Laurent Astier: Flood of fire, venimous Volume 1
#BDAs the 46th Angoulême Festival is in full swing, Back on the launch of The Venom by Laurent Astier published by Rue de Sèvres. Bubble offers you a new column format to discover the album through an interview with its author
Meeting with Laurent Astier and his venomous heroine.
Western with conspiracy accents, cavalcade in the great plains punctuated by flashbacks, fictions that lurk towards History… the themes covered in La Venin promise an eventful journey. What strikes you when you open the album is the strength of the drawings, the mastery of colours and the very careful cutting. A very sophisticated staging, between cinematographic framing and neat ellipses, which allow him to say a lot while favouring drawing. Flood of fire, deluge of features, this first album launches a series that will count five volumes to the rhythm of one album per year.
Polar, fantastic, investigation and historical account, the western was missing from your painting at chasse ?
Laurent Astier: It’s a childhood dream I’m fulfilling today. My first readings were fumetti and essentially western with La conquête de l’Ouest, Ken Parker, Kit Carson, Tex Willer, etc. And then there was Eddy Mitchell’s last session with John Ford’s films, Raoul Walsh. We became the 2nd generation to dream of this American mythology. The Hollywood part of the Marshall Plan worked perfectly for me!
And then we reached new heights with the European revisitation, with Sergio Leone’s films and Ennio Morricone’s fantastic soundtracks, and the comic strip series Blueberry of Jean Michel Charlier and Jean Giraud.
So I dreamed of doing it, but I waited all these years to get the level of all these impassable great masters to get into the genre. And, after five years working on the diptych Facing the Wall, I needed large spaces..
In addition to the poisonous titles, the reader finds a certain familiarity betweenThe VenomandPoison Cellin this heroine with a past trouble ?
Laurent Astier: It’s true that these two heroines have similarities in appearance, brown with blue eyes, and a strong character, and perhaps even in the complicated background of their youth. I like to reuse figures that are my own, like fetish actors to whom I would assign roles according to the needs of the casting. And authors and artists always tend to dig the same paths, the same themes reinvent them every time. I don’t know exactly who they are and it would probably take me several years of analysis to understand where they come from. Or we would need a longer interview to address them…
In terms of scenario, we are in another dynamic and other themes, because the period is different. We are at the dawn of the 20th century, in a period of transition between the old world, the Old West, which is still very prevalent in most states, and the new one, with the industrial revolution and the emergence of megacities on the east and west coasts, which are growing in importance, and on territories that offer the right to metamorphose and to constantly reinvent one’s life and destiny.
But in La
Venin, there is a desire to tell Emily’s saga from a much broader perspective, to return to a way of drawing and colouring, in a much more classic atmosphere, whether in the inking or the layouts.
Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid’s Wild Bunch, the reference to Skull and Bones… is the series part of a re-reading of the great legends that forged the USA ?
Laurent Astier: : Yes, I really wanted to reclaim these great legends of the American myth, and include them in my story while having my own point of view. And it’s such a material to dig up for the author that I am! I have a thirst to learn, to understand the springs, the ins and outs of the world’s journey.
It probably comes from my working-class origins where culture was not very present. I feel like I am learning every day and each new project allows me to discover new things, new parts of our history.
For example, I read several books on the history of the Comanches for a scene that only lasts a few pages in this first volume. I don’t know if this is the case, but I would like it to reappear in the reading, for the reader to feel that it is not a fake and that there has been a real research and investigation work for more veracity.
We cannot help but draw a parallel between Kennedy’s assassination and that of candidate Mc Grady (and his share of conspiracy), is it a desire not to leave politics by the gang after a long work on the Business Case?
Laurent Astier: : Yes, it is true that we can draw a parallel between these two stories, even if, here, the conspiracies do not always come from those we believe. But I don’t want to reveal everything here, it’s a little early!
There is always in my work this desire to explore history, politics, even geopolitics.
That’s why I agreed to work on the Business Case, and it remained as an imprint in my approach to each new project.
Emily’s notebooks found in the afterword push the story into reality, why this desire to link reality and fiction?
Laurent Astier: : I couldn’t write in an unframed context, outside of history, or at least not there in the background, and who knows if these notebooks aren’t the real Emily notebooks I found in strange circumstances and romanesques ?
Maybe I’ll tell you about it one day… How, in a journey of several months in all these American states, from Colorado to Connecticut, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas, I finally found Emily’s whereabouts and after much research, managed to reconstruct her history, her journey…
Indian Wars, Butch Cassidy & his famous bandits, the society secretes Skull and Bones, or the sordid crimes & the Minnie Wallace affair, the series opens with a condensed version of America that we discover under Emily’s eyes. Between the conquest of the West and the revisited detective novel, and skillfully playing on flashbacks, the illustrator takes us behind his shock heroine while distilling a story with multiple ramifications.
The Venom T1, Flood of Fire,
Laurent Astier,Rue de Sèvres, 2019
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