Sunday, January 16, 2022

Today in Comics History, January 16: Happy birthday, André Michelin!

Bouncing into the world on this day in 1853: André Michelin, co-founder of the Michelin Tire Company and the publisher of the original Michelin Guide, which gave stars to restaurants on a scale of 1-5 for snootiness.

Sadly, André Michelin doesn't seem to appear in any comic books that I can tell. Talk about snootiness, comics industry! So I'm going to fulfill my duty for his birthday by instead populating this post with comic book appearances of Bibendum, the famous Michelin Tire Man, who actually is all he's blown up to be! Mind you, early Michelin Man was pretty much total nightmare fuel...but he got cuter.

As a globally-known corporate mascout, Bibi's been a mainstay of MAD Magazine, which enjoys puncturing such high-falutin' characters. Like Steven Segal.

from "Blunder Siege" in MAD #319 (XXX), script by Stan Hart, pencils and inks by Angelo Torres

Can you spot the Michelin Man ringside at the Superman/Ali fight among the alien senators in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones?

from "Who's in the Crowd in the New Star Wars Senate Scene" in MAD #419 (July 2002), script by Dan Levine and Mike Martone, pencils and inks by Angelo Torres
(Click picture to Jabba-size)

Speaking of commercial company mascots: they were among the killer henchcharacters facing off against Judge Dredd in this early installment of weirdness from 2000 AD:

from "The Cursed Earth, Part 18: Soul Food" in 2000 AD prog 78 (IPC, 19 August 1978), script by Chris Lowder (as Jack Adrian), pencils and inks by Brian Bolland, letters by Tom Frame

Surely one of the weirdest appearances of Bibendum in comics was in an Asterix story (please excuse the rotten scan).

from Asterix in Switzerland (Darguad, 1984), script by René Goscinny, translation by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge, pencils and inks by Albert Uderzo

That's an image from the original English version of the album, but the original French edition utilized Antar Man, mascot for the French oil company of the same name. (It was redrawn because it was thought English audiences wouldn't get the joke.)

Curiously enough, more recent English editions of Asterix in Switzerland have returned Antar to the panel, even though the company was closed in 2005. Putting Antar back also dilutes the humo(u)r of the following panel's joke:

Anyway, happy 169th birthday, André Michelin! May your reputation never go flat or be less than five stars.


Dave said...

We are big fans of Bibendum in our house.

Smurfswacker said...

Apparently good ol' Bibendum appeared in one American comic: a four-page 1964 sponsored comic in which Mr B narrates the story of his life. I've never seen a physical copy but there's a scan on a French auto enthusiast blog:

Bully said...

Thanks, Smurfswacker! I'd never seen that before, and let me try to incorporate it into the blog. For service above and beyond the call of duty and tires, you hereby receive the quotable, notable No-Bull Prize!