Michel Vaillant’s LeMans Competition

I recently came across this wonderful Racing Driver meets Scooby Doo edition of the Michel Vaillant series of comic books, “17 Het Spook Van De 24 Uur”. Originally published in French in Belgium – first printed as an unrelated side-story in the Tintin comics, this story follows dashing racing driver and industrialist Michel Vaillant as he competes in the 24 Hours of LeMans. The Scooby bit is the haunting of the track by a mysterious specter. I’d love to tell you more about the story, but inability to read the Dutch language version I located leaves me wanting.

Like our last look into the world of racing comics, there are some beautifully rendered racing machines, this time rooted in the real world. Take a peek.

Looks like a Porsche 910 to me.
The rest of the field

Ferrari P3Part of the allure of the Michel Vaillant series is exactly this realism. Vaillant has competed in, and won natch, in the 24 Hours and Indianapolis 500, and competed on the track at Monza, Spa, and others. This notion of a comic hero that lives in a reality rooted in the real world isn’t necessarily new. The Marvel (New York) vs. DC (Metropolis/Gotham) approaches have been an interesting study in the immediacy of comic books and their real world environments.

In the world of racing, though, Michel Vaillant is unique in this. Many a real-world racing driver has claimed that an early interest in the Vaillant stories was the root of their passion for the sport. It’s easy to see why. The stories, and again I’m just going by the imagery here, are more realistic than the cloak & dagger and romance of the stateside Grand Prix series of comics. The realism must have been the allure for many a young racing fan and would-be driver. It isn’t always pure fantasy and melodrama that pulls people in. Now if I could only find an english language version of these, I’d really be in business.

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