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Thursday, September 22nd 2016, 9:44pm

Miscellaneous French Culture

This thread is a repository for miscellaneous entries on various noteworthy items of French culture (for the moment, chiefly entertainment).


Thursday, September 22nd 2016, 9:53pm

This six-book series, published by Société Parisienne d'Édition between 1941 and 1943, follows the swashbuckling adventures of the titular character Reynard the Fox. With his biting humour and flashing rapier, Reynard adventures across 17th century Europe and the Americas, facing pirates, secret agents, highwaymen, and Reynard's most dangerous enemy of all - Anne the Vixen.

There have been regular calls for the series to continue after the death of the original writer. The assistant writer and the chief illustrator went on to create the popular comic series Voisin et Hennequin.

1. Reynard
2. La Mare aux Fées
3. La Boîte noire
4. La Ville des pirates
5. La Dague d'argent
6. La Malédiction du Reynard


Thursday, September 22nd 2016, 9:59pm

Voisin et Hennequin
An extremely popular French comic depicting the adventures of Wenceslas Voisin and Claude Nicolas Hennequin, two pilots in the Armeé de l'Aire. It is published by Société Parisienne d'Édition.

A new issue comes out every two months on the second Wednesday. Each issue has twenty pages, with an average of sixteen and a half pages of comic content. Readers can subscribe to a colour or black-and-white edition, or buy the black-and-white edition from newstands. At the end of a series, a color omnibus edition is printed, including all the episodes from that series, plus a special edition short that can only be found in the omnibus edition.

The comic is translated into English, Dutch, and German, with the translated issues being released two months after the French-language original. There are plans to start offering Italian and Iberian translations beginning in 1948.

"Premier editions" are available at extra cost for subscribers. The premier edition is printed in full color, and has several additional pages, bringing the total to twenty-four. Included in the extra content is a one-page illustrated biography of a famous Great War pilot and a detachable page with glossy artwork of a French aircraft (which serves as the back cover of each issue).

Despite its popularity, Voisin et Hennequin has received some criticism from media observers both within and outside of France.

When the premier edition of series one issue three included a one-page illustrated biography of Manfred von Richthofen, a French veterans group complained about how it portrayed the German pilot as a hero. (Other veterans groups applauded it as a 'reconciliatory move'.) The authors and illustrators declined to comment about the matter aside from noting that they intended to continue publishing the biographies of famous German aces in future; this promise was demonstrated when the premier edition covered Werner Voss in series one issue nine.

The French newspaper Le Croix has, on two occasions, critiqued the authors and illustrators for their portrayal of the nose art on Hennequin's MB.155 fighter, named La jeune fille, which first appeared in issue four of the first series. Le Croix critiqued the "lascivious" design and the number of times it was displayed, often prominently, in the comic. The paper published letters to the editor calling for a boycott of the publisher by French Catholics. The lead illustrator later wrote La Croix pointing out "You can see worse things hanging in the Louvre". However, in following issues, La jeune fille's nose art was drawn slightly more conservatively and featured less often (though not enough to escape further rebuke by Le Croix).

The comic additionally received notice when a senior member of the Italian Air Force objected to the depiction of Macchi C.200s serving as enemies in the hands of Colonel Abraham Dirksen's mercenaries.

Main Characters
-- Wenceslas Voisin: A lieutenant and fighter pilot in the Armeé de l'Aire, hailing from Normandie. Voisin is not the stereotypical fighter pilot, being quiet, relaxed, and reserved, and given to very thoughtful action. He is an outstanding marksman both in the air (in his prefered plane, the Bloch MB.155) or on the ground, and has the reputation of a superb tactician and strategist. In his free time, Voisin likes to read and listen to music. Voisin has a helpless infatuation with Joséphine Lalanne, but is never quite able to confess his feelings to her. Hennequin is his wingman.
-- Claude Nicolas Hennequin: Voisin's wingman, a stereotypically brash and egotistical fighter pilot. Hennequin, a native of Paris, has roguish good looks and enjoys the finer things in life, meaning that he is constantly pressed for money. In the cockpit, he is aggressive almost to the point of recklessness, and sometimes gets in trouble for not following orders. When not in the cockpit, Hennequin passes the time maintaining or riding his Gnome-Rhone motorcycle. Unlike Voisin, he has numerous girlfriends, including some who want to kill him and many who don't even know he exists.

