Cover detail from Spirou and Fantasio v14 The Clockmaker and the Comet, by Tome and Janry
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Spirou and Fantasio v14: “The Clockmaker and the Comet”

Imagine if Tome and Janry wanted to do a Valerian story, but with the Spirou characters, instead.

That’s what this book is. And it’s pretty cool.

Time Traveling Credits

Cover to Spirou and Fantasio v14 The Clockmaker and the Comet, by Tome and Janry
Original Title: “L’horloger de la cométe”
Writer: Tome
Artist: Janry
Translator: Jerome Saincantin
Letterers: Design Amorandi
Published by: Cinebook/Dupuis
Number of Pages: 48
Original Publication: 1986

What’s Going On?

(Warning for the extremely spoiler averse: I’m going to discuss more of this book than I usually would. There is a twist about halfway through the book that I can’t talk around without making this review very very short.)

Champignac leaves Fantasio and Spirou to castle sit for him while he heads off for some family stuff.

Champignac explains science to Spirou and Fantasio

Then, Champignac returns to the castle earlier than expected in a futuristic flying machine all the way from the 21st century. (Can you imagine? A flying machine from the far-flung future of the 21st century?)

Turns out, it’s not the Champignac they were expecting. This one is a descendant and he’s come back in time (having invented time travel) to gather up some seeds to help replenish the ever-less-green earth of the future.

Where does he want to get those seeds from? Why, Palombia, of course!

Nope, we don’t get a Marsupilami in this story, sadly, but the boys do pack up everything to head out there with him.

Unfortunately, they’re not warmly greeted by either the military or the local tribes. And then they get caught by the Spanish — from 500 years ago!

It’s a race to get back to the present time and not get killed by some Conquistadores or piranha along the way.

But Is It Good?

Yes, it’s a fun frolic wrapped up in cute science fiction trappings. It’s what you’d expect and what you’d want from these characters — some comedy, some action bits, some adventurous moments, and some goofy-looking supporting characters.

The story takes a few unexpected turns along the way, which lead into new sections of the overall story. It makes explaining the story as a singular throughline kind of difficult. It feels like this book has two or three sections of the story. Just when you think you’re getting into the flow of it, it takes another major turn and turns into another story.

The biggest threat in the story is time travel, but that’s only intensified by the immediate threat of the Conquistadores. They don’t even show up until the second half of the book. There’s also the threat of the local natives — both humans and fish.

Tome and January make characters with great shapes

Tome and Janry were really good at that last part. This book includes some military characters with extremely long heads and wide bodies. The natives in Palombia, of course, are a gangly lot. They are skinny with a slight belly, and prone to wild gesticulations. It’s always fun to see cartoonists at work who can make characters move on the page like this. Nobody’s stiff and straight in this book at all. They’re all coiled up and ready to spring into action.

They may not look “natural” or “realistic,” but let’s not forget that this is a comic book. I want something pushed a bit more. I want to see interesting things. Give me those exaggerations every day.

The Spanish conquistadors are a well-costumed lot with the goofy striped sleeves and the high collared vests. Their leader is clad in golden armor while his foot soldiers have the more standard silver-collared protection, including the tall and slightly pointy helmets. They look great and you recognize who they are in the instant you see them.

The sci-fi cityscape of the future in Spirou and Fantasio

There’s only one scene set in the future, and that’s the opening two pages. It’s the prelude to Champignac jumping back in time, and it’s well done. Tome and Janet create a world that only needs to be there for two pages, but it feels fully realized. It’s futuristic with some goofy bits and a lot of signage, but that fits right in with the series. I like the personal bubble cars people can rent out like a Citi bike.

The Creatures of Spirou

There are two worth talking about in this book.

Spip gets plenty to do in this book

The first is our friendly squirrel pal, Spip. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, but I have a soft spot for squirrels. They’re adorable, particularly considering that they’re just rats with bushy tails. I can’t explain it.

He’s along for this adventure, of course, and has his small commentaries to offer at different spots in the story. But there’s a whole sequence early in the book during “our” time period where it must be spring, because a young squirrel’s thoughts are turning to those of fancy. He’s buys chasing a cute squirrel girl around the castle’s grounds while trying to dodge a wild cat of some kind

The Snuffeler is a cute little creature

The second creature of this volume is the Snuffeler, an animal that the future Champignac created by fusing a fox terrier and several swine. I was immediately reminded of Valerian and the Grumpy Converter from Bluxte.

The Snuffeler doesn’t have the power to create anything of value, but can identify things with his acute sense of smell, while also eating anything and popping it out the other side of his body instantly in a floating bubble. These are two small and random traits that will, of course, play out as part of the book’s overall story.

Recommended?

Cover to Spirou and Fantasio v14 The Clockmaker and the Comet, by Tome and Janry

If you’re into Spirou and Fantasio, then yes. This fits nicely into the Tome and Janry years of the series, and has a great standalone story that ends on a strong note.

If you’re new to the pair, I’d recommend starting with “Spirou in Berlin,” just to get to know the characters in a one-off context.

Buy It Now

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2 Comments

  1. Yep, this is a great Spirou story! Tome & Janry were on a major roll with their first 5 books.

    Not much to say except… maybe not as standalone a story as you imply at the end. Not sure I should spoil anything tho hahaha

    1. Ah, yes, The Z Rises Again has some call backs, doesn’t it? Haven’t read it yet, but I did a flip through it once and saw it references a couple of the previous Tome and Janry books. I am well prepared for it not! =)