“Albert London Must Go” offers an explanation for the reporter’s death

Between biopic and fiction, the comic “Albert London must go” by Frédéric Kinder and Borris provides a plausible explanation for the death of the famous French reporter, who disappeared in 1933 in the fire on the passenger liner that was bringing him back from China. Was it really an accident?

On the night of May 15-16, 1932, Albert Londres died in the fire of the battleship Georges Philippar, which was supposed to bring him back from Shanghai to Marseille. A tragic end for history’s first great reporter.

Born in Vichy in 1884, the Frenchman wanted to be a poet. But after all, it was his articles that made him famous from 1914, when he was covering the First World War. During his career he traveled the world, from India to Indochina, from Palestine to the Balkans, from Russia to South America. Like an early whistleblower, he puts his finger on dysfunctions and his reports flash, evoking the ire of authorities and the outrage of public opinion.

famous articles

Among his most well-known articles is that on the living conditions of the convicts of Cayenne or the internees of psychiatric hospitals in France. There is one about the exploits and sufferings of the Tour de France cyclists – which will be dedicated to the expression “convicts of the road” – or the one about the slave trade in Argentina. In 1928 he also shed light on the misdeeds and crimes of colonization in Africa, drawing the ire of French President Georges Clemenceau.

Our job is not to please or do harm, but to put a pen in the wound.

Albert London, great reporter

A suspicious death

At the time of his disappearance at sea, aged 47, he had returned from China, where, after covering the Sino-Japanese conflict of December 1931, he was investigating the arms and opium trade in Asia, where apparently the French Navy was involved. A report that would have caused a real estate scandal if he could have published it. Before returning, he announced it was “dynamite.” But nobody will be able to read it, since his papers will disappear in the fire at the same time as he does.

Knowing this, his accidental death quickly becomes suspicious. Doubts are justified, especially when we know that the Lang-Willar couple, survivors of the George Philippar fire, to whom the reporter had confided the contents of his report, died a few days later than the plane that was supposed to bring it died back crashes to Paris.

The mystery surrounding his death quickly fueled rumors. What if we wanted to make Albert London disappear? Since then, many publications have attempted to shed light on this case. From Régis Debray to Pierre Assouline, many people write about the French journalist and offer different theories about the circumstances of his death.

>> Read also: With “Le paquebot” Pierre Assouline throws himself into a stormy camera

A comic about his last trip

A board from the comic “Albert London” has to go. [Glénat]The latest is a comic strip signed by screenwriter Frédéric Kinder and designer Borris. Frédéric Kinder became interested in Albert Londres while working on his first album “Tour de Force”, which deals with convicts on the street. His tragic, mysterious death captures his curiosity and imagination. Hence the scenario of this second album, Albert London Must Go, which revolves around the reporter’s final trip to China and the circumstances surrounding his death.

But why return to an event that has already been covered at length? “Today everyone is trying to find out the truth, but these are only conclusions and possibilities,” Frédéric Kinder told RTS. This “possible” he stated meets all these criteria, since it is the thesis of the conspiracy.

On the border between adventure, spy and thriller novels, Albert London Must Go is therefore a fiction based on real events and anchored in a precise and documented historical context, complemented by the magnificent drawings by Borris. “I didn’t know anything about Albert Londres, I didn’t know the character or what he was doing in China.

Interview by Anne Laure Gannac

Web adaptation: Andréanne Quartier-la-Tente

“Albert London must go”, Frédéric Kinder and Borris, Editions Glénat.

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