which carried out with Rallic several comic strips was also one of his/her
large friends. Here thanks to Mr. Franz Van Cauwenbergh, the interview
which it gave on April 23, 1992:
Franz Van Cauwenbergh: In which circumstances you did meet Etienne the
We met within the newspaper "Valiant Hearts. Victim of a serious
fall of horse having practically made him lose the use of an eye and
in fact in impossibility of providing its work near its many customers,
it sought a draughtsman able to take again a share of its achievements.
Rallic illustrated mainly articles singés by the Courtois abbot
having for pseudonym Jacques Coeur whose topics defined the spirit of
the movement "Valiant Hearts". Very annoyed, Jacques Coeur,
whose newspaper, at its beginnings, drew only with 1500 specimens, had
only three collaborators: Hergé, Rallic and me
who sought his way and his style. I was selected for best or the worst.
Did you succeed in adapting you to the talented style of this head of
file of the comic strip?
Not having never followed the least course of drawing, I had as a pleasure,
to imitate prestigious signatures, such as those of Jobé Duval,
Nicolson and obviously the RALLIC; conjunction of the techniques of
these three illustrators finally emerged my own style, I drew instinct.
Time, the experiment and my temperament made the remainder.
How was translated this beginning of collaboration and this friendship
without fault which links you until his death?
I had just married me, the drawing did not nourish his man. It is the
time when I tried to recycle me by beginning a career in the sector
from the life insurance. Obtaining result positive, I decided on me
to devote to it to whole share; I made share with the Courtois abbot
of it. "Valiant Hearts" being able to offer only thin measuring
rods to me. The Courtois abbot immediately announced the thing to the
RALLIC. This one wrote a letter at once to me giving me within the shortest
possible time, go in an establishment of Montparnasse: "The Cupola".
Eager to meet me, it announced in its missive: " J E will be close
to the gate of input, you will see small large with a pipe, it will
be me ". Thus we met and that I drank in his company my first pernod,
one of its favorite drinks. Rallic, excel draughtsman of horses, was
in the incapacity to design humorous characters, even less to write
the least scenario. It thus called upon my contest. We carried out together
the album of "Cop and Sparrow" on one of my first scenarios,
the character of the horse "Sparrow" was drawn by the RALLIC,
that of the hero "Cop" carried out by myself. As of this collaboration,
our friendship was never contradicted during forty years.
Did you provide him the stories division which it was charged to draw?
I always attached a great importance to my scenarios. Those are the
heart of a good comic strip, its backbone, which without it would not
hold upright. The RALLIC was the best interpreter of my historical series:
Flamberge (wraps and swords) - Poncho Libertas (Far-West) - and the
Phantoms with the wild rose, a history of chouans, where it was exceeded!
My scenario was crunched, including there the site of the bubbles and
the dialogues. The draughtsman was immediately plunged in the bath.
The RALLIC had this rare capacity to adapt with facility its style to
the plan that I drew up to him. Its force of imagination and graphic
retranscription always made wonder. This large professional was ready
to translate my scenarios in their least details while showing authenticity
so much in the creation or re-creation of the costumes, of the decorations
and landscapes. In this connection its widow announces in an interview
for fanzine French HAGA: "it worked much starting from historical
documents, which later made of him a specialist, by the rigour and the
precision of its drawing".
In the field of documentation, did you provide him reference works O
of the consultings? One is astonished to see throughout his work a work
of reconstitution perfect and exemplary.
I shine made confidence. Within my "stable", I knew the quality
of serious of my collaborators. The RALLIC would never have supported
the least error, it was the artist even whose work could not suffer
from the least imperfection. It had its own documentation and could
use it advisedly. All the fields which it approached were treated with
a rare preoccupation of truth and an exactitude.
Did it read much?
It did not have time, the drawing and horsemanship absorbed it too much.
Just like the RALLIC, you knew Hergé well. Which were your relationship
with the future "Master"?
I knew well Hergé, it was the model even of the intellectual
artist, balanced, contrary to my unmethodical activity. My relationship
with him was marked of a sincere and reciprocal friendship. I often
met it when it went to Paris. We passed together excellent evenings
to the restaurant, with our wives, evenings which finished unfortunately
in theatres where were played of the ultramodern parts; what opposed
to us with the entracte in discussions without end! With the invasion
of Belgium in 1940, it took the path of Auvergne, country of his friend
Marijac. Prisoner, I did not escape rather quickly to see it. It is
my wife who accepted it, him, her family and her cat.
Can you quote me features characteristic of the way of life of the RALLIC?
