CF: How did you initially get into comics and when did you decide that’s what you wanted to focus on as an artist?
My Dad has a big comics collection. Essentially classical “Franco-belge” comics (Tintin / Asterix / LuckyLuke). His mom used to work at Dargaud Editions (a big French comics publisher) as a secretary. So when he was a kid, she would bring him back comic books from work. That’s why me and my brothers read a lot of comic books.
I started to draw very early (3/5 years old) and never stopped. I did my first fanzine at the age of 7, it was about this guy who always had bad luck, like Gaston Lagaffe but more punk (he has a earring and a moustache and maybe a mullet haircut). I don’t know when I decided to focus on becoming an artist. I know that at the end of high school, I had planned to study in an engineering school, (I studied science in high school) but finally I went to an art school to study drawing in the most classical way (the kind of school where you stay 16 hours in front of a card box and you have draw it perfectly). That’s where I met my friends with whom I founded Arbitraire.
“I still believe in books. I’m less and less excited by screens. Especially at the moment when you know that governments want to have more power and control on the internet.”
CF: In 2005 you co-founded the Arbitraire collective and publishing house, how did that come about and what is the aim of the collective?
So I met these people at school, we had the same appreciation for alternative comics (we used to read comics of L’association, Cornelius, etc). We were a bit apart from the rest of our schoolmates. Because this school was really classical, and we loved the “underground artists”, we used to meet at Renaud Thomas‘ flat and draw “cadavre exquis” comics. One day, we decided to compile our little stories in a fanzine. We called our collective and the fanzine Arbitraire. We’ve always worked step by step. Now it’s a real publishing house driven by Juliette Salique, Renaud Thomas and myself. The collective is still alive, but as each of the artists has to manage his professional life, we work less and less together. The artists of Arbitraire collective are: Ophélie Bernaud, Renaud Thomas, Antoine Marchalot, Geraud Piguel, Julien Nesme, Vincent Pianina and myself.
CF: My generation grew up with comic books in their hands not on their screens. How do you feel about the digital vs. physical divide when it comes to comic books and how do you think the craft will evolve in the future?
That is a tricky question. First I don’t have any smartphone or digital tablet. I don’t believe in it. These can be useful tools, but today it’s more of a consumer product than a real tool. The idea of transferring something physical to a screen, well, I don’t think it works. If you invent something special for the digital tool then why not, but if it’s just a digital reproduction of somethings that’s already there I ‘m not really sure.
I still believe in books. I’m less and less excited by screens. Especially at the moment when you know that governments want to have more power and control on the internet, and when people put their whole life in their smartphone. I spend far too much time on my computer and internet. And as I said, I don’t have a smartphone. I know that 80% of my time spent on internet is just waste. I worked in French high and middle school with kids that waste their time on facebook and youtube, while we tried to show ourselves fanzines. 10 years later we founded Arbitraire, in part because I wanted to come back to the cheapest way of publishing a story, but also ideas. And I really want to transmit that to the kids. With a few A4 sheets, a black pen and a photocopier you can “broadcast” what you want to say all around you.
2 or 3 years ago, a digital comics magazine started in France, it’s called Professeur Cyclope. They wanted to attract more people to the alternative comics scene because less and less people read alternative comic books. But I don’t think it really worked. I published 4 stories in this magazine. Some of my friends said that they wanted to read my stories, but the fact that it was on a screen repelled them. I think if you like an artist and you want to read his art, it doesn’t matter where it’s published, if it’s on screen or on paper. And even if you appreciate his work on a screen, you will more often than not end up with a piece of his art in printed form. It’s the same with music. A lot of people download mp3’s, but when you really like a band or an artist you’ll buy the physical stuff.
I don’t know how it will evolve in the future. When I work with the kids, I just want them to be curious about things, to open books. I’m really not sure about the whole digital thing.
CF: If you could create a soundtrack for your work, what would you choose?
Pffffffiou… hard question. It could be loads of things. Right now I’d say Jeru the Damaja’s album: The Sun Rises in the East.
CF: What is your favourite thing about living in Lyon?
Well haha. I don’t really live in Lyon at the moment. I lived in London 2 years ago and when I came back to Lyon I never really settled. I had to work in Paris and then Besançon and I recently moved back to Paris, where my girlfriend lives. I could say that what I liked in Lyon was the fact that it’s a small and calm city, but I could also say that’s what I didn’t like about Lyon. I’m going to live with my girlfriend in Paris in the 18eme, it’s a popular area. I like that. I like Paris anyway, and after London, it seems quite small as well.
“I did my first fanzine at the age of 7, it was about this guy who always had bad luck, like Gaston Lagaffe but more punk”
CF: You published your first comic book in 2013, are there plans for more? What else are you currently working on?
I recently finished a comic book that is a compilation of the small stories I’ve published in Professeur Cylcope last year. (The digital magazine I told you about). It’s called “Isaac Neutron: vers de nouveaux paradigmes galactiques” and it was published via Arbitraire. I also finished a 130-page comic, “La Danse des Morts” that was published in August at Les requins Marteaux. The publisher of my first book “Marlisou”.
In parallel to that I’ve been working in middle schools of Besançon with my friends June Misserey and Renaud Thomas, we try to trigger the passion of comics and fanzine on kids. I’ll probably keep on doing that next year in the Parisean suburbs. Also, in october 2014 I released an animated video clip for the band Cheveu with Margaux Duseigneur. That’s something I’d like to reiterate. Finally, I’ve started to write another project; but that’s a bigger thing, which will need time. Something without boundaries, a mix of texts, comics, and illustrations.