Hello Jérôme Alquié, could you introduce yourself please ?|
Hello. I was born in 1975 and grew in the universe of the eighties anime, with Grendizer, Ulysse 31 and Captain Future. As early as these first years, it was a pleasure to draw what I liked to see on TV. My passion for drawing decidedly came from here. Then it was the Club Dorothée era, with the Saint Seiya and Dragon Ball anime, as well as all the others in this show. My passion for drawing was so big at that time that I began to really analyze anime and their artistic qualities. These series were like drawing professors for me, thus teaching me a few techniques and the sensibility to several visual styles. I then tried, as any " pupil ", to understand and to master the styles I enjoyed admiring on screen. Since then, I developped competences with the passing years, by dint of working. When I was in school, it was in my lesson margins that I tweaked my drawings. When I was in holiday, it was behind my bedroom's desk that my progress became tangible. Then, one day in 1997, a bit by chance, I got the opportunity to show my work of fan artist to the public, during the Cartoonist festival. The welcome was so good that it opened a new path for me : the professionalism in illustration.
Your name has become mainly known consecutively to the famous Hadès trailer screened at Cartoonist. Is it a problem for you today to be quickly associated to this work in particular, which obscures a bit the rest ?
A problem ? No. Not at all ! That's normal… This was an important moment in my young career, filled with relentless work, passion, gratitude, and difficulties as well. When I made the trailer, it was the fourth year that I make festivals through France. I then had a faithful public who came and enjoy exhibitions to discuss with me and share my passion and my fan art, not necessarily about Saint Seiya only ! Exhibiting my work enabled me to be known in the festival inner circle, but not really farther. Which suited me fine, besides. When the trailer was screened, it was so wonderfully greeted by Saint Seiya fans that suddenly, its broadcasting (as well as my name which was obviously associated to it) wandered around the world, introducing the work through the world to Saint Seiya fans, as well as my name at the same time. This wasn't intended, I didn't imagine this welcome as it was screened the first time in april 2001 anyway (link to the trailer and the conference) But that's a fact. And the following craze was such that I found myself, willingly or not I can't figure it out yet, a bit as the fans' spokesman to have the Saint Seiya continuation in anime. And thus my name circulated. Anyway, as you'll see on the site, my work is far from restricting to Saint Seiya. But it's true that the trailer is still the most " media-related " element of my past. So, it's normal to make this quick association between my name and this work in particular.
Back to the trailer, a lot of things have been said about your intentions. What werethey in reality ?
A lot of things were said and I still don't understand as of now. I gave many interviews, many articles about it have been published at that time and they were faithfully reporting my words. So there was nothing to gamble about, or so it seems… When we prepared the trailer, our only goal was to make a huge present to the fans who were frustrated to have never seen Saint Seiya Hades in anime. And it was thus that it was presented and greeted by the public. Then, when the success was there, we dared to disclose that another objective was to show through our work (as well as the international craze following it) that the fans' wait and passion was more present than ever. It was out of question to double-cross the Japanese with this trailer, as I had the chance to read here and there ! (link to the articles) On the contrary ! The objective was clearly to show them that the public was still there !
When Hades production was announced one year after your meeting with Araki Shingo in Paris for the trailer screening, some have said that it was thanks to you, others have shouted haut et fort that you had nothing to do with that. Where is the reality ?
When I was finally asked to give my opinion instead of jumping to conclusions in any sense comme dans un autre, I answered that, honestly, the impact that the trailerhad on the Japanese' decision to make a continuation is - and will probably stay - a total unknown for me. However, it's obvious that it's not the work of a nice little French guy that decided the biggest japanese animation company to relaunch the production of such a world-famous series that Saint Seiya is. Claiming the contrary would be a big pretensiousness. The decision to make the continuation was certainly in debate well before I make this trailer, anyway. On the other hand, what is obvious is that the trailer, made in 2001had been greeted more than passionately by fans, during the french and foreign festivals where I was invited to screen it. This flame, this sudden and incredible revival that followed those screenings through the world made " tangible " this expectation of the fans, reaching its climax when the meeting with Shingo Araki took place in Paris, along with the official handing of my work between his hands, for him to be the next spokesman, more official, of our passion… So, telling that my trailer is at the origin of the official series is a pretentious illusion, but telling that it played no role is maybe wrong, at least I hope that... For my part, and I'm happy with this, I like to think that fans' passion, made more intense and quantifiable thanks to the trailer, has been an additional element to conforter the right owners in their decision to produce a continuation.
The public noticed that you exceptionnally master the style of many reknown character designers. However, a small part of the public (mainly for Saint Seiya) thinks that you're mostly a cribber, whose artistic talent is yet to be seen. Can you tell us your opinion about it ?
