The great Belgian comic book writer Benoît Sokal, based in Reims, also famous for his video games “L’Amerzone” and “Syberia“, died at the age of 66 on May 28.
The world of comics and video games has lost one of its own. Benoît Sokal, author of comics died on May 28, 2021. He lived in Reims, another country of bubbles, his workshop was in Witry-les-Reims precisely. He was 66 years old. Famous for the world of comics that he invented with his pencils, and creator of video games, the Belgian will leave a void in these two worlds. The Casterman editions announced his death, it is in this house that he had published almost all his albums, and Microids, for which he had created his games.
Benoît Sokal died “as a result of a long illness“, says Microids, which joins in a statement “the pain of his family“. Our colleagues from Libération had followed his transfer from comics to video games. Explaining that in his forties, the creator of Inspector Canardo, a kind of Mickey demented in the land of detective stories, wanted to find “the Wild West side of the beginnings of comics“, get out of the “humming” to “explore a new land”, dive into this new language that fascinates people under 30 years and irritates adults excluded from the movement.
A taste for the forbidden
“What attracted us to Spirou and Tintin was the taste for the forbidden. When we had bad grades, it was because of comics. It’s the same phenomenon that drives my two children to video games.” After four years of work, hesitation and re-evaluated budgets, his first video game, Amerzone is in stores.
In a long documented portrait on Sokal, La Libre Belgique stated that the genius cartoonist wanted to go beyond the standards, to break the codes of the comic strip. For him, “unlike comics, whose narrative codes have been fixed practically since Tintin, those of video games are constantly evolving, not to mention the technique.” During the development of Syberia 3, the first 360° virtual reality games appeared. Sokal obviously sees a huge potential there, which attracts him as a creator. “I have discussions with the people at Sony. They are looking for contemplative games” he confided. For him, the future lies partly there.
A documentary had been devoted to him, as part of the program of creation of documentary film “portraits of artists“, helped by the Champagne Ardenne region in 2008. Signed by the director Laurent Boileau, it was entitled “Benoît Sokal, l’art du beau” and broadcast on France 3 Lorraine Champagne Ardenne at the time.
During 26 minutes, Laurent Boileau showed the life of the designer, in the natural. The filming lasted two years during which Benoît Sokal was filmed in his studio in Witry-lès-Reims, in Brussels during a medal ceremony, in Ljubljana in the middle of a work session, or during a sculpture sequence in the Pommery Park in Reims.
“A free spirit, a free man, a comic book freed from the shackles of “good thinking“. This is what Benoît Sokal and his work were, to be read, reread, and rediscovered unceasingly”, concludes a journalist from RTBF. This is the memory he will leave to the many people of Reims who knew him.