The mystery Andreas (1996)

Article Information
TitleThe mystery Andreas
AuthorRik Sanders
Context Information
Magazine PublicationStripSchrift (1996, number 287)
Article Contents
from the article "The mystery Andreas (1996)":
The album Le triangle rouge is an hommage to the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). Architecture plays an important part in it. The book is filled with architectonic masterpieces, for which Andreas was inspired by the work of Lloyd Wright.
And yet the story isn't about FLW, as Andreas calls him for short. "But its hard for me to explain what its about exactly", Andreas says. "I've just finished Le triangle rouge a couple of months ago, I haven't taken enough distance from it to be able to talk about it elaborately. The main thread is FLW dreaming about a person who dreams about a person who dreams - etcetera. In this way I play with the codes of dreaming, and I connect those dreams by all kinds of hidden things that occur in them, like a mysterious box with a red triangle painted on it."
This box contains red, triangular capsules. Taking in these capsules causes hallucinogenic side effects. At the end of the story it becomes clear what kind of stuff this is. Then the architect Lebeau Wood, one of the book's personages, appears to have shot himself through the head. He is in a coma, but is waken up with the help of the medicin Serondan. Andreas seems to suggest that the box with the symbol represents the medicin, and that this is the cause of all those dreams. But, as has just been noted, the story is still too fresh for him to go into all kinds of layers of the story.
He does want to say something about Frank Lloyd Wright. "For years I wanted to make a strip relating to his work. I admire him very much, since I was young, when I still wanted to become an architect. Mainly the forms with which this architect worked and the way he handled the division of space fascinate me. Like positioning windows at very odd places, they are too high; you can't look through them, yet a fine light is coming through it. The interiors of Lloyd Wright are special too, they contain so much power of the imagination, it touches me."
"The forms and buildings he designed I used as a source of inspiration for my own drawings. Further I used his initials and his signature, a red square, in the story. For example, I play with all kinds of cubic forms. Further, I use as a reference to his signature a red triangle, a form that plays a central part in the book. The long format of the book, the yellowish paper, the light colors, all refer to Lloyd Wright's work. But for the remainder, it's my story I tell. Though I've never seen a house by FLW for real, I would like very much to live in one. They are not boring average houses, but living creations. I found it a great challenge to draw such buildings. The examples for these I took from books with pictures and drawings by FLW that I keep at my home. I don't like to copy, altered or not, from others. In this case I could agree with it, since it was my tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright."
Andreas chose to do Le triangle rouge with crayons, something he had never done before. "I wanted this for a long time and I was pleased by it. Before I could start with the definite version I must have thought about the concept for two years. First it was going to be a detective novel, but later I got the idea of the Droste-effect. When I'm working I get ideas regularly. I saw, for example, when I started my story, different racing cars before me, I don't know why. It came from my subconscious. The story changed, but the cars stayed. The same goes for the pilot and the planes. Whether this can be associated with the Wright-brothers? Maybe so, maybe my subconscious has made a link between FLW and these aeroplane-pioneers (laughter)."
Le retour de Cromwell Stone is the sequal to the book Cromwell Stone that was published by Sherpa as well. This cycle can be considered a kind of history of the creation of the universe. The creation is endangered because a sense loses its balance near the earth, which causes a creator with his senses to land on earth. This creator does his utmost to be able to return to the stars again. For this he has made an instrument for him with which he can realise his goal. This key is stolen, though, and 'Cromwell Stone', at first one of the suspects, gets the assignment to determine who has the key in his posession. But the coast is not clear. In Le retour de Cromwell Stone several groups fight for the lost object.
"The story runs for years", Andreas says. "The first part I finished at the end of 1982. I wanted to start this second part directly after the first part, was it not for publisher Deligne (Michel) to go bankrupt. Only twelve years later was I able to finish Le retour de Cromwell Stone. I want to make a third part; maybe it will take me another ten years."
"Le retour de Cromwell Stone has a different angle and a different style than the first part. Cromwell Stone is about a man alone with his fear in oppressing situations ("The oldest and strongest emotion of man is fear", a quote of H.P. Lovecraft is the motto of this book. RS). The second part is the opposite: it deals with a cosmic entity that cannot be controlled by man, things happen that are too big to understand them by man (with the motto a quote of 'Harlan Ellison': "Because we are tiny creatures in a universe that is neither benign nor malign - IT is simply enormous and unaware of us save as part of the chain of life." RS) In the first part Cromwell doesn't see through that cosmic power, he tries to get away from it. In the second part Cromwell does understand and accept it and he lets himself be taken over by the events. The second part is really the explanation of the first part. The third part will in some aspects be the opposite of the first two parts again."
"The style of the second part is clearly different from that of part 1. Le retour de Cromwell Stone has a dark, grand style. The menacing landscapes, using black gridlines, the great survey pictures - I have written the story in a way that I could make such drawings. Furthermore, I have placed a certain division of time in the narrative structure. I have used white pages to indicate the present of the story. White pages with pictures in black frames refer to the time before that and the black pages refer to the period preceding that again. Looking back I think have pushed this style too far. The strip is too grey, too little transparent."
