|Format Comics album|
Genre Science fiction
|Creator Roger Leloup|
|Number of issues 27 (in Dutch and French)10 (in English)|
Publishers Dupuis (French and Dutch), Cinebook (English)
Books On the Edge of Life, The Prey and the Ghost, The Dragon of Hong Kong, The Curious Trio, The Devil's Organ
Similar Natacha (comics), Buck Danny, Blake and Mortimer
Yoko Tsuno is a comics album series created by the Belgian writer Roger Leloup published by Dupuis in Spirou magazine since its debut in 1970. Through twenty-seven volumes, the series tell the adventures of Yoko Tsuno, a female electrical engineer of Japanese origin surrounded by her close friends, Vic Video and Pol Pitron (see Yoko Tsuno characters). Their adventures bring them to, among other places, Belgium (Bruges), Germany, Scotland, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and also into outer space. The stories are heavily technology driven, with concepts like robot dragons (Le Dragon de Hong Kong), suspended animation (La Frontière de la vie), time travel (La Spirale du temps and others), and even an alien species called the Vineans. Despite the often exotic settings and science-fiction plot lines, the stories generally remain realistic on the personal level between the characters and friendship, love and spirituality are some of the key themes of the series. The art is drawn in Ligne claire style, although having originally started out in the Marcinelle style. When depiciting real-world settings, Leloup aspires to be as true to reality as possible, with places like Burg Katz or Rothenburg ob der Tauber depicted with almost photographic skill.
Yoko Tsuno first appeared in the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Spirou on September 24, 1970 with the 8 page short Hold–up en hi–fi. This and the following two shorter works La belle et la bête and Cap 351 served as precursors for the first full-length Yoko Tsuno adventure, Le trio de l’étrange serialised in Spirou from May 13, 1971. Staying with Spirou for the following 30 years, the series still appears in the magazine to date. Accumulating 26 albums with three integral compilations, the fourth, Vinéa en péril, is announced to be released on October 3, 2007.
Yoko Tsuno is an electrical engineer, who was raised in Japan but now lives in Belgium. She is quite compassionate and has a knack for making friends. Yoko is also a skilled scuba diver, holds a black belt in aikido, and can pilot both gliders and helicopters. This wide range of competences, together with her near-flawless behaviour, makes Yoko fall into the classic category of a competent woman. The flaw she does admit to having is the typically Japanese trait of valuing personal honour highly, which leads her at times to be trusting to the point of blindness. Yoko Tsuno's first name was inspired by Japanese actress Yoko Tani.
Vic Video (Dutch: Ben Beeld, but sometimes also referred to as Max): He has a strong personality, and is a close friend of Yoko (whom he seems to be in love with, though this is only hinted at). Before meeting Yoko, he directed live TV shows. He is often the voice of reason and prudence moderating Yoko's impulsiveness. Vic appears in all albums except Aventures électroniques, L'Or du Rhin and La Pagode des brumes.
Pol Pitron (Dutch: Paul Pola, German: Knut Knolle) is the comic relief of the trio. His name comes from French "pitre", literally "clown". Before meeting Yoko, he worked as a camera operator under direction of Vic. Pol is often lazy and grumpy, as well as a real gourmet. He is also playful and thus quite fond of children. Pol appears in all albums except La Pagode des brumes, although he appears in only two stories of Aventures électroniques. Where almost all other characters in the comics are drawn realistically anatomically speaking, in the early albums, Pol's nose and eyes are cartoonishly large and round.
Khany is a member of the extraterrestrial race of Vineans. As of the end of La Forge de Vulcain and the fall of Karpan's leadership, she is also their undeclared leader who directs the return of the Vineans from Earth to Vinea. She is also undertaking expeditions to find lost Vinean colonies. Like Vic, she is quite careful in her actions. Khany appears in Le Trio de l'étrange, La Forge de Vulcain, Les Trois soleils de Vinéa, Les Titans, La Lumière d'Ixo, Les Archanges de Vinéa, Les Exilés de Kifa and La Porte des âmes.
