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Final Incal - An interview with José Ladrönn

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Final Incal will be in stores tomorrow, May 28. Following our interview with Alexandro Jodorowsky (Available here), we in turn sat down with the series' other co-creator, artist José Ladrönn .

Final Incal went through some big changes between its initial conception and the final product. Originally, with Mœbius as After The Incal, and finally evolving into Final Incal. How did your involvement come about?

I don’t know the specific details, but the telephone rang one morning, and I answered it. It was Alexandro Jodorowsky, and we talked about the last part of the Incal saga that Mœbius had drawn. He told me that it was possible that Mœbius would not be continuing with the book. He spoke about the possibility of us working together. He explained that he would speak with Mœbius about this to make sure that he didn’t want to continue with the series.

The following morning, the telephone rang again, and it was Jodorowsky again. He said everything had been arranged. He had gone to speak with Mœbius, and they had discussed the Incal series. During their chat, Alexandro had shown him a short story that I had drawn with him, Tears of Gold (Alexandro Jodorowsky's Screaming Planet). After Mœbius saw the story, he told Jodorowsky that I was the right artist to continue After The Incal. So, Mœbius gave his approval that I would work on this project.

Alexandro thought it was a good opportunity, not only to continue the last part of the Incal saga, but also to give it a new life. Now that it would be a new book, we couldn’t continue calling it After The Incal, so that name that we chose was Final Incal. From that moment on and during the next eight years, I worked very hard in order to finish the last part of the Incal series.

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One of my favorite parts of both After The Incal and Final Incal is how well they went together story-wise, blending the tales of the multiple John DiFool's. Did you look at Mœbius’ art before working on yours?

Yes, of course, it was quite important to see Mœbius’s books, but also Janjetov’s as well, since information contained in Before The Incal would have a crucial importance to our story. John DiFool is a character with a changing personality, and this wasn’t easy to accomplish.

What are some of your favorite projects that you have worked on?

I like all the projects the same, of course, but there are those projects that I remember better than others, sometimes for the good experiences and sometimes for the bad. Each book brings something different to your career, adding to your experience, giving you the opportunity to grow. Marvel Comics gave me my first professional opportunity. The first story that I drew was a short story, Into the Tomb in black and white about Blade, the Vampire hunter, in the anthology Marvel: Shadows and Light #1. It was my first experience drawing comics. I remember a text balloon that covered a wolf that was howling on a hill, and this bothered me a lot.

After that, I did a strange comic, Spider-Boy Team-Up #1 (an Amalgam comic of Marvel and DC’s characters Spider-Man and Superboy). I recall that, for the first time, I was confronted with a disagreeable plot, the most disturbing thing that existed in a script that I had to draw.

Then I worked on Cable, considered by many to be a cult series. Marvel didn’t pay a great deal of attention to it, so I had a lot of freedom, allowing me to use a dynamic and amusing style, very much inspired by Jack Kirby. The kind of detail that I was always accustomed to, however, came from my love of European comics. At the end, Marvel decided that I should leave the title. In a show of solidarity, Joe Casey, the writer, didn’t want to continue and quit. So that was the end of the series.

I did many other books, including The Inhumans, a major project, written by two people who knew and loved comics, Carlos Pacheco and Rafael Marin. Unfortunately, Marvel’s poor decision-making at the time affected everyone involved in the book. Next, I did Hip Flask where I had the opportunity to grow as an artist and to accomplish some really interesting things.

Final Incal, my most recent work, was a dream come true, because I was able to collaborate with Alexandro Jodorowsky, the writer I most admired. I always said that the Incal series was a major stepping-stone in my life. This was what made me decide to draw comics full-time.

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Who was your favorite character in the Incal universe? Who was your favorite to draw?

I love the entire universe of the Incal with all of its fantastic characters. The most complicated was John DiFool, whose mental state was always changing. The simplest was Deepo. Luz was also complicated, as it takes a great effort for me to draw beautiful women. The last volume I drew featured Kill and Gorgo The Foul, which I really enjoyed. It’s difficult to name my favorite character. But I’ll go with Deepo.

Can you describe your experience working with Alexandro Jodorowsky?

Alexandro and I have a good working relationship, a true professional collaboration. We talk constantly, always exchanging ideas. I show him what I have done, and he gives me his comments. I try to interpret his ideas as best I can, so that the work reflects his personality.

It has been mentioned that you no longer draw traditionally on pen & paper. Would you describe your artistic process?

