samedi 12 septembre 2015

Interview San Diego Comic Con 2015

(retranscription de l'interview donnée a Comixologist lors de la ComicCon à San Diego)
Vous pouvez l'écouter en podcast ici: 

Kara Szamborski: Welcome back to The comiXologist Podcast, here not live from San Diego. I’m Kzam, and I’m here with Slim…

Matt Kolowski: Thank you.

Kara: …and we’re talking with publisher Guy Delcourt and art creator extraordinaire Jean-Luc Sala. Welcome.

Guy Delcourt: Thank you.

Jean-Luc Sala: Thank you.

Kara: I just want to take a minute here. Sometimes on our podcast, I try to tell our English-speaking listeners a little bit about the French comic market and the French comics culture. What do you think, Guy, as a producer and Jon-Luc as a creator are some of the main differences between how the French people enjoy comics and how Americans enjoy comics?

Guy: In France, I would say comics are more embedded in the general publishing domain. We have a lot of bookshops in France, a lot. Even general bookshops carry comics. Supermarkets carry comics. Train station bookstores have comics, too. It’s much more widely spread in France. Although it’s a much smaller country, the comics industry is relatively bigger in France. It accounts to 12 percent of the total book sales, which is quite something.
They also see, in terms of themes, genres, and stuff, really, comics in France can be about anything. You have non-fiction comics, educational comics, a lot of comics for female readership, which has been growing for the last 20 years.

Jean-Luc: History.

Guy: History, comics based on songs. I did a book based on Bob Dylan’s songs once in comics. That was a great experience. I would say the main difference is that it’s less specialized, I would say.

Jean-Luc: I don’t know if I do have another point of view. Yes, it’s true. I can walk 10 minutes in my town and find, perhaps, three bookstores. In every bookstore, there are comics. Now, because I’m blessed, I do even have a US comic shop in my town, so I don’t buy more comiXology books. I do buy some. Two years ago, when this bookstore wasn’t there in my city, I was a huge comiXology reader. I’m still, but less. I love printed books, too, even if my space in my house is going to be…

Kara: Not enough?

Jean-Luc: Yeah, it’s out.

Kara: That’s OK. We love digital, we love print as long as people are finding the stories that they love to read.

Jean-Luc: No, that’s it. It’s not a war between digital and physical books. You love reading. We love reading in the train with all your collection, whenever you want, on holidays, on the plane. That’s just great. I do have, I think, 700 comics in my tablet right now.

Kara: Oh, wow.

Jean-Luc: Yeah, it’s just great.

Kara: You’re prepared for the flight back to France in a few days.

Jean-Luc: Yeah, yeah, I think I will sleep.

Kara: Jean-Luc, you have two of those adventure stories in the lineup currently?

Jon-Luc: Yeah. I do have this chance to have “Spin Angels,” which was previously published by Marvel a few years ago, and “Iron Squad,” which is brand new. I think the public, the American readers, should be interested in those kind of stories.

Matt: Absolutely. I do prefer my books with giant robots fighting Nazis.

Kara: That’s “Iron Squad” right there.

Matt: It is. That’s what I seek out on a regular basis. That was one of the first ones that I ever read.

Jon-Luc: If I want you to say this in one phrase it’s, I’ve done collision between “Pacific Rim” and “Inglorious Basterds.”

Matt: That’s an amazing pitch.

Kara: That’s a great pitch. Yeah, because it’s an alternate history of World War Two, where the Nazis have these giant mechs, just tearing up Europe, and the Russians are our last hope for survival, DUN DUN DUNNN.

Jean-Luc: In the first two issues, it’s the Russians. After, and I think it’s funny, it’s going to be the invasion, Japanese invasion, on the American ground here in San Diego.

Kara: Wow.

Matt: Wow.

Kara: How appropriate.

Matt: That is very appropriate.

Kara: Man, everyone should be reading this book. What is this?

Jean-Luc: Yeah-yeah.

Kara: “Spin Angels” is quite different. Tell us a little bit about that.

Jean-Luc: It’s more than a story. I can try a pitch. It’s like “Da Vinci Code.” It’s an esoteric thriller, but with jokes, and with action. It’s more like James Bond meets Da Vinci Code.

Guy: It’s Black Ops in the Vatican.

Jean-Luc: Black Ops in the Vatican, yeah.

Guy: Lots of priests with guns. Who doesn’t love that?

Kara: Priests with guns calling in the mafia. The Pope calling in his mafia BFF.

Jean-Luc: By the way, guns and babes. We are talking about religion, but it’s an excuse to…

Kara: To get a little violent.

Jean-Luc: Yeah, absolutely.

