Monday, September 25, 2017

Catching up with conservative cartoonist Al Goodwyn

by Mike Rhode
It's been 6 years since I interviewed you for the Washington City Paper - The world's changed a bit since then - have you?
Other than grayer hair and higher cholesterol, I haven't changed much.  Still enjoying life in DC.  And you're right, the world has certainly changed, some for the good and some for the bizarre.  What's also bizarre is that the good and bizarre labels seem to flip depending on individual political perspectives.
About six months ago you started a cartoon blog with Jeff Newman where you provide conservative political cartoons and he does humorous commentary on public events.  Can you tell us how that started, and why you're doing it? How is the reaction?
I had been wanting to try my hand at blogging for some time.  Given that the first steps at blogging aren't really part of the creative process, but include figuring out the mechanics of blogging, the layout, and all of the key strokes needed just to get started, it stayed on the back burner for years.  Jeff's a good friend of mine back in South Carolina and we chat often about politics.  He was actually the push to make the blog finally happen. 
It was over a few beers with Jeff that the topic of blogging resurfaced.  We convinced ourselves we could manage a blog.  Isn't beer amazing?  We wanted the theme to somehow counter the growing number of people who get their news from Comedy Central and memes.  We were both a fan of the book Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole where people seemingly amassed in a confederacy to stymie the protagonist's every move.  From our prospective those who simply latch on to whatever fits their world view without validation from other sources were acting like drones, hence Confederacy ofDrones was launched. 
With lots of snarkiness, satire and sarcasm, we've been posting on a fairly routine basis since then.  Part for fun and part for sanity.  We've loaded over 150 posts so far. We even appreciate other perspectives and disagreement especially when opinions are backed up by facts. The blog can be found here: https://confederacyofdrones.com/.  The reaction has been positive and we've enjoyed engaging with other bloggers on politics.
You've been picked up to do print cartoons for the Washington Examiner, which was Nate Beeler's home when it was a daily. What is the story behind that? Is it all new material for them?
Nate is a phenomenal editorial cartoonist.  His work was a part of my metro commute when the Washington Examiner was a daily newspaper.  I was sorry to see that daily paper go away, partly because it changed my commute routine but mostly because it was another step in the fading of political cartoonists.  Nate has been, and I'm sure he'll continue to be, used by the Washington Examiner through syndication. 
My involvement with the Washington Examiner came about because my cartooning outlet of 28 years, the HealthPhysics News, was cutting back on costs and no longer wanted cartoons.  My start at cartooning began with them back in 1989 when they were called the Health Physics Society Newsletter and ever since then I had been a regular contributor … until this summer when they let me know that they would no longer be running cartoons.  I think they felt worse about it than I did.  It's a business decision that I completely understood.  They had been great to me over those many years and without them, it's possible I may never have tried my hand at cartooning.   
Since one door closed, I was in search of another.  The Washington Examiner, now a weekly news magazine, has its offices near mine in downtown DC.  I made contact with several people there and after they looked at some of my work, we met in person.  They were encouraging during that meeting and indicated that they'd like to occasionally use my work.  The first was in the September 18th issue. 
How does it feel to have a 'reinvigorated' political cartoon career as a conservative in 2017? 

It's great to have an outlet whether it's the blog or in print.  There's so much going on and so many opportunities to identify contrary opinions to what's happening in politics and society, that there's plenty of motivating material for cartoons. 

Even though I lean to the right and most of my cartoons have a conservative tilt, I still poke at Republicans and President Trump.  Of course many would say, and I'd agree, that those are easy targets based on recent missteps and gaffs.  Fortunately as far as US presidents are concerned, we don't elect them for life.  Unfortunately, in the absence of term limits for congress, the country has moved too far away from the citizen politician and more toward entrenched career politicians.  You'd think with the level of political fodder available today for lampooning that the world of political cartoons would be a thriving industry.  Maybe, again, some day.

