Cover page of a coloring book devoted to the TV characters
François newspaper, cradle of Pepinot
The first successful children's program on Canadian television owes a great deal to the burgeoning young creators that the war had attracted to Canada's national capital. The National Film Board became an isignificant pool of artistic talent. There were several thinkers and intellectuals attracted to Ottawa who had hopes of social transformation. Some enlightened clerics, relying on their privileged status, ran publishing houses open to new ideas. It is in this favorable climate that the Journal François took flight.
Although it was influenced by religious authority, its content focusing on youth did not unduly suffer the stifling influence of the church. Of course, Christian values were promoted, but the core of the paper catered to informing curious young minds.
The monthly publication featured many subjects; adventure stories, comic strips, detective stories, spy stories, reader's mail, historic feats, scientific questions, fashion pages, career choice, in tune with the rythm of the christian calendar. For the time, the Journal François had great freedom of expression.
It became a nursery where many of its contirbutors gained experience before leading careers in arts, communications and design. Let us mention Julien Hébert, a celebrated designer, Alec Pelletier, a respected TV author, Gaston Sarault, a TV designer and obviously, Jean-Paul Ladouceur
The ancestor of Pepinot appeared in 1945 in "Le Sorcier frileux", an improbable comic strip where Pépinot Pépin, persecuted by his lazy brothers, goes in search of the seven-league boots with his blue furred cat, heir of Puss in Boots. After many adventures Pepinot is lead to the cave of a Witch-Sorcerer (Sorcier frileux), thief of the famous footwear sought after by our heroes quest.
Capucine appeared in the same magazine in 1950 as an idealized teenager. In 1952, the two characters were adapted for a TV show on nascent television. They became the well-known puppets fondly remembered by the baby boom generation.
The same year, Journal François published a short comic strip featuring Pepinot. It was not until 1954 the adventure of Pepinot became a serialized strip in Journal Francois. The drawings were signed LM, one of the many pseudonyms of Ladouceur.
It was the era of derivatives; jigsaw puzzles, coloring books, puppets and promises of a European publishing contract that went bust.