Monday, February 29, 2016

Interview 5

Also for Spain, not sure which publication (I've tried several times to enlarge the font, but with no luck. Sorry!):

1.- First of all, congratulations for your work and thank you for so many good, wonderful times. Lost Cat is your longest story ever. Was it harder than before? Did you make one script or did you improvise as usual? Did you feel more comfortable working with four-cartoon pages?
No, it wasn't really harder than before, even though I find making longer stories a challenge. It's still a fairly short graphic novel. Counting the panels, I don't think it's longer than a Tintin album. Yes, the story is improvised, as I always do. I worked in sequences, some from the beginning, other from the end, and then had to put all the pages in a correct order when finished. One problem with that, is that it's difficult to improvise a plot, especilally if you have to give different clues throughout the book. So the plot isn't really that important, and some readers might be disappointed that I don't have all the answers at the end. Yes, I like the four panel grid, the visual style it has.

2.- Lost Cat is your first work after your collaboration with FabienVehlmann in Isle of 100,000 graves, if I’m not wrong. How was backing to work only by yourself? Did this previous oeuvre à quatre mains (colorful and even humoristic) change your way of writing or drawing? Is possible to find any new elements now in Lost Cat?
I believe I did Werewolves of Montpellier and Athos in America after Isle of 100 000 Graves. There wasn't any problem going back to doing a book all by myself. I enjoyed doing the album with Fabien and it was fun drawing pirates, but I also realized the most fun of doing comics for me is not doing the drawings, it's telling the story, creating the characters and writing the dialogues. The drawing is actually the boring part! I don't know if my storytelling has changed after the piratebook. I don't believe so. But I don't analyze my books after they're done. It's up to others to do that.

3.- Which were your influences in Lost Cat (movies, crime novels)? Are you interested in comic noir panorama? Is Dan Delon (and Athos, The Last Musketeer or many other main characters yours) a dazed hero in a tragic world, like anyone of us? Why do you think it’s so easy to connect with your stories? Which are Jason’s fears?
I was mostly influenced by Raymond Chandler's books, the Philip Marlowe novels, and also The Big Sleep movie version with Humprey Bogart. The Maltese Falcon as well. I like the old pulp writers like Chandler, David Goodis and Charles Willeford and the film noirs from the 40s.  Yes, I suppose I have a pessimistic view of the world, but at the same time some room for hope. I don't know why it's easy to connect to the stories. I hope they are well told and well drawn. I try to capture the reader's interest. Hergé was very good at that. Three pages into a Tintin album and you were hooked. My fears? The usual ones, I guess. As an cartoonist, I guess blindness would be pretty bad. Or losing your drawing hand.

4.- Searching for a twin soul: is love the main shelter is this melancholic, absurd, permanently in crisis world?
I guess it could be. It's definitely a theme in the book: the search for a soul mate, and what do you do if you find it and then lose it?

5.- Crossover as one of your strong points: sci-fi, historic, terror… How challenging is it? Do you follow any method for doing that?
No method, really. I like reading books and watching movies. I like genres. I like playing around in those worlds. There are certain rules, but you also have a lot of freedom to talk about whatever interests you. And I like mixing things up, to be able to see things from hopefully a new angle. It's fun. To tell a strictly socialrealistic story , about drugs or unemployment or something, I find less interesting.

6.- How is Jason’s life in Montpellier? Have you ever been in Spain? Do you know any Spanish comic author?
It's a very simple life. I draw most of the time, or I go out to find a bench in a park to read a book or meet someone for playing a game of chess. The weather is better here than it is in Norway. Yes, I've been to Barcelona several times. It's a city I like a lot. I wish I could speak the language. I know the work of some of the Spanish cartoonists at Astiberri, like David Rubin. I like the work of Jordi Bernet.

7.- How will be your next comic book? What are you working on at the moment?
It will probably be another collection of short stories, like Athos in America. I have different short stories I'm working on right now. I hope to be finished by the end of the year for a publication in the summer of 2015.

