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le pingouink (Now in English) hits 50

Have you been suffering from a dearth of penguin-related French tragedies? Admit it, we all have. I mean, sure there's penguin-related comedy, documentaries and even Ukrainian penguin crimedramas, but stories of a love-lorn French penguin, trapped in a situation he did not create? I haven't seen many around. (And please don't tell me about them if they do exist.) le pingouink (Now in English) is just such a story, in comic strip form and Friday January 26 marks its fiftieth strip.

The backstory: In France circa 1987 the comics world was swept by an imaginary-French hit pronounced Le Ping-Goo-Wink (yes, that's how it was pronounced, even in France), the simple tale of a penguin and the humans he lived with. What turned the penguin family drama genre on its head was its simple palette. All the previous penguin family dramas had been built on elaborate art, intricate yet sweeping plots,and a strictly defined set of rules based on then-current penguinological studies. le pingouink threw all that away by using 12 fantastic panels in different combinations over and over again. The artist released the comics in a guerrilla fashion, never revealing his/her identity (orwhether that 'k' in the title was a typo). In summer 2006, Alison Froese was given (or possibly stole) a box full of old strips and brought them back to Canada, where J Jack Unrau (me!) saw them and realized he was looking at a slice of history. He decided to use his mediocre French skills to digitize and translate them for the English speaking world.

So here we are, ten weeks into the laborious process of translation and posting. It's gone pretty well as far as I can tell. But I'm the one writing translating them so I may be biased.