Like so many comic books writers and artists, Edgar P. Jacobs used an abbreviation. He was, in fact, Edgard Felix Pierre Jacobs. He wasn't French, as so often thought but, like the legend with whom he would eventually work, Herge, was in point of fact Belgian.
Born in Brussels on March 30th, 1904 he was one of the founding fathers of European Comics. As I said, he worked with Herge on Tintin but it isn't for those incredible illustrations that he is best remembered but instead for his own creation(s). Blake and Mortimer.
All though Jacobs remembered drawing from an early age it wasn't his first passion. That love was reserved for the dramatic arts and more specifically the opera. He graduated from the commercial school that his parents had sent in 1919 and swore an oath that he would never work in an office and set off to make sure that he never did. I wish I had done the same.
He received from the Belgian government in 1929 an award for his excellent classical singing but even armed with this incredible accolade his fame and fortune did not materialise. For a number of years, he pursued success in his chosen vocation but eventually gave up in 1940 and turned to illustration
In 1941, he joined the magazine Bravo! During his tenure at the magazine, he drew episodes of Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon series as the American pages couldn't reach Belgium due to the censorship imposed by Nazi Germany during the second world war. After only two weeks Jacob's version was also censored and ultimately forbidden.
His brief spell of work on Flash Gordon brought his talent to the notice of Georges Remi (Herge) who befriended him and subsequently asked him to assist on Herge's Tintin adventures. Most notably Tintin in the Congo, Tintin in America, King Ottakar's Sceptre and The Blue Lotus.
In 1943, he also assisted on further Tintin adventures. Then in 1946, as part of a team working on a new magazine project entitled Journal of Tintin he created a strip called The Swordfish Secret which was the first of the legendary Blake and Mortimer stories.
In 1950, Jacobs published The Mystery of the Great Pyramid. It was followed by a host of others and even if the series didn't quite attain the legendary status or universal commercial success of its cousin publication Tintin, it certainly did enough to win its way into the hearts of millions.
In total, there were eight big adventures featuring the exploits of Blake and Mortimer. Each one was written and illustrated with the same painstaking attention to detail which was Jacobs way.
His panel layouts, like all the greats (Eisner, Hergé, Miller and Los Bros Hernandez) were impeccable. He uses the image as much as the caption box and speech balloons to propel the story forward. In each panel, there is information relevant to the tale being told, or the situation being played. There is no spare baggage. no redundant areas; each drawing has a purpose, each image is vibrant and vital.
His writing ability was direct, straightforward and clear much like the pictures he drew.
Jacobs illustrative style and his incredible ability to develop his characters and to weave subtle plots within the main stories has put him up there alongside the all-time greats of comic book creativity.
all words and art are copyright © of C.J. Duffy.