Zep: “Color is the soundtrack to my story”

Of course, there is the school yard with its peculiar bananas, and Titeuf, his conquering banana, his friends Manu, Hugo, Vomito and Nadia to hit him the donut, and the little one thirty years ago this year runs. Colours.

Zep has had phenomenal success with Crested Scamp. But he is not one to rest on his laurels. Break the routine regularly. By script Captain Biceps for Tebo, the Chronokids by Stan and Vince o Paris 2119 for Dominique Bertail.

For the last ten years, the Geneva-based cartoonist has sporadically deviated from the humorous canons of Franco-Belgian comics to indulge in realism (A story of men, A strange and beautiful noise) and science fiction. After The endwho imagines the revenge of the trees on humanity, he publishes what we are, a reflection on artificial intelligence in which humanity is divided between an elite with an implanted interface, capable of living great virtual adventures, and the eternal damned of the earth. What happens when, as a result of a hack, an augmented child loses all his data and finds himself helpless as a child in the face of the reality of the material world?

Also read: The trees whisper in Zep’s ear

Le Temps: Zep, what attracts you to science fiction?

Zep: It’s a genre that lends itself well to comics. the space opera it hardly inspires me, because I don’t project myself with an alien cutting lightsaber. I anticipate, without aliens or big hairy Chewbacca … I tell pretty intimate human stories that take place in the near future.

In questioning the ambiguities of singular vision and objective reality, “What We Are” necessarily refers to Philippe K. Dick. What are your science fiction credentials?

Dick, I met him at the movies before I read him. I was surprised. Otherwise I read Jules Verne and War of the Worlds, by Wells. In comics, Jodorowsky’s metaphysical science fiction (The Incal), and Druillet. And again Frederik Peeters. But I’ve never been a reader Valerian… Comics are great, you can create completely crazy visual worlds without developing a $ 100 million budget.

Sometimes we say of a scenario that is too fanciful and we can finally push the cursor much further

“What we are” extrapolated from the Human Brain Project and you have contacted Professor Pierre Magistretti who is working on it. Is it important to document yourself?

I really like this dialogue with scientists. I will always meet the experts, but without scientific training, I don’t understand much. There, he was really lost. So I went to see Pierre Magistretti. He is a speaker with experience in outreach. It fueled fiction. Sometimes we say of a scenario that is too fanciful and we can finally push the cursor much further.

For example?

I hadn’t thought about the energy bill for the Human Brain Project. It was only in these disconnected human questions that they have to re-learn everything. Can we distinguish between a lived experience and a real experience? Have our memories been lost forever? Magistretti explained to me that our brain does very well with 20 watts, the energy required by a small light bulb. While the full digital brain would require the energy of a city to function. New questions arise: all the electricity absorbed by the project, there is no more energy to run the technology of others …

Do you favor close-ups in “What Are We”?

I like to get closer to the characters. On the other hand, I don’t feel like designing a futuristic city. My realistic drawing is an observational drawing. I’m not interested in drawing things that don’t exist. I would probably have more energy for architecture if I could go and draw in a city of the future. My realistic drawing is less imaginary than my humorous drawing.

Re-read: Titeuf, the green penis

Are there risks of contamination between realistic and humorous records? That a big conk appears in the middle of a realistic album?

It could happen. In the first version ofA story of men, there were some pretty big jokes, characters gesturing like Funès … In the comics we take automatisms against which we constantly fight so that drawing continues to be a pleasure. Always repeating the same gestures, old designers often have their hands damaged by osteoarthritis. So alternating the two registers is a mental gymnastics that feels good. I work with pencil instead of felt for Titeuf. It is a form of physiotherapy.

So don’t you have more fun drawing the sumptuous whale on pages 4 and 5 than writing dialogues?

I loved drawing this whale but if I made a whale album and just had to draw whales, I would get bored. I like to vary the difficulties. There is an illusion that we will draw new things and that it will be difficult. If I decide to make a western, it scares me because I’ve never drawn horses. At the same time, there is this challenge: will you be able to overcome dan 3 of the pencil?

The color expresses moods, gives the signal of the ellipses, replaces “at this time”, “a little later”, even “elsewhere” … It is my choice to avoid narrations idle.

In realistic albums you develop a monochrome approach to color …

I use a more impressionistic than realistic color system. Color is music, the soundtrack to my story. Set the pace of reading. It expresses moods, signals the ellipses, replaces “at this time”, “a little later”, even “elsewhere” … It is my choice to avoid idle narratives.

Your son, Charles, lends his shots to the hero of “What We Are.” His character dies eaten by a shark … It’s beautiful!

Ha! I always ask the people who pose, if they want to be that character. Francis Hallé, the botanist who plays there The end, he gladly agreed, on the condition that he should not listen to the Doors. His wife never read the book, because she didn’t want to see him die … I really have my models posing. I show them the storyboard, I make drawings, photos. Sometimes I film them, because each person moves differently. This makes it possible to escape automation. Ric Hochet always puts on his jacket in the same way …

Also read: Zep, from the clash of drawings to the weight of words

what we are
Ed. Rue de Sèvres, 88 p.

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