Andre Franquin’s Gaston Lagaffe/Gomer Goof brings some of the Maddest chaos in Euro comics… pure side-splitting genius…
Andre Franquin’s Spirou and Fantasio may have been a masterpiece of comics, but it’s his Gaston series, featuring his hopeless, good-for-nothing, incompetent, and terminally lazy office clerk Gaston Lagaffe (Lagaffe translating as “the blunder” – and anglicised as the never quite as funny nor rolls off the tongue as sweetly Gomer Goof) that he’ll forever be known for.
Simply put, there’s little in comics that can reach the level of wonderful gaggery, fabulous expression, comedy timing, and pure joy that every page of Gaston has. If you’re after an equivalent in American comics, we’re talking up there with Sergio Aragones, Harvey Kurtzman, Antonio Prohias, Don Martin, even Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes… the absolute pinnacle of cartooning and comedy.
Published in Spirou magazine, Gaston/Gomer ‘works’ at the offices of the comic in Brussels. Or rather tries everything he possibly can to get out of work, the level of his idleness taken to near genius levels at the stunts and trickery he’ll try and pull to get out of doing anything.
As with all Gomer Goof books, there’s no thorough story here really, nothing more than running gags, puns, recurring motifs and characters, the screams of frustration of those who have to put up with Gomer – all of it in service to Gomer’s pursuit of laziness and all designed to max out the comedy. But when the hilarity is this good, who needs anything more?
Across one, sometimes two-page strips, Gomer is packed with visual punchlines and amazing slapstick comedy that butts up against magnificent verbal punchlines – and special mention here, of course, to Jerome Saincantin, Cinebook’s translator who keeps as much of the verbal playfulness and comedy in place as possible.
And all of it is drawn in Franquin’s sublime style, where his line and flow is just a masterclass in how to make comics run riot on a page. It’s a pure joy to see Franquin’s artwork on these Gomer Goof books, perfection in comic gag form.
And rather than picking out panels from the strip, I figured the finest way to show you at least some of the brilliance of Franquin’s Gomer was to give you one that made me guffaw… starting with the set-up of the gag, as Gomer’s put upon office boss announces the office is getting a higher-ups visit and he simply can’t stand seeing Gomer’s mess. As you take the panels in, just look at the motion of Franquin’s figures, the expression and frustration of Gomer’s boss’s face, the sheer chaos of the desk…
Yep, one hour later and Gomer’s boss is going to check the cabinets. You know what’s going to happen. Of course you do, it’s an old, old gag, but it’s all in the expressions…
But in the next panel you get the response – Gomer’s boss’s reaction, the annoyance boiling over, the face even redder, the Frrragmaggots swear –
And then there’s Gomer’s face, telegraphing the next gag coming – because what’s better than one great visual gag?
Correct, two great visual gags…
(Oh yes, another of Franquin’s frequent additions to the strip, the comic asides Franquin would frequently put into the margins of his work, all of it adding so much to something already so good.)
But I digress. Back to the final panel of the page, the aftermath of all that visual slapstick that’s gone on and another masterclass of facial expression and the perfect wordplay going on.
First, we have Gomer’s casual remark to his boss, but then, best of the lot, the final gag…
“Just show me the door…” – and Franquin does.
That, readers, is how you do it so right…
And that’s just the first page of a 2-pager that’s pure genius.
Gomer Goof by Franquin is just packed full of that sort of brilliance and apart from me still preferring Gaston Lagaffe to Gomer Goof, I can find no fault at all.
Gomer Goof Book 10: Gomer’s Goons – by Andre Franquin
Originally published by Dupuis in 2009, published in English by Cinebook in March 2023
Now, just to give you an idea of the artistic genius of Franquin, here’s Cinebook’s PR and a preview for you…
“Gomer is a genius and a walking hazard – it is known. But often overlooked is how he’s far from the only one. In his daily efforts at subverting the professional world, he’s often accompanied by his menagerie – trickster cat, temperamental gull, voracious mouse and even, on occasion, a goldfish – and his brothers in laziness and silly ideas, Jules and Bertie. Not to mention, sometimes, complete strangers instantly won over by his eagerness and imagination. Much to the chagrin of various authority figures! “
Andre Franquin’s Gaston Lagaffe/Gomer Goof brings some of the Maddest chaos in Euro comics… pure side-splitting genius… Andre Franquin’s SpirouCOMICONRead More