My opinion is that people are not worng when they say that some of my works are copier works. Still, reducing everything I to do to this proves an ignorance of my work, generally speaking, and maybe sometimes an ignorance of the artistic learning. When I do some official works about my childhood TV series, some of them blame me for using existing poses, some more or less known mises en scène… And that's true. When, for example, I have to illustrate a nostalgic series for editor DVD boxes, there is a cahier des charges dictated by the ayants droits to be respected which is simple : making " faithful and vendeuses " illustrations. Which means two essential points :
- Perfectly respecting the original line, i.e. mastering the style or at least getting strongly close to it, but you also have to " imitate " a few original illustrations anchored in people memories for the nostalgic aspect to work properly. I say that from an artistic point of view but also from a commercial one ! If I had to draw Saint Seiya (or anything else !) with a different style from the original one, the public would NEVER accept that, and I would personally find this very inadequate with the quality of the proposed product.
- Making the final result more modern. This applies to the fond, i.e. a few poses or characters seldomly utilized in the official illustrations, as well as on the forme, I.e the colourisation and the layout, which is - for the high majority of the illustrations I made - a real added value. I leave it to the visiters to have a look on all the works on TV series (the only section whre this criticism can be applied ^^ !) and make an idea for themselves. Those same visitors will also notice that what I do isn't necessarily limited to these works inspired from TV series, and that a few personal projects under progress chose very different ways of expression and inspiration Anyway, back to the " copy " term. I would like to make two comments :
- The first one is that my artistic education, as a second-best, was made by copying existing anime works. I don't deny it, on the contrary. That's my culture ! Every artist in the History of Arts have copied their masters, their models before finding their path. And this exactly what I do. I don't claim to be an accomplished artist, and I still have a lot to learn to get a proper style. So, I don't see in this process anything offending.
- The second one is that one gives sometimes in remarks a very reducing connotation to the word " copying ", making it synonym of " tracing ". But this doesn't have anything to do with it ! The copy, imitation of a drawing, a style, etc… is certainly not the ultimate step of the artistic development of an artist's thought ; but on the other hand it's an important step to make one's the techniques used by the original concerned artist. I often compare that with foreign languages. The one who will " trace " will only read a foreign text without understanding it, without knowing why he has to say things this way. The one who will " copy " goes a lot farther as he learns the language and finally masters it, at the point of being able to express himself in this language. The process is very different, and technically admirable when it's perfectly mastered, even if it's limited in an artistic point of view. That's what I do today for a few works related to TV series. Of course, those works are not absolutely original ! This results more of technique than the one of art ! And that's not fully satisfying from a purely artistic point of view… , but they are still full-fledged works and they fulfill the role they're asked to play. Regarding a " personal " style, that I still apply myself to tweak currently by exploring other paths, I apply it to more personal projects, independent from the TV series from my childhood.
Speaking about it, regarding the official projects made these last years, how was the choice made and in what conditions did you make them ?
The trailer a marqué un tournant as the fact to be known allowed me to meet interesting people and generate quite an interest in French Anime professionals. For a few years, many official projects have alternated, made in collaboration with with publishers and contractuellement accepted by ayant droits of the series as well as official goods (action figures, DVD boxes, posters, technical sheets, game booklets…) The choice is simply made when the relevant series is relatively old and that original visuals are of bad quality (and by that I mean printing or definition) or judged a bit too " retro " to attract the eye in the departments. As previously said, the work consists in giving them a second youth, by modernizing the general aspect while staying extremely faithful to the original design, incontrovertible constraint without which fan of the series would call it a blasphemy. The series I had the chance to work on are very different, from anime to cartoons, as well as a few french-canadian co-productions. More than 40 series, more than 400 DVD covers, among other things…
Currently, you're still swoting on Saint Seiya and other TV series from your childhood ? What are your other projects ?
I still hold Saint Seiya dear, but I currently don't have any project in progress on this series. In fact, I didn't work on anything related to Saint Seiya since 2003 with the making of Audio CD covers for Logarithme. This would nevertheless be a pleasure for me to work again on it if there is a request… I mainly work on the development of my personal projects, like the " l'Anneau des Sept " book , written by my old friend Arnaud, as well as miscellaneous parallel projects, a bit distant from animation and that I leave it up to you to discover the ins and outs in the " personal galeries " section (link to add). But most of my efforts are actually focused on the pre production of an ambitious animated TV series project named " Lorghian and Sharylla ". As you'll be able to see while reading the associated section, this is a project of a potential animated " space opera " TV series… - dans la lignée of post-futuristic SF anime, TVseries and movies with the ingredients/contents that you can imagine (spaceships, aliens, futuristic backgrounds…) - very entertaining at a first level of show (kids) by its dynamism, its very varied adventures as well as the attachment to the main characters - very rich and culturally informative at a second degree (for a more mature public) thanks to references to the Man's History, or mythological legends… This project, made possible thanks to the passion and the work of a fifteen people team I had the honor to lead, is currently looking for potential french and foreignpotential producers. Talks are ongoing and we hope that they will succeed to allow us to fullfil this wonderful dream.
