Every year, in the countdown to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October, this year running as the virtual LICAF LIVE, we bring you a series of interviews with both guests and participants in the Comics Clock Tower (This year, also virtual).
Today, we’re talking to Claire Fauvel, creator of the graphic novel Catherine’s War, based on Julia Billet’s novel, which won the youth prize at the Angoulême International Comics Festival in 2018 and was published in English by Harper Collins in January.
One of the fast-emerging new talents of the French graphic novel scene, Claire studied illustration at the École Estienne and then film animation at the prestigious Gobelins, L’École de L’Image in Paris.
After working for a year as background artist for an animated series, she pursued her dream of becoming a graphic novelist to tell her own stories. She’s now working with the French publishers Casterman and Rue de Sèvres.
What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Claire Fauvel: I’m working on a new graphic novel with illustrator Thomas Gilbert. This will be my first work in collaboration with someone, both in terms of writing and drawing. In this project, we will discuss the current social and ecological crisis. It should be released around September 2021.
Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
Claire: I think that my favourite graphic novel is my last one – La Nuit est mon Royaume/The Night is my Kingdom – because it’s my first “contemporary” work. talking about current issues and it is also the most personal.
Unfortunately, it’s not available in English (it was just released in France) but I do hope it will be translated soon! In English, you can read Catherine’s War (published by Harper Collins) and Phoolan Devi (published by NBM), the two previous ones that I also really like.
How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Claire Fauvel: I work in a studio, near Paris, with six other illustrators. I work there all day… until it’s time to pick up my child at day-care! My work can be divided into three parts: plot and script writing, storyboard (that is, sketching the story, the scenes and the lettering placement) and then, the actual drawing/colouring.
What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?
Claire: I love my job – what I love the most is to be able to initiate my own work, without having to apply for jobs, and of course being able to see how people react to my work.
And the worst?
Claire: There are many downfalls, unfortunately – firstly, it’s quite precarious work , and also, you’re always questioning yourself and the quality of your work.
What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Claire: Many things unfortunately, my child, for example! And there is always the temptation to go on the Internet, to do something else. It’s not easy to be “your own boss”!
Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Claire: I don’t know. I think that social media are a springboard that allows many people to get known quickly. But on the other hand, I think our work has become more precarious (with for example, the French pension reform that forces us to pay more every year).
How has the Pandemic affected you, work wise – good or bad?
Claire: It was difficult for me, because I had to look after my child while trying to get some work done – during his nap or even at night. Luckily, this period also corresponded to a gap between two projects, and I only had to do illustrations for novels.
What do you think might be its most significant impact on the comics industry in general, long term?
Claire: I have no idea. It’s hard to predict the future. In France, book shops responded well and established “click & collect” services, allowing customers to come collect books that they ordered online. Thanks to this, book sales haven’t completely stopped. But it’s there has certainly been a drop and delays in publishing… well, we’ll see!
Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
Claire: I would like to meet the Italian artist Manuele Fior, who is one of my favourite authors. I would ask him what’s his secret in realising such beautiful graphic novels!
What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Claire: I’m rather romantic, so I would tell them to be honest and passionate, and that this will make their art more interesting, powerful, and also allow them to keep going, despite the economic hardship!
What’s your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
Claire: It’s a difficult question. I could recommend tens of comics. If I had to pick one, I would recommend the graphic novel of my colleague Thomas Gilbert. The Girls of Salem/Les filles de Salem tells the story of the infamous American village of Salem, which was plagued with obscurantism and crime at the end of the 17th century.
In English, I would recommend – in a very different style – to read the superb series Megg, Mogg & Owl by Simon Hanselman, which depicts the everyday life of a group of lost and disenchanted young people (a witch, a howl and a cat!), with very dark humour.
Claire, thank you very much for your time and the very best of luck in all your projects!
CLAIRE FAUVEL ONLINE
• The Virtual Comics Clock Tower is online at licafclocktower.com