Du Tac au Tac: Druillet, Hogarth and Buscema


I thought I was done with Druillet for this week but no, there’s more. I hadn’t come across Du Tac au Tac before, a French TV show from the early 70s in which three (sometimes four) different comic artists are given a total of 15 minutes to improvise a drawing on a single board. The list of contributors is a who’s who of comic talent from France, Belgium, America and elsewhere. French TV site Ina.fr (which is pay-to-view) has 130 episodes in their archive, many of which have found their way onto YouTube. Druillet was a regular contributor, as was Moebius.

I’ve singled out this episode from 1972 for the astonishing conjunction of Druillet with Burne Hogarth, two artists with a considerable influence on my own comics work. Without the example of Heavy Metal magazine in general, and Druillet in particular, I might not have bothered trying to adapt Lovecraft’s stories into comics in the 1980s; at one point I was prepared to put together a book of stories-plus-illustrations along the lines of Berni Wrightson’s Frankenstein. Burne Hogarth, meanwhile, casts a Tarzan-shaped shadow over the darker shadows of the Reverbstorm series, his work being quoted throughout, especially in the appropriation of the bizarre and sinister Ononoes from the Tarzan Sunday strips. The third artist present, John Buscema, is notable if only for representing the comics creation that I like the least: the over-muscled, flat-groined, stupidly-costumed, always-fighting, corporate superhero. As it is, Buscema doesn’t fare too well in this exchange, sketching a half-hearted Silver Surfer while Hogarth (who was left-handed; don’t think I knew that) draws a profile of Tarzan in pastels, and Druillet works furiously with markers to create a typical melange of bat-winged demon, alien glyph and screaming head. I’ve not watched any of the other episodes yet but for those interested there are two channels of the things here and here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Sorcerer: Druillet and Friedkin
Ô Sidarta: a film about Philippe Druillet
Lovecraft: Démons et Merveilles
Heavy Metal, October 1979: the Lovecraft special
Philippe Druillet album covers
Druillet’s vampires
Salammbô illustrated
Druillet meets Hodgson

6 thoughts on “Du Tac au Tac: Druillet, Hogarth and Buscema”

  1. I’m not sure Buscema was really that into those superheroes. I have the “John Buscema Sketchbook” and it’s over 100 pages and there are maybe a half dozen pages of superhero work, tops; those do include the Silver Surfer whom he drew here, because one thing he was proud of was taking the iconically Kirby-esque Silver Surfer and managing to give it his own unique style. (Perhaps his style has been imitated so much that it no longer seems very unique….)

    In the text of the sketchbook (an interview) Buscema seems much more enthusiastic about his non-superhero work — especially Conan the Barbarian — than his superhero work.

  2. Yeah, I was just using Buscema as the visible representative of the Marvel school. I had a friend at school who was a Marvel obsessive so I did get to see a lot of those comics but with the exception of Jack Kirby I wouldn’t have been able to tell you who did what. The only artists that made an impression were the mavericks like Jim Steranko–who’s in one of the earlier TV episodes–and Barry Windsor-Smith.

  3. Gilliam would have been able to join in on one of these sessions, drawing a Gumby or a farting hamster or something.

  4. Interesting video. Thanks for pointing that out. Had no idea it existed. I don’t speak French,but I didn’t really get a “Battle of the Bands” vibe from watching this.
    Having had the great pleasure of studying with John Buscema in ’76,I can tell you that John was a extraordinary artist. I remember him telling a story about how,when he became bored,he would draw all the figures from the toes up just to keep himself engaged! All the while demonstrating this to a class of eager wanna-be artists.
    He was quite a remarkable artist,who doesn’t get his due. One day he shall.

  5. Hi John. There’s so little info about this series that it’s hard to say what the exact premise is but it doesn’t seem to be a contest as such, more a display of different talents in more-or-less real time. It’s notable that in this particular episode all artists are doing the things for which they’re best known.

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