'Capricorne' at Lombard and 'Arq' at Delcourt: Andreas bets on two horses (1997)

Article Information
Title'Capricorne' at Lombard and 'Arq' at Delcourt: Andreas bets on two horses
AuthorJean Louis Lechat
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from the article "'Capricorne' at Lombard and 'Arq' at Delcourt: Andreas bets on two horses (1997)":
Where does this taste for the fantastic come from?
Andreas: I don't know. Perhaps it's thanks to the fact that my daily life is very banal? Thanks to my work, I escape this banality. But, even though I read them much less nowadays, I've always loved fantastic stories. While I write a scenario, extraordinary elements always end up slipping in the course of the account. Moreover, my style of drawing is not fit for the stories of everyday.
Are you not also the product of the school which, at the same time as yourself, has formed men like François Schuiten, Philippe Berthet, Sokal, Philippe Foerster, Hernu and De Spiegeleer?
Andreas: I think more the product of an age than that of a school. In the beginning of the Seventies, when I studied the comic strip with Atelier R. of the Institut Saint-Luc of Brussels, it was the fruitful age of Pilote and of Métal Hurlant. We weren't forced to submit ourselves to the demands of the traditional strip cartoon. We benefitted from the freedom that was offered to us to express us as we wanted... I acknowledge however that for example at the level of the setting in scene, the teaching of Eddy Paape was very useful to me. I still make use of it today. My principal influence nevertheless comes from American comics.
Why do you feel the need to publish at other publishers than Le Lombard at the same time?
Andreas: The chance to work for editors whose objectives are different, provides the author the possibility to exploit all facets of his temperament and his imagination. What I publish at Le Lombard does not strictly have anything to do with what I publish at Delcourt
To which question would you like to answer that no one has posed you?
Andreas: Strangely, no one has ever asked me why I make comic strips. Well, I use the occasion to respond: because I love it! It's, very frankly, the form of expression in which I find myself the most at ease.
Who says Andreas, thinks immediately of Rork. Don't you have the impression that this personnage sticks with you?
Andreas: No. It's normal that the name of an author is attached to that of the character he has created. Rork is after all the hero that has revealed me as a scenario writer and draftsman of strip cartoons. During a very long time, it was also my only series published. Now there is Capricorne and I hope that within a few years, without forgetting Rork, the readers will associate my name with this new creation as well.
This new creation refers nevertheless to Rork...
Andreas: Not exactly. It's true that I've tested Capricorne while I realized the Rork saga. At a certain moment, because I knew that this series would not go beyond seven albums, I wondered what I was going to do afterwards. That's how the character of Capricorne came in and how he gave his name to an episode of that saga. Since the latter had to evolve a little in the same universe, I have made him do a sort of screen test, with the intention to give him, thereafter, another orientation. Having said that, the two series are totally independent. One doen't have to (re)read one to understand the other. Chronologically, the history of Capricorne starts before that of Rork. Their meeting is just one of the accidents of their existence. Besides, I will refer to it when I arrive at that period in Capricorne's adventurous life.
Could you specify the identity of this very enigmatic character?
Andreas: His strange history takes place in the thirties. His identity? He doesn't know that himself. It will form the subject of a forthcoming album. I can't reveal this to you yet. Let's say it's about an adventurer who settles as an astrologer because it seemed to him to be a lucrative profession. It enables him to see the future at ease and to live through several especially fantastic adventures.
Adventures planned in the long run?
Andreas: Contrary to Rork, where everything evolved step by step, and as result of the adventures I had caused in the preceding episode, I know already in general how the adventures of Capricorne will continue. from the beginning I designed a frame which will develop on several albums. I especially wanted to realise a series which addresses the general public by simplifying my proces of narration. There will be something that I call a red wire, Capricorne, but each episode will give place to a history that stands alone and whose comprehension doesn't require constant reviewing of what preceded. What I had done in Rork by complicating in a more or less conscious way the situations, I will do here much slower and thus much easier to assimulate. Without asking too much effort of him, I thus hope to lead the reader to get passionate about more complex subjects. As I always did in all my albums.
Is that also that which has brought you to adopt a more traditional setting in images?
Andreas: In Capricorne, that which imports me above all, is the clearness of the account. For this I have simplified the drawing and my formattings also are less sophisticated. That said, I didn't give up some graphical audacities. If the history lends itself to it, while taking care to preserve a great legibility, I don't say I will stay with the same setting out of (cartoon)boxes. For the moment my narration is relatively traditional, therefore the illustration is relatively traditional.
Are you not afraid that the reader is disappointed not to find there the graphical audacities which contributed to your reputation?
Andreas: It's true that graphical virtuosities are expected of me. But certain albums of Rork were already illustrated in a traditional way. Once again, al depends on the scenario! If the account requires a fragmented formatting (of the pages), I will do that. If on the other hand, I should insist on a very linear narration, I will do that too. There are no rules... For Capricorne, I haven't fixed the number of albums. It's a series that will continue as long as the readers want it. ...
Precisely, if you could tell us something about the series you have just started at Delcourt?
Andreas: Let's say it's a science fiction serial that will be spread out over several albums. That will possibly be frustrating for the reader who has to wait for the next episode to find out about the rest of the story, but the system of publishing volumes of 46 pages obliges me to stop each time the continuity of the account. This series, that will start in October, shows five characters who will find themselves projected in a parallel world... That's all I can reveal for the moment. The word 'Arq' that gives his title to the collection, refers to that other place whose characters are prisoners. I wanted a short, somewhat confusing name, that doesn't occur in any language.
Confusing, isn't that after all the adjective that characterizes you best?
Andreas: My aim is not to confuse. It is rather to encourage the reader to make a small effort. I would like people to realize that in a comic strip one can cover ambitious subjects. I would like a public series like Capricorne at Le Lombard leads one to discover more elaborated work like Arq at Delcourt. The strip cartoon offers a much wider range of possibilities of expression than to which one confines it today. I would like things to evolve a bit. When I began, a lot was published and often it was of no importance, but in the heap there were some very interesting achievements. All was possible and I believe that creators like Bilal, Tardi or François Schuiten couldn't have made themselves known without the opportunity of this abundance of production. That what they do isn't always easy to read and yet, they are succesful. That's why I think that one doesn't necessarily have to propose things with the short-nap cloth of the fitted carpet to satisfy the general public. Furthermore, if I had to simplify extremely, I would find no pleasure in it at all and I would prefer to abandon it all.
In the mean while, you have started two long series...
Andreas: For Capricorne, I haven't fixed the number of albums. It's a series that will continue as long as the readers want it. For Arq, there will definitely be an end, but I don't know yet at the end of how many albums it will arrive. For the moment six chapters are planned already. I intend to producing one album of each series per year. Both stimulate me and I sense the force to make a succes of this double engagement.
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