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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