Every year, in the countdown to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, we bring you a series of interviews with guests at the event. This “Festival Focus” for 2018 is French comic writer JC Deveney, one of the team behind The Héro(ïne)s: Female Representation in Comics exhibition.
Born in 1977, in Hyères, JC Deveney studied History in Aix-en-Provence, and Literature in Montreal, before settling in Lyon in 2001. He began to work there full-time at scriptwriting while leaving in search of the many other authors hidden in the city.
He co-founded L’Epicerie Séquentielle, an association of Lyonese comics authors, in 2004.
In parallel with these writing activities, he works within the Lyon Bd Festival to organise international co-creation projects (Webtrip Comics) and exhibitions (such as Héro(ïne)s or The Invisible Art).
To be sure not to be bored, he also teaches scriptwriting and dramaturgy for comics and illustration schools (L’Enaai, Ecole Emile Cohl) and animation school (Bellecour Ecole).
What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
JC Deveney: As a scriptwriter, I have opportunity to work on different projects with different authors. Currently, the main one is a a comic adaptation series of short stories from Haruki Murakami, the famous Japanese novelist. With PMGL, the artist, we work directly for Japan with a Japanese publishers, Monkey / Switch publishing. It’s titled Haruki Murakami: Nine Stories and we plan to realise nine books, for nine adaptations. The fourth one, Birthday Girl, was published at the end of August.
Another project that I’m working on is a big comics of feminist heroic-fantasy, entitled Géante, drawn by Nuria Tamarit, a Spanish artist. it will tell the adventures of a giant woman during the Renaissance whose main problem is less of a Giant and more of a woman.
Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
JC Deveney: I’m particularly proud of our first Haruki Murakami adaptation, Super-Frog saves Tokyo, published in Japan by Switch Publishing. Unfortunately, you will have to speak and read Japanese to order it. But maybe, an English publisher would be interested by a translation.
[PMGL has posted a few English language versions on his blog – Ed]
Johnny Jungle, an imaginary biography that mixes the myth of Tarzan with the real life of Johnny Weissmuller, the actor who play the role for cinema is the other comics I’m proud of. We did it with Jérome and Anne-Claire Jouvray but here, you will have to speak French to find out.
How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
JC Deveney: As I can… Writing is one of my three main activities with the conception and the organisation of exhibition and the teaching of the scenario for different schools of drawing and animation. So, I try to juggle all that, plus family life… and I try to drop the least amount of ball on the ground.
More practically, I try to have writing periods of at least two hours a day, a block, where I turn off my phone and any form of internet connection.
What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?
JC Deveney: The freedom that this medium allows us. We can do almost anything we want in comics. All genres, formats and types of story are conceivable. There are no budget issues, very few intermediates in the creative stages, and with a sheet and a pencil you have everything you need to create. Add a scanner and a computer and you can broadcast that on the entire planet.
And the worst ?
JC Deveney: Like all passions, comics can take you a lot of time and energy, even if it does not allow you to live properly. This is a problem you feel you can take to the morgue, with disdain, at 25 years old. It can be a more delicate issue at 35, with a family and children…
What most distracts you from getting your work done?
JC Deveney: Honestly, I have no problem getting to work. My writing moments are so tight that I always dive in, with pleasure. More broadly, on a project, it is true that it is always difficult to start a project – but once the first elements are in place and they please you, writing is no longer an issue.
Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
JC Deveney: I can only speak for France, I do not know the UK market. I started being published 16 years ago and I think it may be easier today for a young author to sign a contract. But it is much harder to sign a properly paid contract. The demand for authors has increased, but the basic proposals have greatly diminished.
Have you ever been to the Lake District before and if so what did you think of it? If you haven’t, what are you expecting?
JC Deveney: No, I have never been to the Lake District before. It will be my first time and I’m really impatient to discover the Festival, to see with my own eyes the Heroine(s) exhibition and to meet all the Festival team, in the flesh, and all the authors who worked on this new version.
Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
JC Deveney: I do not know. I have already had the chance to meet famous authors, but I never planned this. I also met some less well-known authors who could be just as interesting. We’ll see what Lakes has to offer!
How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
JC Deveney: I think they are very important, because they allow the authors to meet each others. To be able to discuss their job, their work, their desire. And to imagine future projects, too. They are also wonderful showcases to introduce our work to readers, and to be able to talk and interact with them.
What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
JC Deveney: Write or draw what you want to read. Be patient. Have self-confidence while remaining humble. Go to others and get rich with their talent. Do not forget that envy and pleasure are the main drivers.
What’s your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
JC Deveney: Ha ha, it’s always a difficult question to answer, between the comics that have marked you forever and those we read today.
To answer the “right now”, the last comics that left me stunned with admiration is Imbattable (Uneatable), Pascal Jousselin‘s series at Dupuis. This features a superhero whose power is to be able to visualise the entire page that contains him, and to be able to move from one box to another, even if it disrupts the chronological narrative. It is a jewel of staging and intelligence.
Thank you very much for your time and we look forward to seeing you in Kendal.
• The Héro(ïne)s: Female Representation in Comics exhibition is currently on display at Kendal Museum until 12th October 2018. It includes images created and posted to Instagram campaign #heroinesproject, which encourages comic enthusiasts to draw and share their own heroines.
• The Lakes International Comic Art Festival will be back in Kendal 12th – 14th October 2018. Tickets for the Festival are on sale now from: www.comicartfestival.com