Monday, May 23, 2011

Tom Waits on The Moon

I'm doing the final lettering for Tom Waits on The Moon, from Athos in America. I don't think I've shown any pages from this story. No, there is no Tom Waits and no moon in the story. Possibly there is a guy called Tom. There are no dialogues, all the text is in thought balloons.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Finished! Well, almost...

All the stories for the next book, Athos in America, are now finished. One story needs to be lettered and the cover is not yet done, but that is all that remains. I will bring the pages up to Paris on Tuesday, so that they can be scanned and Hubert can begin the colouring. I will then fly up to Oslo to be a guest on the Oslo Comics Expo, May 27-28.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Isle of 100,000 Graves

There's now an interview with me and Fabien Vehlmann on Comic Book Resources, here:
We talk about how we worked together on Isle of 100,000 Graves. It also gives the date of publication for the book: June 8.

Some more sketches

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

And finally, more old heroes

This was a Danish translation of Jaime Hernandez' Locas stories, published in an album format. Gilbert's Heartbreak Soup was also translated. The first issue of Love and Rockets I bought was number 17. And yes, me too, I had a crush on Maggie.

I had several of the Holt, Rinehart and Winston Peanuts books. I've later bought the Fantagraphics books, but I've chosen to hold on to these softcovers. For one thing, the panels are bigger. Anyway, it's still a masterpiece.

To end this series of comics I read in the 80s, during my teens and early twenties, I have to go back to Tintin. It's still the major influence on how I draw, and for anyone who wants to learn how to tell a story in pictures, I think you can do a lot worse than study the work of Hergé.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Well, whaddayaknow, more old heroes

Joes's Bar by Munoz and Sampayo impressed me with it's bleakness. And of course the expressiveness of Munoz' drawings. The Alec Sinner albums are also great.

What was the first graphic novel is a debate still going on, but for what was the first important graphic novel, the answer is clearly Maus. Together with Epileptic and Jimmy Corrigan, it's the holy trinity of graphic novels, showing the way it can be done. I've never cried from reading a comic, but must confess I came pretty close reaching that last page of Vladek and Anja finally meeting again.

I'm not sure how well the historical saga Passengers of the Wind has aged, but I enjoyed the five album series when it first came out. Well drawn and impressivly researched, but Bourgeon, the old fox, was careful to also include some nudity in each album.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Still more, is he ever gonna shut up?, old heroes

I've mentioned Jean Giraud, the artist of Blueberry. I should also mention the work he did under the name Moebius. Reading The Airtight Garage for the first time was pretty amazing. He also did this book, Le Bandard Fou. The John Difool albums he did with Jodorowsky I found to be a bit less interesting.

Don Martin was an idol at that time, when I was doing strips and cartoons for a humour magazine.The above book was a big softcover collection of some of his best strips.

Berni Wrightson was another artist, like Barry Smith, whose drawings I tried to copy, without much luck. In Denmark Swamp Thing was published in the European album format and in black and white.

Even more old heroes

We're still talking about the early 80s here. Two of the best Francobelgian artists at the time was Jean Giraud and Hermann. If Giraud was Beatles, then Hermann was Rolling Stones. Or Star Wars and Alien, if you want. Actually, Hermann has something in common with Ridley Scott, the way he tells the story visually, and the way he fills the panel with details. Bernard Prince was sort of an update of Terry and the Pirates. Besides Bernard Prince and the Western series Comanche that he did with the writer Greg, there was also the After The Catastrophe series Jeremiah and the Middle Ages series The Towers of Bois Maury that he did alone.

One of the earliest Francobelgian comics I discovered, besides Tintin and Lucky Luke, was Gaston Lagaffe or Viggo as he was called in Norwegian, by Franquin, the artist of the classic adventure strip Spirou. Gaston was a humour strip, a series of one page gags. Personally I prefer the early strips, like above, still fairly restrained compared to the later ones.

At that time I sold strips and cartoons to a Norwegian humour magazine called Konk. A lot of the money I earned went to buy comics, usually ordered from Denmark. One favourite would be Barry Smith and his Conan stories. I'd try to copy his drawings, but of course fail miserably.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A cover for Bild & Bubbla...

...the Swedish magazine about comics. They did an interview with me some years ago.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

More old heroes

In the early eighties I used to order albums from Denmark that hadn't been translated into Norwegian. One of them was The Ballad of The Salt Sea, by Hugo Pratt, where Corto Maltese makes his first appearance. It's one of the first graphic novels (before that term was invented!), and it's still a great book. Pratt's drawings are just as fresh today. The book has been published in both black and white and in colour, but I really reccommend the black and white version.

Storm P (1882-1949) was a Danish cartoonist. I had several collections of his drawings and really enjoyed his characters and the inventiveness of his drawings.

A Contract With God by Will Eisner made a big impression when I first read it. I also liked his Big City - A Portrait and The Spirit comics.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Old heroes

Serge Clerc was a hero of mine, and I still enjoy his drawings a lot. There was a book of his drawings, Mémoires de l'Espion published by Les Humanoides Associés in the 80s, that might be difficult to find now, but that really blew my mind when I first saw it.

This was one of the first graphic novels I read: Silence by Comès. It was originally published in (A suivre), and then collected in a book. The version I read was the Danish one. It's a very powerful story, drawn in striking black and white images, that really deserves to be translated into English.

I really enjoyed the Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu comics drawn by Paul Gulacy, a very appealing mix of James Bond and martial arts. I never had all the issues of his run, and I think the ones I had I've managed to lose, so the publication of a complete collection would be nice.