Speaking about your drawings, we all noticed your admiration for the characters designers Shingo Araki and Michi Himeno. This was obvious in the " l'anneau des sept " book. Does it mean that this style is your favorite one ?
Favorite ? I don't know. But it's true that I love it, because it was aplied on series like Goldorak, Ulysse and Saint Seiya, which are my anime loves from youth and the origin of my passion. Though, I like switching from a style to another one, including the mixing of them. The Araki / Himeno style has been chosen to be the basis for the drawings of the "l'anneau des sept" book, but this can be more deeply explained by my only personal taste. This illustrated book is still basically a novel, the quality of which is such not to need illustrations to find its public. But at that time, the publishers proved to be reluctant to edit a project in the "Lord of the Rings" style. Arnaud, the writer, felt the possibility of a strong public in the RPG field (besides, its history comes from this universe). Knowing that a part of the RPG public is alsoan anime public, the idea to illustrate it was becoming interesting, all the more as Cartoonist Factory (company en charge to sell different goods of eponymous festivals) was interested by the edition, provided that it remains in the anime realm. The illustrations I was going to make were thus this strong link between these two worlds, and enabled at last to this book to be introduced to the public from both worlds. This book was happening at a moment when the Hades trailer began to be widely known, and the public was coming to see me mainly for the Saint Seiya style. It was easier, I acknowledge it, to propose an illustrated " product ", the style basis of which being something well known by them, in order to bring in the interest in the book more easily. That was the case. What's interesting today is that when I work on the A7 illustrations, I make them a lot less like the Araki style from four years ago. But coming back to the question about styles, I indeed like testing many styles (Toriyama, Sadamoto, Matsumoto, Komatsubara). Yet, if I had to choose one in particular, this would be Tsukasa Hojo's one, because I have to acknowledge that the quasi-realistic style remains more striking to me than all others. This mangaka has an incomparable talent and I deeply respect him ! Besides, I chose a pseudo realistic style for the " Lorghian et Sharylla " project, initially inspired from Hojo type characters, but approached in a different way, mixing cleverly comics, anime, french-belgian line as well as a definite inspiration in the Greco-Roman art. I think that the result is quite satisfying, if I believe the reactions of the animation professionals to this project…
On a more technical point of view, which tools do you use to make your illustration works ?
I went through miscellaneous techniques. Still today, there are many of them even if the works more based on animation are performed the " classic " way. So, I'll answer higgledy-piggledy by listing yhe various techniques that I tangled with (not always successfully) : - the sketch, charcoal crayon or simple HB (see Duke Fleed sign), then I work more with blue leads or even make compositions bichromes. (see women section) - the watercolour, which I've never been a huge fan of, which partly explains my sub-par level… - the acrylic, mainly used for all the backgrounds I made for the animation sequences or posters. - the celluloid which unites the sketch, the inking with China Ink (various sized Rotring) then the painting by polyvinyls (see "making of Clio" section) - And of course the conputer for a big part of the current colorisations as well as for the miscellaneous special effects applied as posters or various images alteartions. - Recently, and in collaboration with someone conversant with it, we're exploring the 3D part with dedicated softwares, but I don't master well the execution and their integration with 2D elements yet. This will certainly be a future objective !
Thank you very much, would you have a personal message to give to all anime fans ?
I would like to just add a little something about this job of mine (which doesn't only confine to illustration but includes a bit the production, project managing…) Like many professions, it's extremely difficult, very strongly submitted to the market risks/hazards, and you have to remettre en question very often. The competition, which very often includes friends having learnt at the same time as you and passionate in the same stuff as you, is strong and you often have to renew yourself in order to last. But like few professions, it's extraordinary as it brings dream to others ! A powerful feeling of pride and pleasure comes out when,starting with a white paper you give life to a character or an emotion a few hours later… From all professions I see going around me, few can claim so much so to make the eyes of those coming to ask you to do it shine with passion… " Being good isn't enough to make a name for yourself", I was said, maybe to deter me from doing it... And that's true ! You also need other ingredients like small part of recklessness, obstinacy, will, abnegation and a bit of luck ! Everyday, I'm aware to have got this luck, the indredible luck of mine of being able to be able to live and making my family live thanks to this profession, whereas other people, surely more skillful than me, don't necessarily succeed. Anyway, living from one's passion is not a walk in the park everyday, but the most beautiful job of the world is here ! Amicalement