8.- Just curious: Charlotte (anthropomorphic dog) having Kitty (nonanthropomorphic cat) as a pet? Paradox, a joke or just a resource to give the appearance of normali?
No, it's not meant to be a joke or a paradox. To me the characters are people, not animals. People – with animal heads, that's all. I had the idea for the opening of the book, with the detective that finds a cat and brings it back to the owner. I never thought about changing that opening, just because the characters also appears to be cats or dogs. To me, they're not.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Luigi Martinati

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Interview 4

...for Spanish website 13millones de naves, from 2010:

- 3 comics that you consider memorable
Maus by Art Spiegelman
The Poor Bastard by Joe Matt
Ballad of the Salt Sea by Hugo Pratt

- The last book you have read
Invisible by Paul Auster

- 3 essential records
The Trinity Session by Cowboy Junkies
Secrets of the Beehive by David Sylvian
Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan

- What is your favorite fictional character?
 Homer Wells, from Cider House Rules by John Irving

- 3 favortites movies
Fanny and Alexander by Ingemar Bergman
Days of Heaven by Terrence Malick
Rushmore by Wes Anderson

- What is your favorite superhero of all time?
 I don't know. Spiderman?

- What is your favorite supervillain of all time?

- An advice that you always repeat to yourself
 Put that knife down

- The last time you came to a 'costume party' you
  were disguise in ?
 I've never been to a costume party

- Your favorite Walt Disney's movie is  ...
 Snow White

- your favorite political character

- If you could travel back in time your destination would be .. ..
 Paris in the 20s

- An unforgettable day in your life
 Hasn't happened yet

- A complex

- Who (or) what do you find intolerable to the absolute limit
 Celine Dion

Interview 3

...from AUX Magazine in Spain, from 2011:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

  1. 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.

Interview 2

...for Spanish magazine Doze, from 2013:

