- Let’s start with a question posed in ‘Hemingway’: “why do we create comics?” (or at least why do you create them)
That's a good question. I don't know. A need for telling stories, I guess, to try to make some sense of things. It's the one thing I know how to do. I don't have any other skills. If I didn't draw comics I would probably be washing dishes somewhere.
- I’m curious about how would the history of art have changed if Hemingway, Fitzgerald or Joyce had created those comics you talk about in ‘Hemingway’. What do you think about it?
It would have been a shame, I think. I'm glad they wrote novels. There is room for both, novels and comics. There's often a depth in novels that can be missing in comics. How many true masterpieces are there in comics? Ten? Twenty?. How many masterpieces are there in the novel? Hundreds. Us cartoonists still have a long way to go.
- Silence is very important in your cartoons, and so it is in ‘Les Lous-garous de Montpellier’. Sometimes it seems like an influence of silent films… do you feel like that?
Yes, I like silent films, also the comics of Hugo Pratt that often used panels without words. I don't feel the need to put text into each panel, only if it is necessary. And I also prefer not to give the characters thought balloons. If I have some rule I work by, it's: Don't tell everything. Leave a mystery.
- Is this silence the one to blame for the patina of loneliness that normally covers your cartoons?
I don't know. Maybe. I guess the most important thing is that if the reader doesn't know what the characters think and feel, he will have to put his own thoughts and feelings into the story.
- Classic cinema has influenced this ‘Les Lous-garous de Montpellier’ too. Could you talk to us about it?
I like all kinds of movies, mostly old ones. Silent films, westerns, film noir, science fiction, black and white films. Les Loups-garous is influenced by An American Werewolf in London. I had an idea for a werewolf story a long time, but felt something was missing.. Then I got the idea to combine it with an Audrey Hepburn film, I thought that could be something fun.
- After using black and white in your first works, you evolved to a style based on flat colours and thin lines. Are you more comfortable with this style?
So far, yes. The ligne claire style looks better in colour. I grew a bit bored of drawing with a pen nib, so I recently went back to using a brush for a couple of stories. But I think the pen works better for me. I might go back to black and white in my next project.
- I have always been curious about your anthropomorphic animal characters. How did they get born?
Originally I drew in a realistic style, but I was never totally happy with the result, so I started trying out different styles, one of them being the animal characters, and those were the ones that seemed to fit best with the type of stories I wanted to tell.
- Is there any correlation between each character’s personality and the animal that represents it? (One tends to expect dog-characters being more active or even aggressive, duck-characters being maybe more weak and clever… and this underlying reading often helps to perceive the character’s personality at first glance).
No, there is no correlation between the type of animal and the character's personality.
- Which are your greatest influences when creating your cartoons?
From comics: Hergé, Dan Clowes, Chester Brown, Joe Matt, Lewis Trondheim, Hugo Pratt.
From movies: Jim Jarmusch, Hal Hartley, Aki Kaurismäki, Buster Keaton, film noir
From books: Hemingway, Bukowski, Raymond Carver, David Goodis, Charles Willeford
- We have somehow become accustomed to your high production rate… what are you working on these days?
For the moment, nothing. I'm having a vacation. I just finished the next book, Athos in America, which is a book of short stories in the same format as Low Moon. It should be out in French in October.
11. As a last question, where are you answering these questions from? We always give that information to our readers… thank you.
The city where I live, Montpellier.