“My Father, Peyo”

“My Father, Peyo”

In part 2 of Veronique Culliford’s interview/article, she talks in depth about her father, Peyo.



Photo of Peyo

My father, Peyo always shared his ideas with my mother, who was a bit
like his muse, but he never discussed his work with the family. Only my
mother would offer her opinion, which he would use to decide whether
to press on with his ideas or not. She also chose the colours. But when
we were children, my father never discussed his creative work with us.
He had his studio in the house. Father was always close by, from
morning until evening. We were the ones who set off for school, but
he did not set off for work! He had his team with him during his daily
business. François Walthéry, who created Natasha, was 17 when he
arrived at the studio. He was a bit like a big brother to me when I was
only 4. It was a real family affair, even though my father only discussed
his work with his colleagues.

We had to wait until the book was finished and fine-tuned before
we were able to read it. Nowadays, owing to my various responsibilities
I have to get involved in the early stages of a project’s development, but
my real pleasure is to be able to settle down on the sofa with the colour
book in the form in which it will be published. I love to turn the pages,
savouring the details and breathing in the scents of the printing shop.
My father was not in any special frame of mind when working on
Benny Breakiron but he cooperated with various people. When he was
working on the Les Schtroumpfs, he would have certain colleagues to
help with those characters, and when he worked on Benny Breakiron
he had others. There was Will, the cartoonist behind Tif et Tondu (Tif
and Tondu), who did the sets for Benny Breakiron.


My father was also a very emotional person. I think he tried to convey his
feelings and emotions in his series. I do not mean to suggest that Benny
was a projection of my father as a young boy. He actually had a brother
and sister, as well as lots of cousins who he played with a great deal, all
forming a big gang of friends. However, and we never discussed this,
he lost his father when he was eight. So if he never mentioned family, it
may be something he hardly understood and something that was not
part of his experience. This may be one of the keys to Benny.

From my own children’s experience, I can see Peyo’s stories
continuing to delight one generation after another. My children are spoiled
for choice in our house when it comes to comic books. They read whatever
they want! But towards 10 years of age, they all gravitate instinctively
towards Benny Breakiron. I used to find the books under their beds when
they were supposed to be sleeping! As I am a mother who works and
travels a great deal, I do not always have time to talk things over with
them. I do not ask them what they think about their reading matter. They
know their grandfather was the one who wrote and drew these stories
and they are very proud. They became aware of Peyo’s status when they
were about 10. They did not read the Les Schtroumpfs so much. They did
read a lot of Benny Breakiron, then switched to Johan et Pirlouit.
The values my father’s stories convey are both positive and
universal. Parents have nothing to fear about their children reading
comic books by Peyo. They are kind of unblemished while reflecting a
meaning and morality that is not much in evidence nowadays. They are
a bit like contemporary fables. This is something mothers and fathers
are delighted to share with their children.

Peyo was more of a storyteller than a cartoonist. He had
a lot to tell because he must have done a lot of dreaming as well. He
was someone who used to look at the world in an imaginative way. He
had a knack of approaching the most serious subjects with a light and
humorous touch. Benny draws us into a real world, with real thieves
and real baddies. It is a real world, and I think he was anxious to express
something on this score as well. My father was very fond of Benny and
had a particular affection for the character.

Behind the Scenes with BENNY BREAKIRON – Part 1

Behind the Scenes with BENNY BREAKIRON – Part 1

Benny Breakiron movie poster

As part of the press promotion for the new BENNY BREAKIRON film in France, Peyo’s daughter, Veronique Culliford, wrote a terrific article on her father, his creative process and why Benny holds a special place in her heart. It’s a must read for any Peyo fan!


1960 was the year my father decided to create a new comic strip
series. He wanted it to appear in the leading Belgian daily Le Soir, which
was already running his story about a little cat called Pussycat, which
the publisher, Dupuis, wanted for its list. My father agreed to withdraw
Pussycat from the newspaper and hand it over to Dupuis but he was loath
to abandon the newspaper because it had offered him a chance when
was just starting his career. This is why he developed Benny Breakiron.
However, when Dupuis found out about the new work, they actually
preferred it to Pussycat !

My father always created likeable, very thematically structured
characters. After dwelling in the Middle Ages with Johan et Pirlouit
(Johan and Peewit) and the Schtroumpfs (the Smurfs), Benny Breakiron
offered him an opportunity to write stories set in the modern world.
Benny’s visual setting is very 1960s, the era when he was created.
I was only two when the character was unveiled to the public. He really
formed the background to my formative years.



