Comic anti-hero Gaston must be revived. Now the publisher and the painter’s family are arguing in court. Answers to the most pressing questions.
What happened? Belgian publisher Dupuis wanted to revive the anti-hero comedy Gaston Lagaffe after 25 years. “Le Retour de Lagaffe,” the twenty-second volume of the series, was due to be published next October.
It was then that resistance arose: the family of the deceased painter and André Francken, Gaston’s grandfather, wanted Gaston to rest. This corresponds to the will of the painter. Francoin’s daughter Isabel Franquin protested in an open letter announcing the publisher’s return. Now the case is before the court.
Who owns Gaston? There is no clear legal answer to this. “The publisher owns the rights to exploit the character, but the copyright belongs to Francoin’s daughter Isabel Fraquin,” says comics expert Christian Gasser. It is not clear whether the publisher has the right to commission another artist and author for the character.
How convincing are the arguments against Gaston’s return? In addition to Isabel Franquín, a number of artists also signed the open letter against reviving Gaston under a new artist.
Understandable protest, Jacir believes. After all, the character of Gaston is difficult to explain by another artist and is inevitably related to the late Franken: “The character has a lot to do with Franken himself. This chaotic and destructive spirit who does everything differently from the others.”
On the other hand, why are Franquins Marsupilami allowed to live? Marsupelami, an exotic yellow forest animal with a long tail, is an iconic cartoon character. But: “Compared to Gaston, she has a lot less character and personality.”
Marsupilami was the brainstorm of Franquin. But in Gaston’s case, the situation is different: “Franken was a very depressed person and had an incredible complexion his whole life,” says Gasser. “Francoin also found an outlet in Gaston.”
Don’t Gaston fans need a sequel? The new Gaston movie will likely be a hit with millions of copies sold. But the comic expert Gasser remains skeptical whether the character was made for a remake: “A character like Gaston loses its relevance at some point. Perhaps the character can retire.” This may also be their right.
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