I have indeed put aside the traditional process of drawing comics, and I now work entirely via a digital process. Initially, it was very strange not to use paper, pen, and pencil along with the other tools that I had always used. But little by little, I became accustomed to working entirely on the computer. The evolution of my new way of working destroyed the romantic idea of holding the original pages in my hands. Now, my work entirely exists in virtual reality. Like everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages, but I have already moved on, because I do not believe in going backwards. For me, the most important thing is always the end result, and I do not regret having to do it this way. Now, I have more control over what I do.

I also color exclusively digitally, only painting with the computer’s watercolor tools. On the odd occasion, I use paintbrushes.

My artistic process: after having read the script thoroughly, I go on to sketch the entire book. At this stage, I relax and allow my imagination to work as freely as it can. These layouts will be the map that I will follow when I actually begin to do the book. I draw all the art with a Wacom Cintiq 21ux tablet. The program I use to draw is Adobe Photoshop. To paint, I use Photoshop and Painter. To add the text and the dialogue balloons, I use Adobe Illustrator.

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Were there any challenges you faced while working on Final Incal?

With a work as complicated as Final Incal, there is never enough time. That was the main challenge, the schedule. I did allow myself some time to think about the works of Mœbius and Janjetov, but I mostly concentrated on the things I had to do. I always kept an eye on what was next and worked with the mentality of an inventor where everything can be improved.

Your attention to detail is something to be admired, how long on average did a single page of Final Incal take you?

I take three to five days per page, although I have drawn some pages that took me two weeks or more. I know that less is better. I dream of simplicity and speed, but it is something that preoccupies me day in and day out.

Are there any particular artists you admire?

I admire Alex Toth. Toth was a magnificent artist whom I have studied closely. He was a master of the silhouette, something that, from my point of view comes only to be an artist's resource when converting oneself into a dignified technician of art. Toth drew from the outside to the inside, that is to say, first he drew the form of the object and later he went back to fill it in with lines and shadows, which allowed him to perfectly control the amount of detail. It didn't matter if it was something that was near or far away, the silhouette would be the same, but the inner detail was what determined the distance in respect to the other objects around it.

Did you have any direct input on the story?

Sometimes there are adjustments that need to be made between the script and the artwork. Then the writer and the artist need to come to an agreement so that everything comes together smoothly, and for the story to always follows the same direction.

There are details that are not part of the scripts and that I draw into every panel, a kind of short subplot that I draw as looking as natural as possible, where sometimes an animal or character does something on the sidelines of the main plot. In the third volume, for instance, I did a lot of these. If you analyze it you will find a few sympathetic lizards that have their own story. Apart from that, I usually try to focus on the art, the supervision of the colors, and the other graphic and technical aspects.

As a fan of The Incal, did you enjoy being able to revisit some of the classic locations from the original story and draw them your way?

Yes, I did enjoy drawing the classic locations, always attempting to be as faithful as possible, and integrating what exists with the new locations. In order to obtain the best results, I modeled all the important sites in 3D, like the City-Shaft, John DiFool’s Conap, the STOC-117 station, the vehicles used by the cybo-cops, Technogea-5, Kaimann’s base, the white Meca-Mutants, the Black Vampires, the spiders called Gounas, the Mother Tree and many more objects that appear in the story. I even invented some parts because nothing had ever been seen so completely before, such as the area behind the presidential palace. It was much more work, but the result was quite important for me. Final Incal had to be a completely immersive experience.

Any interesting anecdotes to share us from your time working on Final Incal?

I recall that while I was finishing Volume Two, the computer I was working on started having issues, and the last pages of the book were stored on a second internal disk. There was no way to retrieve them. So I called Rex, a friend who is a computer expert, and thanks to Skype we were able to share a video conference where he instructed me, like a virtual surgeon, from his house in another country, on how to make the repairs. It wasn’t easy without the appropriate tools, but I used what I could find and finally managed to dismantle the main hard drive and connect it to a hard drive enclosure. Then I connected the equipment to my laptop and rescued the documents. It was quite stressful especially since the deadline was right around the corner.

To draw the books of the Incal series, the books of The Metabarons or any other work related to that universe will always be a complex artistic challenge for a dedicated artist, it cannot be done in a mediocre manner, either you do it well or you don't do it at all. The greatest honor for me, was to work for Alexandro Jodorowsky, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I don't know if I'm satisfied, since an artist never sees his work as finished, but I know that I gave it my all on each page, and when you can honestly do that, you can rest easy at night.

Everything is there, now to enjoy the...

...Total experience...

...the Final experience.

Tags: Humanoids - Interview - Final Incal

Final Incal - An interview with Alexandro Jodorowsky

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Final Incal materializes into stores on May 28. We recently had the chance to sit down with one of its co-creators, the one and only Alexandro Jodorowsky.