  • Your stories, regardless of their theme (drama, comedy...), always have a flavour of adventure, as if you were looking for the unexpected, the surprise in the plot. Does it come naturally or is there a deeper reason to create your comics in that way?
  • I like melodrama. With the exception of Hey, Wait... I think there's been a gun in all of my books. I like writers like Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff. But if I use those kind of characters, I put them in other stories. Possibly he's a divorced alchoholic, but at the same time he's fighting monsters from Mars or zombies. I like that mix of everyday reality and fantasy. And I improvise my stories, so I don't know where they will end up.
  • What about romance? You’ve always shown a big inclination for love stories, in the purest style of classic Hollywood movies...
  • I don't know where that comes from. I've probably seen too many Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films.
  • In fact, cinema references constantly appear in your comics. What kind of directors and movies have enriched you narrative world? In which way?
  • I like a lot of old films, from the 20s to the 70s. Silent films, film noir, westerns. And I like minimalistic directors like Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismäki. Or quirky directors like Hal Hartley and Wes Anderson. Directors that have a vision, and you see their personality in their films. I'm less interested in committee made films like what you often see today.
  • Talking about movies, in your comics you like to play with b-side movies characters, like androids, vampires, zombies, werewolves... Do you especially like that genre?
  • Yes, I like working within a genre. Even in a b-movie style, from old horror movies or old science fiction serials. They're fun to do. And you can play around with the genre, go in different directions, combining two different genres and so on.
  • Besides movies, litterature is also very present in your works. How do you feed yourself from writers like Hemingway or Scott Fitzgerald, who appeared in “Werewolves of Montpellier”?
  • They appeared in a book called Hemingway, not Werewolves of Montpellier, but yes, I'm also inspired by books, not only movies. Hemingway is one of my favourite writers, especially his earlier books, and I had read a lot of biographies about him, so I used all that information to tell a story, but making him a cartoonist to create some distance to the real Hemingway, giving me more freedom to invent. And of course, Athos from The Three Musketeers I put in Werewolves of Montpellier. I liked the idea of him in an old science fiction serial like Flash Gordon.
  • In your stories you usually play with a laconic, even cynical humour. Black humour, to sum up. Where does that influence come from? Is it the same humour that you personally have?
  • I don't know where that comes from. I'm not necessarily a fan of black humour. A show like SouthPark, that I see as having kind of a cynical humour, doesn't appeal to me. I liked The Simpsons or Friends, stuff like that. I don't watch much sitcoms anymore, but when I did, it was pretty mainstream stuff. There might be a dark element in my humour, but I hope it isn't meanspirited. I hope in the end it's uplifting, positive.
  • In 1995 you published “Pocket full of rain”, a comic made with a realistic style of drawing. How do you recall those early jobs, before developping your characteristic anthropomorphic characters?
  • In my late teens and early 20s I tried to copy lots of different cartoonists. My taste changed every week. So I tried to copy Berni Wrightson, or Barry Smith or Hermann. When I did Pocket Full of Rain I tried to copy Jaime Hernandez and Hugo Pratt. That was the combination I was going for, poor fool that I was. And I was not that happy with the drawings. They look clumsy to me now. Plus, it took me a long time to work in that style. Usually it took me a day to do one panel, a week to do a page. The whole thing, 48 pages, took about a year and a half.
  • You started to develope that anthropomorphic style in 1997 with “Mjau, mjau”, your own comic-book. How did you come up with that idea?
  • It came from being unhappy with the realistic style. I wanted something easier, that would take less time. And discovering the animal characters, I discovered they fit better to the kind of stories I wanted to tell. Like Hey, Wait... I don't think that book would have worked as well in a realistic style.
  • Do you consider that your drawing style is still evolving? I mean, it looks like you have a very solid style, almost immovable.
  • I guess it's quite evolved. I don't see any big changes in the future. But I still do some experimentation. In Athos in America I went back to using a brush in some stories. I work with a wider pen, giving the drawings less of a ligne claire look. I think I'm moving towards a slightly sketchier look. I don't want the drawing to look pefect. I find that perfect look to be kind of boring. And I experiment with using a colourpencil., to colour the story myself.
  • Don’t you have the curiosity of making something completely different, a comic that can surpirse both you and your readers?
  • I hope my stories are still different. Different styles, different genres. I hope the reader will not be quite sure what they're getting when they pick up a new book by me.
  • Why do your characters tend to be so quiet?
  • They're not talkers. Maybe because I'm not the most talkative person myself. But also I find a quiet character more interesting than someone who constantly talks about himself. Well, Athos, from The Last Musketeer, is an exception. He talks a lot. I like to write his dialogues. Or monologues rather. I like that he's so deluded, not being able to see reality in the eyes; He's living in a fantasy.
  • I’ve read some interviews where you talked about how hard it is for you to write the dialogues of your charachters. Has that part of your work become easier through the years?
  • Yes, somewhat. I find it easier to write dialogues now than in the beginning. It was a challenge to write text, something I wanted to try. And now I find that is the part of doing comics that is most interesting. Creating characters, and writing their dialogues, not the drawing.
  • Besides they don’t show strong gestures or facial expressions, your characters always transmit the feelings that the scene requires. How do you manage to get that narrative precision?
  • Yes, that's the paradox. By not giving the characters easily readable feelings, the reader has to put his own feelings into the character. I think it works better that way, the minimalistic style. I don't want the characters to overact. For a character to just lower his head a bit can be more effective.
  • Just one doubt: why don’t you draw the pupils of your characters?
  • In the beginning the characters were all black – they were cats or crows -so they had white pupils. Later I gave them also white skin, but kept the white pupils. I like that they don't show a lot of emotions. That's something I probably stole from Buster Keaton, or from Aki Kaurismäki, who doesn't allow his actors to show emotions.
  • You’re a quiet person. Would you say that, in some way, you represent yourself in your comics and characters?
  • Sure. That's hard to avoid. You put yourself in the story, even if it isn't necessarily autobiography.
  • How do you use silences in order to prevent a boring, too slow rhythm of the story?
  • I like the use of silence. Why does there need to be text in every image? If a sequence works better without text, then fine, I don't use any text. And I usually avoid thought balloons. I prefer to let the reader imagine what the character is thinking or feeling.
  • I would like you to talk about the way that you build your stories, with some gaps that the reader must fill in to understand the whole plot. Why is that? Do you have the feeling that, some times, you demand too much from the readers?
  • No, I don't think I ask too much of the reader. And I don't want it to be just one interpretation of a story. If three readers see it in three different ways that's fine, that's what I want. I find it boring if I'm told everything, in a comic or a movie. I'd prefer to do my own interpretation. If I have one rule I work by, it's: leave a mystery. Don't tell the reader everything.
  • Why don’t you colour your own stories, instead of working with a colorist (Hubert Boulard)?
  • Because I'm very happy with his work and because I'm not familiar with photoshop or doing colourization that way. But with my next book, Lost Cat, I did the colouring myself, using a red colourpencil. So it's black and white plus red.
  • Unlike all your previous works, in “The isle of 100.000 graves” you collaborated with a scriptwriter, in this case Fabien Vehlman. Why did you decide to change your work process? How did Vehlman contribute to this book?
  • I wanted to see how it was working with a writer. And Vehlmann is quite well known in France so I would hopefully reach a wider audience. I was not involved in the script. Vehlmann did the whole thing, but with me in mind. So it has maybe a kind of Jason feel to it.
  • Would you repeat the experience, with Vehlman or any other author?
  • Yes, I expect at some point to work with a writer again. Maybe Vehlmann or maybe someone else. Hubert, my colourist, is also a scriptwriter, so it would be nice someday to work with him.
  • The other way round, have you thought about the possibility of writing a script for other cartoonists?
  • No, I don't think so. I don't write scripts for myself, so I wouldn't do it for anybody else. My books are always improvised, often drawn directly on the original. I don't do the traditional script, sketch, original, in three stages like that. Usually I go back and forth, sketching a bit here, then inking it, sometimes imagining the dialogue while I'm drawing. I would be bored if I knew the whole story before starting.


