Thanks to Joseph Gillain’s brother Henri, who lives in Tamines, he meets the talented author of “Valhardi” and “Jerry Spring”. Lambil vividly recalls the incident that caused the discovery of his vocation: “Here,” Jijé said to me, “Draw my glasses for me. Which I did. Looking at the result, he smiled and remarked: “This is a pair of glasses, but not mine!” A great lesson in observation.
The adolescent learns on the job in the illustration office of Éditions Dupuis, doing lay-out, modifications to comic strips reassembled for the collection “Gag de Poche”, small animations or illustrations for house magazines, such as LES BONNES SOIRÉES.
With the help of Henri Gillain who writes the script for his first story, he finally becomes a regular illustrator for SPIROU in 1959, with the adventures of a young boy and his kangaroo, “Sandy et Hoppy”. Although he has never been to Australia, his work becomes increasingly authentic because he gathers a huge amount of documentation, and he makes twenty-five long episodes.
At the same time he draws a few “Oncle Paul” and sometimes enjoys composing parodies of his own universe with animal fantasies of the kangaroo “Hobby” and his friend Koala.
In 1972, after the death of the illustrator Louis Salvérius (Salvé), he successfully takes over “Les Tuniques Bleues”, a series launched in 1968 by Salvé and the young scriptwriter Raoul Cauvin. This means that he is now in charge of the graphic destiny of the two earthy heroes Blutch and Chesterfield who operate in an environment he knows nothing about! However, Lambil digs for any documentation he can find and shows extreme persistence to succeed. He is soon forced to give up Sandy because of the increasing success of his new series.
For the section “Carte Blanche” of SPIROU, Lambil and Cauvin sketch a parodic and nearly autobiographic character in 1973: “Pauvre Lampil”. Its huge success forces them to start a series about him, depicting the daily life (and mishaps) of a cartoonist and his family and friends. Many of the anecdotes are more than authentic! “Over the years, it has become sort of a collection of howlers and bloopers of everyone at Dupuis,” Lambil admits.
The unlucky Lampil is abandoned in 1995, however, after seven books, because of the success of, and the increasing demand for, new episodes of “Tuniques Bleues”: more than 15 million copies sold at Dupuis!
More or less chained to his drawing table for forty years, Lambil was one of the most productive illustrators of the weekly for a long time, creating nearly a hundred strips a year. “Well, I work at home, which means that I am a lazy person with guilty feelings. So I work every day. On Sundays I do my corrections. In fact, my factory is my home!”
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