In Wayne Shelton: The Mission, a high-ranking official of a small nation in the Caucasus is killed in a car accident and the plans of a massive multinational corporation are derailed by one man: the unfortunate French trucker who caused the accident.
Pressure from the unions in France and the military in Khalakjistan prevents a quick diplomatic solution. So, to secure its own interests, the corporation calls upon the one man who can break the trucker out of prison and disarm the confrontation: Wayne Shelton, a veteran of the Vietnam war, to solve the problem.
Dargaud have published ten Wayne Shelton stories to date, the first released in 2001, although not all some them have been written by Thierry Cailleteau, because Hamme was busy scripting other series.
Van Hamme should need no introduction to downthetubes readers following Jeremy Briggs regular coverage of Cinebook’s English translations of bande dessinees. Hamme has written numerous scripts for a number of Belgian/French comic series, including Thorgal, XIII and Largo Winch.
Based on our limited French, it appears Van Hamme says Wayne Shelton was originally a movie pitch. “I met one of Emmanuelle producers,” he recalls on BD Central. “It was his first film and he won the jackpot. He began to dream and asked me a script. But… he ran into bankruptcy and the film was never made.”
“Denayer was looking for a script, I thought about Wayne Shelton, his journey in a truck in southern republic of the former USSR, a team of hotheads and the dirty tricks that made him.”
Veteran artist Christian Denayer has been drawing the Wayne Shelton series for Dargaud since its inception in 2001: his credits also include Gord for Spirou magazine, a science fiction saga scripted by Franz and TNT, adapted by Loup Durand and André-Paul Duchateau, based on the novels of Michael Borgia (the collective pseudonym Pierre Rey and Loup Durand).
Denayer notes that the series was also made into a TV series. “The production and filming of the first of four episodes had even begun,” he told actuabd in 2010. “But it fell apart for whatever reason. Jean put his script in a drawer. In 1999, a combination of circumstances, it offers me illustrate it.”
Here’s some preview pages from the French edition, just to wet your appetite…
“Shelton accepts missions because he loves the adrenaline,” Denayer explains, “but mostly because he has big money needs.”
He and van Hamme have a great working relationship. “He knows what I like,” Denayer told actuaBD. “It can have as much gear (helicopter, car, truck, etc..) as he wants – I love drawing! But when Jean writes a story, I think it has to be a story he enjoys first. I bow to his script, even if I do not feel at ease to draw something…. If we drew only what we love, we get bored, and sink into the facility. It’s good to put themselves in danger from time to time.”
• More about Wayne Shelton on Dargaud’s web site (in French)
• Christian Denayer’s official web site: http://denayer.chez.com