Here we are: Final Incal is out. How do you feel about ending this great saga?

You know, for me it is anything but a surprise. Writing the story and having it drawn took a lot of time. It has been years of preparation, so I have had the time to get used to it. I feel as if I have once again gone on a nice, long walk with some old friends rather than just leaving them forever.

In the last volume of this new cycle, there is a particular character I loved a lot and that I had always wanted to see again: Gorgo the Foul. He was really important to me and in Final Incal I’ve gotten to develop him some more. I can now say that I am done with him. Others are absent this time around, like the Metabaron. He already has his own story, with his own family. I didn’t want him to be part of Final Incal, it’s not his story.

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A new artist draws each cycle of The Incal. Zoran Janjetov after Mœbius, and now Ladrönn. Why all these changes?

It’s not something that came from me; I did not necessarily want to change every time. It’s Mœbius who made that decision. I asked him to do Before The Incal but he refused, he didn’t have time. He didn’t believe we could make a new story as incredible as the first. But I believed it was possible! So I searched for someone who was influenced by Mœbius and I found Zoran Janjetov. With time, he eventually came into his own style, but in Before The Incal, he was imitating Mœbius’s style.

Then, when Mœbius decided to tackle After The Incal, he was tired and ill. After The Incal did not have the same style as The Incal. He drew it more like a cartoon. So I began the process again because I was not satisfied with what we had started out with. So, with Final Incal, I started over for Ladrönn. He was an absolute fan of Mœbius’s style and it seemed to me that with him we could tell the story of Final Incal and remain in the same graphic universe.

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How did you meet Ladrönn?

Fabrice Giger, Humanoids’ publisher, introduced him to me. A few years ago, Fabrice asked me to do a book for young, up-and-coming artists (Alexandro Jodorowsky’s Screaming Planet). He would show me an artist and his work and I would write a story according to that artist’s style. The process was very interesting as I adapted my scripts to the respective strengths of these emerging artists. For the one who knew how to draw characters but not backgrounds, I wrote a story in a desert. For another who knew only how to draw machines, I provided a story full of robots.

And among this crop of artists, there was Ladrönn. His drawing technique was good but it was lacking of human feelings. To push him to go beyond his limitations, I decided to create a story that was full of feelings. It was titled Tears of Gold and in the end it was formidable, he did exactly what was needed. That’s how our collaboration begun. He has become even more formidable and now we work very well together.

How do you work with Ladrönn, in spite of the physical distance between you being in Paris, he in Los Angeles?

We work via Skype. It’s proof that technology can be useful. Whether he is in Beijing or Los Angeles, wherever he is, we exchange thoughts and comments via Skype, and it’s free! Every night, we speak for an hour, we talk about everything we want. I, of course, get to see his drawings. He shows me his pages as they come along, and we get to change things “live,” here we add, there we erase, etc. I sometimes even mime for him! I move in front of the camera. I act. It’s really quite fantastic.

Your stories often bring life and technology into conflict. This theme is also present in Final Incal. Do you have a specific message to convey?

The questions that must be asked from Final Incal are: what society is at the heart of Final Incal? Why this meca-prez? Why does he want to destroy not only life, but also the techno-technos and the Emperoress, that is to say religion, economy, and politics? And we musk also ask ourselves why will LOVE save the world?

In the search for happiness, machines and technology are useful, and so is money. But they cannot bring you happiness. Glasses enable you to see, that’s technology. But happiness is not that, it’s not your glasses. It’s what you are able to see. If you have wonderful glasses but don’t know how to see what’s in front of you, then that technological tool is useless.

I developed this theme in The Technopriests. I also discussed religion, one of the biggest calamities of humanity. Politics, economics, and warfare are the diseases of humanity. And it’s all mixed together nowadays. Look at the world you are living. Do you believe in politics? Do you believe in religion? The Pope is nothing but a guy dressed up like the Pope. Who still believes in their own country’s economy, with the banks and everything? Patriotism, war heroism, everything is just business.

It’s the horrors of the world we live in today. Even food. When I ate a fruit before, it was tasty. Not anymore, it’s all industrial now. And you can find all that in Final Incal. Even though we have been working on it for a long time, everything relevant made it in there.

Gorgo the Foul represents the biggest part of humanity, the part that is poor and living in misery. Mutants, who live on the fringes of society, minorities of all kinds. Final Incal’s society is ours.

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Then, is Final Incal a cry for revolt?

