Hergés famous adventure series „Tintin“ clearly resides among the milestones of comic book history.Together, the Belgian and his charming detective team represent exceptional storytelling abilities and a perfectly reduced artistic style. „The Adventures of the Ligne claire. The Case of Mr. G. & Co.“ is the title of a new exhibition at Cartoonmuseum Basel featuring Hergé and other important representatives of this challenging artistic style with a number of original drawings.
Perfectly reduced and of a simplicity beyond comparison, Hergé's picture sequences tell stories in a singularly simple yet impressive way. By leaving out detail after detail their focus only grows. Furthermore the artist's realistic scenes are dominated by precise clear lines and even, monochromatic colors – all in all representing a body of work that has remained a source of inspiration for comic book artis around the world. Dutch artist Joost Swarte finally inventen the term „Ligne claire“ in 1977, thereby creating a genre to include all comic books following in Hergé's footsteps.
In the 1930s Hergé drew most of his inspiration from contemporary architecture, graphic and fine art, and – believe it, or not –, greatly admired the clear line of American illustrators like George McManus.When the Belgian weekly magazine „Tintin“ was first published by Casterman in 1948, it brought on a great achievement in the history of the Ligne claire. Tim aka Tintin became one of the most-featured heroes of this publication and took on an important key role next to his creator. As chief editor, Hergé influenced illustrators and writers like Edgar P. Jacobs („Blake & Mortimer“), Jacques Martin („Alix“) and later on Willy Vandersteen („Suske & Wiske“), Albert Weinberg („Dan Cooper“) and Bob de Moor („Barelli“) who all followed in his tradition.
The 1980s brought on a great revival for the Ligne claire – triggered by another impact from abroad: Underground ComixThe aesthetics of the famous American Underground-Comix movement took a great influence on many art forms in Europe, bringing in a number of provocative innovations and affecting many classics. It also had an interesting effect on the singular style and narration techniques of the Ligne claire.
In France Ted Benoit, Floc’h and Serge Clerc stood out as representatives of this new style. Yves Chaland, too, developed his work further, expanding the limits of the classical Ligne claire and mixing it with André Franquin's famous „Atomstil“. His young hero „Freddy Lombard“ comes along as an intriguing combination of Tintin and Spirou. In Switzerland the Ligne claire also has remained a popular experimenting ground on which Exem and Christophe Badoux both played excessively – each in his singular way. Next to these artists Cartoonmuseum features classics like Robert Lips from Zurich, who is most famous for his Globi series which rules Swiss nurseries since the 1930s, and Geneva-based Daniel Ceppi and Aloys, who started working with the Ligne claire in the 1970s, approaching Hergé's legacy from their own special viewpoint.