Article Information
TitleDérives and Fantalia
AuthorYves Lacroix
AuthorPhilippe Sohet
Context Information
AlbumAndreas. Une monographie
Article Contents
from the article "Dérives and Fantalia (1995)":
It's also the time of Dérives. This album appeared only long after the stories were published in Métal Hurlant. How did that go?
Andreas: The prepublication in Métal Hurlant was interrupted after TouristeTouriste, the third story of Dérives after a scenario of my German friend Ferdinand Scholz. Later, when I was at Delcourt, he said to me: "He, we could publish those short stories you did for Métal." Then I added three more.
All scenarists of Dérives are you friends. Why did you ask exactly these people for a scenario?
Andreas: I wanted to step away from my hobbies for once. I realized that I was closed in in my own genre and avoided certain subjects for the simple reason I didn't like to draw them. That's why I asked them to write whatever they wanted. Unfortunately more than one person made it a typical Andreas story. But one or two - especially Frédéric Bézian - really made something I could never have written myself. That gave me the opportunity to use different techniques to serve the scenario...and sometimes the scenarist. Because the story of Antonio Cossu is a bit like Cossu, the story of Bézian is like Bézian, his drawing style even influenced me somewhat. The same holds for Gérard Goffaux.
Andreas: But the scenario of Frédéric Bézian caused me the most trouble. After three plates I stopped and started again. It was very hard, because it contains many characters who also happen to come down a stairs the whole time. I had to take that into account. It is the story I enjoyed most. I don't currently plan to make a story with anyone else, but should that happen, it will be with Bézian. We agreed to work together again. He writes and I draw. I liked it that he caused me trouble with Dérives. When you write yourself, you limit yourself to what you can make. The stories in Dérives liberated me from that somewhat. When I currently write a story, I really only think of the story itself. While drawing Le retour de Cromwell Stone I ran into a few hard scenes, for which I asked myself: "Why did I possibly write that?" But I think that's good, that's how I want to tell my stories. Only horses I avoid, that's the only thing I really find hard to draw.
In 1986 a book appears at Magic-Strip, Fantalia, that has put more than one reader on the wrong foot. You once said that Fantalia has a strong autobiographical character.
Andreas: I made Fantalia in request of Magic-Strip for a special series. They gave me complete freedom.
Patrick van Bergen (Site Editor): Andreas drew a picture for the portfolio "La tour de Babel des croqueurs de sable" that was published in the album "L'âme Brase". The album is part of a series called "Les croqueurs de sable" that was written and drawn completely by Joly Guth.
Andreas: Maybe the story is a little too close to what I experienced at the time: I really tried to get out of a depression. Family life actually didn't appeal to me at all at first. That means, having a child and all the fuzz around it. I believe that's also present in Fantalia. That's also why I like the movie Eraserhead by David Lynch. He made the film when his wife or girlfriend was pregnant and thought that from that moment all was over for him. He just left the filmacademy and thought that he could never again do what he wanted, never make the movies he wanted anymore, because he had to sustain his family, etcetera... That was not my fear. My fear was that there would suddenly be someone who would be there all the time. I had lived alone for years and I liked that very much. I was very open to people. That is less now, because currently I see people every day. I see my family everyday and in a sense that is enough for me. I have that closed side about me. I like to be at home and do not like to be disturbed. Not many people visit my workshop. After some years I found out that the workshop really terrified my wife and daughter. I went there too much, but I really need a sort of private domain. I like loneliness. I like to be left alone. With the years, I have become somewhat of a menhater. Anyway, what was the question?
Do the world and the colors of Fantalia represent the world of creation, the world of the characters?
Andreas: No. It is reality entering my world - how should I say it? - in mý world! I always kept myself in the background, in the shadow, hence the grayness in the beginning. Later the colors enter completely and make the shadow impossible.
We thought the image of the woman holding a windowlike mirror at the sametime puzzling and tragic. The mirror is like a comics frame, and functions as an omen of what is about to happen.
