I was going to continue my piece on Franka, but real life and so intervened.
In the beginning of this year, Tibet passed away, so instead of continuing Franka (though I do want to write a bit about that series at one point or another again), I do a bit on one of his series. Tibet was the writer/artist of Chick Bill, a series I enjoyed a lot over the years, though it had its' ups and downs.
Tibet was born as Gilbert Gascard in France in 1931, but moved to Belgium, where he lived for most of his life. Most of his work appeared in TinTin Magazine and Herge's style is a clear influence on him (moreso on Chick Bill than on Ric Hochet, his other series, where he went for a slightly more realistic style. My experience with Ric Hochet is close to nill though, so I don't have a lot to tell about that.) Look at the pictures below to see the way his art changed over the year.
Tibet's first issue of Chick Bill was published in 1954, the last issue (#70) in 2010. From issue 11 onwards, writing was usually handled by Greg (I mentioned him in the bit on Spirou, right?) or André-Paul Duchâteau, though Tibet still wrote an issue himself from time to time and Goscinny wrote a single issue.
OK, enough stats, time for some pictures and story:
In the first issue, Chick Bill Contre Invisible, all the characters are drawn as animal. Chick Bill, the titular hero is represented as a chipmunk, while the rest of the main cast all were different animals: young Native American Little Poodle (take a guess), sheriff Dog Bull (take another guess) and his deputy Kid Ordinn (a pig)
The title basically sums up the plot: the story is a lighthearted "battle" between the young, but heroic Chick Bill and an invisible criminal. The animals and fantastic elements like invisibility would be quickly forgotten, the characters became human (no plot wasted on that change thankfully), Chick Bill became a bit older, now clearly an adult, and the story became more serious (though it still is a LOT closer to Lucky Luke than Blueberry):
From issue 11 onwards Greg would take over the writing on most issues and it would move back towards comedy (though not always) and the focus of the series moved from Chick Bill to the relationship between Dog Bull and Kid Ordinn. (The backup stories were even clearly labelled as stories starring Kid Ordinn).
As a character Chick Bill was not that interesting: he is a amazing marksman, he's honest, loyal, brave etc. So basically your standard hero. Little Poodle, portrayed as still a kid, but also basically perfect, was also not that interesting as a hero. So the duo of Chick Bill and Little Poodle bascially became the straight guys in the stories.
Dog Bull, sheriff of Wood City (a small town in Arizona), has a whole string of bad character habits: he's domineering, greedy, occassionally jealous, often a bully, always has a temper and is not above manipulating others to further his own glory. The one thing that keeps him from being an actual villain is a sentence in the short character descriptions at the begin of most of the stories: Chick Bill has "brave and honest", Little Poodle "alert and cunning", Kid Ordinn has "incredibly gluttonous", but Dog Bull has a simple, but short line that sums up the character perfectly: "ignorant rather than evil". These bad traits are toned down considerably when the story is more serious by the way.
Kid Ordinn is a perfect counterpart to him: infantile, lazy, not very clever and as said, very gluttonous. Also completely loyal to the sheriff who is the closest thing to a father he has (and in turn Dog Bull from time to time shows that he cares deeply for Kid, who he is like a son to him). There are several stories that hint at hidden depths though, probably the best among them is Montana Kid (no relation to the Charlton Comic of the same name), though at least that time there was an obvious cause for his very different behaviour: brain damage.
The rest of the recurring characters are the people of Wood City, where most stories are set. There is a short period where the main cast moves to a small town in Montana though (Dog Bull asks for a transfer when Wood City is hit by an extreme heatwave). These issues are probably my favourite in the whole series; Dog Bull is less a charicature and Chick Bill has a bit more to do in the actual plot.
Around issue 55 or so, Tibet returns as a writer (perhaps something to do with Greg's health at that time, but I'm not sure). I don't think these final stories are very good (a few try to tackle some serious subjects like racism and it's not really working).