When you were a kid, which job did you want to do?
I wanted to be a race car driver or a jet pilot, which is sometimes maybe the same thing, no? My father was a fan of Formula One so he always had a sports car and I grew up knowing all the drivers and the various types of races and cars and going to amateur races with my father and watching him drive. He taught me to drive an Austin Healey 3000 MKIII when I was 15 years old. I loved that car. Then when I was 9 or 10 I also became aware of music and I wanted to be a rock n roll guitar player and have girls hanging off my legs.
What were your favorite comic books as a kid?
Superman, Superboy, Spider-Man, Batman, Tin Tin, Denace The Menace, Illustrated Classics...
What is your scholar (and artistic) way?
No real formal training past high school. I quit college to join a rock band. Art training is very sketchy. The last formal thing was an animation course taught by a former Disney artist, a 13 week intensive thing.
Before making comic books, did you do something else?
I left school to be a rock guitarist. I did that for 10 years playing in club bands, going nowhere. I finally gave up and became a video editor, making tv commercials, movie trailers, music videos and documentaries. I did that for another 10 years before beginning SiP.
When and why did you decide to really become a comic books author?
I was not satisfied making videos, I wanted to tell my own stories. It takes too many people and too much money to make videos and movies. But I can make an issue of SiP by myself. It's a better way to create. I will have made more stories in books by the time I die than if I had stayed in video or movies.
What was your first project?
SiP #1 was my first comic book ever.
How was born the idea of SIP? Why did you choose girls as main characters?
I wanted to tell an intimate story about women, the kind we can meet any day and the kind we will never meet because they are in much higher circles. I wanted to write about women because they are enough stories about how great men are. What about the women? What happens to them while the men are building and destroying empires. What is it like to be beautiful and surrounded by men behaving as predators? There are stories there.
How would you name SIP's kind of story? Why do you think it has so much success?
SiP is contemporary fiction. The genre... I'm not sure because it changes. It may not be correct for me to say if it is successful or why. I hope it is because SiP is an interesting story told.
What are the sources of your inspiration in SIP?
Oh... too many to remember. Everything from James Bond and crime noir to romance movies. I think the key that started it all was the day I realized how angry women were at men. Men have a self-preservation thing that makes us think things are always better than they are, that we look better than we do and are doing better than we are. Women aren't buying any of that though. The day I realized that, it all began to click.
SIP was initially a short story. Why did you choose to continue this story, instead of exploring a new one?
My next story was going to be an epic sci-fi fantasy titled The Diamond of Time. But I was new to comics and I didn't think I was accomplished enough to do the sci-fi story properly. I decided to stay with SiP because the setting is simpler for the artist (me). Also SiP found a lot of good reviews and I thought it was worth exploring more of the story while I learned my craft.
SIP is now a very complex story... Do you read sometimes your old pages to be sure not to make any mistakes?
Always. But I make mistakes anyway.
In this story, you dare many things that other authors never do : mix the past, the present, and the future, play with the "what if" possibilities... And your reader is never lost. What is your secret?
I think intuitively we all think along the same lines. When you think about your friendship with another person, you don't think only in linear terms, you think in emotional terms... like SiP... maybe you think about your friend drinking a glass of wine yesterday and it reminds you of the last you were with them doing that, maybe 2 years ago. Boom! Your story just went 2 years into the past, but it is connected and logical, no? We don't think linear so I don't write linear.
The graphical expression of the characters' feelings is impressive in all your draws. How did you get this skill?
When I draw I feel like a director persuading a performance from his actors. I am looking for something from my characters and I pull it out of them with the pencil. That is the only way I know how to describe it.
Do you feel particularly close to one character? which one, and why?
I am involved with each character in some way or another, so I take turns standing beside them. When they react to thing good or bad and I can identify with them I feel a connection. But I do not write myself in the characters ? they have their own opinions and beliefs that I may not share.
Question for David : which qualities do you appreciate the most in your friends?
"Their honesty. Their love. The beauty of their souls."
Why do you sometimes mix different narrative styles in the story (novel, comics...)?
Because I want you to do more than just read a comic book, I want you to experience a story. I want you to read what my characters read, hear what they hear, see what they do in private and read their thoughts. All the different ways to write and draw and communicate, they are like different instruments for a band ? done correctly it all works for the same song.
Question for Katchoo : We know each other for a long time... You always looks so pretty, whatever your age or haircut. How do you do?
"Thanks, but I don't think about it. I have a hard time keeping my hair out of my face, it's a mess. And Francine says I should quit smoking ? it's going to give me wrinkles. Whatever."
Many french or belgian authors don't dare to change anything in the physical aspect of their characters, because they are afraid that the reader don't recognize them. But your characters live in your story as if they were real... How can you explain that it works so well?
Well, when I look at photos of people over time they always change. People don't look the same all day every day, they are changing constantly, especially their faces. So I like to show that. If your characters never change then they are like bad actors who have no expressions. There was a joke in Hollywood that Clint Eastwood only had 2 expressions: Mean and Meaner (more mean). Discovering all the different sides of a person is part of the attraction, isn't it?
Question for Francine : What was the most difficult decision you had to take?