PR: The Comics Industry Celebrates the Inaugural Ringo Awards

These awards replaced the Harvey Awards, which have moved to NYCC, and are currently in abeyance. Local winners include March, Tom King and ReDistricted.
The Comics Industry Celebrates the Inaugural Ringo Awards

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - September 24, 2017 - Comic creative professionals, publishers, retailers, and fans came together Saturday night, September 23, 2017 to socialize, dine, and experience the comic book industry celebrating recognition of their peers, co-workers, and competitors at the 2017 Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards. The inaugural Ringo Awards was sponsored by Presenting Sponsors Cards, Comics & Collectibles and the Baltimore Comic-Con; Gold Sponsors The Amazing Comic Shop, BOOM! Studios, Geppi Family Enterprises, Painted Vision Comics; Silver Sponsors AfterShock Comics, South Carolina Comic-Con, ComicMix, and Valiant Entertainment; and Gift Bag Sponsors Abrams ComicArts, AfterShock Comics, Archie Comic Publications, BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Flesk Publications, IDW Publishing, Scholastic, Source Point Press, 'Toon Tumblers, and Valiant Entertainment. The banquet and awards ceremony honoring nominees and winners in professional and fan categories was hosted by the Baltimore Comic-Con and Cards, Comics & Collectibles.
The Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards is an annual celebration of the creativity, skill and fun of comics. The nomination ballot is determined by fans and pros alike.
The Ringo Awards was honored to present David Petersen, best known as the multiple award-winning writer and artist of Mouse Guard., as the inaugural keynote presenter at the event.
A very special thanks go to the sponsors who donated items to the 2017 Ringo Awards Gift Bags, including Abrams ComicArts, AfterShock Comics, Archie Comic Publications, BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Flesk Publications, IDW Publishing, Scholastic, Source Point Press, 'Toon Tumblers, and Valiant Entertainment.
Winners of the 2017 Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards are:

Fan Favorites:
  • Favorite Hero: Cash Wayne (Spectrum)
  • Favorite Villain: Arlo (unOrdinary)
  • Favorite New Series: Spectrum
  • Favorite New Talent: InstantMiso
Jury and Fan Winners:
  • Best Cover Artist: Frank Cho
  • Best Series: Vision, Marvel Comics
  • Best Letterer: Todd Klein
  • Best Colorist: Laura Martin
  • Best Humor Comic: I Hate Fairyland, Image Comics
  • Best Original Graphic Novel: March: Book III, Top Shelf Productions
  • Best Comic Strip or Panel: Bloom County, Berkeley Breathed, Universal Uclick
  • Best Single Issue or Story: Emancipation Day, www.redistrictedcomics.com
  • Mike Wieringo Spirit Award: Future Quest #1, DC Comics
  • Best Anthology: Love is Love, DC Comics/IDW Publishing
  • Best Non-fiction Comic Work: March: Book Three, Top Shelf Productions
  • Best Presentation in Design: Mike Mignola's Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects: Artist's Edition Hardcover, IDW Publishing
  • Best Webcomic: The Red Hook, Dean Haspiel
  • Best Inker: Sean Murphy
  • Best Writer: Tom King
  • Best Artist or Penciller: Fiona Staples
  • Best Cartoonist (Writer/Artist): Skottie Young
Hero Initiative Awards:
  • Dick Giordano Humanitarian of the Year Award: Joshua Dysart
  • Hero Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award: Marv Wolfman
In addition, the Baltimore Comic-Con would like to thank those individuals who presented at this year's award ceremony, including: Keynote speaker David Petersen, Tom Brevoort, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels and Amy Chu, Walter and Louise Simonson, Terry and Robyn Moore, Kazu Kibuishi and Charlie Kochman, Lora Innes and Thom Zahler, and Todd Dezago, Craig Rousseau, and Mark Waid. We would also like to thank John Gallagher for his contributions to our program guide for the evening and awards ceremony presentation.
Please join us next year for the second annual Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards taking place at the 19th annual Baltimore Comic-Con on September 29, 2018, and keep an eye on our website and social media accounts below for 2018 ballot information.
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About Mike Wieringo

Fantastic Four BCC Exclusive Cover
Michael Lance "Mike" Wieringo was known to fans and friends as "Ringo", which is how he signed his artwork. His comics artist graced the pages of DC Comics' The Flash, Adventures of Superman, Batman, and Robin, Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Sensational Spider-Man, and Rogue, and his co-creation Tellos. He passed away on August 12, 2007 at the young age of 44 from an apparent heart attack.
About the Ringo Awards

The Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards is an annual celebration of the creativity, skill and fun of comics. The Ringo Awards recognize outstanding achievements in over 20 categories, and are the only industry awards nominated by fans and pros alike, with final voting by the comic professional community. Launched in 2017, the awards ceremony is held annually at the Baltimore Comic-Con. Further details are available at www.ringoawards.com.
About the Baltimore Comic-Con

The Baltimore Comic-Con is celebrating its 18th year of bringing the comic book industry to the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. For more information, please visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com 
The Ringo Awards, P.O. Box 917, Reisterstown, MD 21136






Library of Congress Magazine (Sept - Oct 2017) is all comics

Online at http://www.loc.gov/lcm/pdf/LCM_2017_0910.pdf it features librarians Megan Halsband and Sara Duke as well as these articles:

Curator's Picks: Wondrous Women Of Comics; Serials Reference Specialist Megan Halsband Shares A Few Of Her Favorites From The Library's Collection Of Some 140,000 Comic Books.

LCM (September - October): 4-5.


Expert's Corner: Stroke Of Pen, Brush Of Ink; Curator Of Popular And Applied Graphic

Art Sara Duke Explains How Original Art In Comics Offers Behind-The-Scenes Insight Into The Thinking And Collaboration That Go Into Creating Comics For Publication.

LCM (September - October): 6.


The Greatest Comic Book Villain? How  A  Mild-Mannered  Psychiatrist  Concerned  With  The  Welfare Of Children Nearly Destroyed The American Comic Book Industry In The 1950s.

By John Sayers

LCM (September - October): 8-9.


Presidents,  Rock Stars & Other Heroes: Real People In Comics

By Wendi A. Maloney

LCM (September - October): 10-13.


The American Way: How Comic Books Reflect Our Culture; The Library's Vast Trove Of Comic Books

Exposes A Unique And Revealing History Of American Popular Culture.

By Mark Hartsell

LCM (September - October): 14-19.


Collecting Web Comics And Culture: Two New Online Collections Capture Contemporary Culture As It Is Currently Consumed, Via The Web.

By Mark Hartsell

LCM (September - October): 22-23.


 

Contemporary  Graphic Gifts: Through An Agreement With The Small Press Expo, The Library Collects And Preserves Independent Comics And Cartoon Art.

Megan Halsband

LCM (September - October): 27.


She Had Come Because Of A Comic Book. She Left Stirred By The Words Of An American Hero [John Lewis and March].

Michael Cavna

LCM (September - October): 28.


ReDistricted's Emancipation Day wins Ringo Award

Matt Dembicki says,

Congrats
to Chad Lambert and Mark McMurray for bringing home an inaugural Ringo Award for ReDistrictedComics.com for their story 'Emancipation Day!' Thanks also to ReDistricted associate editor Tabitha Whissemore for attending the awards show and helping with the project! And thanks to all the contributors to ReDistricted who helped us garner two additional nominations for the Ringos. It's been a very fun project and we have much more in store!


Friday, September 22, 2017

An SPX Interview with UK's Avery Hill Publishing


by Mike Rhode

Tillie Walden was a guest at SPX this year for her autobiography Spinning out now from First Second. I was surprised to be told that she had already published three works with a British publisher and that Avery Hill Publishing was at the con. On their website, they have a very clever mission statement: "Avery Hill is a publishing company based in South London that helps aspiring creators reach their potential and is a home to the geniuses that the mainstream has yet to recognise. Our canon includes psychogeographical mappings, drunk 19th century scientists,time-travelling beagles, minimalist musings, kids running amok in dance tents, a giant cat called Nemo and much more." I went over and met owners Ricky Miller and David White, and they agreed to an email interview.

How long has Avery Hill been publishing?

We started self-publishing our own zines about six years ago. They were mainly filled with our own work and contributions by friends. Then we realised that everyone else we were publishing were far better than us and so we decided just to put out work by them. It kind of escalated from there, but some of the people from the early days, such as Tim Bird who does the Grey Area series for us, are still with us now.

Where are you based?

