The Dupuis publishing house, located in Marcinelle, has been publishing the Spirou newspaper for over 83 years. This magazine, unique in Europe, offers its 200,000-strong readership over 52 pages of never seen before comics.
“The first issue came out in 1938,” says Morgan Di Salvia, editor-in-chief of Spirou. “What all the issues and all the stories have in common is their upbeat nature, good humour and emotions.”
The newspaper has seen over 4,300 issues since its inception.
This weekly newspaper comes out every Wednesday and is aimed at a very broad audience, from the age of 7-8 years. “Some of our readers have been subscribers for over 70 years,” he says. “It’s a family newspaper.”
A true laboratory of creativity
What makes this newspaper stand out is the ‘experimental’ aspect. Authors and cartoonists can test out their ideas, working collaboratively with the Spirou team. “Generally, I receive hundreds of projects per year. I do a lot of sifting. Sometimes the story isn’t finished, sometimes it’s just not the right time,” he tells us. “If the project gets the green light, we discuss it and collaborate with the author so that the comic book pages can be produced over an average of eight weeks.”
The authors and artists publish their stories over several weeks. This method of publication allows publishers and readers to evaluate the success of the hero, the universe, the story… “With Spirou, we are really lucky to see certain comic book universes evolve, to see our heroes grow up… ”
Creating the new heroes of tomorrow
Spirou has become a real institution in the field of comics. Many characters, initially published in Spirou, have become legends in the field. These include Gaston Lagaffe, Spirou, Jill Jordan, Natacha, Boule et Bill… and more recently, Les Nombrils, Louca or Dad.
The editorial line is based on the idea of creating the heroes of tomorrow. “For a hero to stand a chance of becoming a legend, readers must recognise part of themselves in the story, see themselves in it and feel empathy towards the character.” All the best heroes have the ability to surprise and make an impact on the reader.
Legacy in paper form
Despite more and more things switching to digital, Spirou continues to prefer paper. “We offer a screen version for those who want it – some readers are subscribers in Australia and therefore do not have the choice of format -, but we keep the paper format. On the other hand, we are developing some webtoons to distribute on social networks, for example.”
As for the creation of the newspaper, this process has been largely digitised. More than 95% of the storyboards are sent by e-mail. For the Spirou team, this way of working reduces transport costs and optimises the management of the original boards.
“We use digital technology for the operational side. Authors send us their submissions by e-mail and we correct spelling mistakes directly on an electronic file, for example.”
The same tone, but an evolving newspaper
Despite the difficulties inherent in the press sector and the Covid crisis, the newspaper is doing well. It has seen a 7% increase in readership.
In the future, the Spirou team will continue its search for new talent. The world of comics is constantly evolving and changes are occurring every day. “Manga is slowly beginning to make its mark on our cultural landscape. There is always something new happening in the field.”
©Photos and vidéo /Jérôme Gobin