They say a picture is worth a thousand words and comics are just that. They can be a great way for children to get their imagination spinning. They can make the learning process fun and kids can also learn a new language at the same time. French comics have a rich history in popular culture and have made quite an impression around the world.
This list will help you look no further and get your kids on board to learn French.
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Created by writer René Goscinny and illustrator Albert Uderzo, the album series made its debut in 1959 in the French comic Pilote. It follows the story of the beloved characters, Asterix and Obelix in the year 50 BC., during the Roman occupation of Gaul (France).
You see them defending their village against the persistent Romans, with the help of a magic potion, brewed by their druid Getafix. It gives them super human strength to fight the invaders.
The albums have beautiful illustrations, complimenting the adventures of Asterix, Obelix and the dog Dogmatix, as they travel across Europe and Asia. There is French humour, wild boar, and Roman punching, as our heroes save their village countless times. You also get to meet famous historical characters too.
The series has been a huge part of the French popular culture and there have been live action and animated films based on them as well.
2) The Smurfs
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The Smurfs are a creation of the Belgian artist Peyo (Pierre Culliford). In French known as “Les Schtroumpfs,” the famous little blue gnomes made their debut in 1958 as side characters in the fantasy comic, “The Flute with Six Holes.” The name “Sctroumpfs” came to be on a dinner table when Culliford forgot to remember the term for salt, and asked his friend to pass the “Sctroumpfs.”
The stories are not short of adventure and includes enchanted forests, mushroom houses, complete with an evil wizard Gargamel.
Fun fact, the names of the Smurfs are based on French adjectives, which showcase their personalities. It is a great way for kids to learn French and get lost in the enchanted world of the Smurfs.
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Babar the Elephant can be considered as one of the most beloved characters for children since 1931. Initially it was created by Jean de Brunhoff and his wife Cécile de Brunhoff, as part of a bedtime story for their children, until their children loved the tales and it became its own series.
It follows the journey of Babar as he comes to a city, similar to Paris, after his family is hunted down in the jungle by a hunter. A nice old lady takes him under her wing and gives him clothes and a tutor. With the knowledge, he goes back to the jungle and finally becomes the King of the Elephants.
It’s a touching series of stories with vivid illustrations and a great platform for children to learn French.
4) Lucky Luke
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The lone cowboy of the Wild West, Lucky Luke is known for drawing his gun faster than his shadow. His gun skills and easy going nature has attracted notorious gangsters and bandits along the way. The Dalton brothers are some of the foes who have repeatedly crossed paths with Lucky Luke.
His horse Jolly Jumper and his dog Rantanplan accompany him across the desert plains of America.
Lucky Luke was created by Belgian cartoonist Maurice de Bevere (Morris) as part of an issue for Spirou in 1946 and in the later years he even collaborated with René Goscinny (known for Asterix).
The theme of good vs. evil plays throughout the many adventures and the stories are filled with twists and turns, along with coming across many historical figures as well.
5) The Adventures of Tintin
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The Belgian reporter Tintin and his trusted dog Snowy are one of the most iconic characters in France, and around the world. Known for his curiosity and excellent detective skills, Tintin manages to put the most notorious bad guys behind bars.
His adventures have taken him across different countries, even tackling subjects like UFOs and the famous Yeti (abominable snowman/Big Foot).
Tintin was created by Belgian cartoonist Hergé in 1929 for a comic strip, “Le Petit Vingtième.” The comic books are known for their great attention to detail in terms of the illustrations stories.
With a good heart, strength, and the thirst to solve cases, Tintin has managed to make a name for himself in more than 70 languages, to make the books more accessible as a result.
The work of Hergé is so popular, that it even caught the eye of Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, who made the animated film, The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn in 2011.
6) Lou !
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The creative mind behind Lou is French artist Julien Neel and it came to be in 2004. The stories are geared towards a tween audience and has had its own animated show and a film.
Lou, a 12 year old girl, lives with her single mom Emma. She has a crush on her neighbour and her friend’s name is Mina. There is also a cat who has no name, and a grandmother who is known for being grumpy.
What started as a gag series, it became more focused in regards to continuity, starting volume two.
The 2014 animated adaptation is based on the first volume, while also including characters from later volumes. Lou has foundations based on romantic comedy and drama.
7) The Adventures of Jo, Zette and Jocko
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Jo, Zette, and Jocko was another one of Hergé’s (Tintin) creation. It has the same art style as that of Tintin and the attention to detail. The comics revolve around the adventures of Jo Legrand, his sister Zette, and their pet monkey Jocko. Jazques, their father is an engineer and their mother is a housewife.
Although the comics were abandoned by Hergé in 1958 and it didn’t make a huge impact like Tintin, they are still a good read as you follow the young protagonists on their short lived adventures.
About the author
Rohan Khanna is a writer/content creator, who also happens to be a Potterhead. He has a penchant for art, history, and culture and is also a part time artist. Figuring out life one step at a time, he manages to adhere to health and fitness, while going through the trials and tribulations.