Yes it is, exactly. And it really provides internal relief. You liberate yourself because you organize your life in a different way. You somehow learn to give, that others exist. Every person is part of a larger community. Even your body is a community of cells! Humanity is a cosmic community. We live together, we meet and we learn that there is continuity, that we are part of humanity as a whole. As an individual, we are mortal but as humanity itself we are immortal. We are only a part. And the part has to accept that it constitutes a whole. We are reaching humanity’s decline right now. We are like an atomic bomb ready to explode. You can see it beginning in Ukraine or Venezuela. Everywhere things are about to blow.

In The Incal, John Difool searches for love. In the end, you’re a pacifist and a romantic at heart, aren’t you?

I have become one, yes. In Final Incal, Difool finally finds love! I also have needed a lifetime to find it. I met my ideal woman 10 years ago, when I was 74 years old! I am now 85. I have discovered that love exists, that it’s not just an invention.

Coming from Chile, in South America, I initially saw the world with a male perspective. My movie El Topo was very chauvinistic, wasn’t it?

When you become fully conscious, you realize that women represent half of our world. The problem is that the mother goddess figure has been erased. The father figure has been killed off, but the mother goddess was never really given life. To be, women have to copy men. It’s a problem, even nowadays. And a problem that has to be solved. Intellectual and sophisticated people have understood it. But many, who constitute the main part of humanity, have not yet. They are Earth’s destructors, murderers in the making. Because they destroy our world with their bullshit and blind acceptance, they are public dangers. And our goal is to spread consciousness. Because otherwise the human race will soon be over.

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Are your stories a way for you to do it, to be part of this change?

Yes, they are. I always have a character who is a thoughtless idiot, like Difool. But gradually, his conscience grows. And in Final Incal he ends up finding absolute humanity. He became useful to humanity. I am so tired of anti-heroes and decadence. It has been done too much. I am tired of superheroes or Hollywood cinema. It’s an awful reality, as if we human beings are awful beings. Even the superheros are awful now. But the real human being is not, he is a wonder. Except that society reduces us to slavery.

You are occasionally quite harsh with your characters. How do you approach them?

Indeed, I am hard with them. Sometimes they even die. They suffer, they are happy. They are like any of you, like everybody. There are neither good nor bad. Life is not black and white. You can’t define or label someone. We don’t have limits, but we create some for ourselves, and we call that the ego, which is shaped by family, society, culture. They tell us who we are supposed to be and we learn to become just that.

But every one of us has much more inside, limitless facets. And I have always wanted to explore what is beyond my own limits. Difool is a character that can really be several characters. We don’t know who he is. Even he doesn’t know who he is! Throughout the Incal cycles, he is constantly growing. Human brains are like galaxies, rapidly expanding. Until they implode. And then it begins again. That’s just what the Incal is all about.

Tags: Jodorowsky - Interview - Final Incal

Covers from the Incal

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The story of the Incal has expanded over three story cycles, which concludes with the release of Final Incal next Wednesday (May 28). Alexandro Jodorowsky worked with three different artists, one for each story cycle. He created the original Incal with Mœbius, followed by Zoran Janjetov on Before The Incal, and finally José Ladrönn on Final Incal. But this is not the first time that Ladrönn has drawn some of the characters of the Incal universe. Back in the early 2000s, Before The Incal was released as a 12-issue series. The serialized books featured covers by different artists (including Ladrönn and other Humanoids alumni), propaganda ads (JOIN THE HUNCHBACK ARMY!) and even a letters column.

Join us below as we revisit all 12 covers of series (then titled The Incal).

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(Both) Covers by José Ladrönn

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(L) Cover by José Ladrönn, (R) Cover by Igor Baranko

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(Both) Covers by Igor Baranko

Cover07-Opena, Frissen Cover08-Christian Hojgaard

(L) Cover by Jerome Opeña, (R) Cover by Christian Højgaard

Cover09-Matt Cossin Cover10-Ladronn

(L) Cover by Matt Cossin, (R) Cover by José Ladrönn

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(L) Cover by José Ladrönn, (R) Cover by Mœbius

Tags: Humanoids - Final Incal

Releases for 5/28/14

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Next Wednesday (May 28, 2014) will see the release of both FINAL INCAL - ULTRA DELUXE COFFEE TABLE EDITION (Limited to 200 copies!) and FINAL INCAL - OVERSIZED DELUXE CLASSIC COLLECTION (Limited to 1,500 copies). Below are several promotional pictures showing what the books look like in person. Enjoy!