We’re based in London in the UK. We tend to get a bit provincial and narrow it down to South London as there’s a faux rivalry between north and south London, in the same way you get in a lot of cities. We both grew up around this area, we’ve know each other since we were eleven and Avery Hill is an actual place quite nearby that we used to go to when we were young. The Avery Hill logo is actually based on a photo of Ricky climbing over the fence into Avery Hill when we were 18.

How many artists do you publish? Just cartoonists?

Over the years we’ve published roughly 25 creators, some multiple times. We mainly do comics, but we’ve also put out a couple of books of illustrations, including Internal Wilderness by Claire Scully, which is a series of images of imagined landscapes and A Is For Amos by Ukranian illustrator Daria Hlazatova, which is an A to Z of illustrations of her favourite musicians. In the UK a lot of the comics creators we work with come form an illustration background rather than a comics/cartooning background, so it’s quite a fluid thing to move from comics to also illustrating things like children’s books and magazine editorial work.

What are your individual backgrounds?

We both grew up within about a mile of each other in the deep, dark, working class suburbs of South East London. We went to school together and are still very close friends with some other people from that time. We shared a common interest in music, mainly Britpop at the time and comics. After university we briefly formed a band, called The Do-Nothing Kings with some other friends and then when we realized we weren’t very good we started doing podcasts and music reviews. Dave then decided to put out a zine, which Ricky contributed a comic to called Metroland (which we still put out and that brings you up to date.

Favorite cartoonists, or influences, living or dead?

One of the first books that we both got into was Cerebus by Dave Sim. Whilst we find his politics and social attitudes problematic to say the least - Google him if you don’t know the story - the level of artistry in those books by him and his background artist, Gerhard, plus his self-publishing ethos were massively influential. We’d also both consider From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell to be one of the greatest works of art in any form. In recent times anything by Darwyn Cooke or the Morrison & Quietly partnership are essential. More modern creators from around our scene would be people like Jillian Tamaki, Jason, Eleanor Davis and Isabel Greenberg.

Was this your first American con?

Yes, this was our first con in the US. We’ve mainly only done shows in the UK, apart from going to the Toronto Comics Art Festival a couple of times and one in Denmark. We’d definitely like to do more of them and are seriously considering shows in Boston and New York next year.

Why SPX?

We met the Executive Director of SPX, Warren Bernard, at the Toronto Comics Art Festival last year when we were there with our creator Tillie Walden. Warren took a lot of interest in our work and said that he’d love for us to go to SPX this year and that he’d help us out with some of our expenses. We were blown away by the generosity of that and of course accepted. We’d tried to get in to SPX in the lottery prior to that and we also had a couple of Tillie’s books nominated in the Ignatz awards last year (which she won) so we were desperate to make it there. We’d heard such great things about SPX, it’s pretty famous in the UK.

What did you think of it?

We absolutely loved it. The quality of the exhibitors was incredibly high and there were lots of great talks and guests. The overall vibe was just lovely as well, such a great feeling of community and diversity. Little touches, like having free coffee in the morning really make a difference as well. When you do a lot of shows you definitely notice that kind of thing. Having all of the exhibitors in the same room is another great thing as often if people are in different rooms then it can inevitably lead to some feeling they are in an area with less footfall.

How were your sales?

Sales were great, it was busy all weekend. We sold nearly everything that we shipped over, which meant that we didn’t have too much to have to carry back! It definitely stands comparison with some of our best ever events in that regard.

How do you decide what or whom to publish?

Essentially we just publish books that we like. Which doesn’t really tell you very much but it’s how it is. When we started Avery Hill we had no greater aspiration than to end up with a shelf of books that wouldn’t exist had it not been for us. We run this company in our spare time, we both have day jobs, so we have to keep it interesting for us and that means basing what we want to publish more on our personal choice than it does on a commercial decision. One of us will find a creator and then we’ll both discuss whether or not to approach them. If we do then we ask the creator what they’d like to do and more often than not we agree to do whatever it is they’re most interested in doing. Our only real limitation is time, so that dictates how many projects we can take on, but beyond that it really is just a case of trying to find books and creators that we’re passionate about. Luckily, it also often pays off.

How did you become Tillie Walden's first publisher given that she's an American educated in Texas and Vermont?

