A while ago we had Olivier Vatine’s entry in Spirou’s Exquisite Corpse, and I mentioned that his Galerie des illustres page might be a future scanlation. So here it is!
Humor, science fiction, western, heroic fantasy – Olivier Vatine, one of the most stylish pens in the comics business, loves getting his hands dirty with grease. Just as he did when he was little, along with his mechanically-minded dad.
Hey! That’s a hangar of well-known crafts!
Yes, you’ll find some of the famous cars from Spirou there, and Gaston’s.
Why this love for classic cars?
My father loved to tinker with engines. And I loved to get my hands greasy helping him. I loved the cars you could find in Spirou. They seemed more alive to me than the ones in [race car comic] Michel Vaillant.
How does Jidéhem fit in?
He was Franquin’s assistant on some albums. Tillieux also loved cars. I still remember an amazing race on the roofs between a Dauphine and an R8 Gordini, that I read in Surboum pour 4 roues (“Surprise Party for Four Wheels”), a Gil Jourdan album.
Did you like Franquin?
He had it all. His drawings were brilliant, his storytelling to die for, his architecture a dream. He took an interest in everything.
When did you start doing comics?
In high school there was a whole bunch of us, including Thierry Cailleteau and Frank Le Gall, who wrote me a story that we got published. Then with Thierry, we came up with Fred et Bob for Pilote. That’s how it started.
Which one of you had the idea for the famous series Aquablue?
The “pitch” was mine. It was a mix of Tarzan, my idol, and of Dune, Frank Herbert’s saga. A story that took place on a water planet.
You made a western that people had to wait for for a long time.
Yes, Angela. I had an excuse: the creation of the “Série B” collection for Delcourt. With Fred Blanchard, we put in place a group that helped gifted young artists without much experience with layouts, researching cars, ships, buildings, etc. We looked over their projects, we helped develop them, and we presented them to Delcourt. It worked well.
You also drew two episodes in the Star Wars saga.
Yes, based on a novel [Star Wars: Heir of the Empire], along with Fred Blanchard. A very nice experience, because we got to visit Skywalker Ranch.
Why, when you draw a sheep, does it wear a Mao cap?
I’m often in China since my first visit in 2004. There are a lot of great artists there, people who’ve had academic training. In a few years, they’ve gone from the 19th to the 21st century and graphic tablets. And fortunately, these artists are curious about French comics. And American ones, to tell the truth.
Back in France, you’re putting out a Lanfeust album.
I enjoyed reading the first cycle, Lanfeust de Troy. The writer, Christophe Arleston, wanted me to draw an adventure with the beautiful Cixi. Unfortunately, Didier Tarquin, the artist, was in love and wanted her for himself. I sweet-talked him so much that in the end he agreed to give her up to me. Wasn’t that nice?