A Saturday afternoon talk by Dave Gibbons (illustrator of, among others, Watchmen) and Jean-Claude Mézières (illustrator of Valérian and Laureline); part of the BD & Comics Passion festival at the Institut Francais.
One of the first questions asked by the host of the event is ‘how many of the audience are involved in comics, drawing or writing?’, half the hands in the audience go up, mostly those near the front of the auditorium. ‘So’ says the host, turning to where Gibbons and Mézières sit, ‘ these are the competition’. Mézières cocks the thumb of each hand and swings his pretend guns from left to right, grinning as he does so.
It’s a light hearted opening to the hour long session which is more conversation than interrogation. Both illustrators have a pad of paper and a pen, and throughout the hour they take audience suggestions (spaceman, alien animal, next stage of human evolution, monster crushing a car), and we watch as they draw, the sketches projected on to the cinema screen behind them via a top mounted camera.
As they draw they talk, and we learn that, among other things:
- Jean-Claude Mézières and Pierre Christin (writer of Valérian and Laureline) have been friends ever since they shared the same air raid shelter growing up together during WWII.
- There are three ways to make it in the comics business: be reliable, be good, be a nice person. Gibbons thinks he’s two out of three.
- Gibbons mostly reads non-fiction these days.
- Mézières read a lot more SF when he was young than he does now (absorbing as he read, like a sponge).
- Gibbons is doing a DC series with Mark Millar, is writing a new series called ‘Treatment’ (described as freelance police on reality TV), and is also working on an iPad app with Liam Sharp, and others, called ‘Madefire’.
- Mézières was disappointed with the animated series of Valérian and Laureline.
- There was a much bigger signing queue for Mézières than Gibbons. I put it down to age, and being in the Institut Francais.
- The Institut Fancais is a great place for a small comic book festival.