"I consider Le triangle rouge to be a reaction to this second part of Cromwell Stone. Le triangle rouge has a more simple construction in comparison to the complicated story of Le retour de Cromwell Stone. Le triangle rouge is light, while Le retour de Cromwell Stone is dark, too dark actually."
A recurring theme in Andreas' work is the existence of parallel worlds, controlled by higher powers, and leading characters that have access to these worlds. Rork is the best known example, but it is present also, be it less prominent than in Rork, in Cromwell Stone. Andreas doesn't give a clear explanation for his preference for this theme at first. "It must be my mystical side", he mutters. After which he continues by noticing that he just happens to work with cosmic elements. "It happens almost automatically. I don't like to make realistic stories. I prefer to make worlds out of my fantasy, in which impossible things are possible. For reality has its boundaries. I get my ideas from my subconscious and I commit them to paper. I create for it a background, that's easier, more direct. Worlds of fantasy are easier to draw than the real world, for which I should have to document too much. So my choice for this theme has a practical reason as well, really."
"Readers or fans often think that I'm some kind of a dark figure who knows all about occultism. I notice that when I meet them at fairs. And this isn't the case at all. I stand with both feet on the ground. I am not religious, I am a practical and reasonable thinking human being. It doesn't keep me awake at night, you know this image that they have of me; for that I do not meet them enough."
The apparent separation that Andreas makes between his personality and his work seems somewhat forced: he calls himself down to earth, while in his strips he keeps referring to other entities, world, supernatural powers. Wouldn't there be something of a mutual influence? Andreas: "Look, part of my personality is reflected in my work, that is my spiritual side, but that doesn't mean I have live accordingly. It's an interest that is expressed in my stories, but not in my normal daily life. I don't go to church, I don't look at the stars at night to see if something is written there."
"I don't believe that the truth is somewhere up there, I believe that the truth is inside us, it comes from within, not from outside. I don't believe in God, but I don't believe that God doesn't exist either. I just don't know. I hope there is something, that something happens after death. But I won't claim that it's like this or like that and that Jezus has preached it. I also don't have mystical experiences that tell me that there is something supernatural or extraterrestrial. It's an attractive thought, but it doesn't convince me as a fixed, rational belief. It does interest me, though. I am, for example, a great fan of tv-series like Twin Peaks and, more recent, The X-files. A beautiful series. Not so much because of subjects like werewolves and voodoo, but because of the secretive atmosphere around ufo's and aliens, and secret agents who once again have to cover up a government experiment."
Andreas likes to play with reality. Events turn out just somewhat different from what they appear at first sight. Main characters struggle with chimeras, reality is often an illusion. The reader is disguided regurlarly. He himself calls it an inclination to hold a mirror in front of the reader in which strange things take place. "It's a projection of my imagination, the same proces as the creation of different universes. I am more free when I can draw what I think, in stead of drawing things that I perceive. I draw what I imagine myself; the consequence is that things deform, I tend to caricature events. I like that. I never go out and copy things. I should, but I don't. When we were at the academy of art we had to do it, but I didn't, I hated it. I prefer to sit at home, behind my drawing table and get started with my thoughts. I used to copy photographs, but I don't do that any more. It's too obvious. Now I look at a photo, put it away, and make my own interpretation or use a different perspective. Or I put many details in it that refer to favorite books and tv-programs or people that I admire."
"In Le retour de Cromwell Stone I refer with certain details to Breccia, Moebius and Twin Peaks. Sometimes readers find out these references, but often it's about something obscure or a personal note."
"I consider it a sport to think of anagrams. In Le triangle rouge appears a FBI-woman named Anderson. That's an anagram for the medicin Serondan. Unfortunately, it's my experience that anagrams drop out during translation."
In Andreas' strips people are always looking for something, the detection of a murder-offender, a key of the entrance to another world. Andreas calls them mysteries and suspects that he won't make different kinds of strips any time soon. "All my projects have the same base: people are looking for solutions. I love mysteries and fantastic tales. I have read many books in these genres, and I have sought intensely for literature that I didn't know yet. Until I discovered H.P. Lovecraft, then I stopped, that was the top for me. The mystery, the greatness, the dark forces of his stories, that has influenced me. Almost simultanuously, and it probably wasn't a coincidence, I started the Rork-cycle."
"I am a fast worker. At present I give myself half a year to think out and make a story. Only Cromwell Stone takes very much time, because of the drawings and the way it is told."
"At the moment I work on a series for Le Lombard about 'Capricorne', a personnage from Rork. In 'Rork' I introduced 'Capricorne' because of copyright reasons and to see how it would work out. So I liked it. "
"Further Le Lombard told me that, when I felt like it, I could make new one-shots for Collection Signé. It will turn out to be something mysterious."
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