Dr. Contraptus, the Comic Strip: the birth of a genius

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The fruit of Turk and De Groot’s fertile imagination, when and how did Dr. Contraptus first see the light of day? Discover the secrets behind the birth of Dr. Contraptus, the comic genius we couldn’t live without!

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Where does genius come from? That’s a good question: philosophers, neurologists and poets all have their own ideas about it, but they’re perhaps a little biased… Luckily, for the last 35 years, mankind has had access to the truth! Genius, or at least one particular example of it, comes from Brussels, the capital of Belgium and of Europe, where Bob de Groot, a scriptwriter, met Turk, a cartoonist, at the end of the 60’s. Dr. Contraptus’ brand of genius also originated in these two rascals’ taste for the impeccable timing and the multiple explosions which keep the action moving along in Tex Avery cartoons. From a historical point of view, Dr. Contraptus first public appearance was in a script for Robin Dubois, for which his character, who shared his first name with a certain Mr. da Vinci, was created. Even then, he set the tone by inventing a parking meter… even though it was only the Middle Ages! Dr. Contraptus also owes his 35 years of popular success in part to Greg, who was looking for a funny new comic strip to help launch his magazine Achille Talon. He liked Dr. Contraptus’ capacity to come up with wacky inventions, and therefore asked Bob de Groot to turn him into the hero of a new series for his magazine.


The name of Dr. Contraptus was therefore erased from the Robin Dubois gag and as of 1975, Dr. Contraptus joined the team of heroes starring in Achille Talon Magazine in his own right. Aware of his partner Turk’s interest in mechanics, Bob de Groot then decided to put Dr. Contraptus’ creative talents to use by having him invent the tank, the helicopter, and the idea of life drawing classes, where he painted ‘The Mona Lisa’.  The subtle result of a succession of strange misadventures and lucky coincidences, Dr. Contraptus is now the comic genius we can’t live without! You hardly have to be a genius to figure out that when you get that sort of a start to life, the rest can only go well!

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Leonard_BD_01 A few figures…
‘When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him’, as Jonathan Swift once said. But Dr. Contraptus is so extraordinary that he actually disproves the theory of the author of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ by creating a confederacy of dunces (us, in comparison to him, naturally) who are not against but for him, and have been for 35 years! In fact, Dr. Contraptus has now sold over 6 million comic books, with a print run of around 75 000 copies of every new release. What’s more, this genuine genius doesn’t let national boundaries get in his way: his inventions have travelled the world in 15 languages, from Chinese to American English. Dr. Contraptus has been published in comic book form or in the press in Dutch, Greek, Basque, Polish, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Indonesian, Arab (in Egypt), German, Portuguese (in Portugal and Brazil) and in American English.
On gomma donc le nom de Léonard dans le gag de Robin et, créé en 1975, notre Génie intégra l’équipe des héros-vedettes de Achille Talon Magazine. Connaissant le goût pour la mécanique de son compère Turk, Bob de Groot décida dès lors d’exploiter la fibre créatrice de ce Léonard capable d’inventer le tank, l’hélicoptère, le cours de dessin anatomique le plus connu du monde et de peindre “La Joconde”. Subtile résultat d’une succession d’avatars incongrus et de hasards qui font si bien les choses, Léonard est ainsi devenu l’indispensable Génie de la BD ! Alors, forcément, pas besoin d’être un Génie pour comprendre que, sous de tels auspices, la suite ne pouvait que bien se passer !
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◊ See Dr. Contraptus comic books on the Le Lombard site
All the characters from the Dr. Contraptus comic books


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