Writer: Edgar-Pierre Jacobs (1904-1987)
Le Rayon U takes place on a pseudo-Earth divided between the enemy states of Norlandia and Austradia.  In peaceful Norlandia, Professor Marduk and his assistant, the beautiful Sylvia Hollis, have devised the ultimate weapon, the  powerful "U Ray", but they need the mineral uradium to power it. 
With the help of famed explorer
Lord Calder and his faithful Adji, Marduk embarks on an expedition through the savage lands of Norlandia to find it.  Their journey is imperiled by dinosaurs, giant snakes and tigers, a tribe of man-apes and the evil schemes of Austradian spy Dagon.  They eventually find the uradium in the volcanic island of Urakowa, inhabited by an Aztec-like race. 


1st VERSION (1943)
2nd VERSION (1974)

Publishing History

Le Rayon U
was created by Edgar P. Jacobs in 1943 to replace Flash Gordon, whose import into occupied France had been stopped by the Nazis, in the magazine "Bravo".  In fact, the "cancellation" of Flash Gordon was so sudden that the editors asked Jacobs to draw a final page bringing the series to a quick conclusion. (See reproduction below.) 

The first version of
Le Rayon U featured captions, but no dialogues (as was often the case in comics of that period), and the coloring was muted in order to accommodate the newsprint medium.  It was also formatted in what is called the "Italian" format, i.e.: horizontal rather than vertical. 

Le Rayon U was first reprinted in black & white serial form in "Phenix" Nos. 5-7 in 1966, and was then collected in the graphic novel format (including the Flash Gordon page) by Publisher RTP in 1967. 

In 1974,
Jacobs reformatted Le Rayon U to fit the traditional French graphic novel format, recolored it, and replaced some of the captions with dialogue.  This new version was serialized in "Tintin" in 1974, and was then collected as a graphic novel by Lombard-Dargaud the same year. 

In 1991, a new edition was published by Editions
Blake & Mortimer








 The Author

Commercial illustrator, fashion designer and even opera baritone, Edgar Pierre Jacobs (1904-1987) entered the comics field during World War II, when, in 1942, he was asked to complete the adventures of Flash Gordon.  In 1943, his publisher asked him to create a similar series, which he did: Le Rayon U.  In 1943, Jacobs joined the Hergé studio and collaborated on some of the Tintin stories, redrawing the backgrounds and costumes of The Blue Lotus and King Ottokar's Sceptre for their revised editions, as well as contributing to The Seven Crystal Balls and The Temple of the Sun.  Edgar P. Jacobs, almost as much as Hergé, is responsible for the "clear line" style of Belgian comics. 


When "Tintin" magazine was launched in September 1946, Jacobs created the powerful science fiction saga of Blake & Mortimer, which has become one of the true milestones of French-language comics:

Original Works by E.-P. Jacobs:   

1. Le Secret de l'Espadon [The Secret Of The Swordfish] (1946-48) 
2. Le Mystère de la Grande Pyramide [
The Mystery Of The Great Pyramid] (1950-52) 
3. La Marque Jaune [
The Yellow Mark] (1954) 
4. L'Enigme de l'Atlantide [
The Atlantis Mystery] (1956-57) (this book reuses some of the themes, situations and visuals of Le Rayon U.) 
5. S.O.S. Météores [
SOS Meteors] (1958-59) 
6. Le Piège Diabolique [
The Diabolical Trap] (1960-61) 
7. L'Affaire du Collier [
The Necklace Affair] (1965-66) 
8. Les Trois Formules du Professeur Sato [
The Three Formulas Of Prof. Sato] (1971-72) (volume 2 was left uncompleted at Jacobs' death -- the story was eventually finished by artist Bob de Moor. and released in 1990.)

Sequels by Other Authors:

9. L'Affaire Francis Blake (Story: Jean Van Hamme; Art: Ted Benoit) (1996)
10. La Machination Voronov (Story: Yves Sente; Art: André Juillard) (2000)
11. L'Etrange Rendez-Vous (Story: Jean Van Hamme; Art: Ted Benoit) (2002)

12. Les Sarcophages du 6ème Continent (2004) (Story: Yves Sente; Art: André Juillard)
13. Le Sanctuaire du Gondwana (2007)
(Story: Yves Sente; Art: André Juillard)

Animated TV series:
* Le Mystère de la Grande Pyramide
* La Marque Jaune
* Le Secret de l'Espadon
* L'Enigme de l'Atlantide
* S.O.S. Météores
* Le Piège Diabolique
* L'Affaire du Collier
* Les Trois Formules du Professeur Sato
* L'Affaire Francis Blake
* L'Heritage du Viking
* Le Secret de l'Ile de Paques
* Le Testament de l'Alchemiste
* La Porte du Druide


Rayon U, Blake & Mortimer © 2001 Edgar P. Jacobs. All rights reserved.