Jean Graton (born 10 August 1923) is a comic book author and cartoonist of French nationality. Graton created the famous character Michel Vaillant and the eponymous series in 1957.
Jean Graton was born in Nantes, France, in 1923. He moved to Brussels in 1947 and worked there in animation and advertising companies. He was hired by Spirou magazine in 1952, for which he illustrated Belles Histoires de l'Oncle Paul. Determined to create and draw his own characters, he got a job for Tintin magazine. From 1953, he published his own stories in Tintin. Some consisting of a few strips, and most related to sports and automobiles, were published in 1957 by Le Lombard in an album entitled Ca c'est du sport!.
In 1957, Jean Graton created the character Michel Vaillant. Some short comics were published in Tintin and acquired huge popularity. As soon as 1959, a full album was published by Le Lombard. In 1966, Graton created the Les Labourdet series with his wife, Francine, and published it between 1967 and 1970 in the Chez Nous magazine. In 1972, he created Julie Wood, a character who starred first in her own series, then in the Michel Vaillant series. In 1982, Graton started, with his son Philippe Graton, his own publishing house, Graton Editeur. He launched, with Phillippe Graton, the Dossiers Michel Vaillant series in 1995, each album of which being dedicated to a famous driver. In 2000, they created the Palmarès Inedit series, made up of comics that were drawn by Graton in the 1950s and 1960s, including the Labourdet series, as well as comics that had not been published before.
In 2004, Jean Graton, at the age of 80, decided to retire and to stop drawing. His works are continued by Philippe Graton and the Studio Graton, which he created himself.
The huge popularity of Jean Graton's series is partly due to their extreme realism. Graton's works, particularly the Michel Vaillant series, are notable for featuring real-life people, drivers, teams, races, and places. Jean Graton is widely recognized as a great automobile and motorsport drawer. The several descriptions of places, circuits, and cars he gave in his series are highly well-documented, specific, and realistic. Graton used to take a lot of notes, illustrations, and photographs of the various automobile-related places he attended as an automobile-passionate. He was later assisted with this work by his son Philippe, who has a passion for photography.
Relation with motorsports
Jean Graton's passion for motorsport goes back to his childhood. Later in his life, he attended numerous Formula One and other motorsport races, and was acknowledged by famous drivers. His series inspired some drivers to choose such a career.
- In 1986, at the Morzine Avoriaz BD Festival, he received the "Le sport: Une oeuvre, un Auteur" (Sport: A work, an author) award.
- In 1989, at the Belgian Bande Dessinée Festival at Han sur Lesse, he was rewarded by the president of the festival and the Belgian minister, Amand Dalem, a "prix spécial d'exception pour l'ensemble de son oeuvre" (special prize for his whole work).
- In 2004, at the 19th Automobile Festival, he was given the "Grand Prix de l'Art" award.
- In 2005, he was named "Chevalier de l'Ordre de Léopold" by Belgium.