"The decision to marry Brad, even though it would take me away from Katchoo. That was the most bittersweet day of my life."
The music plays a very important part in SIP. which music would you advise to hear during the reading?
Music is individual. I would say to listen to whatever moves you, from beautiful to raw. I listen to everything the gathering to desha dunnahoe. My favorite old music right now is Pink Floyd.
You also write poems, that are used in SIP as songs.Do you have some musical project about them?
Most of the poems in SiP are song lyrics to music I wrote. It would be nice to get recordings of those somgs up on the net someday. Although, a SiP fan may hate the music and spoil the book for them. It is risky at this late stage. Hmm. I wonder about this sometimes.
Question for Katchoo : do you have some special regret?
"I regret not castrating Freddie when I had the chance. I am way too nice."
Why did you chose to draw only in black and white?
I always drew black and white cartoons while growing up. To do SiP in B&W was a natural thing for me. I don't know how to work in color really. I have no training for it, only instinct. I will try color things in the future.
How long do you usually spend on a page?
Anywhere from an hour to a day or two. If I am drawing something I am very interested in, it goes quickly. If I am drawing something that bores me it is very difficult. I hate drawing architecture. That takes more time than people for me.
Can you talk about Paradise Too, which we don't have the chance to read in France (because it was not translated)?
Paradise TOO is a comic book collection of my cartoons and sketchbook doodles. It is nothing serious, just ideas and loose drawings. But I did find some good cartoon characters in PTOO. That is where I found Kixie the fairy.
What advise Katchoo should give to Mary Jane Watson about Peter Parker?
"Ditch the dope. You had it better with Gwen. Leave the insect guy and go get a life, join a Broadway show, open a flower shop, anything except wait around for that creep to keep crawling in through the window in the middle of the night. Jeez!"
Would you like SIP to be adapted on TV or on cinema?
TV. Movies are about events, TV is about characters. SiP all about the characters. Think of it as a cross between The Sopranos and Sex and the City.
The end of SIP is coming soon. Why now?
It is time. The story is told. The characters have reached the end of their youth. If we go any further with them it will become a new story about middle-aged women. I decided to let the characters retire to a private life. I feel like they have earned that right.
Do you have decided the end of the story?
Yes, the end is in my head. It may change, but I know where I'm going.
SIP, as Paradise Too, is published by Abstract Studio. You created Abstract Studio with your wife, why did you choose this way to publish your book? Would you give some words about the story of Abstract Studio?
I began in 1993 when the self-publishing boom was hot. I was encouraged to publish my own comics by Jeff Smith and Dave Sim. They showed all of us how to do it. I did what they told me and things worked out well for me. Self-publishing has allowed me to continue doing SiP beyond what a big company might have allowed. I like the freedom, the personal stamp I can put on each book. So I started my own company, Abstract Studio, and went from there. It has been hard sometimes, but I have never regretted it.
Do you read many comics books?
Not as many as I used to. It has to be very very good now for me to read it. I read more novels than comics. Some of the creators I read now are Alan Moore, Darwyn Cooke, Mark Waid, Chris Ware, Jimmy Gownley.
What do you think about the way the women are usually drawn in comic books?
I prefer more realistic women in art. Some of the women in comics are like Erte drawings, pretty but useless. When I see the great artists work though I am thrilled, like any fan. Great art is inspiring. The bad art I try to ignore.
In the book "How to draw" published by the magazine Wizard, you give a lesson about the way to draw realistic women. How came the idea to participate to this book?
They asked for it. I thought that was funny because I am a cartoonist, but still I have this reputation for realistic women only because my women are less than 7 feet tall and more than 100 pounds. Funny.
SIP's end is planed for may. Do you already have some new project?
Yes. But I am not working on the next project untill I finish SiP. I want to give everything I have to SIP and make a great ending. Then I will think about what is next.
What was the most important challenge in your life, as a comics author?
The challenge to stay with my story and not sell out to become and tits and ass comic. In the late 1990's bad girl books were all the rage, and the makers of those stories made a lot of money. It was very tempting because SiP has always been a quiet book, no big news, no big sales events, just quiet steady, growing readership. I talked to retailer in New York about quitting SiP and doing a bad girl book. He talked me out of it and said those books come and go, but we always need a book that will stay with us for years with a good story. I am glad I did not sell out. None of the bad girl books are around today and now they are sort of a joke to everyone.
And your most important pleasure?
The satisfaction of having made something of value that will be here after I am gone. My work has touched the lives of people I will never meet. It is an amazing thing to me. I am blessed.
What advises could you give to a young person who would like to become a comics author?
Decide if you want to be a private person who does art or a public artist whose work is seen by the everyone in the world. Which one are you to be? Make your choice, then work that way.
Don't wait for fame to do your best work. Try to do your best work right now, even if nobody sees it, because your work is what opens doors, not your potential.
You do best what you do most. You will be a much better artist if you draw 10 hours a day instead of 2 hours a day. It is like sports. To work in comics you are trying to compete with artists who work 8-14 hours a day.
If you were to be a comics character, which one would you choose?
Snoopy. All he does is eat, sleep and play. Not a bad life.