...for a Spanish news agency, from 2015:

Actually you're (for me) one of the surrealism comic authors, but with "Frida, parrot" you've done a very very surrealism exercise! Don't you think?

No, I'm not sure if I agree. There are some surreal elements in the stories, but in my opinion no actual surreal stories. Maybe the one with Frida Kahlo and her parrot is the one that comes closest. 

On this occasion some of the character are very famous people, why have you decided to introduce them in these stories?

It's not something completely new. I did an album about Hemingway before, and also short strips with Darth Vador, Elvis and other characters. After Lost Cat, my previous book, I wanted to tell some lighter stories this time, and some of them are parodies or homages to famous films or people, like Robert Mitchum and Chet Baker.

Magritte, Frida Khalo, Nostradamus and Brigitte Bardot... why these characters? Are they special for you?

I'm a big fan of Magritte, and I had one story where his paintings could fit. Kahlo I used mainly because I could draw her as an animal character, yet you can see who it is. The story is not really about her, she's rather a killer for hire. So it's mostly the iconic side of her I use. The same with Nostradamus, that strange hat he wore - I could draw him as an animal character. I'm not a fan of Bardot. It's just her last name, how it's similar to Godot. She doesn't appear as a character in the story.

Khalo and Lorena Velázquez. Both are very iconic women, Could you tell me, what's your relationship with them?

I like Frida Kahlo's paintings, and she was a facinating person, but as said, it's not really her in the story. I watched one of the Mexican Santo film with Lorena Velázquez on youtube, and it's hard not to be captured by her looks. I wanted to make my own Santo story and have her be one of the charcters. And then I used her name as the title of the story. 

Why headline the book with the name of Frida? 

I first came up with the English title: "If You Steal". But it didn't work that well in French, so I decided to rather use "Frida Kahlo's Parrot". As a title it has both some poetry and mystery, I feel.

With Mjau-mjau you began to create stories starring anthropomorphic animals; an idea that nowadays has become one of your trademark features. When did you consider that they were the perfects draws to tell your stories?

Pretty early. I did the stories with the bird character collected in Shhh!, and those stories are sort of fables. They wouldn't work drawn in a realistic style. The animal characters are more universal. Everybody can relate to them.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Camino panel 7

Finished pages: 37
Half finished: 51
Some details left: 11
Just begun: 31