Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Blake and Mortimer
Blake and Mortimer is a comic strip/graphic novel series that was created by the Belgian writer and artist Edgar P. Jacobs (1904-1987). It first appeared serialised in the Belgian Tintin Magazine from 1946 and was subsequently published in softcover and hardcover albums by Les Editions du Lombard.
During the first years of Tintin magazine (also Le journal de Tintin) the series "The secret of the Swordfish" (Le secret de l'Espadon) by Jacobs was paradoxically more popular than the adventures of Tintin, appearing also in a serial form in the same magazine. This was due to the fact that the "Swordfish" series started with the first issue of Tintin magazine, while the adventures of Tintin in the first issue confusingly took up The Seven Crystal Balls, a story in progress abandoned three years earlier during the war, when it had been serialised in a newspaper.
- Professor Philip Mortimer — of Scottish descent; grew up in colonial India; the archetypical British gentleman scholar.
- Captain Francis Blake — Welsh-born officer in Her Majesty's armed forces; rose to a high rank in MI6.
- Colonel Olrik — the perennial bad guy from the first instalment on. Of the original series, there is but one book that does not feature him in one capacity or other: Le Piège diabolique. Started out in Le Secret de l’Espadon as colonel in the secret service of Oriental dictator Basam Damdu, became a mercenary and general criminal adventurer.
The three main characters were already present in slightly different form in the unrelated, Flash Gordon-alike first full length comic strip by Jacobs, Le Rayon «U» (The 'U'-Ray, 1943), where they appeared as Professor Marduk, Lord Calder, and Captain Dagon, respectively. (The story furnished many elements for L'Énigme de l'Atlantide as well.)
Philip Mortimer was originally drawn from life. The model was a friend and sometimes collaborator of Jacobs, Jacques Von Melkebeke. There was one imaginative addition by Jacobs since Von Melkebeke had no beard. Francis Blake was modeled by another friend and sometimes collaborator of Jacobs, Jacques Laudy. Jacobs added the mustache.
Although the series is (no doubt for reasons of euphony ) called Blake and Mortimer, it is Professor Mortimer who is the main protagonist. Especially in the original series, it is mainly he who, through his impulsive character, gets entangled in adventurous circumstances. Blake is the straight man, the serious army officer who comes to the rescue. If there are to be humorous passages in a story, they will happen to Mortimer. On the bad side, Colonel Olrik combines both good guys' characteristics into one.
Blake and Mortimer are sometimes shown to live in the same house, sharing an apartment as unmarried gentlemen were wont to do (Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson did the same). The post-Jacobs title Les Sarcophages du Sixième Continent finally tells us how the two met and became friends: in colonial India, where Mortimer grew up. Here they met as young adults.
Jacobs always drew his stories as being contemporary, and so the first few titles have a 50s look and feel while the last instalment looks decidedly 70s . The sole exception to this rule is, again, Le Piège diabolique, which starts in the present but whose action, thanks to a malfunctioning time machine, largely takes place in the 51st century preceded by a short venture in medieval times and a stopover in the Jurassic period. As with Tintin, the first two titles are relatively crude and simplistic in their worldview, but thankfully this is all resolved by the third title, La Marque jaune.
The post-Jacobs volumes until now have all placed their adventures in the late Fifties-early Sixties period and so have a nostalgic retro feel. All stories are based around mild action and thriller plots with bits of (progressively less fantastic) science fiction thrown in.
Volumes published in the Blake and Mortimer series
1-11: story and images by Edgar P. Jacobs
12: story by Edgar P. Jacobs, images by Bob De Moor
13, 15: story by Jean Van Hamme, images by Ted Benoit
14, 16-17: story by Yves Sente , images by André Juillard
- 1950 - Le Secret de l’Espadon, Tome 1 (The Secret of The Swordfish, Volume 1: Ruthless Pursuit) ISBN 2-87097-002-1
- 1953 - Le Secret de l’Espadon, Tome 2 (The Secret of The Swordfish, Volume 2: Mortimer's Escape) ISBN 2-87097-004-8
- 1953 - Le Secret de l’Espadon, Tome 3 (The Secret of The Swordfish, Volume 3: SX1 Counterattacks) ISBN 2-87097-005-6
- 1954 - Le Mystère de la Grande Pyramide, Tome 1 (The Mystery of the Great Pyramid, Volume 1: Manetho's Papyrus) ISBN 2-87097-008-0
- 1955 - Le Mystère de la Grande Pyramide, Tome 2 (The Mystery of the Great Pyramid, Volume 2: The Chamber of Horus) ISBN 2-87097-009-9
- 1956 - La Marque Jaune (The Yellow Mark) ISBN 2-87097-010-2
- 1957 - L'Énigme de l'Atlantide (The Atlantis Enigma) ISBN 2-87097-013-7
- 1959 - S.O.S. Météores: Mortimer à Paris (S.O.S. Meteors: Mortimer in Paris) ISBN 2-87097-015-3
- 1962 - Le Piège diabolique (The Diabolical Trap) ISBN 2-87097-020-X
- 1967 - L'Affaire du Collier (The Case of the Necklace) ISBN 2-87097-025-0
- 1971 - Les trois Formules du Professeur Sato, Tome 1: Mortimer à Tokyo (The Three Formulas of Prof. Sato, Volume 1: Mortimer in Tokyo) ISBN 2-87097-016-1
- 1990 - Les trois Formules du Professeur Sato, Tome 2: Mortimer contre Mortimer (The Three Formulas of Prof. Sato, Volume 2: Mortimer vs. Mortimer) ISBN 2-87097-017-X
- 1996 - L'Affaire Francis Blake (The Francis Blake Case) ISBN 2-87097-051-X
- 2000 - La Machination Voronov (The Voronov Machination) ISBN 2-87097-057-9
- 2001 - L'Étrange Rendez-Vous (The Strange Encounter) ISBN 2-87097-059-5
- 2003 - Les Sarcophages du Sixième Continent, Tome 1: La Menace universelle (The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent, Volume 1: The Universal Threat) ISBN 2-87097-066-8
- 2004 - Les Sarcophages du Sixième Continent, Tome 2: Le Duel des Esprits (The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent, Volume 2: Battle of the Minds) ISBN 2-87097-068-4
ISBNs given are of the latest French language editions as issued by Les Éditions Blake et Mortimer in Brussels. Le Rayon «U», in many ways a precursor of the series, has been re-issued as "Volume 0" (ISBN 2-87097-023-4). Additionally, the storyboard sketches by Jacobs of Volume 12, left incomplete at the time of his death, have been re-issued in 1996 outside of the series as Dossier Mortimer contre Mortimer (ISBN 2-87097-022-6).
- Guyard, Jean-Marc. Le baryton du neuvième art. Bruxelles: Éditions Blake et Mortimer, 1996. ISBN 2-87328-000-X
- Jacobs, Edgar P. Un opéra de papier: Les mémoires de Blake et Mortimer. Paris: Gallimard, 1981. ISBN 2-07-056090-2
- Lenne, Gérard. L'affaire Jacobs. Paris: Megawave, 1990. ISBN 2-908910-00-4
- Mouchart, Benoit. A l'ombre de la ligne claire: Jacques Van Melkebeke, le clandestin de la B.D. Paris: Vertige Graphic, 2002. ISBN 2-908981-71-8
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