The classic graphic novels of French Belgium, which are the primary focus of this article, seem to be deeply beholden to stereotyping. Their characters are less “characters” in the psychological sense than puppets or narrative vectors that, first and foremost, convey a moral. Therefore the stereotype of the “hero” in these graphic novels involves a stereotypical morality: the hero is a man (or, less frequently, a woman) who is good and has the highest ethical standards, unless there is a reversal and the main character is a villain who has negative values. Yet these tendencies have also been subverted and inflected: for example, Spirou does not hesitate to punch even the customs officials, while Gaston engages in merciless guerrilla warfare against Agent Longtarin. In this article, we would like to emphasize both the narrative functioning of stereotypes in graphic novels and their plasticity: they can undergo deformations that enable them to become more than stereotypes.
- graphic novel