‘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.