The French writer/illustrator Jean-Claude Forest is best known for his comic strip Barbarella, which was adapted in 1968 into a film starring Jane Fonda. A prolific and successful comic strip creator, Forest was also responsible for the character Tapir, the mastermind of interstellar organised crime in the 30th century.
Forest's Les Naufragés du Temps (hereafter referred to as 'LNdT') series tells the story of a couple of humans who were placed into cryonic hiberation in the 1990s as humanity faced being wiped out through pestilence. Christopher and Valérie awake in 2981, a time when Earth is threatened by alien, intelligent rats.
Of the many characters that Chris and Valerie encounter is Tapir, the largest criminal in the cosmos - another universe, allegedly. Tapir is depicted as a sword-wielding giant in a flowing cloak, who, despite originating from another universe, looks very much like a Brazilian tapir.
The title of LNdT references Jules Verne's novel The Mysterious Island, and, much in the style of Barbarella - itself dubbed "the first comic strip for grown-ups" - LNdT continues in the same vein. There were ten parts to the LNdT series, and Tapir featured in at least three of them. LNdT was first published in 1974, with multiple reprints since.
The third volume of LNdT was released in English as Lost in Time: Labyrinth in 1986, although Tapir was renamed The Boar (presumably because the intended target market was not as familiar with tapirs as it ought to have been). It has been described as a landmark of modern science fiction.
Forest died on 30 December 1998, having suffered from severe asthma for many years.
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