Series Regulars
-- Joséphine Lalanne: A beautiful Parisian-born French Army nurse, Joséphine is a good friend of Voisin and Hennequin, being amused by their antics. She often joins in their mutual banter. Voisin has a helpless crush on her, but she does not appear to have noticed. Born in Paris to a good family, Joséphine wanted to help less fortunate people and became an Army nurse. She is shown to have great fortitude in desperate situations.
-- No.67, La jeune fille: Hennequin's personal aircraft, a Bloch MB.155 radial-engined fighter, with the No.67 identification number. The plane has nose art depicting a sensuous young dancer who Hennequin has named "Manon". Hennequin often talks directly to Manon (and imagines her responses to him.) Le jeune fille was destroyed in the final episode of the Côte Rocheuse story arc when Hennequin rams Colonel Dirksen's plane in order to protect Voisin. At the end of the series, Hennequin is seen painting Manon onto the nose of his replacement MB.155.
-- No.68, Blaireau: Voisin's personal aircraft, a Bloch MB.155 radial-engine fighter, with the No.68 identification number. The plane has thin black-and-white striping around the engine cowling and depicts a badger (blaireau) under the cockpit.
-- The Gremlins: A trio of tiny and mischevious creatures who live in the engine of Voisin's plane. Normally invisible, they sometimes cause mechanical difficulties when they are not appeased by crumbs of bread left in the cockpit. In color print, they are shown as misshapen little gnomes with red, green, and blue hair. They prefer living inside Voisin's aircraft to Hennequin's, because La jeune fille "is very jealous and doesn't share."
-- Scout: Voisin's pet corgi and the Escuadron de Lions' mascot. Voisin received Scout as a puppy from an English acquaintance, and he named the puppy after the British fighter, the Bristol Scout. Scout is a lively participant in Voisin and Hennequin's adventures, and when they are flying, Scout waits at the flight line in the shade of Hennequin's parked motorcycle. Scout is the only character in the series that is shown to be able to see the Gremlins.

Supporting Cast
-- Pasquerault: The chief of Voisin and Hennequin's ground crew, and a master mechanic. Pasquerault has worked on planes for decades (and boasts of having once fixed Georges Guynemer's Spad). Pascquerault is somewhat superstitious and is a firm believer in the Gremlins, first telling Voisin about them. He is usually depicted covered in grease and oil. Pasquerault also is a modest pilot, able to fly a Morane-Saulner MS.315 trainers and the Caudron Simoun.
-- Emma Lebel: Joséphine's closest friend and a fellow Army nurse in Côte Rocheuse.
-- Commandant Mathis: The commanding officer of the Escuadron de Lions, and Voisin and Hennequin's direct boss. Commandant Mathis is strict regarding training, but he loosens up when in the air and has a firm-but-fair personality. Both Voisin and Hennequin regard him as a good commander.
-- Galila el-Hakim: The daughter of tribal warlord Abdul el-Hakim, the beautiful and mysterious Galila is a capable fighter in her own right (with knives or pistols), and her father's favorite child. When Joséphine was captured by the Côte Rocheuse rebels, Galila befriended and protected her. In their encounters, Galila flirts with Hennequin when no one is watching, playfully threatening him with her knives.
-- Sultan Djalish: The ruler of the small Oriental kingdom of Ti'en, the "kingdom of a hundred islands". He is friendly to French diplomats, but is worried about a possible coup being led by his half-brother, Prince Bilan.
-- Lieutenant Malcolm Brown: A British Sunderland flying boat pilot who has a competitive but friendly relationship with Voisin and Hennequin. Brown helps Voisin and Hennequin in Ti'en. He nicknames Voisin "Ducky" and calls Hennequin "Mother Hen", which annoys them. However, he won't stop.

-- Colonel Abraham Dirksen: The genius leader of a highly talented group of mercenary airmen, Colonel Dirksen serves as the most notable antagonist to Voisin and Hennequin. Despite his service as a villain, Dirksen has a high degree of personal honour. Dirksen flies a plane named the "Golden Chain", which is depicted as a Macchi C.200.
-- Abdul el-Hakim: A tribal warlord leading the rebellion in Côte Rocheuse, Abdul is a cunning old warrior.
-- Capitaine Demange: A traitorous member of the Escuadron de Lions, working for Dirksen's mercenaries. In the finale of the first series, he was shot down by Voisin and his fate is currently unknown.
-- Prince Bilan: The half-brother of the Sultan of Ti'en, Bilan is plotting to overthrow him with the aid of rebellious generals and a group of foreign mercenaries known as the Seven Yellow Pennants.
-- Jinlung: An extremely talented pilot who leads the mercenary Seven Yellow Pennants.

