“Booyah!: Happy Birthday”
LORAN is a writer and illustrator from southern France. He is the co-founder of the French fanzine Anus Horibilus, and is the author of a variety of comics and graphic novels, including Booyah!, ASH: Academy of Super-Heroes, and Bobby Zombie. Sloth Comics has been publishing English translations of his work since 2011, and more of his art can be found at his website.
ON CARTOONS AND BANDE-DESSINÉE
I grew up watching and reading a lot of comics and American animation — Tex Avery cartoons, The Simpsons, Beavis and Butthead — and also a lot of bande-dessinée, so I guess I’ve been influenced by both U.S. and European styles. When Happy Tree Friends came out I was jealous because it was so good, it and reminded me of Booyah! (Bouyoul in French, which I created around 1997). I was such a big fan that I bought a mug with the blue deer, blindfolded, holding a baseball bat and reaching for a piñata but hurting all his friends. Then I forgot it in my cupboard.
When I had to design the cover of Booyah! with the first story about a birthday that turns really bad, I thought had the idea of Booyah holding a baseball bat and ravaging all the kids around. I drew it and sent it to my editor, then decided to have a cup of tea. So I grabbed the mug, poured some tea and sat at my desk, proud of my cover — and then I saw the mug. I was really embarrassed. But I guess that everyone is influenced in an unconscious level.
Nowadays because of the internet everyone can read or buy comics and bande-dessinée from everywhere, so I think that the boundaries in styles and design are fading. I think my comics can work for both an American and an European reader, and hopefully make me a rich man. (laughs)
ON STYLE AND AUDIENCE
The way I draw came to me when I was in art school. At the time I wanted to do comics with a more realistic style, but when I saw the work of my fellows who were ahead of me I became aware of my limits. I decided to take a more cartoonish style, and it was good! It was a relief.
When I write or storyboard my comics I often picture them in motion, and Tex Avery is one hell of an influence for me. When I was a little kid, there was no internet — it was the dark ages — and there was no way to see cartoons other than TV. Around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, they would broadcast ten or twenty episodes of Tex Avery in a row. It was late in the evening, but I never missed it. And what affects us when we’re children affects us in a strong way.
When I did one my first Booyah! comic, I just wanted to make people my age laugh. But at my first convention kids read it and laughed, with the feeling of reading something taboo. Some parents didn’t laugh — but some were enthusiastic, even more than their kids. When I created ASH I was targeting a younger audience, so I had to restrain myself with all the bloody gore and violence. I just wanted to show what real kids would do if they had super powers, and one of my big influences was Malcolm in the Middle. I wanted my characters to act like total brats, and not like role models.
ON PROCESS AND PROJECTS
For comics like Booyah! and Bobby Zombie, I think about a gag for a little while. Sometimes I write two or three lines not to forget it, but most of the time I sketch it quickly with a bit of dialogue. Working on ASH was a different process. I had to think about the whole story. I mostly sketched it, and wrote the dialogue along withe the sketches. But sometimes when I got stuck, I’d have to write in order to reorganize the mess that was in my head.
I’m actually working on another gag comic like Bobby Zombie called Miss Barbare, which is being published in Lanfeust, a french comic magazine. It’s about the daughter of noble lord in the Middle Ages who’s fated to become a princess, but wants to be a barbarian. It’s a bit gory, and there’s a bit of fantasy. It’s a universe that I’ve never worked on, so it’s quite refreshing.
I also have a story I’m working on, but only as a writer, involving werewolves. I was talking with my friend Rez about werewolves and how lame they are in movies or TV shows — except for An American Werewolf in London, which has the best transformation ever! So my friend asked me to write him a scene with a cool transformation that he could draw. I wrote him a few pages and he liked it, and so did I! Right now I’m taking notes before jumping in to start the writing. I must confess that I’m a bit scared, because I’ve never written something that serious and I’ve never worked with someone else before. But still, I’m excited.
Want to be considered for future installments of The New Comics? Send your work to Comics Curator Keith McCleary via the Entropy submissions page.