Serge Lehman, Gess
L'homme truqué

The Phony Man

L‘Homme truqué (The Phony Man), a 64-page album, marks the beginning of a new creative adventure. It is a very free adaptation of a novel bearing the same name by Maurice Renard published just after the First World War and whose theme is thus: on the 27th May 1918, Lieutenant Jean Lebris, grievously wounded in the face during an attack on the Chemin des Dames, is kidnapped by a mysterious organisation that tests an experimental system of electroscopic vision on him.

Released six months later near Paris, a disfigured Lebris terrorises the population in the suburbs and becomes a kind of urban legend: The Phony Man. To keep the panic in check, Léo Saint-Clair, the Nyctalope, joins forces with Marie Curie who has just returned to the Radium Institute. Together they capture Lebris but realise very quickly that the man is exceptionally honourable. Moreover, his “electroscopic” vision turns out to be an advantage since there is danger lurking in the vicinity of the Grand Palais district that only Lebris can detect: a multitude of invisible entities capable of reducing the Parisian population to slavery. Lebris, Saint-Clair and Marie confront the enemy and the name of the Phony Man enters into the annals of the protectors of the capital.


This adventure, which combines the serial tradition and that of American comics, is an opportunity to reflect on vision, appearance, and the solitude of heroes pledged to remain in obscurity; the album is enhanced by half a dozen full page spreads where Gess renders homage to different graphical styles of the time, finishing with photography. It’s also a return to the sources of the Hyperworld: The Great War figures as a matrix, radium is seen as the miracle matter and the Russian revolution is disrupting the European geopolitical chessboard. With The Phony Man we enter the world whose end has been recounted in La Brigade Chimérique.


March 21, 2013
Grand format
15 €
19 x 29 cm

Rights Sold

World English Rights: Titan Comics

Digital reading copy