Guy: That’s what I meant when I said that American public may like those kind of books, because it’s all global culture right now. It’s a worldwide culture. We would like to mix elements, robots, and priests, and whatever, from movies, from TVs, from novels, from history. I think the French are like the Americans in that way that we love to use all these elements.

Kara: You guys love robots, too.

Jean-Luc: It’s a global market. We are reading the same books. We are looking at the same things. We are just enjoying the same movies. I don’t think what I write or what Guy is doing is…We don’t think French first, we just think about entertainment, as we are entertained by Marvel movies, by blockbusters, by whatever. You enjoy that, too. We can do some very French-y and very specific stories, but we can do whatever.

Guy: We try.

Matt: It’s funny, because you mentioned the movies. The first wave of books is very much like going to the movies and picking a film that you want to see. There’s a variety there. I talked about the book that I loved, Un océan d'amour, and that one was an emotional book.

That’s what I want to see when I go to a movie, so I can pick that. With this launch, you can pick an action book, or an emotional book, or…

Jean-Luc: Yeah, that’s it.

Matt: I think it’s the ideal launch for someone.

Jean-Luc: Very personal stories, or popcorn movies. Same thing in cinema in France, we enjoy both. In comics, it’s the same thing.

Kara: Are you guys fans of American comics, as well as French comics?

Jean-Luc: Definitely.

Jean-Luc: Being here is just amazing for me, because it’s Christmas.

Kara: This is your first time in San Diego, right?

Jean-Luc: First time in San Diego, yeah.

Kara: What have you done so far? What you have done at the convention? Just…

Jon-Luc: Almost nothing! Just working, and looking around, and just be amazed. I haven’t done anything yet. No, just walking with my eyes wide open.

Kara: Seeing all the cosplay and everything?

Jean-Luc: Yeah, I took some pictures of me with some Slave Leia.

Kara: American conventions are very different from French conventions.

Guy: They are different. Of course, in terms of size, this is unparalleled. Angoulême is very big, too, because the city isn’t that big and the convention is bigger than the city. It’s funny, because you have really comics people overwhelming the city in a way. French conventions are commercial and cultural.

You have a lot of exhibitions. You have people drawing in public, doing some performances. What they don’t have are panels as much. I love the fact in San Diego you have panels.

Jean-Luc: No, we try, we try.

Guy: People wanted to actually listen to creators and not just see them doing sketches, or whatever. That’s a big plus. I think we should go to that direction in France.

Jean-Luc: We do, we do. I’m part of the organizers of a convention in my city in Bordeaux…

Kara: Oh, cool.

Jon-Luc: …called the Bordeaux Geek Festival.

Jon-Luc: We had our first year a few months ago. We did some panels. Panels about “Star Wars,” modern movies, or things like that. We do also some kind of drawing competitions live with…

Guy: Drawing contests, yes.

Jean-Luc: Contests, with animations. But it’s really small. It’s really, really small.

Kara: Well, you have to start somewhere.

Matt: You talked about taking panels to France, but I wish we would take that city-wide convention idea here. I would love to just walk through some kind of beautiful city in the United States and it would just be all convention outdoors.

Jean-Luc: I walked on the streets of San Diego yesterday, and it was quite similar. There was comics or movies, or…There was Shardnado stuff…

Kara: The Sharknado dancers, yeah.

Jean-Luc: …on the street. Yeah, on the street there, there is this mood of…It’s just a celebration of the entertainment industry. Yeah, you can feel it.

Guy: The difference is that in France it’s still purely comics conventions. Here’s in San Diego, of course, it’s a media convention.

Kara: Guy, you’ve been here a few times to San Diego.

Guy: Yeah, quite a few times since 1981, when the conventions was, in my eye…my eye is very big, but retrospectively, quite small. I’ve been there almost 15 times, and so I saw it grow, yeah.

Matt: What was the convention like in 1981? What was the size then?

Guy: It was at El Cortez Hotel…

Matt: Wow.

Guy: …in the hotel lobby. Not lobby, but bar room, or whatever. But it was nice, but it was very easy to meet artists, writers, and people like that, creative people. I remember John Byrne. You could just go and talk to those guys. It was very pleasant, in fact more like a family. Of course, now it’s different.

Matt: You said to everybody there, you said, “In 30 years, we’re going to have English digital comic books on comiXology,” and nobody listened. [Editor’s note: this joke killed.]

Guy: Of course, even five years ago, I think, I wouldn’t have imagined that we would have digital comics from France translated in English. It’s great. It’s an absolutely stunning opportunity.

Jean-Luc: For me, it was five months ago.