Andreas: The mirror is a taletechnical solution. When I had cut the enitre story up into plates, I ended up with 24 pieces while I was only allowed to use 23. The mirror is the 24th plate. I needed the image of that running person plus the image of the watching woman. By adding the mirror I could show them both at the same time.
It is also one of the few images of mature women in the book. The story revolves around children, a storyteller and a woman who is clearly older than he. Yet it is not his wife. Perhaps his mother?
Andreas: I also wondered for a long time where she came from. Eventually I also more or less started to see her as my mother.
All the more noticeable, because the parent-child relationships are problematic in several albums. The mother is noticeably absent in Cromwell Stone: in the first part there are two fathers with their sons or daughter and their mother does not appear. In Cyrrus their is no mention of Jewel's mother, neither is Mil's father. In Coutoo Hingle causes trouble for his son and the old Krafft nearly kills his son: in both families there is no mother.
Andreas: Indeed, it is strange. Really bizar.
Fantalia seems to be your most personal book. Or are other books also autobiographical in a sense? Are there more allusions like that, or is it a mere coincidence?
Andreas: It fluctuates. In Fragments there is a episode of a house falling to pieces. That describes my relationship to women, at least at that time. It has changed somewhat. Take the scenario of Hiver 51. I was born in the winter of 1951.
Andreas: I even used dreams for some time. Like I said the first plate of Cyrrus comes from a dream. But I don't see anything more than that. Furthermore I didn't personally experience the extraordinary things I tell about.
A last question on possible autobiographical influences. You were born in 1951 and thus experienced the afterbirth of the second world war. Of this drama we find a mere trace in Coutoo, that's all. We ask ourselves what the second world war means to you. What did you hear about it? Did the memory of wartime play an important part in your childhood?
Andreas: I only know the story of my mother who experienced the bombing of Dresden and lost her mother and sister. She studied then. It is especially the period in Dresden that was important to my family. My father wasn't a soldier, he was a doctor, also in Dresden. But he wasn't there during the bombardment. I believe they forgot to enlist him, or at least that is the story they tell in my family. They also forgot my brother. Just forgotten, like my father. I hear more about what my mother experienced. Also because my father died too early for me. He died at 74, but later on I realized: "I should have asked him more questions." There are many things I don't know about my father. That is something you realize too late. At the same time I found enough letters from my mother, correspondence, photographs. After my mother's death I found the letter she wrote my father to let him know that her mother and sister died. It is really very strange to read that. That side is much clearer. Maybe that's why there are less mothers in my stories, because I know a lot about mine. While some episode is missing of my father.
Andreas: After the war I heard more at school than at home. There was a teacher with whom we talked about it a lot, about the war, fascism, concentrationcamps... He emphasized it and that was good. In Eastern Germany we never talked about it at school. It never came up, while you could see more traces of the war in Eastern Germany than in Western Germany, where everything was rebuilt real quickly and where the past was erased.
Andreas: Only relatively late I started thinking about the war. That was when I went to Saint-Luc, where I was the German, the "hun". "Hé, are you starting the occupation again?" That sort of jokes. I heard them too on my holidays to France. I remember really well. On one day I was here in Brittany, with a girlfriend. When we said we were German, it went: "O yeah, I fought in the war too." Always that war. It got on my nerves considerably, because I realized: "It is not my problem, I didn't participate in the war, I wasn't even born then. I don't feel responsible for it." I must say it haunted me for a long time. Germans among eachother don't talk about the war as something that is to arouse a great feeling of guilt. It was just war. And that not in the way the outside world imagines it.
Andreas: That's all I can say about it. Except that without the second world war the American cinema would have done business less well, and that the nazi's come in handy in stories like Coutoo. That is, the second part of Coutoo, wherein an old Nazi tells his story, the creator of Coutoo.
Coutoo will also have a sequal?
Andreas: I wrote a scenario back then, but never drew it. Lack of time. If it ever comes so far, I will certainly have to review the story...