Rosée du matin
Rosée du matin (Morning Dew; Dutch: Roosje; German: Morgentau) is Yoko's adopted Chinese daughter, as of Le Dragon de Hong Kong. The child of two biologists who experimented with the artificial enlargement of animals, she was orphaned when her parents perished in a storm. She had been raised by her grandfather, but due to his deteriorating health, he entrusted guardianship to Yoko. She has so far also participated in Yoko's time travel exploits and her trips into outer space. Rosée appears in all albums from Le Dragon de Hong Kong onwards. She was inspired by Leloup's daughter, adopted from Korea.
Monya is a fourteen-year-old time traveler from 3872, whom Yoko meets during the events described in La Spirale du temps. After changing history during this adventure, Monya is unable to return to her native time. She is adopted by Yoko's cousin and the two girls become fast friends. With the help of Monya's time machine, the translateur, Yoko and her friends undertake several time-travelling adventures.
A spirited fourteen-year-old girl of Scottish-Russian descend, who appears in the series as of Le Septième Code. While she is not a skilled violin player as her mother was (and wanted her daughter to be), she demonstrates a natural aptitude for piloting. In La Servante de Lucifer, she is also revealed to have some latent telepathic talent.
Yoko Tsuno first meets Vic and Pol when they catch her trying to break into a laboratory in Le Trio de l'étrange. The moment the men confront her, the owner of the laboratory explains that he hired the Japanese girl to test a burglar alarm system. Vic, intrigued by Yoko's knowledge in electrical engineering and planning to do an independent television production with Pol as the cameraman, asks Yoko to come along. However, their filming operation turns out to become the first of a whole series of strange adventures, as they stumble upon a secret underground enclave inhabitated by a highly advanced, blue-skinned people, the Vineans. This adventure forges a strong friendship between the three, inspiring them to stay together as the "Strange Trio", who join each other on surreal adventures on Earth, in outer space, and even the depths of bygone times.
The main characters are based in Belgium, although adventures take place around the world and even in the Vinean solar system, 2,500,000 light years away. When the stories are Earth-based, they mostly take place in existing settings, such as the German locations Burg Katz and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the Chinese city of Hong Kong, or the Belgian city of Bruges.
L'Écume de l'aube
Roger Leloup also wrote a novel with Yoko as the heroine, published in 1991: L'Écume de l'aube (The Foam of the Dawn) (ISBN 2-203-38033-0), which relates the childhood and youth of Yoko Tsuno.
Books from the Yoko Tsuno series have been translated from French to sixteen languages: Basque, Catalan, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, German, Greek, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.
As of 2015, only a limited number of Yoko Tsuno comics have been translated to English. Books #3 and 6 (La Forge de Vulcain and Les Trois soleils de Vinéa) were released in English in 1989 under the series title, The Adventures of Yoko, Vic and Paul by Catalan Communications under their "Comcat" line. Some liberties were taken in the translation to English. For example, Yoko's last name was changed to "Suno", Khany was renamed "Kani" and the Vineans became "Vinans" from the planet "Vina". Plot transitions between individual episodes were also altered; for instance, at the conclusion of The Prey and the Ghost (original issue #12), Vic tells Yoko in the original version that he was contacted by Khany, leading to the events of issue #13, The Archangels of Vinea; in the English translation, instead he tells her that it was her father who gave him a message for her, which in the Comcat line of continuity would lead to Daughter of the Wind (original issue #9).
Comcat planned next on reprinting books #8, 10, 13, and possibly #17, but the company went under.
Ten books have been translated into English and published by Cinebook Ltd:
The Hong Kong-based Bayard Press Asia–Le Grain de Seneve Publishing Co. Ltd has published two Yoko stories in Chinese:
The series title for these albums was changed to 海羽傳奇 (The Legacy of Yoko Tsuno).