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Interview: Pierre Gabus on District 14 and The Fantastic Voyage of Lady Rozenbilt

Monday, November 25, 2013

With this week's release of The Fantastic Voyage of Lady Rozenbiltt, writer Pierre Gabus shares his thoughts on his and artist Romuald Reutimann’s latest creation, as well as on the unique universe of District 14

Last year you won “best series” at The Angoulême International Comics Festival. Did this have any effect on your work as an author?

No. To my great surprise, it didn’t influence my working conditions or my status as an author in the slightest. So much so that I actually felt less sure of myself than before. That said, getting such a prestigious award is enjoyable, and I was intensely happy when I received it.

The Fantastic Voyage came out of the District 14 series, which mixes elements from many different literary genres (animals from children’s books, aliens from science fiction, superpowers from comics, social critique from detective novels, etc.). You really went all out, didn’t you?

We did indeed. That was part of the point of the project actually. From the start, we wanted to see if we could mix all these genres together and come up with something that would be coherent and colorful. We wanted to mix it up, to make it funny, moving, and off-the-wall, to make something that was both a love story and a social critique. And I think we did a pretty good job.

Fantastic Voyage of Lady Rozenbilt-lite3

What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and an illustrator respectively?

As a writer, I think my strength is that I’m not afraid to wax ridiculous, and also that I don’t always try and make a scene ironic when it’s getting melodramatic or grotesque. It’s a bit of a risk since I don’t nod to the reader to say, “Don’t worry guys, it’s all for laughs, I know it’s unrealistic.”

But I’d rather risk seeming a bit foolish because, if I manage to pull it off, the story holds up and you get really attached to the characters (even if the plot twists are pretty odd and the characters can seem far-fetched). The worst part is that I don’t even have to fake it; when the beaver (Hector) is seeing his clairvoyant and starts crying because the wine glass that allowed him to communicate with his deceased wife “kills itself” by throwing itself against the wall, I feel genuinely sorry for poor McKeagh…

As for Romuald, his forte is to make his characters come across with the same sincerity. They’re authentic from start to finish. The animals, the people, the aliens, the superheroes; each one has his own life story, approach, voice and smell. There’s really something alive in them, they’re not just pretty little pictures. His style isn’t the most spectacular one out there but the world he creates is incredibly believable.

What were your main sources of inspiration for The Fantastic Voyage of Lady Rozenbilt?

To get the rusty wheels turning again when I started working on this new book, I looked at a few photography books from the first half of the twentieth century. There was one in particular that focused on the condition of women. The photos had old newspaper clippings from that period for captions. I couldn’t help myself from copying down one or two pearls written by “scholars” on activities recommended to women (on the “harmful” effect of electric sewing machines on the poor seamstresses’ health, for example).

Why did you choose Bigoodee as the main character?

Bigoodee is a character that still retained an air of secrecy at the end of the first two seasons of District 14, where we first met him. We knew his three sisters (two of them are nuns and one of them is an actress) and in a flashback we saw his fascination when he discovered his father’s superpowers as a child. There were also the first glimpses of his relationship with Suzie, his assistant, which seemed like it could be a romantic one. In short, there were several details that were worth explaining. The danger of this choice was that his French accent would get tiresome after 114 pages. Without going back on anything we had already done, we tried not to play that part up too much and instead to make him a bit quieter in the scenes during his adolescence. But Bigoodee isn’t the only one in this story. There are a lot of other characters that I believe are also quite worthy of further interest.

Fantastic Voyage of Lady Rozenbilt-lite4

In this new book, it’s also a matter of new romantic and familial relationships. Does that make it any less critical and politically engaged than District 14?

I don’t think so. The story revolves around a millionaire who isn’t exactly unpleasant but who is extremely indulgent, extravagantly pleasing herself, her despicable nephew, and her guests (who aren’t always as interesting as they’d like to think they are). But I hope it doesn’t come across as stereotypical; I’m quite attached to my characters there too…even the most foolish ones.

The Fantastic Voyage is a standalone work. Do you think it’s directed at a wider audience than the previous books?

In my mind, seasons 1 and 2 of District 14 were already aiming for a wide audience. For me, District 14 was sheer entertainment while not being too simplistic, end of story. But I was obviously wrong since it is viewed as more of an underground work. Currently, I don’t really think it’ll become a bestseller, but I’d like to think it’s something that sticks in readers’ minds. A career sort of like Maurice Tillieux’s Félix would be wonderful (and I’m conscious of how pretentious I sound when I say that). That said, I think Humanoids decided to publish this volume in color in part to attract a broader readership. If it works out, I’ll of course be very happy.

Do you have other projects in the works?

I just finished two short works (8 and 6 pages) that for the moment don’t have an artist, and I’m working on a 46-page all-ages volume (a story that ends in one volume but which could become the first volume in a series). I’ve also got another all-ages project, this one with a Belgian artist who has a superb drawing style… And with Romuald, we’ve got a little project we’re self-publishing (28 pages of stand-alone stories about the adventures of a family in another outlandish universe).

Tags: Interview

Bon voyage!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Earlier this year, we were introduced to the world of District 14. February saw the release of Season 1, which was met with critical success. The question that was subsequently asked most was "Will there be a Season 2?" The simple answer is Yes, but that's not all. Not only are we publishing Season 2 of District 14, out in December, but next Wednesday (November 27th) will see the release of a book that can't really be described as a prequel so much as a spin-off featuring one of District 14's most popular citizens, Capitaine Bigoodee. Join Bigoodee as he makes his way through The Fantastic Voyage of Lady Rozenbilt, where we find out more about him and his family, and their place in the wondrous, yet tumultuous, universe of District 14.

Today we take a peek at a few new pages, as well as a look at the hard copy of the book itself.

Capitaine Bigoodee copy


In Stores Today

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Today sees the release of The Ring of the Seven Worlds. Take a look below at how the book looks in person.IMG_4616-l


If that doesn't satisfy your curiosity, then the below images of Volume 5 of The Incal (Deluxe Coffee Table Book) may do just the trick.


The Ring of the Seven Worlds - Behind the Ring

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 20th is fast approaching, and with it brings the release of The Ring of the Seven Worlds. We have here below several uncolored pages from the book along with their colored counterparts, to offer a behind the scenes look at how pages can transform at different steps of the creative process. If you would like to see more, then be sure to check out Volume 1, currently featured as our FREE Digital offering for November. Click here to read it now on your iPad or Computer.

Tags: Humanoids