Matt: I think once…I was a heavy print comic buyer until the iPhone came out and I was using comiXology before I started working here. Then once I found the iPad, I was like, “Well that’s it.” The tablets have gotten cheaper and cheaper. It’s really exciting to see people come by our booth and see the comics they love in this gorgeous colored spectrum that they can’t even really replicate in print a lot of the times.

Guy: No, it’s wonderful. It’s gorgeous, absolutely.

Matt: I’ve been talking with Kara about bandes dessinées and the format it…It’s fascinating to me growing up in the United States, reading single issues every month, and then growing up to hear how it’s vastly different in France where you get this gorgeous collection. Once every few months, you can get it.

I really love that format, because it’s sort of similar in the States with the trade paperback. They’ll collect them every so often, but I almost wish that we would adopt that, and some publisher take a chance, and just don’t publish anything for a few months for a series, and then only release in trades. Because in my head I feel like that’s a much more enjoyable format where you get the completed work as one object, and then you can talk about it afterward.

Jean-Luc: It’s a pacing in the story. When it’s a series of books…That’s what we did. A European comic size is 46 pages. It’s twice the US comics page. I will do that now when I write. I will pay attention to page 23, to have a cliffhanger or something, because I will think to you guys, and I know the issue will be page 23 in the middle of the book, so I will try to write something there. For “Spin Angels,” for example, we do have seven books. It took more than 10 years to achieve those 7 books.

You guys are going to have 23 pages every month, so it’s just great because you won’t have to wait. I think it’s a good thing to have all the books from the Delcourt collection with years of books.

Guy: A backlog, yes.

Jean-Luc: You won’t have to wait. You won’t have to wait one year to get a new book, so that’s just great.

Matt: I know, because we’re selfish. We can get everything at once.

Guy: We have over 6,000 books in our catalog. We’ll get all of those in, what? A few months? No, just kidding.

Matt: Everyone in New York just had a heart attack.

Jean-Luc: Yes, be ready.

Kara: Guy, you mentioned that most of the books that are being translated into English, they’re maybe not the superhero comics that most Americans are familiar with. There’s a variety of genres.

Guy: Yes.

Kara: Is that most of the catalog that we can expect coming to the American shores?

Guy: Yes, because we don’t do that much superheroes in France. It’s popular, but Batman, and Superman are popular, and Spider-Man.

Jean-Luc: Spider-Man!

Guy: They took over the market, and I think it’s hard to create superheroes in France. It has never really succeed. But when you have a great fantastic story, science fiction stories, so in other words, really, I think a personal point of view, because of the way French writers, their work is a lot different, but still with familiar genres, and with great detailed artwork. I think on the tablet, it will look absolutely stunning.

Matt: Yeah.

Kara: Yeah, I bet, those high-def tablets.

Matt: Oh, boy.

Kara: Looking panel by panel and Guided View, all the detailed art, yeah.

Matt: Why even go outside now? I can just sit at home and read these gorgeous comic books.

Jean-Luc: This morning, I just had a look at “Iron Squad” on my tablet. For me, I rediscovered the images, because it’s just image per image, and not the whole page.

Guy: Yeah, Guided View!
Jean-Luc: You guys are lucky to have the Guided View, because it is the only way to do digital things, it’s so boring to read some kind of PDF page.

Guy: To have to enlarge pictures, yes.

Jean-Luc: Yeah, it’s just not interesting, and it’s so frustrating. The Guided View is just natural view, the eye on the page, panel per panel. That’s just great. Yeah, rediscovering my images, just once by once, it was just great.

Kara: We think it’s pretty cool, too.

Jean: Luc: Yeah.

Guy: Oh, it is.

Matt: Actually it’s funny, because we as comic readers assume that people know how to read a comic book correctly, and where to read.

Jean-Luc: That’s true, yeah.

Matt: But it’s not actually the case. We’ll hear people say that “Guided View actually helped me figure out how to read a comic book correctly.”

Jean-Luc: My parents are not able to read comics. They just don’t get it.

Matt: Let’s get them a tablet, and Guided View, and we’ll just see what they like to read.

Jean-Luc: Yeah, perhaps that’s true. I don’t know.

Matt: I appreciate you guys taking the time out.

Guy: Thank you so much.

Matt: I’m really excited. Kara, I know, is super stoked about people like me learning more about French comics and reading French comics in English.

Kara: Yeah, lazy Americans won’t learn French. What is this?

Matt: Me… Yeah, us lazy Americans. [A single tear streams down Matt’s cheek.]

Kara: We’re making it easy for you. Now you have no excuse. Read the French books.

Matt: That’s right. Thanks very much, guys.

Jean-Luc: Thank you so much.

Guy: Thank you, thank you.