Series 1: Côte Rocheuse
Episode 1:1 - The new comic series Voisin et Hennequin, published by Société Parisienne d'Édition, appeared on shelves today. Voisin et Hennequin follows the adventures of two aviators of the Armeé de l'Aire, Lieutenant Wenceslas Voisin and Lieutenant Claude Nicolas Hennequin. Drawn by a veteran artist who helped produced the bestselling Reynard comic series, this first issue sees the quiet and stoic Voisin and flamboyant Hennequin sent to the fictional French colony of Côte Rocheuse, which is under threat from tribal rebels led by Abdul el-Hakim and his beautiful daughter Galila. Vousin and Hennequin face the additional threat of a mercenary fighter squadron led by the villainous Colonel Dirksen, which is aiding the rebels. To complicate matters, Voisin falls in love with army nurse Joséphine Lalanne, while Hennequin sets his lofty sights on the exotic Galila. According to Société Parisienne d'Édition, the new series will run for at least nine episodes, covering the planned "Côte Rocheuse Rebellion" arc.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Georges Guynemer (Aéronautique Militaire)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Morane-Saulnier MS.406

Episode 1:2 - Lieutenant Wenceslas Voisin and Lieutenant Claude Nicolas Hennequin return to print in the second edition of Voisin et Hennequin. In this second issue, Hennequin's MS.406 fighter is downed in the mountains due to sabotage, and he falls into the hands of the Galila el-Hakim's band of rebel tribesmen. As Hennequin tries to escape captivity, Voisin tries to find both his friend and the mysterious saboteur who is crippling the French war planes.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): René Fonck (Aéronautique Militaire)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Dewoitine D.520C.1

Episode 1:3 - Picking up where issue two left off, Lieutenant Claude Nicolas Hennequin escapes from the camp of Galila el-Hakim and flees into the Er-Reg of Côte Rocheuse. Meanwhile, his friend and comrade Lieutenant Wenceslas Voisin finds the traitor who has been sabotaging the French fighter planes. The issue ends with Voisin flying over the desert, searching for his missing friend.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Manfred von Richthofen (Luftstreitkräfte)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Arsenal VG.39bis

Episode 1:4 - Lieutenant Claude Nicolas Hennequin, having escaped into the Er-Reg of Côte Rocheuse with the beautiful and dangerous Galila el-Hakim and her band of tribal rebels on his tail, is rescued in the nick of time by his friend Lieutenant Wenceslas Voisin. Returning to their airbase in their battered MS.315, they discover the base has been attacked by the tribal warlord Abdul el-Hakim and the mercenary pilots under Colonel Dirksen, and most of the French airplanes have been destroyed. Worse, Voisin discovers that his beau, Army nurse Joséphine Lalanne, has been captured by the rebels. The two pilots must reluctantly follow their orders to regroup with their squadron, where they receive powerful new Bloch MB.155 fighters, joining the Escadron de Lions, a new group arriving in Côte Rocheuse to hunt down Colonel Dirksen.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Adolphe Pégoud (Aéronautique Militaire)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Morane-Saulnier MS.315

Episode 1:5 - The fifth issue of Voisin et Hennequin continues the adventures of Lieutenants Claude Nicolas Hennequin and Wenceslas Voisin. The tribal rebels led by Abdul el-Hakim, aided by the mercenary fighter pilots led by Colonel Dirksen, have overrun the French airbase Voisin and Hennequin call home. Fleeing the attack, they join the Escadron de Lions, which has been sent to Côte Rocheuse to hunt down the mercenary fighter pilots. The 'Lions' encounter Dirksen's mercenaries in an aerial duel over a mountainous region known as Jebel Keshkal, but Dirksen lures them into a trap laid with dozens of antiaircraft guns. Voisin and Hennequin, ordered to stay behind as top cover, disobey their instructions in order to strafe the AA guns and save the rest of the squadron. Back at base, the squadron's second-in-command, hotshot pilot Capitane Demange, wants the pair written up for disobeying instructions, but the Lions' commander, Commandant Mathis, instead commends the pair for their gallantry.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Billy Bishop (Royal Flying Corps)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Bloch MB.155

Episode 1:6 - The sixth issue of Voisin et Hennequin opens in the aftermath of the air battle at Jebel Keshkal against Colonel Abraham Dirksen's mercenary pilots. Voisin learns from an acquaintance that the prisoners taken by tribal warlord Abdul del-Hakim, including his girlfriend, Army nurse Joséphine Lalanne, may be imprisoned by the rebels at an oasis deep in the Er-Reg of Côte Rocheuse. Capitaine Demange, the Escadron de Lions' second-in-command, refuses Voisin and Hennequin's request to take their fighters out on an aerial reconnaissance of the suspected rebel camp. Demange takes the mission himself, flying off into the Er-Reg. After Demange leaves, a suspicious Hennequin convinces Voisin to surreptitiously follow their senior officer. Their suspicions are confirmed when Demange flies not toward the Er-Reg, but back to Jebel Keshkal, where the squadron previously tangled with Dirksen's mercenaries. Later that evening, Demange returns to base with aerial photographs that show the oasis and the suspected rebel stronghold do not exist. Voisin and Hennequin take a long walk around the airfield, discussing what to do about Captain Demange's apparent treachery, and Voisin finally announces with a smile, "I have a plan."
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Charles Nungesser (Aéronautique Militaire)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Arsenal VG.60 Revenant

