Redbeard (comics)


Redbeard (French: Barbe-Rouge) is a series of Belgian comic books, originally published in French, created by writer Jean-Michel Charlier and artist Victor Hubinon in 1959.[1] After their deaths the series was continued by other artists, including Jijé (Joseph Gillain), Christian Gaty, Patrice Pellerin, Jean Ollivier, Christian Perrissin and Marc Bourgne.


The series was very popular in France, Belgium and The Netherlands, but has not yet been published in English. In late seventies and early eighties, most of the classic episodes were also published in Yugoslavia (in the Serbian language) under the name Demon s Kariba (Demon of the Caribbean). In Croatia, the series was first published under the name Crvenobradi but later under the name Riđobradi (in the Croatian language). In Germany, the series is known under the name: Der rote Korsar, and in Denmark 5 albums have been published under the name Rødskæg. In the seventies two episodes were published in Finland, under the name Punaparta, and in Portugal 5 Barba Ruiva albums have been published.


Asterix parodies on the left, originals at right

Asterix parody

Redbeard is parodized in the Asterix comic series. Since the album Asterix the Gladiator, a group of pirates appear in nearly every story, and their ship sinks at almost every meeting. Originally conceived as a joke, the pirates' appearance was so successful that they were fully integrated in the Astérix series. They were also featured in both the 1968 animation film Asterix and Cleopatra and the 2002 live-action film Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, as well in three other animations: Asterix in Britain, Asterix Conquers America and Asterix and the Vikings.

The parody has its origins in the fact that Jean-Michel Charlier had worked with the authors of Asterix, René Goscinny & Albert Uderzo, in the founding of the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Pilote in 1959. This magazine was the launching vehicle for both Asterix and Redbeard.

Although in several countries of Continental Europe, Redbeard is a popular comic series in its own right, the popularity of Asterix's pirates is one of the few occasions when parody figures have overshadowed their originals.

Historical background

Redbeard's adventures mainly take place in the period between 1715 and 1750. The character of Redbeard was based on various historical pirates, like the Frenchman Robert Surcouf (1773–1827), as Charlier & Hubinson created three comics about him between 1949–1952, and these stories would later be the basis of this series. Also used are stories about the Turkish admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa (1483–1546), whose Italian name Barbarossa means "Red Beard". Parts of his cruel appearance might be based on the notorious Blackbeard, active in the Caribbean Sea, and his fame and successes in the series resembles that of Bartholomew Roberts, who successfully conquered over 450 ships.

A lot of what is going on in the stories is based on real history:

However, starting from the 31st album, The War Of The Pirates (1997), historical errors start to appear. Writer Jean Ollivier brings Henry Morgan to the series as a living character, becoming the new governor of Jamaica. But the real Morgan died in 1688, and Redbeard's first adventure (album #1) takes place in 1715 in fact, in album 7, The Ghost Ship (1966), Morgan is mentioned as being dead). In later albums by writer Christian Perrissin and artist Marc Bourgne, the character of Redbeard himself also changes dramatically. He gets more greedy, his love for Eric seems to be fading away, he seems to have no honour anymore, and he gets romantically involved with a girl but eventually he shoots her in the arm (which must then be amputated). None of these character features can be found in any of the previous albums.

Mentioned or visited are the French overseas territories in the New World, including Fort-de-France, Île de la Tortue, New Orleans, Saint Croix, Port-au-Prince, Bourbon, Pondichéry, and Fort Dauphin. The same is true of their Spanish counterparts, such as Cartagena, Veracruz, Mérida, Puerto Bello, Panama, and Cuzco, and the British territories Barbuda, Barbados, Grand Cayman, Kingston, Jaffna, and Saint-Augustin.


  • 1: The Broken Compass (1959)
  • 2: The Horror Of The Seven Seas (1960)
  • 3: The Young Captain (1979) * .
  • 4: The Captain Without A Name (1961)
  • 5: The Brand Of The King (1961)
  • 6: Mutiny On The Ocean (1965)
  • 7: The Ghost Ship (1966)
  • 8: Dead Man's Island (1967)
  • 9: The Spanish Ambush (1968)
  • 10: The Downfall Of The Black Falcon (1969)
  • 11: The Reckoning (1970)
  • 12: The Treasure Of Redbeard (1971)
  • 13: The Letter Of Marque And Reprisal (1971)
  • 14: The Liberation Of Fort-de-France (1972)
  • 15: The Invisible Pirate (1972)
  • 16: Fight With The Moors (1973)
  • 17: The Prisoner (1973)
  • 18: The Ship From Hell (1974)
  • 19: Hellfire (1979)
  • 20: Island Of The Missing Ships (1980)
  • 21: The Missing Of The Black Falcon (1982)
  • 22: The Cursed Gold Of Huacapac (1987)
  • 23: The City Of Death (1987)
  • 24: Con With Slaves (1983)
  • 25: Uprise In Jamaica (1987)
  • 26: Pirates in Indian Waters (1991)
  • 27: The Grand-Mongol (1992)
  • 28: The Pirate Of The Merciless (1994)
  • 29: Fight Over Tortuga (1995)
  • 30: Gold And Glory (1996)
  • 31: The War Of The Pirates (1997)
  • 32: The Shadow Of The Devil (1999)
  • 33: The Path Of The Inca (2000)
  • 34: The Secret Of Elisa Davis - part 1 (2001)
  • 35: The Secret Of Elisa Davis - part 2 (2004)

* ^ Previously unpublished chapter, also contains two short prequel stories:
*The Gold Of The San Christobal
*The Cobra

End of the series?

After Victor Hubinon died unexpectedly in 1979, Jijé (Joseph Gillain) took over. But when he also died, the series was almost ended, as Jean-Michel Charlier believed nobody could take over. However, he finally managed to find not one, but two artists: Christian Gaty and Patrice Pellerin. As Charlier wrote in the book "Uprise In Jamaica" (1987): "Why not have two different artists? If James Bond can be played by different actors, so can Redbeard". Charlier himself died in 1989. The series was then continued by Jean Ollivier and Gaty in 1991, with the addition: "The new adventures", but in 1999, the title was changed back to just 'Redbeard'.

In 2006 the publisher Dargaud announced the end of the series, as it would not be appealing anymore to youngsters, who were the original target audience. Artist Marc Bourgne thinks there will be a comeback of the series somewhere in the future.


Since 1996 there is also a spin-off series, called The Young Years of Redbeard, created by different authors than the main series: the scenario is by Christian Perrissin and the artist is Daniel Redondo.

These stories deal with Redbeard's youth before he was a pirate and how he decided to become one. His name is given as Jean-Baptiste Cornic, a servant of the French king. Also explained is how he lost his eye.

Barbe-Rouge DVD cover.


In 1997 the animated series Barbe-Rouge was made by the French TF1 and Italian RAI. This series consists of twenty-six 24-minute episodes. It has also been broadcast in England and Canada (as "Captain Red Beard"), Norway (as "Kaptein Rødskjegg"), Italy (as "Barbarossa"), and Greece (as "Κοκκινογένης Πειρατής"). The episodes were written by Jean Cubaud, with animation by Pasquale Moreau and Thibault Deschamps of PRH Création Images.[2] In 2005, a DVD with five episodes of the animated Redbeard series was released in France (Barbe-Rouge).


External links

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