We first discovered Tillie’s work on Twitter when she posted a couple of images that someone retweeted. We got in touch with her to see if she’d be interested in doing a book and got a reply back from her saying she was too busy with school as she was only 17. This stunned us as the level of her work was already very high and we’d assumed she was much older. We gave it another six months and then got back in touch with her when she had finished school and had enrolled in the Center For Cartoon Studies in Vermont. This time she agreed to put a pitch together for us, which turned out to be her first graphic novel, The End of Summer. We loved working together and so quickly moved on to do another two books with her, all before she turned 19! She’s a great friend of ours and often comes to shows with us. The UK has a long tradition of discovering great US creators before their own country does, so we refer to Tillie as being our Jimi Hendrix.

Does your company have an overall aesthetic?

People often say to us that although we have a very wide range of different kinds of books, they can still see an Avery Hill aesthetic unifying them into a cohesive line. If there is one then it’s probably the midpoint between both of our tastes, plus the strong emphasis that we both put on quality writing. But really, an Avery Hill book could be anything, as long as we both like it.

Did you get to spend any time in Washington?

Yes we got out here early in order to do some sightseeing. It’s such a lovely city! We did the usual touristy things of the Lincoln Memorial/Washington Monument and the National Gallery of Art, of which the Impressionist section was a big highlight! Then on Friday evening we went to see The Nationals vs The Dodgers, which was great fun. We definitely hope to come back some day soon!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Washington reviews of the Kingsman sequel and latest Lego movie

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Doesn't Quite Live Up to Its Deranged Predecessor[in print as Shooting Blanks]

Matthew Vaughn turns it up to 11 in this action/comedy sequel, but it might be a little too much.

Washington City Paper Sep 22, 2017  , p. 28
online at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/arts/film-tv/blog/20976489/kingsman-the-golden-circle-reviewed

'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' delivers a second dose of R-rated action and comedy
Washington Post September 22 2017



Flugennock's Latest'n'Greatest: "Last Chance, Punk!"

DC's anarchist cartoonist Mike Flugennock's latest...

"Last Chance, Punk!"
http://sinkers.org/stage/?p=2318

If you caught any of the Trumpster's speech at the UN this past week, you'll know that pretty much the only thing missing was him banging his shoe on the podium and yelling "we will bury you!".

A fake war threat juiced up with sick-ass lies, a tinhorn enemy made out to be all-powerful, repeatedly screamed claims about weapons of mass destruction, bellicose threats at the UN... jeez, just when did we hear this last time, kids? Don't everybody jump up at once...

Penelope Bagieu and Michael Cavna

Live at Alliance Francaise in DC.


An SPX Interview with French Cartoonist Alex Alice

Alex Alice at Takoma Public Library, photo by Bruce Guthrie

by Mike Rhode

I was walking around at SPX when ace photographer Bruce Guthrie introduced me to a French cartoonist he had met previously at the Takoma Park Library. I wasn’t familiar with Alex Alice’s work, but I was quickly impressed by his new book and asked if we could do an interview.

Amazon says, “Alex Alice is a French graphic novelist, working in France and sometimes the U.S. His works have been translated into more than fifteen languages. Born in 1974, he grew up in the south of France and had the chance to travel around Europe, where he developed a lifelong passion for the ruins and castles of the medieval and romantic ages. This experience influenced his art, from the grim setting of his esoteric thriller The Third Testament (co-written with Xavier Dorison and published by Titan Comics) to the primeval, mythic world found in Siegfried, an operatic re-telling of the northern saga of the great dragon slayer (published by Boom Entertainment). In Castle in the Stars, he draws on Jules Verne and nineteenth-century romanticism to create a watercolor world of adventure and wonder to enchant adults and younger readers alike.

Alice’s new series is described as “In search of the mysterious element known as aether, Claire Dulac flew her hot air balloon toward the edge of our stratosphere—and never returned. Her husband, genius engineer Archibald Dulac, is certain that she is forever lost. Her son, Seraphin, still holds out hope. One year after her disappearance, Seraphin and his father are delivered a tantalizing clue: a letter from an unknown sender who claims to have Claire’s lost logbook. The letter summons them to a Bavarian castle, where an ambitious young king dreams of flying the skies in a ship powered by aether. But within the castle walls, danger lurks—there are those who would stop at nothing to conquer the stars.”