The Gift

Cate Blanchett is a psychic. She is asked by the police to help find a missing woman. Also starring Keanu Reeves as the least convincing redneck ever - where's Sam Rockwell when you need him? - and Giovanni Ribisi. Co-written by Billy Bob Thornton and directed by Sam Raimi.

Another Southern Gothic by Thornton, but less successfull than Sling Blade. Raimi's earlier film A Simple Plan was also better. One problem is that the film falls between two chairs. It neither works as a horrorfilm or as an indiefilm type portrayal of life in the South. The psychic stuff is hard to believe, but you can sort of accept it. The ending however goes one step further, and instead of being profound it's just silly. Blanchett is good in her role, though, and the film was maybe necessary for Raimi on his way to do the Spider-Man movies.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Day of the Outlaw

Robert Ryan is in conflict with an other rancher and in love with that man's wife, Tina Louise (well, who wouldn't be?). Things heat up even more when Burl Ives and his gang ride into town. Directed by André De Toth.

An austere, psychological western set in a snowy landscape, the film looks great in black and white. If Ingemar Bergman had ever done a western it would probably have looked something like this. De Toth avoids the usual clichés, there's no clear division between the white hats and the black hats, and good luck in guessing how it will end. Ryan is solid, as always, but the film really belongs to Ives.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Village of the Damned

In an English village all the inhabitants fall into a deep sleep lasting a few hours. Later the women turn out to be pregnant, and the children that are born have strange powers. Starring George Sanders, Barbara Shelley and also that guy from that one episode of The Fawlty Towers... the one with the guy posing as a lord and who tries to steal Basil's coin collection, you know?

Another film with pregnant women but no bellies showing! Of the horror subgenre of creepy kids this must be one of the best films, even though part of the concept maybe has lost some power being copied in shows like Flashforward and a John Carpenter remake. One thing I like about the film is it's Britishness, with characters saying things like Blimey! and Strewth!, things I've previously only heard on Monty Python. Also the fact that, even though some theories are given, there is no answer where the kids actually come from or what their purpose is.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Another page...

from Athos in America, this time from the title story. I killed off Athos in The Last Musketeer, then realized that I liked the character. What to do? Well, I can keep on telling stories about Athos, they just have to take place in the past. Here he's in a bar in New York, around 1919.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Eyes Without A Face

A surgeon kidnaps young women to try to transplant their face onto the one of his daughter, disfigured in a car accident. Directed by Georges Franju.

A both creepy and poetic French horror film from 1960. It leaves plenty of room for your imagination, and you can't help but admire the economy of the storytelling and the purity of the black and white images.

The first page...

... from the story The Brain That Wouldn't Virginia Woolf, first the text, then the thumbnail sketch, and then the finished original with the text translated into French.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Athos in America

This description of the next book, Athos in America, has come up on amazon:

Another all-original collection of full-color graphic novellas in the format of Low Moon, Athos in America takes its title from the lead story, a prequel of sorts to the graphic novel The Last Musketeer, in which the seemingly ageless swashbuckler turns up in a bar in 1920 New York and relates the tale of how he went to Hollywood to play himself in a film version of The Three Musketeers. Another tie-in with a previous Jason story occurs in “The Smiling Horse,” in which the characters from the story “&” in Low Moon attempt to kidnap a woman.

Also in this volume: “The Brain That Wouldn’t Virginia Woolf,” a mash-up of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, told in reverse chronological order; the Bukowski pastiche “A Cat From Heaven” in which Jason works on his comic, has a reading in a comic book store, gets drunk and makes a fool of himself; the dialogue-free (all the text occurs in thought balloons) “Tom Waits on the Moon,” in which we follow four people (one of them a scientist working on a teleportation machine) until something goes wrong; and “So Long Mary Ann,” a prison-escape love-triangle story. 200 pages of full-color comics

Another sketch

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Prowler

Cop Van Heflin falls for housewife Evelyn Keyes and decides to get rid of her husband. Directed by Joseph Losey.

Not lousy at all, ha ha. (Sorry!) Actually a great, little film noir, commenting on the post WW2 material wealth. Keyes has it, living in a big house, but is unhappy and doesn't want it. Heflin lives in a crummy apartment and desperately wants it, even going to the step of killing someone. And he's a cop! But compared to the couple in Double Indemnity, this couple is strangely sympathetic. Maybe it's the actors. Because of the Hays code, saying that crime must be punished, you know it's not going to end well, but the third act is still quite exciting and pretty dark. Keyes gets pregnant by Heflin before she marries him, I didn't know that was allowed on film at the time. Strangely, she has a baby, but we never see her in a pregnant state, so showing her stomach would not have been allowed by the Hays code?

Montpellier sketches

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Surviving Desire

Martin Donovan is a litterature professor falling for one of his students. Directed by Hal Hartley.

Ah, Martin Donovan... It's still strange to see him in films or tv shows not by Hartley, even though it's been years since the last time they worked together. And Hartley sure is good at finding these gorgeous, interestinglooking actresses for his films. Adrienne Shelly, Elina Löwensohn and here Mary Ward. In usual fashion there are no establishing shots, the characters say out loud what they think or share deadpan conversations. Even breaking out in a spontaneous dancenumber to express their feelings. It's a short film, only 55 minutes, but has the charm of his early feature films. It asks a lot of questions: What does love mean? Will you find out in books? and doesn't really give any answers except maybe "Knowing is not enough."

An old, autobiographical strip

MY LIFE AS A BRAT / Look! / What is it? / A porn mag! / Wow! / Look at her! / Nice tits! / Hey, isn't that your mother? / Very funny! / Anybody want it? / Naw / Naw / Okay, let's go.