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Taken aback, Charlier later stated, "It was too late to do anything about it, it was done.
A strange experience, Giraud in particular took it very hard." Still, while all characters slated for prominence were written out, Blueberry excepted, one major, recurrent secondary character was written in over the course of the story arc in "Le cavalier perdu" ("Mission to Mexico"), Blueberry's trusted friend and sidekick Jimmy Mc Clure.
In 1962, the magazine sent Charlier on a reporting assignment around the world for its editorials, and one of his last 1963 ports of call was Edwards Airforce Base in the Mojave Desert, California.
He took the opportunity to (re-)discover the American West, returning to France with a strong urge to write a western.
First he asked Jijé to draw the series, but Jijé, a lifelong friend and collaborator of Charlier, thought there would be a conflict of interest, since he was then a tenured artist at Spirou, a competing comic magazine, which published his own Western comic Jerry Spring, and in which he was very much invested.
A happy coincidence was that Giraud was also intimately familiar with the landscapes that had inspired Charlier, as he already had been on an extended stay of nine months in Mexico in 1956, where the endless blue skies and unending flat plains of Mexico's northern deserts had "cracked open his mind"."Charlier, together with Goscinny the editors-in-chief, wanted a western.
For the hero's facial traits, I chose Belmondo, as he was at the time something of an art symbol for guys my age.""[The idea of giving Blueberry Belmondo's face] originated from the both of us.
That came about this way: To have Blueberry come across as a non-conformist, I described him right from the start as uncombed, disheveled, unshaven, broken nosed, etc.
When I began to create the new series, and everything started to fall into place, I decided to reuse my friend's nickname, because I liked it and thought it was funny.
Inspired when he sees a blueberry bush, Donovan chooses the surname "Blueberry" as an alias when rescued from his Southern pursuers by a Union cavalry patrol (during his flight war had broken out between the States).
After enlisting in the Union Army, he becomes an enemy of discrimination of all kinds, fighting against the Confederates (although being a Southerner himself, first enlisting as a bugler in order to avoid having to fire upon his former countrymen), later trying to protect the rights of Native Americans.
Initially titled "Fort Navajo", the story grew into 46 pages over the following issues.
In this series Blueberry – whose physical appearance was inspired by French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo – was only one of many protagonists; the series was originally intended to be an assemble narrative, but quickly gravitated towards Blueberry as the central and primary character, even though the series' (sub-)title Fort Navajo, une Aventure du Lieutenant Blueberry was maintained for a decade by original publisher Dargaud for the numerous reprint, and international, runs, before the "Fort Navajo" (sub-)moniker was finally dropped in 1973 with the book publication of "L'homme qui valait 500 000 $" ("The Half-a-Million Dollar Man").
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After he had read that, Jean exclaimed to me, "That's Belmondo!