Cyrrus (1995)

Article Information
AuthorYves Lacroix
AuthorPhilippe Sohet
Context Information
AlbumAndreas. Une monographie
Article Contents
from the article "Cyrrus (1995)":
After La caverne du souvenir you switched to Métal Hurlant where Cyrrus and Mil were published. How did Cyrrus originate?
Andreas: The occasion for Cyrrus was a request of the brothers Pasamonik if I could do an album for publisher Magic-Strip. From that moment it started in my mind. When later Dionnet (chief editor of Métal Hurlant) saw the first plates of Cromwell Stone and asked me to do something for Humanoïdes Associés, I already had something.
It is the beginning of your cooperation with Métal Hurlant and Humanoïdes Associés. How was your relationship with the publisher?
Andreas: I thought myself absolutely unfit for the level of Métal Hurlant. There was a kind of aura around Métal Hurlant. There had been so many things in it I admired. Furthermore Humanoïdes made absolutely no limitations. I made Cyrrus with a feeling of total freedom. It is kind of the reward for what I did in Rork, without the limitations of Tintin/Hello BD (fr); Kuifje (nl). Not that you hád to do Tintin-like things for Tintin, but you couldn't do just anything either. Cromwell Stone gave me the possibility to create Cyrrus in full freedom. Making Cromwell Stone I didn't have the right state of mind, for that I had left Tintin too shortly. With Cyrrus I could really do what I wanted, without any concessions to the reader. I a sense Cyrrus is thus the first real Andreas album, in which I didn't feel influenced, like I was influenced by H.P. Lovecraft in Cromwell Stone and Rork.
Did it take you long to write Cyrrus? It's such a complex story?
Andreas: On the contrary. It took me a relatively short time, two weeks. But it was the first time a subject had had the time to ripen in my mind. Between the moment I told myself: "That's it, I can make an album!" and the moment I wrote it, lay one and a half year. With Rork I just continued, starting the next episode as soon as I finished the previous one. Cyrrus, on the other hand was so long in my mind, that many things had accumulated. During the writing many other ideas were added. Everything fell in place immediately. It was like a puzzle immediately fitting. It was the first time something like that happened to me.
Do you remember how you felt when you started writing it?
Andreas: No, I never do. But in the case of Cyrrus I remember I felt really driven. It was delightful. All the pieces in my mind, fitted automatically. Everything was connected and at their right place. I don't really remember the accuracy with which I wrote the scenario. I happened organically, different than normal. Only with Coutoo it happened to me. It was also one of the first times, with Cromwell Stone, that I set up the album as an album and not in chapters or smaller pieces for a magazine. I didn't consider prepublication, but wrote the album immediately.
You appear to have set it up as a trilogy originally.
Andreas: Yes, it was a trilogy. But if it's up to me Cyrrus is independent. In Mil I revert to a character that I use in a different way. I didn't finish the trilogy for the simple reason that I left Humanoïdes Associés. The third story was another complex construction: everytime Cyrrus disappeared in the first album, he would appear in the third. I wanted to make it with draftsmen like Antonio Cossu, Philippe Foerster and Philippe Berthet.
Won't you make that third album? Even when Cyrrus-Mil is now hosted by a new publisher, Delcourt?
Andreas: No, its too long ago. I wanted to make it with my friends, but I never approached them for it; they are far too busy now themselves. And I don't really remember what ideas I had for that book...
Besides the usual critiques and comments Cyrrus was the subject of some profound analyses, in ZozoLala and Conséquences. That isn't common. What do you think of it? Does it surprise you?
Andreas: Yes. I think the article in Conséquences is out of line sometimes, but it gets me thinking too. It points at things I had never thought of, but did anyway. Unconsciously, and yet...structurally.
You called this album the most succesful album of that time. Yet many readers abviously lost track. Even the writers of the article in ZozoLala ended with a series of unsolved questions. Where do these problems come from?
Andreas: I think the story is less complicated than most people think. Everything needed to understand the story, is in there. It also depends on the level on which you want to understand it. Maybe some people look for something that isn't there. Not that I think the album is perfect. Maybe there are gaps in it. I don't really remember what I wanted to do exactly. If I was to reread it, I might stumble over some things myself. Especially when Cyrrus disappears, his transitions from one place to the next. He disappears and returns, while it isn't even said if he steps out of time, to later return again, or that time itself stops. The latter is unlikely, because Cyrrus disappears while the lives of the others continues.
The biggest problem with Cyrrus is its strange concept of time. In Cromwell Stone the story split into separate periodes. Here the story becomes even more complicated. The entire concept of chronology is insecure: The past can be changed from the present and the present from another past.
Andreas: Oh, I don't see it as a "difficulty". To me it was really the first step in the elaboration of what has always interested me. Maybe it was the first time the past was presented in a more complicated way than as a simple flashback. Yet the flow of time is relatively simple, except for some paradoxes. The flow of time in present and past is both chronological and the difference between the timezones is clearly marked by black-and-white and color.
Plates 9 to 11 display the key scene in the cinema. Conséquences elaborates on the play with the still images, the allusion on the carrier, the picture in the comic is compared to the picture in the film. It the message "Freeze the frame" really directed to the reader>
Andreas: I'm not sure, it could be. In Mil I did that consciously: the entire story of the man drawing symbols in the sand is a kind of lesson of reading images.
To return to the origin of Cyrrus, was there a certain image in the beginning, a certain idea of feeling, that inspired you?
Andreas: I that time I often used dreams. The first plate of Cyrrus comes from one of my dreams. The waiting character, the opening door, "I am your mother," the character with the hat, I all dreamt that. Just like Cyrrus's house, and the road behind it on which he later awakes.
In an interview with StripSchrift you emphasized the importance of family relations in Cyrrus. It easy to conclude that the comedians of 1924 are the missing children on 1972. It's also clear that Mil is the child of Virginia Leix, and Jewel is the daughter of Kilkenny Leix, Viginia's brother. Does that mean that when Cyrrus calls Jewel his niece in 1924, he is thus a reincarnation of Mil?
Andreas: It is exactly the other way around, Mil is a reincarnation of Cyrrus.
And when Cyrrus merges with the ghost image of Virginia, it clearly expresses an incestuous relationship. A relationship that sort of matches the first deed of incest, when Virginia is sucked in by her son before they go back in time. This seems to be the central theme of Cyrrus. You find it in the tense relationship of Leix and his daughter Jewel: he forbids her to leave the parental house, she blames him to track her down in time, and at the end they find themselves exactly opposite eachother in the temple. Thus the story seems to display two versions of an incestuous desire: either the permanent tension of a torn desire, or to enact the inenactable and to create a monster. Seen this way the dream of the first plate gains a clear meaning.
Andreas: Yes, that I recognize anyway. At the end Mil's mother meets Cyrrus. Be it that I view Mil and Cyrrus as more or less the same person, as a reincarnation. And that again is the reason why, at the point where the two stories meet, Mil unties himself from his mother and continues his journey. A complicated story after all! I don't think I will ever try it again!
Cyrrus remains fist and foremost a lesson in reading. In a certain sense you say that too: no concession to the reader! You form the reader, so he can understand Coutoo without a problem.
Andreas: Coutoo is much simpler than Cyrrus!
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