‘Fiction’ – The French Sci-Fi Mag With A Little Something Different In The 50s

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Fiction N° 1, October 1953

Fiction  N° 1, October 1953

Fiction was a French sci-fi magazine published by popular literature enthusiast Maurice Renault through OPTA publishing. Beginning in 1953, the magazine was initially linked to the American, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. This connection ended in 1958 after Alain Dorémieux took the reins as editor for Fiction. Fiction became one of the longest running French sci-fi magazines of the 20th century – published monthly, a total of 412 issues were released before the end in 1990.

One of the things that stood out in the earlier years of Fiction’s publication were the cover images. Quite often, rather than using original artist illustrations, photo-montages were used instead. The first such cover appeared in issue No. 3, February 1954:

Fiction N° 3, February 1954

Fiction N° 3, February 1954

This made for some interesting cover art throughout the late 50s. After Dorémieux took over as editor the cover art changed to the traditional drawing and paint illustration. And a lot of it wasn’t that great, actually. But for a while, Fiction had something really unique. Below are some of the best photo-montage covers from the 1950s.

Fiction N° 7, June 1954

Fiction N° 7, June 1954

Fiction N° 12, November 1954

Fiction N° 12, November 1954

Fiction N° 19, June1955

Fiction N° 19, June1955

Fiction N° 26, January 1956

Fiction N° 26, January 1956

Fiction N° 27, February 1956

Fiction N° 27, February 1956

Friction N° 30, May 1956

Fiction N° 30, May 1956

Fiction N° 31, June 1956

Fiction N° 31, June 1956

Fiction N° 32, July 1956

Fiction N° 32, July 1956

Fiction N° 37, December 1956

Fiction N° 37, December 1956

Fiction N° 39, February 1957

Fiction N° 39, February 1957

Fiction N° 40, March 1957

Fiction N° 40, March 1957

Fiction N° 47, October 1957

Fiction N° 47, October 1957

Personal opinion: It wouldn’t be until 1972 that Fiction’s cover art would stand out again. The issue below was perhaps the start on the road to recovery.

Fiction N° 221, May 1972

Fiction N° 221, May 1972

(Sources: nooSFere, BDFI Forums, and Kerro Panille on Facebook)

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Vespa – Ça c’est formidable! (It’s Great!), 1955. Way Cool Poster via @intlposter

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Vespa - Ca c'est formidable (It's Great!), 1955. Artist: D Ambrose

Vespa – Ca c’est formidable (It’s Great!), 1955. Artist: D Ambrose

In 1955, the high-energy French actor and singer Gilbert Becaud released the hit song titled C’est Formidable! (That’s Great!). It was a perfect marketing opportunity for Vespa to create a hip poster campaign. The poster shows the singer nimbly mounting the scooter as if it were a skateboard (a recently minted pastime itself, at the publication of this poster). The background was equally hip, with Vespa’s patented pastel colors in asymmetrical, intersecting shapes that echo Mid-Century furniture design. Fantastique!

Vespa, or Wasp in English, was named in 1946 for its narrow waist, high-pitched engine and antenna-like handlebar. The product was perfectly suited for the war-torn country, where consumer budgets and poor roads made larger vehicles impractical.

In 1952, the vehicle’s popularity skyrocketed when Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck teamed up on a Vespa in Roman Holiday. By 1956, 1 million Vespas had been sold. The Vespa survives today as one of the most fun products on two wheels.

Image and description via, International Poster Gallery.

When Selling Miraculous Breathing Pellets You Can’t Go Wrong By Using An Acrobatic Automaton

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Advertising sign for a pharmacy storefront with two moving figures of a clown and acrobat

Pastilles Valda, Advertising Automaton ‘Clown & Acrobat’, 1930s

This neat advertising display was intended for pharmacy storefronts selling VALDA Pellets – ‘to prevent and treat cough, colds, sore throats, laryngitis, bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma.’ For healthier ‘air, breath, lungs, muscles.’

If it’s good enough to keep this athletic acrobat going it’s gotta be good for those just taking in air.

The acrobat gets into his swing. The clown's in position to spot.

The acrobat gets into his swing. The clown’s in position to spot.

The acrobat comes over the bar backwards and releases for a one-hand grip. His clown buddy enthuses for the viewers.

