Charles-Henri Dewisme, creator of adventurer Bob Morane, died Sunday at the age of 102, his editor announced.
He had signed more than 200 spy, science fiction or adventure novels under the names of Cal W. Bogar, Gaston Bogart, Pat Richmond, Ray Stevens or Jacques Seyr but his greatest success, he signed under the name which has remained to him: Henri Vernes.
He could not imagine this success, even in his wildest dreams, when, on December 16, 1953, the Marabout Junior collection published, in 8000 copies,
La Vallée infernale
, a story set in New Caledonia.
The teenagers discover an engineer, a former pilot of the RAF, whose name he found by remembering the one given to a Maasai warrior when he kills his first lion: Morane.
The first name, Bob, came to him spontaneously.
Because it sounds good.
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Dreaming then of writing great novels under his true identity, Charles-Henri Dewisme, he decides to sign it, under the pseudonym of Henri Vernès. The grave accent not appearing in capitals, it becomes Henri Vernes. In his mind, this order, written in one go in four weeks, will not follow. He was so convinced that on the eve of the outing, he boarded a liner, heading for Colombia. In a few nights, he wrote
La Galère engloutie,
and began a literary marathon that would continue for more than half a century, at the rate of one volume every two months.
In Bogota, he receives a telegram from his publisher telling him that a third edition has been sold out in a few days and that he is impatiently awaiting a second episode. In a few nights, he wrote
La galère engloutie
, and began a literary marathon that would continue for more than half a century, at the rate of one volume every two months. Little by little, he develops a universe that evolves over the decades. His number one enemy, Mr. Ming, has a lot to do with it. This Mongolian, nicknamed "The Yellow Shadow", invented a duplicator allowing him to reproduce ad infinitum. It will lead Bob Morane and Bill Ballantine into space time and make the author a pioneer of European science fiction.
His books are translated into several languages.
They were so successful in Canada that a signing in Montreal turned into a riot.
The organizers must call the police to prevent the perpetrator from being suffocated by the crowd.
Considered a star, he is housed in the suite of a palace where Liz Taylor and Richard Burton spent their wedding night.
His life is also an adventure. At 17, Charles-Henri Dewisme left Tournai, where he was born, to follow Mrs. Lou, a Chinese girl ten years his senior, with whom he fell in love. Provided with papers in which he falsified his date of birth in order to make it appear that he is of legal age, he boarded a boat in Marseille, heading for Canton. Arrived at his destination, he finds himself on a junk transformed into a brothel, run by the Chinese mafia to which his companion belongs. He eventually returned to Belgium, where, in 1940, he joined the Resistance. At the heart of a network called Marc, he spent four years collecting information sent to London, and providing false identity cards to Belgians and French people wanted by the Gestapo.
To read also:
Bob Morane's father celebrates his 100th birthday, happy birthday Henri Vernes!
After the Liberation, he moved to Antwerp where he worked for a few months as a diamond dealer.
This activity does not fascinate him, he decides to try his luck in journalism.
He was hired by an American agency as a correspondent in Paris, with the mission of sending information to Lille and its surroundings every morning.
Thus at dawn, he buys dailies, strips them and writes “briefs” which he claims to be exclusive.
The means of communication of the end of the 1940s not allowing to discover the deception, nobody will make him the slightest reproach.
From Haiti to Venezuela
He then rents a room in a hotel near Place Saint-Michel, where he also works for French and Belgian magazines, under different pseudonyms, including Duchess Holiday. For the Brussels daily
La last hour
, he writes "Rendez-vous au Pélican vert", a soap opera acclaimed by readers. Between two pages, he spends his nights in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, dances at Tabou with Juliette Gréco, still unknown, and meets Blaise Cendrars, Fernand Léger, and Isidore Isou at Consuelo, the widow of Saint-Exupéry, of whom he will be a close friend.
In the years 1950-1960, he spent several months a year between Haiti, where he was initiated into the voodoo cult, and South America. In Venezuela, he meets an escapee from the prison in Guyana, who has become a barman. His name is Henri Charrière and will tell his story in a bestseller,
. From time to time, he returns to Brussels where, one morning, he hears on the radio,
a song he did not know existed. Indochine pays tribute to Bob Morane in verses that will become the group's first success.
Two years ago, some close friends came to help him blow out the 100 candles on his birthday cake.
Henri Vernes still had plans, including new adventures for Bob Morane.
He had tried, on several occasions, to entrust his character to other authors, but the result never seemed satisfactory to him.
And to those who wanted to hear it, he explained that Bob Morane will disappear with him.
October 16, 1918:
October 16, 1918:
birth in Tournai
first trip to the end of the world
joins a Resistance network in Brussels
settles in Paris where he becomes a journalist
December 16, 1953:
December 16, 1953:
publication of Bob Morane's first adventure
Bob Morane becomes a television soap opera
October 16, 2018:
October 16, 2018:
celebrates its 100th anniversary