Episode 1:7 - Voisin puts into motion a plan to entrap the squadron's second-in-command, Capitaine Demange, into revealing his treachery and collusion with the rebels. By entraping Demange, Voisin hopes to uncover the secret oasis where the tribal warlord Abdul del-Hakim is holding hostages, including Voisin's girlfriend Joséphine Lalanne, an army nurse. The trap fails to ensnare Demange and the traitorous pilot disappears, but while browsing the bazaar, Hennequin has an abrupt run-in with Galila el-Hakim, the warlord's daughter. Before disappearing, Galila reveals that the hostages are no longer at the oasis, but have been handed over to Colonel Abraham Dirksen's mercenaries and imprisoned in Dirksen's secret stronghold in Jebel Keshkal.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Willy Coppens (Belgian Military Aviation)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Leduc O.10 Ramjet

Episode 1:8 - In the just-released issue of the popular comic Voisin et Hennequin, the two heroic pilots fly into the hostile mountains of Côte Rocheuse's Jebel Keshkal in search of the mercenary airmen who hold French hostages, including Voisin's girlfriend Joséphine Lalanne, an army nurse. The pilots finally find the mercenary air-base, camouflaged into the side of a mountain. In conjunction with the troops of the Foreign Legion, the airmen plan a daring assault on the base to liberate the captives and defeat the mercenary airmen.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Francesco Baracca (Corpo Aeronautico Militaire / Italy)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Lioré et Olivier LeO 451

Episode 1:9 - Voisin and Hennequin manage to rescue Voisin's girlfriend Joséphine, held as a prisoner at the mercenary airbase. While escaping, the two pilots run afoul of the chief mercenary fighter pilot, Colonel Abraham Dirksen, and their own treacherous senior officer, Capitaine Demange. In a final dogfight, Voisin shoots down Demange, while Hennequin rams Dirksen's plane to prevent him from shooting down his friend. Both Hennequin and Dirksen bail out in the desert and meet under the shade of a large rock, where they agree on a truce and share their last bit of water to survive the day before they are rescued by the Foreign Legion's camel troops.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Werner Voss (Luftstreitkräfte)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Caudron C.630 Simoun

Special Episode 1:10 (available only in the omnibus edition) - In a flashback to basic pilot training, Voisin and Hennequin meet as young cadets. Hennequin struggles with aerial gunnery and worries about disappointing his father, a well-regarded Great War ace; while the reserved and awkward Voisin struggles to fit in with his comrades. When the two cadets team up, however, they forge a lasting friendship and help each other overcome their different struggles.

Series 2: Ti'en
Episode 2:1 - Voisin et Hennequin returns to publication from Société Parisienne d'Édition with its new second series. In the first issue, ace French Air Force pilots Wenceslas Voisin and Claude Nicolas Hennequin journey to the small Oriental kingdom of Ti'en, accompanying a diplomatic mission which hopes to sell French hydroplanes to the Sultan. They find Ti'en a hotbed of revolutionaries, and the initial aircraft demonstration nearly goes terribly wrong when Voisin and Hennequin are attacked by a rogue Ti'en air force pilot.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Georges Madon (Aéronautique Militaire)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Dewoitine HD.780 Floatplane Fighter

Episode 2:2 - Following their action-packed arrival to the small oriental kingdom if Ti'en in the first issue, ace pilots Wenceslas Voisin and Claude Nicolas Hennequin slow down to take in the sights as they carefully investigate the brewing conflict between the Sultan of Ti'en and his half-brother.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Edward "Mick" Mannock (Royal Flying Corps)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Breguet-Nord Br.900 Massette

Episode 2:3 - Following a strange encounter in the bustling Water Market in Ti'en, ace pilots Voisin and Hennequin become convinced that the Sultan's half-brother Bilan is conspiring with disgruntled generals and a band of foreign mercenaries known as the 'Seven Yellow Pennants' in order to overthrow the Sultan and profit from Ti'en's supposed oil reserves.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Roderic Dallas (Royal Flying Corps)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Spad XIII