Mike Rhode: [After two other series, now] you are the author of Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869. How many books are there in the series? Four?

Alex Alice: Probably more than that. This first story concludes in book 2. The universe of the story is so interesting to me that I keep having new ideas. The idea is that there is space travel in the nineteenth century, so I ask, ‘What if we had come up with a way to travel through space in 1869 instead of 1969?” and this opens up a whole world of adventure and possibilities. Space isn’t the way we know it today; it’s the way scientists imagined it at the time.

MR: Are you more influenced by 19th century authors such as Jules Verne or by 21st century steam punk? Or both?

AA: I would say I’m a fundamentalist steam punk writer so I go back to the roots. It’s Jules Verne and actual scientific hypotheses of this particular time period. It’s hard core steam punk, or hard steam punk, or… I’m trying to be as science-based as I can, perfectly realizing that this is a fantasy. I’m trying to be as close as I can to what people of the 19th century would have found believable.

MR: It’s Newtonian physics, instead of Einsteinian physics, and you can propel yourself through the space because there’s something to push against?

AA: Yes, and use as fuel.

MR: How many books in the series are out already?

AA: Book three just came out. My publisher in France is a fairly new publishing house Rue de Sèvres, which is an imprint of L'École des loisirs. They are a very respectable children’s book publisher that started a graphic novel imprint. This is very exciting for me because this is not a book for kids, it is a book that is also for kids, and I’m very glad to work with this publisher who has an ability to reach a younger audience.

MR: The same is true for your American publisher First Second…

AA: Is it? I was hopeful for that, because that’s what they told me [laughing].

MR: Let’s talk about technique… you occasionally build models for some of the spaceships?

AA: Yes, again, in the idea to have something as believable as I can. I was fascinated by this idea setting the story in a world where it’s not just alternate history, it’s an alternate cosmos. It’s not consistent with what we know about space and science now. My challenge was to say, “This is not believable for modern audiences so how am I going to pull the reader into my story?” My idea was that I didn’t care if it wasn’t true, [rather] it was something people could have believed at some point. 

The important thing for me is as I’m writing it, I believe it. I am not a scientist, and I’m perfectly aware that aether doesn’t exist. I believe in my story as I’m writing it, and it’s easy for me; to be perfectly honest, the vision of Venus that people had at the time … we could see from the telescope that it was covered in clouds, which is true; we could see it was closer to the sun so it must have been very hot ,which is true; so they thought, it’s hot, it’s cloudy, there must be a lot of water so there must be huge jungles down there. Because they thought that planets had appeared in the order of their distance from the sun, they thought Venus was younger than earth so life must not have reached the same development and be stuck in an earlier era. So they genuinely thought Venus was a jungle world filled with dinosaurs, and this sounds like a pulpy sci-fi world of Edgar Rice Burroughs, but it is the actual science hypothesis of the time. This is fascinating to me, and very poetic. I find this hypothesis easier to envision, and too imagine, and frankly easier to believe in than the actual reality of Venus which is a hell world with incredible pressure and acid rains [laughs]. 

I found it was quite easy to believe in this world as I was writing it. To help me believe in it, I had a model made of the main machine that will allow the characters to travel to the stars. I even had an aether suits made life-sized of leather and wood. I had to talk with model makers and costume makers, and having their input of how they would do it and what would work. This world is 100% believable for me and I’m comfortable writing this story.

MR: How has the reception been for it in France?

AA: I was very happy with it. I was hoping to make a book that would appeal to adults and children alike, in the tradition of Tintin, that was marketed as for ‘children between 7 and 77.’ That was a  catchline for Tintin in France. That was my goal and I was very happy to see families to come signings, and say, “This is the only bandes dessinee that I read, that my children read as well.” And vice-versa.
MR: So what brings you to the Washington area?

AA: My American publisher, First Second, thought it would be great for me to come to SPX which I’ve never been to before. I’m much more comfortable here than I was when I visited Comic-Con in New York a number of years ago. First of all, I’m not a huge superhero fan, and secondly, it was strange for me to talk to artists who work on someone else’s character which is not at all in the French tradition. Whereas here, I feel like everyone is doing their own story, and I find much more common ground, even if their stories or their visual styles are completely different from mine. I feel I have maybe something in common with a lot of the artists here.

