You are the author of ‘’Mohammad Ali’’, recently published in Italy by BD Edizioni. When did you realize that you wanted to become an illustrator?
From a very early age indeed. I used to read all comic-books we had in France and I believe that it was a very good thing to do. When I was 15 I told myself that I would have done everything possible to become an illustrator. I worked for many years as illustrator until I had the desire to work for myself starting to write my first stories.
You have collaborated with Paco Ignacio Taibo II. How did this collaboration develop?
Paco Ignacio Taibo II is my favorite author. When I finished his ‘’Cuatro manos’’, I told myself: this is exactly what I want to do. His book contemporaneously talks about Mexican revolution, Spanish Civil War, Sandokan and pirates. We can have everything in the same book. I tried to contact Paco, I called his publisher pretending to be a journalist to obtain his contacts. I called him and he said to me: I live in Mexico, come and join me. I took a plane, I met him, we discussed as long as he asked me: ‘’Which is your favorite comic-book?’’. I answered him. ‘’Watchmen’’. He added: ‘’Mine is V for Vendetta’’. We had an handshake and we said to ourselves: ‘’Good, we are going to work together’’.
You work with a movie style and you said that you have created some movie frames also for “Mohammad Alì”. Which movie director would inspire you?
It depends from the different projects. The use of a movie style is very convenient in the field of comics as it allows focusing on a single sketch for strip. The eye does not start to move everywhere. The reading is very simple as we move from the top to the bottom so it is faster. I am a big fan of Frank Miller who has recovered at the beginning of his career all the most practical instruments especially the five vignettes structure. The movie style has a big influence on me and on the American production and I decided to use it. Another author that I admire is Darwyn Cooke who has drawn “The New Frontier” where he uses three vignettes for page. An effect that I particularly appreciate as allows to frame the images in the way we create a movie plane and allows to play with the composition and the repetition. And this is a type of work which is different for me from that we are used to do with comics since we can usually have in a single comic-book page a multitude of small vignettes then a big one and finally another one on the side, instead in this way there is a regularity that allows of not to take anymore care of the format but to focus on what there is inside the vignette.
Are you publishing a new book? Would it become the sequel of “Bag Men”?
Yes it is true. When I published ‘’Bag Men’’ in France, readers had the impression that it was my first book whereas it was my seventh one, but this is actually the first book where I took care of illustration, script, color, all by myself from A to Z. This is exactly what I wanted to do. I created the format, the color, I told the story I wanted. I tried to do the opposite of what usually happens in cinema where there are both ‘’good’’ and ‘’bad’’. In my book you can find only the ‘’bad’’ and some of them appear much more evil than others. I wanted to do something original and noir style because I realized there were not many noir stories in comics world. In “Bag Men” the movie directors who mostly influenced me are Christopher McQuarrie, director of ‘’The way of the gun’’ and scriptwriter of ‘’The usual suspects’’ and Tony Scott; his ‘’Man on fire’’ deeply impressed me. It is a kidnapping story as ‘’Bag Men’’ which went so far as cinema permitted it, I went even further.