The acrobat comes over the bar backwards and releases for a one-hand grip. His clown buddy enthuses for the viewers.

A view from the top.

A view from the top.

This display is an electric sheet-iron lithographed piece. One can really appreciate the thought and craftsmanship put into these automaton displays. Apparently someone did in a real way – this particular item sold on auction for €1,298.00 ($1,458.17).

The Textbook World Of René Bresson

A Corner In The City
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Le Français par l'image [The French In Images] (c. 1964)

Le Français par l’image [The French In Images] (c. 1964)

Le Français par l’image is an elementary schoolbook published in France c. 1964. The illustrations are the work of French artist René Bresson. Bresson’s recognizable creations were found in numerous French textbooks in the 1950s and ’60s. The ageless charm of his works are found in their innocence and simplicity. Below are some examples of Bresson’s textbook world as seen in Le Français par l’image. If you would like to view some more visit patrcia m’s flickr page by clicking here.

The Return - the pictorial begins in the schoolyard where the parents gather their children for the first day of a new school year.

The Return – the pictorial begins in the schoolyard where the parents gather their children for the first day of a new school year.

Bresson’s illustrations of the four seasons:

The wind and rain of Autumn.

The wind and rain of Autumn.

The winter snow.

The winter snow.

The Spring Garden

The Spring Garden

The Summer Beach

The Summer Beach

Bresson’s illustrations of social gathering places:

The Hairdresser and Barber Shop

The Hairdresser and Barber Shop

The Post Office

The Post Office

The Department Store

The Department Store

The Village

The Village

Bresson’s transportation illustrations:

The Train Station

The Train Station

The Airport

The Airport – notice the classic Lockheed Constellation aircraft on the runway right-center.

The Shipping Port

The Shipping Port

On The Open Road

On The Open Road and In The Friendly Skies

And the last few for this post, Bresson’s family gathering illustrations. The most idyll of them all:

The Dinner Table

The Dinner Table – notice that sis and dad are the only ones waiting for mom to sit down to eat.

The Evening Ritual

The Evening Ritual – when the only electrics were lighting and the radio.

Yule - the toy aircraft are pretty cool.

Yule – the toy aircraft and Citroën-like toy car are pretty cool.

A lazy day at the river.

And to wind it all up, a lazy day at the river.

The Strange Adventure Of Duffy The Mascot (Animated Short – 1934)

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A strange story in which a loving dog puppet, Duffy, literally goes through Hell to get an orange to a dying girl.

 

Duffy The Mascot (1934)
“Fétiche” (original title)
Country: France
Production Co: Gelma-Films
Producer/Director/Animator/Writer: Ladislas Starevich

Ladislas Starevich was a true pioneer in stop-motion animation. His style has been hugely influential on many directors such as Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam. Starevich’s attention to detail, social commentary, bizarre visuals, and fantastical plots inspired an entire generation of animators.
The ANIMATORIUM

H/T to Diane Wanek for the inspiration.

The Pleasure Tower That Never Was

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Pleasure Tower Concept - France, 1933

‘Phare du Monde’ Concept – Designed by Eugène Freyssinet, France, 1933 (h/t Retronaut.com)

Phare du Monde (“Lighthouse of the world”) was an observation tower planned for the 1937 World Fair in Paris, France. The Phare du Monde, advertised as a “Pleasure Tower Half Mile High” was designed by Eugène Freyssinet, and was to be a 701 metre (2,300 feet) tall concrete tower with a light beacon and a restaurant on the top. A spiralling road on the outside of the tower shaft was to be built for driving access to a height of 1,640 feet, to a parking garage for 500 cars. This focus on the car in such an eye-catching construction has been seen as proof of the car (by 1939) having become “the primary force in determining the appearance of the ordinary landscape of cities.” The costs were estimated to have been $2.5 million; it was never built.

(wikipedia)

This image is from the, July, 1933, issue of Modern Mechanix Magazine. To read the article click here. It’s interesting that most of the comments on that post refer to the dangers of the outside spiraling auto ramp. Even with today’s standards that would be a daring proposal. Perhaps this part of the design was one of the major stumbling blocks in having the tower built.

Still, it was a grand idea.