My father’s idea in creating Benny Breakiron was to take a stance opposite
that depicted in the case of the American superheroes of the time, so he
invented a character who was not an all-powerful adult but a child who
nonetheless had the ability to react to anything that stirred his anger.
My father always liked to play around with the adult child concept and,
in the case of Benny Breakiron, the hero expresses himself like a child.
His way of thinking is not as articulate as that of an adult, and that
contributes to the light and refreshing feel of his adventures. He has
no qualms about saying what is on his mind. Benny has reached the
age when things can fill him with a real sense of indignation. He cannot
stand injustice.

I was about eight when I first read the adventures of Benny
Breakiron. I started from the beginning, with The Red Taxis. Like all
children I just looked at the pictures to start with. Then, when I was
about 10 or 11, I really started to understand the meaning of the texts.
As with all my father’s books, the adventures of Benny are multilayered,
thus featuring surprises for children of every age. My feeling as a girl
was that Benny needed protecting because he was alone! At times you
long to share his adventures, to put yourself in his shoes, at other times
you want to help him. We can all also relate to him often being rejected
by children of his own age because he is different from all the others.
We are on his side. He evokes strong feelings, even though we know it is
only a comic book. He is also very endearing because his parents are not
around. But he does not seem to be unhappy being alone. He is looked
after at home by his guardian, but we are never told if he might have
parents who have to work far away. I think my father’s approach was
intended to focus on his character, tell Benny’s story rather than getting
involved in the story of a family. Children think about themselves but
not always about their surroundings. This gives his perspective a kind
of authenticity that reminds us all of something.

Benny Breakiron Running

As he does not always manage to get close to people of his own
age, Benny has very close relationships with adults. Mr Dussiflard is
a man on his own, and Ms Adolphine is a woman on her own. Benny Breakiron
seeks the company of those who have time for him. He would like to
tell them about his amazing powers but he is always thwarted from
doing so by circumstances! He is not keeping a secret, he just never
manages to share the secret. These are the kinds of things children may
experience and express later on when they reach adulthood. Parents
do not always realise either… I believe it is something quite powerful, a
childhood theme that is particularly relevant nowadays.

Unlike superheroes who are able to do anything they want and
can save the world every day of the week, Benny Breakiron is just like anybody else.
He is incapable of solving a problem if he has a cold. His vulnerability
makes him someone special. He possesses powers that all children
dream of having but he continues to be normal. However, this does not
prevent him from creating one or two disasters to add a bit of spice to
his adventures!

‘Tis the Season for Book Wishlists – Part 3

‘Tis the Season for Book Wishlists – Part 3

Concluding our look at Papercutz’s book wishlists for the holiday season, it’s the picks from our publisher Terry Nantier. Terry has been reading and publishing graphic novels for over 40 years so let’s see what made his list!

The other language cover

The Other Language (Pantheon) by Francesca Marciano

The Goldfinch book cover

The Goldfinch: A Novel (Little, Brown and Company) by Donna Tartt

Saga- Volume 1 Graphic Novel Cover

Saga: Volume 1 (Image Comics) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

The Love Bunglers graphic novel cover

The Love Bunglers (Fantagraphics Books) by Jaime Hernandez

Seconds Graphic Novel Cover

Seconds: A Graphic Novel (Ballantine Books) by Bryan Lee O’Malley

SMURFS anthology volume 2 cover

And if you’re looking for something from the papercutz list, Terry shares Associate Editor Michael Petranek’s enthusiasm for THE SMURFS ANTHOLOGY series.  He notes, “The red cover of Volume 2 pairs nicely with the green cover of Volume 3 for a Christmas themed graphic novel combo!”

‘Tis the Season for Book Wishlists -Part 2

‘Tis the Season for Book Wishlists -Part 2

Continuing this week’s theme, Associate Editor Michael Petranek tells us what books he’d like to find in his stocking this year:

Cover to Gotham Central Book One

Gotham Central: Book 1 (DC Comics) by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker

Cover to Love and Rockets Locas 2

Love and Rockets Locas Book 2: The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S. (Fantagraphics) by Jamie Hernandez


Cover for Food

Food: A Love Story (Crown Archetype) by Jim Gaffigan

Cover for Underwater Puppies

Underwater Puppies (Little, Brown, and Company) by  Seth Casteel

Cover for Origin of Inspiration

Origin of Inspiration: Seven Short Essays for Creative People (Sankofa) by  Samuel Adoquei

Cover to Smurfs Anthology 3

If none of those strike your fancy, Michael recommends THE SMURFS ANTHOLOGY VOL. 3: “It looks great on the shelf or on a coffee table, and it’s green, just like the Christmas season!”.