Episode 2:4 - In the fourth episode of Voisin et Hennequin launches to explosive action as kidnappers target the two French pilots as they leave Ti'en's famous Water Market with information pointing to certain treachery by the Sultan's half-brother, Prince Bilan. Gagged and hooded, they are taken to Bilan's remote country house, where they are told to expect 'imminent death'. The issue closes on the revelation that Voisin has concealed a pocket knife and is cutting through his bonds.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Oswald Boelcke (Luftstreitkräfte)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Dassault MD.450 Ouragan I

Episode 2:5 - Left bound and hooded in the cellar of the treacherous Prince Bilan, French pilots Voisin and Hennequin make every effort to escape. Voisin manages to free his hands using his pocketknife, and the duo escape in Prince Bilan's own car, pursued by motorcyclists.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Julius Arigi (Luftfahrtruppen)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Hanriot H.312 Roussette

Episode 2:6 - Defeating pursuit by Prince Bilan's henchmen, Voisin and Hennequin return swiftly to the French mission in Ti'en's capital. Although they lack evidence of Prince Bilan's treachery, they discover the prince has fled to the northern islands of Belitung Mangkal, where his rebel forces have been joined by the mercenaries of the Seven Yellow Pennants, led by a dangerous pilot known only as 'Jinlung'.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Gervais Raoul Lufbery (Aéronautique Militaire)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Loire-Nieuport LN.190 Épouvantail

Episode 2:7 - In the seventh issue of Voisin et Hennequin, the heroes find themselves assisting the Sultan of Ti'en to defeat his rebellious half-brother, Prince Bilan, who has taken refuge on the island of Belitung Mangkal. Supported by a band of mercenary airmen known as the Seven Yellow Pennants, Prince Bilan seizes several French and British oil tankers travelling through the narrow Mangkal Straits, threatening to cause more damage unless the French and British support him against the Sultan. While the diplomats hesitate, Voisin and Hennequin propose an aggressive action to defeat Jinlung, the mysterious ace leader of the Seven Yellow Pennants, and permit the Sultan's loyal troops to reconquer the island of Belitun Mangkal.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Raymond Collishaw (Royal Naval Air Service)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Morane-Saulnier MS.730 Alcyon

Episode 2:8 - Aided by the small air force of the Sultan of Ti'en, Voisin and Hennequin put into practice the first stage of their plan to defeat Jinlung, the mysterious ace leader of the mercenary Seven Yellow Pennants, and bring down the rebel Prince Bilan, who has taken refuge on the island of Belitun Mangkal. Finding an unlikely ally in British flying-boat pilot Malcolm Brown, their surprise attack on the harbour of Belitung Mangkal rescues the crews of several captured oil tankers. Prince Bilan, realizing his cause is lost, boards a flying boat to flee the country, escorted by Jinlung and the remaining Seven Yellow Pennants. Voisin and Hennequin quickly refuel their seaplanes and take off in pursuit.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Alexander Kazakov (Imperial Russian Air Service)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Champagne-class Metalclad Airship

Episode 2:9 - In the ninth and final episode of Voisin et Hennequin, the two French pilots take their seaplanes in pursuit of the fleeing Prince Bilan and his escort, including the mercenary ace 'Jinlung' and the Seven Yellow Pennants. After a ferocious aerial fight, Hennequin downs Prince Bilan's flying boat, which lands on the ocean; the Prince is captured by a British destroyer, which will turn the rebel over to the Sultan of Ti'en for justice. Meanwhile, Voisin dogfights with Jinlung's seaplane. They damage each other's airplanes but run out of ammo, ending their dogfight with a wave, as Jinlung flies north - with no certainty of reaching land - and Voisin flying back south on the remainder of his fuel. Back ashore, the two pilots are praised for carrying out their successful plan, and board their steamer to return home to France.
-- Biography (Premier Edition): Pierre Marinovitch (Serbian in the Aéronautique Militaire)
-- Colour Glossy (Premier Edition): Dewoitine D.800 Flèche

Setting and Notes
The Rules
-- Enemies are always depicted either as mercenaries, or belong to a fictional country. (That country may be based on an actual existing land, but may not be named as such.)
-- No deaths are depicted in the comic. Enemies and friends are always able to bail out of downed aircraft. Very minor characters are sometimes referenced to have died, but this is never depicted.
-- The artists try to depict real dogfighting maneuvers. Any episode that shows an aerial fight has a post-script in the premier edition where Voisin directly addresses the reader to name and explain the maneuvers depicted, such as the Immelman Turn or the Lufbery Circle.
-- Real planes are always used, even for enemies.