Born on July 30th, 2015

Achdé was born in 1961 to a family repatriated from Morocco. He grew up in a ZUP (priority development area) in Nîmes, in the middle of the garrigue, among a mix of communities and cultures that was never an obstacle to good neighbourly relations or playing with friends from different horizons. ‘Everyday I lived in an episode of La Ribambelle!’ he says when speaking of his childhood. Because his parents couldn’t afford to pay for cinema tickets, he had to make do with watching the Sunday night movie on TV. ‘I had a choice between a Western and a flick about knights. I preferred the former: cowboys impressed me, whereas knights looked like chumps in their tin cans!’ recalls this admirer of John Ford’s classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Drawn to the outdoors and wide-open spaces, he set off in 1983 on a journey of discovery a la Jack Kerouac: onward to North America! He pulled together his (meagre) savings and hid the money in his socks to avoid the government’s currency change control. After a month spent in Canada and the United States, alas, the French Army recalled him for mandatory service...

Achdé, who’d hoped to spend a year and a half as part of the civilian overseas service in Yemen, inspired by Henry de Monfreid’s books, instead returned to France for basic training in Aix-en-Provence! He was sent to the military medical corps; then, after his mandatory time, returned to his job as a radiology technician. But art called out to this fan of bande dessinée and avid reader of legendary magazine MAD. He would leave sketches lying around the waiting room of the radiology practice, to the utter delight of patients coming in for an x-ray. In truth, he’d ‘fallen into the cauldron of BD’ at a very young age. All Morris’s fault, and that of Lucky Luke and the famous poker duel in volume Le Juge (The Judge), which he first read aged 4. At 7, Achdé pilfered part of the collection money in church to buy his first Lucky Luke! But have no fear: morality was restored when, on the day he was chosen to take over the series, he returned to the church to put the money back into the poor box!

The rest belongs to the history of contemporary BD: after years of getting by came the creation of a small advertising agency, the first drawings published in newspaper Midi Libre, signing a contract with publisher Dargaud on his 30th birthday, success with series CRS = Détresse, and finally recognition after taking over Lucky Luke.
‘When I first started, I’d travel to Paris once a year to present my portfolio ... and every single publisher would reject it, for a ton of different reasons. One of them, a famous one, told me: “Big nose is over...” I reckon it was doggedness that kept me going!’ says Achdé. And indeed, he never gave up, even after losing everything in the 1988 floods in Nîmes. Anyway, his fate had been decided as far back as kindergarten. When the teacher had asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he’d blurted out his answer as fast as a cowboy would draw his six-shooter: ‘I want to draw Lucky Luke!’