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Oversized Deluxe Classic Collection

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Ultra Deluxe Coffe Table Edition

Tags: Humanoids - Final Incal

METAL HURLANT CHRONICLES - Final Two Episodes - Tonight on Syfy!

Monday, May 19, 2014

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METAL HURLANT CHRONICLES is back with the final two episodes of the season tonight on Syfy. Beginning at 10PM, followed by a 2nd episode at 10:30PM, viewers will be taken on a journey through the worlds of METAL HURLANT.

Thanks for joining us each week as we showcased the art and story that inspired each new episode. And showed the evolution from comic book pages to live-action television.

All episodes can be watched online over at the Syfy - Metal Hurlant Chronicles site

3 on a Match - (5/19 10PM EDT) Three astronauts survive a crash, but a leak in their hull forces them to fight over the last of the oxygen.

Available in Metal Hurlant Collection Vol. 1 as "3 on a Match"

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Sneak Peek:


Cold Hard Facts/Red Light - (5/19 10:30PM EDT) Red Light - One man will do anything to escape a fortified prison that is controlled by strange creatures

Cold Hard Facts - and a person from the 21st century is found frozen alive and brought back to life by scientists in the year 2312

Available in Metal Hurlant Collection Vol. 1 as "Cold Hard Facts" & "Red Light"

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Sneak Peak:


Site: METAL HURLANT CHRONICLES

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Syfy

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SyfyTV

Tags: MHC

METAL HURLANT CHRONICLES - Pledge of Anya & Back To Reality - Tonight on Syfy!

Monday, May 12, 2014

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METAL HURLANT CHRONICLES is back with another set of new episodes tonight on Syfy. Beginning at 10PM, followed by a 2nd episode at 10:30PM, viewers will be taken on a journey through the worlds of METAL HURLANT.


Join us each week as we showcase the art and story that inspired each new episode. And see the evolution from comic book pages to live-action television.

Pledge of Anya - (5/12 10PM EDT) A warrior pledges to destroy a demon that may actually be a 6-year old boy.

Available in Metal Hurlant Collection Vol. 1 as "Joshue"

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Sneak Peek:


Back To Reality - (5/12 10:30PM EDT) A so-called "dream fixer" helps his wealthy clients transport themselves into new realities and worlds.

Available in Metal Hurlant Collection Vol. 1 as "Reality Check"

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Sneak Peak:


Site: METAL HURLANT CHRONICLES

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Syfy

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SyfyTV

Tags: MHC

Final Incal - The Swan-song to the Incal series

Friday, May 9, 2014

Final Incal

Story by Alexandro Jodorowsky, Art by Ladrönn & Mœbius

Lowly class ‘R’ detective John Difool and his faithful companion, Deepo, are unwillingly hurled into yet another universe-saving mission, as their world is faced with the threat of an all-devouring metallic virus. Visionary storyteller Jodorowsky returns to the epic mythology he created with the late Mœbius in the early 80s. John DiFool travels on an epic journey, both spiritually and physically as he attempts to save the world of Terra 2014 one last time. For the conclusion of the legendary spiritual space adventure series, he partners with Eisner-winning artist Ladrönn ("Cable," "Hip Flask," "Elephantmen").

Quicks facts about Final Incal:

• Available in two distinct formats. An Oversized deluxe edition exactly like The Incal & Before The Incal were both released as. The 2nd is a Ultra Deluxe Coffee Table Edition (12 x 16 inches) which includes a signed book plate by Ladrönn & Jodorowsky, and three loose prints designed by Ladrönn, and limited to ONLY 200 copies. For detailed information on each edition, please read our Facebook post where we outlined all the details.
• This is not the first time that Eisner Award-winning Mexican artist, José Ladrönn has drawn John DiFool. Ladrönn drew several covers for the previously released single issues of THE INCAL. We will show some of these covers in an upcoming blog post.
• Both editions include the original Mœbius-drawn pages known as AFTER THE INCAL. This is the first time these pages are available in English.

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Available below are two desktop wallpapers for Final Incal. Click the desired picture to choose your resolution.

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Final Incal arrives in stores May 28, 2014 with two editions. The Oversized Deluxe Edition has an MSRP of $99.95 and The Ultra-Deluxe Coffee Table Edition has an MSRP of $590.00

Tags: Jodorowsky - Final Incal - Moebius

Happy Birthday to Mœbius

Thursday, May 8, 2014

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It's been two years since the world lost the legendary Jean Giraud aka Mœbius or Gir. He would have been 76 years old today. Humanoids wishes to pay tribute to this genius artist whose talents shined on the world of comics for almost 50 years. Thank you, Mœbius."

Tags: Moebius