It was a jovial man, who scorned neither the kitchen of quality, nor
great vintages. The red meats had its preference. Authenticate going
down from Chouans, it was Breton, its great-grandfather had fought under
the commands of famous Cadoudal. It dedicated a major admiration with
this historical cause. Originating in Angers, where it was born in 1891,
it made its military service in Saumur within the cavalry of the 21st
Dragon, which explains its passion for the horses. Admiring and appreciating
its talents of draughtsman and illustrator, the military authorities
entrusted graphic work rather to him than to oblige it to be useful
as a recruit. Excellent idea, at the beginning of which it studied in
its least details morphology and ll' anatomy of the equine race. Regularly,
following the death of animals, it reproduced in the form of boards,
the study of the structures and the musculature of the noble animal.
It excelled in this field which enabled him to know and to analyze in
its least details oilings of the one of most beautiful the conquests
of the man. Enthusiastic soldier, it did not obtain, with his great
despair, that the rank of soldier of first class, it will remain about
it deeply disappointed throughout its existence. However, his/her military
friends, attenuated his bitterness by appointing it "honorary Colonel"
of the regiment of cavalry in garrison with Saint-Germain-en-Laye where
it lived. Placing at its disposal an ordinance and a horse in company
of which it enjoyed to daily go for long walks in the forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye,
near to its residence, it is during the one of these outputs that it
was victim of the accident of horse which failed to compromise its talented
Did it devote a significant share of its day to the realization of its
It was a conscientious artist. He regularly worked four hours of the
morning at midday, then peace in the heart, he was going to take his
aperitif with the various terraces of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. There,
it found his friends officers of IIème Dragon carried, unit where
it made me incorporate into 1939/1940. It devoted its afternoon to horsemanship.
Did you discover his work through light adult reviews (Pêle-Mixes,
Fantasio, the Smile, Parisian life, Froufrou
) or on the level
of its comic strips?
On the level of the comic strip. I did not know his drawing and his
graphics which fascinated me in "the three colors" newspaper
of children appearing during the First World War (12.12.1914/25.12.1919
- 264 numbers). At the time, the ninth art as such did not exist. Cow-boys
and Indians did magistralement the one, drawn by the RALLIC.
Which was its technique of work? Was it opposed by his accident?
It drew remarkably well, its technique was extraordinary, it is hardly
if it traced. It was useless to seek in its boards the signature, so
much the drawing itself was personalized, a clear drawing, Net, precis,
in a word a drawing which spoke. It drew only with the feather and did
not use brushes. Within sight of his boards, I never noted the least
final improvement. Its technique was perfect, its direction of the movement
and the setting in scene of an undeniable originality. It practically
worked with the format of the publication. Its widow entrusts to us:
"It never took vacation. We left on holiday with all the hardware
to draw and documentation necessary to the works in progress: a true
removal!". Following its fall of horse, a light deformation was
read on the graphic level, it was accentuated at the end of its career.
But can one reproach that this engineering which enchanted so many generations
of readers? Its style made school, from current great names of the comic
strip learned much by studying its dynamics, its style, its direction
of page-setting and the movement and especially the set of legs as of
the its horses.
Which good memories you of him keep?
It always had the smile, of aspect rondelet it had great pleasure to
be dressed in behaviour of horsemanship. Its lips were deformed by a
pipe which never left it and which it was obstinait to want lit. It
liked to tell me its youth, that where while drawing two days per week
on the corner of a table of bar, it found the means of good food and
to be able to maintain a horse, by drawing small women stripped, never
pornographic, but pleasant to look at. It was a draughtsman very "old
France" which greeted the ladies in their making the hand-kissing.
Which end did it have?
I was in Brussels, with a meeting of Europe Presses Junior, when by
telephone my secretary taught me his death. I left at once the meeting
to return emergency to Paris in order to lead to his last residence
this old friend faithful to who I had so much. Since long years, an
incurable evil corroded it. Every month, knowing its tastes: red meat
and good wines, I had a joy of receiving it with my table. At the time
of these meetings, it did not take unfortunately account of its mode.
Its end was exemplary. Whereas a priest came to assist it, he says to
him as a good Christian who did not have anything to reproach himself,
to request rather for a young mom of the country which seriously sick
fought against death. The RALLIC had been withdrawn in Sorel-Moussel,
close to Anet-the-Castle. Its funerals were simpler. It is in a hearse
of poor that it made its last voyage. I was the only draughtsman to
be attended his burial. The weather was nice, the countryside was laughing
and the hearse drawn by an old horse; he which drew some so often could
not better wish! It rests in peace, under a simple marble flagstone,
where I reproach myself for not more often coming to collect me.
with Mr. Franz Van Cauwenbergh for this beautiful interview.