Article Information
TitleHell according to Foerster
AuthorPierre Polomé
AboutPhilippe Foerster
Context Information
Magazine PublicationRêve-en-Bulles (1996, number 12)
Article Contents
from the article "Hell according to Foerster (1996)":
What is the origin of the project?
Philippe Foerster: Andreas made me a very odd proposal one day: "Would you make an album for which I would do nothing but the inking?" he asked me. For myself, I found that extraordinary but I answered him nevertheless: "to what end? Our drawings are so different... " He told me that only inking interested him and that I were to take care of all the rest, the scenario included, of course. Finally, I nevertheless proposed to him to carry out certain decorations but he refused. All the same we made a synopsis together of what I had written and then... he did what he wanted to do, i.e. inking!
Certain decorations and characters are very "Andreas"...
Philippe Foerster: No! He was devoted to inking and the work was almost entirely done by postal way, because Andreas lives in Brittany. I sent the drawings to him and, once inked, he in turn sent them to Lombard.
It is thus not an album done with 4 hands...
Philippe Foerster: It is strange: at the bottom line, it is rather a Foerster album. But the final result resembles much more an album of Andreas: he used his technique of small features, engraving kind, and some strokes of the kind, I would say, like the coastal side which one finds in Cromwell Stone (site-editor: bad translation. original: "il a utilise sa technique de petit traits, genre gravure, en un peu plus jete que d'habitude, je veux dire, le cote gris/modelage des traits que l'on trouve dans les Cromwell Stone ".)
All the same, there is a certain fusion of your two styles.
Philippe Foerster: It is a hybrid creature! I carried my drawing more towards semi-realism, by thinking of the subject and also of the fact that Andreas had to do the inking. I have refound a little the style of 'Pinocchio' because my approach with 'Fluide Glacial' would have been too caricatural. But it is different from our collaboration in Dérives, of course.
The scenario of "Styx" is far-fetched, complex and it is a long story (54 pages).
Philippe Foerster: Yes, I wanted to do that for a long time. I wanted to mix detective elements and the fantastic, but that is seldom done, except in 'Twin Peaks' or 'Angel Heart'! I did not want to end up with phantoms that at the end appear actually counterfeiters! A second obstacle posed a problem to me: a comic strip bores quickly. One knows immediately the name of the assassin while at the same time the investigation and the mystery does not have the time of to develop. It is too short and disappointing, in general... except in 'Léo Malet' adapted by Tardi in a minimum of 120 pages! In an album of normal length, it is more difficult. But I tried it nevertheless!
Is there not a problem of weariness towards the 3/4 of the album, where you include long explanations before the final conclusion in the action?
Philippe Foerster: It is fatal. I do not want that people feel left in the dark. When enigmas are posed, they should be solved. Thus the detective plot should be entirely revealed but the psychology of the characters can remain more ambiguous and keep hidden aspects.
The environment of Styx is very worrying: a sailor is wrongfully demobilized in a climate of war and lauched in a dangerous investigation, while working for the mortuary of the army. This principal character besides different from the others, is typified as of the dirty mugs kind.
Philippe Foerster: Yes, the first trials showed it more characterized but I to some extent neutralized it as a more banal hero. He is witness to what happens and he is depicted as a stereotype private detective.
He keeps his costume of sailor all the same and is called Laurel Hardy.
Philippe Foerster: Ha! Ha! Ha! Yes, he is also sarcastic and he drinks! But he remains with the service of the navy and thus he keeps on the dress. I chose his name to make a gag with it at the end of the album.
There is much humour, it is true, like this crash for example.
Philippe Foerster: The idea comes from an authentic fact: a guy spent 20 years to make a gigantic cross word puzzle. He went to give it to the book of records and the following day... he died. In fact, his life was devoted only to that! I drew from it in Styx the principle of crash. It is a drug which makes one brilliant before dying. The majority of the victims become extremely intelligent but in absurd fields, like the giant puzzles. Thus, miserable people become geniuses for some time, before vomitting and bursting to death.
The intrigue is solid and refers to certain myths. One finds also the beloved topics of Foerster: hearts in sorrow, automats, hell...
Philippe Foerster: I made a fusion of all that in a detective style, with the fantastic dominant at the end? 'Hell-land' is a demonic amusement park filled with appearances of life, like the automats and the holograms. I multiplied the look-alikes. In addition, I used the name of the river of deaths to baptize a syringe to extract the heart from the bodies. Charon, the passor, becomes an actor in the park. It is true, there is a morbid obsession: war mortuary where the hero believes himself to be underground, etc... In this climate, Laurel Hardy arrives always too late, does not manage to prevent the murders and the situation turns against him.
It is hard to imagine setting colors to these infernal pages!
Philippe Foerster: We have thought of several solutions, Andreas and myself. Perhaps a gray as in the 'Sambre' of Yslaire but Lombard was filled with enthusiasm by the experiment of the black and white.
The album appears in the collection Signé and will not have a sequal.