Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Some of Our Favorite Heroes: Blake and Mortimer


Blake and Mortimer is a Franco-Belgian comics series created by the Belgian writer and comics artist Edgar P. Jacobs. It first appeared serialised in the Belgian comics magazine Tintin from 1946, and was subsequently published in book form by Les Editions du Lombard.

The main protagonists of the adventures are two Britons, a top scientist called Philip Mortimer and an army officer called Francis Blake. The main antagonist of the series is their sworn enemy, Olrik, who has appeared in all but one of the books. Their confrontations take them into the realms of detective investigation and science-fiction, dealing with such themes as time travel, Atlantis and espionnage. The books are generally set during the 1950s, though many were written after this decade (for instance The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent is specifically set in 1958 but was published in 2003).

New books are being published in the series currently, however they have been written and drawn by other people since the death of Jacobs. A television series based upon the series was produced in 1997, entitled Blake and Mortimer.

The three main characters were already present in slightly different form in the unrelated, first full length comic strip by Jacobs, Le Rayon U (The U-Ray, 1943), which took a lot of its inspiration from Flash Gordon. The characters of Lord Calder, Professor Marduk and Captain Dagon can be connected to Blake, Mortimer and Olrik respectively.

In the original Jacobs' version it is not specified that Blake and Mortimer are Welsh and Scottish. They are simply two proud Britons serving HM's Government. The post-Jacobs title, The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent, dwells on their early lives, showing how they met in colonial India.

  • Captain Francis Percy Blake — Welsh-born officer in Her Majesty's armed forces. He later became head of the British security service MI5 but is still very active in the field. He is a master of disguise, even fooling Mortimer on occasion.

Philip Mortimer was originally drawn from life. The model was a friend and sometimes collaborator of Jacobs, Jacques Van Melkebeke. There was one imaginative addition by Jacobs since Van Melkebeke had no beard. Francis Blake was modeled by another friend and sometimes collaborator of Jacobs, Jacques Laudy, with added mustache. Olrik was a self-portrait of Jacobs.

No comments: