He gets to work on a promotional cartoon in 1959, for the drink Cécémel, and sketched his first personal creations in mini-stories, the supplements to weekly magazines serving as a test bench for beginners. The American West fascinated him and dominated his first mini-books: “La Loi du scalp” (with a script by Delporte in 1959), “Histoire d’Indiens” (written by Maurice Rosy), animations for “Les Indiens du Sud-Ouest”.
After a trial collaboration in the mini-library with Serge Gennaux (“Umberto Solferino” in 1963) and Bob De Groot (“L’Homme moyen”), it was Jacques Devos who thought up his first recurring characters for spoof westerns: “Tim et Tom”, two impecunious twins travelling around the Far West.
When Salvé was considered experienced enough in graphics to have his comic strips published in a normal format in Spirou, it was once again Devos who, between 1963 and 1968, was to think up around sixty stories involving “Whamoka et Whikilowat”, two Red Indians who appeared in the illustrated works of the collection “Carrousel” in 1966 (“Une Journée chez les Indiens” and “La Légende du désert”, with the collaboration of Jamic for the scenery).
Paul Deliège took over from Devos by writing the scripts for around eight mini-stories portraying the tribe of the Nez-Cassés and the unlucky “Petit Cactus”, from 1968 to 1969. A project for a big story was under way when the horizon cleared and allowed the artist to envisage a real western instead of his Indian fantasies. “Lucky Luke” had left the newspaper and his place had to be filled. A young scriptwriter, as yet unknown, employed in the photo laboratory of the publishing house, suggested a theme for a series which was right up his street: “Les Tuniques Bleues”.
Captivated by Raoul Cauvin’s idea, Salvérius created the characters on a graphic level. They trained in comic strips and complete short stories from 1968 onwards, before finally tackling the prestigious ongoing series. The antagonism of the heroes and a spiritual denunciation of dyed-in-the-wool militarism would lead to the development of a veritable dynamic of success, which would soon make the series one of the most popular in the weekly magazine.
Captivated by this new idea, the editor Charles Dupuis persuaded Salvérius to leave the calm security of his status as an employee in the design office to devote himself completely to this production. He even promised him that he could return to his former post if, unlikely though it might be, these creations did not meet with the approval of the public. Louis Salvérius committed himself entirely to meeting the challenge.
At the age of thirty-eight, on 22 May 1972, he was struck dead on strip 36 of the fourth great episode involving his creatures “Les Outlaws”. Lambil agreed to finish this adventure, then to take over the characters.
Not very communicative, very rigorous in his work, always a perfectionist, Salvé had traced the path that his friends Lambil and Cauvin would follow. His horsemen of the American West have since become part of the legend.
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