More than twenty-six years after the death of its creator Franquin, Gaston Lagaffe still does not know if he will one day find the boards of a new comic strip. His fate is blocked by a dispute between Dupuis editions and the designer’s daughter, who have requested private arbitration.
“The principle of a resurrection of Gaston is licit but (the editions) Dupuis and Dargaud-Lombard did not respect the contractual approval process and Isabelle Franquin still has the right to submit her observations”explained, Tuesday, May 30 in the evening, the lawyers of Mme Franquin announcing the decision.
In March 2022, at the Angoulême festival (France), Dupuis created a stir in the world of Franco-Belgian comics by announcing the forthcoming release of a new album of the adventures of Lagaffe, entitled The Return of Lagaffeunder the pencil of the Canadian designer, Marc Delafontaine (alias Delaf).
But that was without taking into account the pugnacity of Isabelle Franquin, daughter and sole beneficiary of the cartoonist André Franquin who died in 1997. Refusing that her father’s star character revive in the guise of another cartoonist, the latter took legal action. in Belgium. She first obtained, in the context of an action in summary proceedings a year ago, the suspension of the publication of the Feedbackinitially scheduled for October 2022.
In fact, Dupuis has undertaken not to publish a new album before 2023 at the earliest, the time for the dispute to be settled on the merits by private arbitration, in this case a Brussels lawyer chosen by the two parties.
“Inalienable moral right”
Dupuis editions believe that they own the economic rights to Franquin’s characters, through the acquisition in 2013 of the company Marsu Productions with which the creator of Lagaffe had concluded a transfer agreement in 1992. For her part, Isabelle Franquin argued that her father himself “in no way wanted Gaston Lagaffe to be taken over by another cartoonist after his death”. It is “an inalienable moral right” that she can exercise, insisted in May 2022 her lawyer, Martine Berwette.
Ultimately, the arbitration, a procedure that is not subject to appeal, concludes that Lagaffe can be reborn “provided that Isabelle Franquin’s prior approval is sought in accordance with the forms provided for in a contract concluded between the parties in 2016”.
“Gaston par Delaf’s project was not approved by Isabelle Franquin” And “moral rights” what the latter does “intact spring”is it stipulated. “His agreement is essential for any new creation, including the choice of the author”insists the referee according to the press release, which specifies that “any refusal on his part must be justified by ethical or artistic reasons”.
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