Tire la chevillette: Jean Ache’s Little Red Riding Hood Variations

« … Out behind a tree
there jumped a great big hungry wolf
‘Pardon me’, he said, real cool

‘Why make the scene alone?
A crazy chick like you should have
a handsome chaperone’ » — Ridin’ Hood (The Coasters, 1962)

It could be quite convincingly claimed that Jean Ache (1923-1985,  Jean-Baptiste Huet in Le Havre, France) was the most versatile, chameleonic artist of his generation. Not only was he able to accurately adopt any style he chose, “high” or “low”, but he also wielded a panoply of styles of his own devising. To support my claim, take a peek at noted historian Henri Filippini‘s comprehensive survey of Ache’s career (in French), which includes a generous gallery of his multifaceted art. [ Part One ] and [ Part Two ]

From 1971 to 1973, near the end of René Goscinny‘s enlightened regime (his Astérix compère Albert Uderzo ably serving as art director), French bédé periodical Pilote featured a high-calibre series of “high art” pastiches. It was entitled Le Musée Pilote.

The pages of 1973’s Pilote Annuel revealed an Ache tour de force, wherein he retold the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood in comics format *and* in the style of a number (seven, to be exact… but not *the* Group of Seven) of famous painters. The set bore the following cheeky introduction: « Within the scope of the Musée Pilote, we came to realise that numerous artists had never tried their hand at comics. Thanks to our friend Jean Ache, it is now a done deal, and we are pleased to present the tryout pages crafted by these illustrious beginners. It is for you to decide whether these attempts are conclusive, and if these young people’s efforts should be encouraged. »

Here we go!

AcheRousseauA
After Henri Rousseau (French, 1944-1910). Incidentally, « Tire la chevillette, la bobinette cherra » means « Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up. »
AcheLégerA
After Fernand Léger (French, 1881-1955).
AcheBuffetA
After Bernard Buffet (French, 1928-1999).
AchePicassoA
After Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973).
AcheDeChiricoA
After Giorgio de Chirico (Italian, 1888-1978).
AcheMiróA
After Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983). My first encounter with Miró came through this item; if I’d been hipper, it might have been this instead… but I was only six years old at the time.
AcheMondrianA
After Piet Mondrian (Dutch, 1872-1944).
PiloteAnnuelA
And here’s the cover. This is Pilote Annuel 74 (no. 731 bis, Nov. 1973). It comprised, in roughly equal measure, a selection of the past year’s best work and new material.

My initial brush with Ache came in the early 1970s and his short-lived Pastec (1968-70, 9 issues, plus one album). I only ever got my hands the album (« L’Agent secret chante à minuit », 1971), but I never forgot. Like many a childhood fascination, it came out of nowhere, then vanished.

AchePastecA
A sample from Pastec no. 4 (January 1969, Société française de presse illustrée). The birdie is Psitti, Pastec’s loyal Ara; the Llama is Camélo; and Pastec himself is the displeased fellow with the green hat in the middle tier.

I honestly hadn’t planned to write two consecutive posts about nearly-forgotten French artists named Jean, but something else fell through… and here we are. Sorry!

-RG

3 thoughts on “Tire la chevillette: Jean Ache’s Little Red Riding Hood Variations

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