[By François Willot:]
Martine Berthelemy was born on May 28th, 1928, in Paris. Her parents were not artists at all. She had four sisters and one brother. Some of her first reading were novels by Jules Verne and Paul d'Ivoi.
She studied drawing at the atelier Huguet in Paris, at the age of
18 and met Jacques Blondeau there. At that time, Blondeau was already
working for Paul Winkler (who founded the
Journal de Mickey
Opera Mundi, the agency who distributed KFS comics
through all Europe). Berthelemy helped Blondeau on the French
Lil series published in L'Aurore from 1949 to 1951
(texts by Claude Dupré); she did the background drawings. Martine
Berthelemy then worked for Confidences and various other
newspapers directed by Paul Winkler.
In 1953, Pierre Fallot asked 25 year old Martine Berthelemy to draw La Guerre du feu for the Journal de Mickey (a real life comic published in the center pages of the French weekly). The adaptation of J. H. Rosny Aîné's novel was precisely by Fallot. Martine did many more real-life comics for the French weekly (most of them scripted by Fallot), as well as illustrations for various novels for the Almanach du Journal de Mickey. She never made an actual Disney comic story, though.
Martine Berthelemy's drawing style is thin and precise. She made all pencils and inked with a paintbrush. Colours were later added in the process by the technical studio. Martine's sources of documentation were the original novels (often given by Fallot), the Larousse 1900, the Costume historique by Racinet, and a German book, L'Histoire de l'habitation humaine by Viollet-le-Duc.
The artist ended her collaboration with Mickey in 1973. At that time, the weekly was not publishing original French real-life comics anymore. Martine Berthelemy has said some of her preferred artists are Paul Gillon and Ribera, particularly his Le Vagabond des limbes (non-Disney comic, drawn by Ribera). Today, Martine Berthelemy is doing realistic paintings at her own time.
One of the first mentions of Martine Berthelemy is in Les 50 ans du Journal de Mickey by Michel R. Mandry and Raymond Calame (1984). Up to 1999 she has never been mentioned in any comics dictionary. I am very grateful to Guy Lehideux, who recently contacted Martine Berthelemy. He published an interview of the artist in Le collectionneur de bandes dessinées # 89.
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