HomeEntertainmentDaniel Clowes. “As...

Daniel Clowes. “As we age, we lose many things: the sharpness of our eyes, the accuracy of our hearing. But our instincts are getting stronger.”

His latest book, Monica, has just won the book of the year award at the prestigious Angoulême festival, and his entire work has been reprinted in French. Meeting a big name in modern comics.

In a career of more than 30 years, the American Daniel Close has several masterpieces behind him, including the disturbing one: A world of ghosts (adapted for film in 2001, with Scarlett Johansson, who we discovered at the time) and now great Monica. This author and designer answered our questions about his work just hours before receiving the Book of the Year award for the same. MonicaAt the prestigious Angoulême festival and when all his work is being republished in French (1), including one of his first books, Lynch himself; Like a velvet glove caught in the melt.

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Madame Figaro: Q: how is your latest book Monica did it start in your mind and how do you start your books?

Daniel Close: Of the things that inspire me. Small things like the design of the character, the final form of the work… Things that are electric, exciting to me and that I try to maintain throughout the creation. For Monica, I wanted to go through the decades that I was alive, going through different styles as well. And I wanted to write about my childhood, explore its different genres comics that I loved since childhood. Then find a process by which you can mix it all up, remove things, make sense, refine. I like to work without looking at my influences, but remembering them. For this book, I called things that were almost indelible in my memory from the age of 13. I tried to find the feelings again. Then diving back into it when my book was finished, I was shocked by the huge difference between reality and my memory.

How to work on memory?

10 years ago I organized a retrospective of my work and realized that all the people I had worked with or met were telling me very different things than the ones I remember. I began to question my memory and realized that a memory is a memory of a memory that has itself been restructured by the mind to create a story free of difficult or embarrassing things. I’m still convinced that my memory is correct, but I know, just from listening to my wife, that some of the things I tell her never happened… While working on the book, my mother died, and she left a chaotic mess. behind him. I had to sort it all out and it was like an investigation, solving a mystery, I found clues, letters, explaining some childhood moments that have always remained dark. It was like an episode Columbus ! Above all, it made me aware of things I didn’t remember and childhood traumas I wasn’t aware of.

This sounds like one of your stories…

Yes, I felt that I was the one who organized all this. And all my stories, deep down, tell a little of this. I wrote one of the parts Monica before my mother left. I was afraid of his death. But when it did, I surprised myself by feeling free. In the same month, I also lost my brother and suddenly there was no one to contradict my writing and picture. I realized that I can tell what I feel is right and true without their opinion and comments, which can frustrate me.

Monica by Daniel Close

How do you write?

Almost like meditation. On the first day, I write whatever comes out of my head as much as possible. The next day I copy again, noting what works and what can be changed. I do this for several days in a row until I can’t change anything. Often the first thing I write is not in the final book. In Monica, is only 20% of what I wrote when I started. Things have to have some weight to be in the final book.

How do you know the book is ready?

It is the job of the artist to understand this at the right time, each for his own work. When I was younger, I didn’t necessarily understand that I was under the influence. As I grew older, my intuition grew stronger. With age we lose many things, the sharpness of our eyes, the accuracy of our hearing, but our instincts become stronger.

Does this affect your painting?

I am aware of this, in any case, and I know how to turn all this to my advantage.

When did you start painting?

I write for a year without painting, and that’s a year I hate to spend… Then I can paint. It’s like making a sculpture, or mixing chemicals. Since finishing this book, I have decided to draw a few hours a day in a notebook. It makes me feel better, my days are better. I hate the feeling I get when I wake up, when I’m not painting, I go to the studio and just write. I feel like I’ve done nothing all day. So painting, maintaining my practice is essential. I keep this notebook with me now, for example, I draw images from old movies. It is a way of insisting on the painting, of improving my understanding of it by transforming some of the features of the character…

For your previous book, you quoted Steve Ditko, the creator of Spider-Man, Patience . Which artists are you still looking up to?

For MonicaI immersed myself in imitators of the great American cartoonists of the 1950s, who enthusiastically and without ego published stories for DC comics, because most of them did not sign.

Monica has several distinct sequences. Is this a way to go back to your beginnings when you did a? comics where you have suggested several stories.

Back then in my comics Eight balls, I enjoyed being able to create stories in different styles and transition seamlessly from one to the other. It’s a very dear memory for me, and I wanted to go back to it, even if I didn’t put as much variety into it. Humor, for example, doesn’t work for a book like this Monica.

And the humor has disappeared from your works.

I can laugh for a long time while simulating the book Monica but it remains subtle, only I realize it.

Like a velvet glove caught in the meltBy Daniel Close

Is each new book a way to start the process from scratch, to break free from the routine?

That’s my goal, but I always do the same thing… Having said that, it would be completely alien to me to always remake the same characters, as Snoopy’s creator, Charles Schultz, has done throughout his life. Perhaps because I had such an unstable life as a child. We were constantly moving, I had to constantly change my identity.

Would you say that’s what all your graphic novels are about? a character searching for his mystery.

Yes, I think so! (laughs…) Even if I’m not necessarily looking for… There’s a brilliant documentary by Peter Bogdanovich about John Ford where Ford says very seriously: “I’m John Ford. I make westerns.” I can say something like this. “I’m Dan Close. I do mysteries.” Even if my mysteries are a slightly deranged version of Agatha Christie’s…

And David Lynchwho you were compared to when you started.

Yes, this is one that cares less about the formula than the mystery itself. It’s important to know where the story is going, it’s a quest that leads to a resolution, in the sense of Greek drama, but I never do it without a preconceived idea. I want to get to the end the way my characters get there. I never treat them like pieces on a chessboard. I just put things that lead them to a conclusion. Towards a way for them to discover themselves.

I do not lead a sad life, but it is certain that my melancholy is present in my stories.

Daniel Close

You were influenced by the French school of clear lines. Are you still looking at authors like Serge Claire?

I just met him. He was so important to me, and with Yves Chaland too. They were the first authors I was able to relate to. Other great European or French authors, like Moebius, were very strong and powerful, but I didn’t identify with them. Serge Clerc and Chaland were very influential, and I have a collection of albums released by Futuropolis in the 1980s… I can almost get my way through reading them in French. But what I like the most is conveyed through images.

Sadness, which is very present in Serge Claire’s work, is also important to you.

Undoubtedly. I do not lead a sad life, but it is certain that my melancholy is present in my stories. When I was little, I wanted to write a love story, and that’s how some of my books start out as love stories. Patience, for example, is one… But as I grow older, this kind of story interests me less, because I was able to see the true biology of love. Love stories that last are not so interesting to tell. nothing dramatic, just stability.

Has dramaturgy changed in recent years?

Yes, I think so, especially in cinema, where you have to go through more and more mandatory things. And I don’t find myself in it like I might have in 1970s movies. Any film, from the 1940s to the late 1970s, is well told; failure, you know you’re in good hands, story-wise. Now it’s just a show.

Are the glasses a temptation, right when taking pictures?

Yes of course. It’s all about finding a balance between what you need to draw and what you want to draw. Sometimes I can’t wait to paint certain scenes.

(1) Monicaand the complete works of Daniel Close can be found in Delcourt.

Source: Le Figaro

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