By 1970 Gomer Goof (or the more suitable Gaston as he is in France) was an established class act, having appeared weekly in Spirou since 1957. The album collections were issued rapidly after another 44 single page gag strips had been serialised, and creator André Franquin was at the top his game, each strip paced with immaculate precision and beautifully drawn.

The cover displays eternally good-natured office boy Gomer Goof with the ill-minded office cat and the even more malign seagull that hangs around the Spirou premises. They respond well to Gomer, but torment everyone else, and Franquin mines comedy gold from their rampages through the office, attacking the staff, visitors and others. As seen on the cover, Franquin brings an incredible amount of malice to the expressions on both creatures, as they ensure contracts aren’t signed, packages contain unwanted items, and infuriate office manager Prunelle. He’s seen glowering on the sample page as Gomer tries out another wacky invention in the office, which is the second major theme of this collection.

Because Franquin resorts so frequently to variations on two themes it makes for a slightly lesser reading experience than earlier volumes, which wouldn’t have been apparent reading the strips week by week when serialised in 1970. There are also pages toward the end which have a slightly rushed look to them, with Franquin more frequently filling the panels with half figures in close up, but in mitigation, that’s him being a victim of his own diligence, as many cartoonists would have taken that approach from the start.

As is always the case, there’s an astonishing level of creativity in play, sublime artistic talent and some laugh out loud strips, so most of the criticism is just being picky. There’s no real continuity to Gomer Goof, so the books can be read in any order, and anyone sampling Duke of Goofington as their first will surely be back for more. A Giant Among Goofs is next.