnosed with cancer. A grim story with a dark and very moving ending.

Order: French edition | German edition


L'accelerateur atomique

Vol. 9: L'accélérateur atomique

Paris: Dargaud, 2003

English: "The atom accelerator" (no English edition available)
German: "Der atomare Teilchenbeschleuniger". - Hamburg: Carlsen, 2003.

Blurb:
"This ninth volume of the Formidable Adventures of Lapinot will delight those who like bellboys, secret laboratories, unexpected turns, and the hyper-realistic design of 1950s science fiction."

Summary:
Impersonating Spirou and Fantasio, two Belgian comic heroes of the 1950s and 60s, Lapinot and his friend pursue a gang of jewellery thieves who are in the possession of the ultimate hi-tech weapon: the atom accelerator.

Review:
It's easy to see why this volume was numbered last even though it was published a year before volume 8: after the dark and grim ending of volume 8, it seems fitting to have this more light-hearted hommage to the Spirou and Fantasio comics as a kind of epilogue to the series. In this adventure, Lapinot appears as Spirou, the famous bellboy. The scenario catches the spirit of the early Spirou comics so well that it's only the different drawing style, the fact that Spirou was not a rabbit, and the fact that the Marsupilami is absent that actually makes you notice the difference. Good fun.

Order: French edition | German edition


Notes

Titles - Official French, English and German titles as published. if no English or German translation exists, an approximate translation of the French title is given.

Blurb - Each of the volumes in the original French version has a brief paragraph beginning with "Ce xxxème tome des formidables aventures de Lapinot réjouira les amateurs de..." on the back cover, typically listing a number of things that appear in the story (but are not necessarily of any importance). I have translated each of these blurbs into English.

Summary - A brief summary of the plot of each volume, trying to avoid spoilers.

Review - My two cents.


Storylines

The volumes fall into two categories:

  • The main present-day storyline that revolves around Lapinot, Nadia, Richard and Titi (volumes 0, 2, 4, 6, 7 and 8);

  • The use of characters from the main storyline for hommages to other genres (volumes 1 [western], 3 [horror/crime/spy], 5 [romance] and 9 [Spirou]).

Even though elements from the main storyline appear in the hommages and vice versa, the two are totally independent from each other, e.g. the fights between Lapinot, Richardson and McTerry for the love of Nadia in Vacances de printemps do not represent any such struggles in the main storyline.


Publishing irreguliarities

The numbering of the volumes does not correspond to the order of publication in two respects:

  • Slaloms was originally published by L'Association in 1993. In 1997, Lewis produced a revised, expanded colour version, which was published by Dargaud. Since the events in it are set before Pichenettes, it was numbered 0 to fit in accordingly.

  • L'accélérateur atomique (volume 9) was published a year before La vie comme elle vient (volume 8). I can only speculate about the reason, but I think the idea was to have the hommage to Spirou as an epilogue rather than splice it between volumes 7 and 8.

There is also a problem with the German translation of the series:

  • The German translation uses a different, somewhat erratic numbering scheme that places the volumes in the following order: 3-2-0-1-4-5-6-7-9-8. This breaks the correct sequence of the present-day storyline, as Slaloms is placed after, rather than before Pichenettes.
© Copyright 2004-2005 Horst Prillinger, 

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