MR: So how do you do your art? Is it drawn in pencil, and then inked, and then water-colored? Or digitally colored?

AA: It’s all done in the real world. I try to do everything on the same page – the pencilling, the letters, the color… because I really like to have the original artwork in front of me, looking as it will in the final page.

MR: Ah, a classicist.

AA: Yes, part of it is the pleasure of having the actual page in front of me; part of it is laziness [laughs] because I like to be able to judge the exact amount of details I will have to put in.

MR: That makes perfect sense to me. There’s a political cartoonist here at SPX named Matt Wuerker who still watercolors his cartoons every day by hand because it’s faster. And he knows what he’s getting.

AA: And it’s faster. People don’t realize that. The computer will not save you time. For most things…

MR: So it was watercolors that you use, and not colored pencil?

AA: It is actually at little watercolor and a lot of calligraphy’s colored inks that are permanent.

MR: You water those down a little bit to get the wash effect?

AA: Yes.

MR: Did you pitch the book to your publisher, and then get an advance to do it?

AA: Yes.

MR: Because traditionally in France in the golden days, and I think this is mostly gone now, but Tintin would be one page per week in the newspaper, and then be collected in an album.

AA: Right, and the artist would have a salary. The salary is entirely gone, but we do get an advance in France, when you sign with a major publisher.

MR: You have the complete original art at the end of a book. Do you sell it? Is that another revenue stream for you?

AA: Potentially yes. [laughs] But I haven’t sold pages in a while especially because I wanted to set up an exhibition, which we did at Angouleme which is the biggest festival in the south of France. This year at Angouleme we had the means to do a big show, with even more props and models and sounds and a moon and a lot of costumes of the time period… we made the world pop out of the page. I wanted to keep my art for that. I will be doing a commercial show in New York next year.

MR: You mentioned ‘the world’… I just bought your book and I haven’t read it yet. Is this book about going to Venus?

AA: In book one, Seraphin is talking about Venus in the beginning, but the story is actually him and his father trying to follow the footsteps of his mother who disappears in the first scene in a balloon flight. Her logbook is found by someone who sends a letter to Seraphin and his father and gives them a rendezvous in Bavaria. We don’t know who this character is, or what he wants, but when they get there, we find out that it is the King of Bavaria, King Ludwig II, and he is planning on space exploration.

MR: Is he still building a big castle?

AA: Actually, it is only the historical approximation that I made consciously. I might have made several mistakes, but he has already built his Neuschwanstein castle at this point, because I really wanted to draw this castle and I wanted to set the story just before the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

MR: So you are using real historical characters and following real historical events?

AA: I am. I made a point of having the story begin the real world as much as I could.

MR: Where are you finding your background information from? In America we had Popular Science, and Popular Mechanix and even Scientific American. Are you using the French equivalent of those?

AA: Yes, I guess. I’m especially using Camille Flammarion who wrote a popular astronomy in the latter half of the 18th century. It was very popular at the time, and these sort of popular science texts were quite an influence.

MR: In America they have a lot of magazine covers of the giant airplanes, and the future was going to be great…

AA: Or terrifying, depending on the cover.

MR: Looking at the cover of your book, are you influenced by Miyazaki?

AA: The answer is definitely yes, but my primary influences are the reading of Jules Verne and the travels I did through Europe as a kid. There’s a lot of things here that I’m using that Miyazaki was also using. That being said, I adore Miyazaki’s work, and his influence with this type of story is impossible to escape so I embraced it. The title of the book, and one of my characters, are influenced by a Miyazaki character from Future Boy Conan. There’s also a wonderful film that’s maybe lesser-known called The Castle of Cagliostro. It’s a masterpiece. It’s one of the best adventure films ever made. It’s incredibly fun, and touching, and full of wonder... one of the greatest. One of the scenes from Castle in the Stars that I was really happy with, where I had a wonderful idea and did the scene and did the book, and the book was printed, and I showed Castle of Cagliostro to my son and realized I had stolen the whole scene! [laughs] As it happens.

MR: Are you going anywhere else in the States?

AA: Yes, it’s a short but intense tour with the Brooklyn Book Festival tomorrow and then the Boston area for libraries and schools.