René Brantonne (1903-1979) was one of the foremost French science fiction illustrators. 
Brantonne began his career as a commercial artist in the late 1920s, drawing French film posters for Paramount, MGM, Universal, Columbia, etc. and creating logos for Standard Oil (later Exxon). 
He lived in the United States during World War II, where he continued drawing film posters for all the major studios. 

Brantonne's signature
After the War, Brantonne returned to France and began working as a comics artist on a number of adventure series for a variety of magazines: Fulguros and Johnny Speed for Artima, Praline and Buffalo Bill for Édition des Remparts, etc.  He even drew a short-lived French version of the American strip, Brick Bradford

During that time, he also became the cover artist par excellence of the
Jean de La Hire imprint (which published The Nyctalope novels), and of the "Anticipation" imprint of Éditions Fleuve Noir.

Fleuve Noir, Brantonne drew the covers of volumes Nos. 1-273 (1954-1965) and Nos. 562-795 (1973-1977) of "Anticipation", influencing virtually every French science fiction reader of the 1950s and 1960s. 

Brantonne died from cancer in 1979. An "Art of Brantonne" book entitled BRANTONNE ILLUSTRATEUR was published by Le Dernier Terrain Vague in 1983.



Brantonne's illustration for a French adaptation of






In 1949, Armand de Caro lauched a new publishing company called Fleuve Noir, which specialized in popular "pulp" paperback imprints. Its first imprints were:

  • "Special Police" (1949-1987, 2077 volumes), devoted to police thrillers in the hard-boiled vein. One of its major claims to fame was the publication of San-Antonio. Other heroes of note were Sam & Sally and Vallespi.

  • "Espionnage" (1950-1987, 1906 volumes), devoted to espionage novels in a Ian Fleming vein. It published a great number of espionage heroes including OSS 117, Coplan FX-18, Force M, Mr. Suzuki, Face d'Ange, Calone, Gaunce, Lecomte, Kern, TTX-75, The Commander, Bonder, Matt, Marc Avril, Glenne, The Viscount, etc. (see details here).

  • "Anticipation" (1951-1997, 2001 titles), devoted to science fiction stories, mostly space operas. (FOR MORE ABOUT THE "ANTICIPATION" IMPRINT, SEE BELOW.)

The famous logo of the "
Anticipation" imprint of Editions Fleuve Noir designed by Brantonne.

  • "Angoisse" (1954-1971, 261 titles), devoted to horror novels. Among the best authors published by "Angoisse" were Kurt Steiner, B.R. Bruss, and Marc Agapit. "Angoisse" also published J.-C. Carriere's Frankenstein novels, André Caroff's Madame Atomos, Paul Bera's Leonox, and Maurice Limat's Mephista.

  • "L'Aventurier" (1955-1974, 206 volumes), adventure stories to compete with the Saint and similar type of stories. It published Irving Le Roy, and the adventures of heroes such as The Diplomat, Nau, Krause and the German-authored Commissaire X, and L'Ombre (see details here).

  • "Grands Romans", devoted to historical, romance and James Michener-type novels.

In 1963,
Fleuve Noir was taken over by the giant publishing group, Presses de la Cité. Later other imprints were added. Among the most siginificant were:

  • "Feu" (1964-1975, 244 titles), devoted to war novels.

  • "Espiomatic-Infrarouge" (1971-1979, 105 volumes), devoted to a more fantastic type of espionage thrillers with more violence and more sex. Its heroes included Vic St. Val, the Conch, Kergan, Flash, Zac and Cash (see details here).

  • "Engrenage" (1979-1986, 101 titles), devoted to "noir" crime thrillers.

  • "Gore" (1985-1990, 117 titles), devoted to gore horror novels.

Also, various ad-hoc imprints were created devoted to specific authors and/or characters.


The "Anticipation" imprint of Fleuve Noir  was initially entrusted to editor François Richard -- half of the writing team of Richard-Bessière.  Its particularity was that it cultivated its own brand of in-house authors: Richard-Bessière, Jean-Gaston Vandel (another writing team better known as "Paul Kenny", creator of French James Bond-like hero, Coplan FX-18), Jimmy Guieu, Stefan Wul and B.-R. Bruss, to which were later added Maurice Limat, Max-Andre Rayjean, Kurt Steiner, Peter Randa, Gérard Klein (writing as "Gilles d’Argyre"), Pierre Barbet, Paul Béra, and Jean-Louis & Doris Le May

A particularity of the imprint was that its authors' style owed relatively little, at least at first, to their American counterparts.  The early volumes of the imprint followed the literary traditions established by
J.-H. Rosny Aîné and Maurice Renard.  "Anticipation" also published a few selected novels by American or British authors, such as Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov (the first Lucky Starr novel), Arthur C. Clarke, A.E. Van Vogt and John Wyndham, as well as translations of the successful German Perry Rhodan series. 

Anticipation"'s futuristic heroes included Maurice Limat's Chevalier Coqdor (a galactic super-hero) Jimmy Guieu's Blade & Baker (two space traders), Richard-Bessiere's Dan Seymour (a galactic spy), M.-A. Rayjean's Joe Maubry (a future journalist), J. & D. Le May's Galactic Investigations (a futuristic FBI/CIA), Louis Thirion's Jord Maogan (a starship captain), Jan de Fast's Dr. Alan (a galactic doctor), J.-P. Garen's Surveillance Service of Primitive Planets, Pierre Barbet's Alex Courville (a galactic investigator), Roland Wagner's Future Mysteries of Paris series, and G.-J. Arnaud prodigious saga, The Ice Company, and many more (see details here).

Modern-day sci-fi heroes published by "
Anticipation" included J.-G. Vandel's Bureau of the Unseen, Richard-Bessiere's Sydney Gordon (a journalist), Jimmy Guieu's Gilles Novak (another journalist), Robert Clauzel's Eridan (an alien protecting earth).

Anticipation"'s output increased from two to six titles a month in 1966.  The line began to attract some new blood: in 1968 with Louis Thirion, then in 1970 came Robert Clauzel, in 1971 Jean-Pierre Andrevon and G.-J. Arnaud, in 1972 Pierre Pelot, and in 1976 Julia Verlanger
In 1974, control of the editorship passed into the hands of Patrick
Siry, who also supervised a reprint program of older titles.  Under Siry’s editorship, "Anticipation" managed to attract authors like Michel Jeury in 1980, Joël Houssin and Daniel Walther in 1981, Serge Brussolo in 1982, Jacques Mondoloni in 1984, Jean-Marc Ligny in 1988, etc.  It also fostered major new talents such as Michel Pagel, Alain Paris, Serge Lehman, Ayerdhal, Roland C. Wagner, and Michel Honaker

Anticipation" began publishing heroic-fantasy in the mid-1980s with sagas by Hugues Douriaux, Alain Paris, Jean-Marc Ligny, and Daniel Walther.

The "
Anticipation" imprint finally ended in 1997 with (appropriately) No. 2001, mutating into other science fiction imprints (including one lamely entitled "SF").