Images of a childhood (1995)

Article Information
TitleImages of a childhood
AuthorYves Lacroix
AuthorPhilippe Sohet
Context Information
AlbumAndreas. Une monographie
Article Contents
from the article "Images of a childhood (1995)":
Could you, for starters, tell us something about your youth?
Andreas: I was born in 1951 in Weissenfels, a small town in Eastern Germany.
Andreas: In 1960 my parents moved to the West. That was in the year before the Berlin Wall was built. Of Eastern Germany I recollect some things quite strongly. I remember reading Mosaik at the time, a comics magazine. Actually there weren't any real comics in it, just pictures with texts below them. In 1975 or 1976 I reread them during a voyage to Eastern Germany. Only then I noticed how strongly ideological they were colored, real propaganda. As a child I could only see the adventurous travels of three young heroes.
Andreas: In Western Germany I soon switched to Mickey. That magazine was forbidden in the DDR. Actually all that was forbidden in the DDR appealed to me. All they knew there from the West were Fix und Foxi and other weak Disney-lookalikes. Animal figures engaged in adventures couldn't amuse me. But the publisher of Fix und Foxi - and later on some other magazines as well - started publishing the French and Belgian comics Robbedoes, Asterix, Lucky Luke, and Johan en Pirrewiet. And those really impressed me! For the first time those drawings did something to me, especially the ones from Robbedoes. Not so much those of Asterix, they were too perfect. I didn't realize it so much then, but with Asterix you tend to forget that they are drawings. You don't have that with Robbedoes. Franquins' drawings always fascinated me. In that time he was my idol.
How old were you then?
Andreas: It started when I was about thirteen, fourteen. I didn't know then that it was Franquin drawing Robbedoes, beause they never showed the names of the authors. That happened only much later, back then I only knew the comics. Later, when when I was at college, I got French lessons. I'd have to say that I was not a good student in that field, until I discovered that those comics were made in French. Then I started buying Robbedoes albums, during vacantions in France and around it, sometimes I ordered them by mail. I started with Dupuis albums, later those of Lombard and Dargaud. Those comics were not the only support for the French lessons at school. It also helped that I read started reading books and listened to the Belgian radio because they used to interview draftsmen. I was completely fascinated, a real fan. That's how I got the hang of French. I didn't really speak it well, but understood what they said on the radio and what I read. The wordgags in Asterix I understood only much later.
Andreas: When I was about six years old I wanted to become an architect. I kept that up until I was eightteen. I even informed where one could be trained to become an architect, while I knew in the back of my head that I wanted something different. The math required for the education was thus a good reason to hook off. Then I told my parents: "I want to make comic books." To my amazement my father replied: "All right, if that's what you want to do, do it." My mother was worried, because her father had been a painter and had never had much money. That had always caused problems. But she herself had always dreamt of a career as an actrice. Her father - even an artist himself - had turned down that ambition and forced her to become a doctor. Hence she responded with: "I will do it differently than my father. If you want to make comics, go ahead."
I was really lucky. I don't know if I could have done it without my parents. They paid for my education at Saint-Luc at Brussels, the only place I know where to learn the trade.
How was Saint-Luc?
Andreas: I had read Vandoorn's booklet Comment on devient créateur de bandes dessinées on Franquin and Jijé. It mentioned the address of the Saint-Luc in Brussels. When I inquired after the enrollment dates, it turned out that I was only just too late. That's why I first did a year of academy of arts in Düsseldorf. It was a higher education, comparable to a university. I won't say the education was useless, but I wanted to go to Saint-Luc. You could find workshops and follow lectures on arts history, anatomy and such. I did a course on graphic art, I learned how to do engravings, silk-screen painting, and lithography. An architect taught us how to draw in perspective. From him I learned how to draw architectural perspectives, vanishing points, composition of an image, etcetera. I have to say this knowledge still comes in handy. In short, I liked it there. In hindsight I would have not been a bad architect after all, because I was really interested in it.
My community (military) service I also did in Düsseldorf. I was a telephone operator in a hospital. Soon I did nightshifts, which didn't require you to do much more than be present for six hours. So I could draw pictures to my heart's content, which I did with determination, since I still had the ambition to make comics. In the daytime I slept and in the evenings I drew. Therefore I didn't really waste time. After that I went to Brussels.
None of the drawing from that period was published? It didn't result in any comics?
Andreas: No, but that was not the point. I was influenced very much by Franquin: large feet, big noses, humour. A bit of adventure, but with funny characters.
Do you still own these drawings?
Andreas: I still have drawings from when I was sixteen, charicatures of teachers. After that I soon switched to notebooks in stead of in the margins or on separate sheets. This resulted in a large collection of old notebooks containing the most awful things.
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