After a dispute between the daughter of designer Franquin, Isabelle Franquin, and the publisher Dupuis, a private arbitrator chosen by both parties has decided: the comic adventures of the most blundering of comic book heroes can continue. But the legal soap opera may not be over.

A new album, designed and scripted by Quebecer Delaf, should be released shortly, Dupuis announced on Wednesday. Its publication, scheduled for 2022, had been suspended. The new release date is yet to be determined.

“We regret the misunderstandings and misunderstandings that may have led to this dispute,” said Julie Durot, general manager of the publishing house, in a press release. “Dupuis has indeed always had the greatest consideration for Franquin’s work and moral rights, as for that of all authors. The arbitration decision confirms our respect for the contract signed by André Franquin. »

“I hope that by closing the album, readers will feel all the love and respect I have for Gaston and his incomparable creator André Franquin,” said Delaf, co-creator of the series Les Nombrils.

He declined our interview requests.

However, all may not be over in this conflict, if we rely on the comments of the lawyers of Isabelle Franquin, the sole beneficiary of the creator of Lagaffe.

The latter published this comment Tuesday evening, when announcing the decision: “The principle of a resurrection of Gaston is legal, but Dupuis and Dargaud-Lombard did not respect the contractual process of approval and Isabelle Franquin always have the right to submit their observations. »

According to the arbitration process, which cannot be challenged on appeal, the resurrection of Gaston can be done “provided that Isabelle Franquin’s prior approval is sought in the forms provided for in a contract concluded between the parties in 2016”.

“Gaston’s project by Delaf was not approved by Isabelle Franquin” and “the moral right” exercised by the latter “spring intact”, stipulated the arbitrator. “His agreement is essential for any new creation, including the choice of the author”, can we read in the press release of the decision, which specifies that “any refusal on his part must be justified on ethical grounds or artistic”.

On Wednesday, Isabelle Franquin’s lawyers added a layer, explaining that Dupuis had not respected the obligation to present the project sufficiently in advance to Ms. Franquin before the publication of the new album, announced in March 2022.

According to the Belgian press agency BELGA, Me Katz and Me Berwette believe that Dupuis did not respect the conditions provided for in the contract concerning the Delaf project. “Isabelle Franquin only received boards in December 2021. Some had notes, others were sketched, they explained. Perhaps the Dupuis house forgot that it had not sent a final project. »

Obviously, the interpretations of the two camps diverge as to the reading of the arbitration around the publication of this new album.