The resurrection of Gaston Lagaffe “betrays the will of an author”

Illegal, in the words of lawyer Me Claude Katz, this new comic strip would contravene Franquin’s wish that Gaston not survive him. Referring to the courtroom judge of the French-speaking court of first instance in Brussels, Isabelle Franquin decided to block this editorial project. A pleadings hearing is looming in mid-May. In the meantime, she answers our questions.

ActuaLitté: You, at the time, expressed your reservations about the adaptation of Gaston Lagaffe to the cinema. What does this new comic represent for you?

Isabel Franquin: During interviews, my father had stated on many occasions that he did not want his character to outlive him. Members of his family knew this implicitly, unable to recall exactly at what time(s) he had raised the issue; furthermore, his grandchildren (who were 9 and 11 years old when he died) were as spontaneously indignant as I was at the announcement of this resurrection. That is, if he goes against the will of the artist, the creator of Gastón.

It is the betrayal of the will of an author.

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Going back to the film adaptation, legally, I could only comment on the finished film.
The script was sent to me at various stages of its conception and I corrected what needed to be corrected, that is, substantive issues, things that Gaston would or would not do. Moral rights must be as objective as possible and whoever exercises them cannot oppose a film because the staging is invalid, because that would essentially be a personal judgment.

What was your father’s position regarding his favorite character? What elements allow you to justify these statements?

Isabel Franquin: As I said before, there are many statements made by my father to the press, he even commented on it with some of his friends. It’s clear that he didn’t want his character to be taken.

Do you consider that Dupuis’s decision to continue the series is purely capitalist?

Isabel Franquin: I don’t know what Dupuis’s intentions are. For about 5 years I have had a relationship with them reduced to the bare minimum: approvals of merchandising products as well as comments and notes on newspaper articles and Integrales texts. Therefore, I would be quite unable to describe/decipher Dupuis’s intentions. I am not in the habit of making statements of intent.

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Also, I had never heard of his resurrection plan until that meeting in early December of last year when it was announced to me.

The structure also evokes a contract that allows you to continue the adventures of the Unemployed Hero: what do you know about this document?

Isabel Franquin: In fact, there is a contract that regulates the terms of use and exploitation of the characters. The terms are specific, but presumably these terms could be interpreted in such and such a way… You really have to be a copyright specialist to understand these nuances. Since I’m not an expert, I can’t say more about it.

You’ve decided to rely on your moral rights to prevent this takeover: how does it work, legally?

Isabelle Franquin : Moral rights are attached to copyright through the intellectual property code. Like the latter, it also benefits from a prerogative that allows an author to oppose any form of approach that undermines the authenticity of his work. This Right, therefore, is related to the integrity of the work and allows the artist to oppose any alteration, distortion or mutilation of the work that harms his honor or his reputation. Moral rights are intended to protect what is most precious to the author or the right to respect for the work.

Not being a lawyer, I cannot explain to you how it “works” legally speaking. From what I understand, it seems to me that this very particular Law allows the integrity of the work and its author to be protected.

How are Gaston Lagaffe sales going?

Isabel Franquin: Only a MediaParticipation sales representative could provide you with this information.

Photo credits: ActuaLitté, CC BY SA 2.0

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