Frodo de Decker sort un album ces jours-ci en France. Comme il n’est pas encore très connu et que son talent va exploser, Oncle Fumetti a voulu lui poser quelques questions. Bon !!!! C’est en anglais mais vous lisez tous Shakespeare en version originale…
Hello Frodo, you are probably unknown in France. Introduce yourself. Where do you come from ? Why the Comics?
I'm a comic artist from Flanders, the Dutch speaking part of Belgium. I'm 32 years old. Comics are simply my favorite art form. I started reading comics from a very young age and I never stopped. In schooldays I spend most of my time scribbling in my schoolbooks. At high school I studied for electrician just because my oldest brother did to. It wasn't really something for me, but I just thought "when I finish high school I go study something that involves drawing".
You made a part of your studies at Saint Luc in Belgium. What were you looking for ?
Well, after high school I went to the Sint-Lukas Brussels to study graphic design, I chose for that study because it was the only study I knew that involved drawing.
It wasn't really a success, partly because of the freedom you have in that kind of schools and also because graphic design wasn't really the thing for me. So after one and a half year I quit and I started drawing comics on my own. That went quit well, I took part at some competitions and exhibitions. It was also during that time that I came up with Otto.
You are a musician ; jazz guitarist. So are you a musician or comics creator and writer ?
I didn't really found a paid job in the comic business. So after approximately two years I decided to go for my other passion being the guitar.
I've been playing the guitar from 10 years old. So I studied jazz guitar, this time I graduated quit easily although it was even more loosely then in Sint-Lucas. But I guess I was more mature at that time. At this moment I'm teaching guitar in the evening and I draw during the daytime.
Why this little character ? And why this Germanic name...Otto ?
Otto arose out of a desire for a pure comic form. I chose a simple drawing style, square frames, no background and no text. And I immediately saw that the result was very interesting. At the beginning I had no name for my character, why would I ? It was wordless anyway. It was only when the opportunity came up to publish a book that I had to come up whit a name for my character. Otto was the name that fitted the character the best. Otto is indeed a German name but is also a universal name. Sometimes I regret my choice, because Otto sounds a lot like Frodo sometimes People tend to call me Otto.
Why is there no text in your strips ? Do you think that you can give more emotion with this way ?
To use text or no text is a choice like it is to choose to draw realistic or more cartoonesk. It is one of the many choices that the comic creator makes to determine the nature of his comic.
One big benefit of making a wordless comic is that aren't many wordless comic books (and for sure not a lot that have a continues storyline), so there is still a lot to discover. It's also easier to create an original comic.
What kind of message do you want to convey? Is it humor, poetry?
Humor comes first, story comes second. What I also find very important is fantasy, a lot of fantasy. I have learned from Hergé that drawings always have to support the story and/ or the humour. That being said, I also spend a lot of care to my drawings.
Is it only a try ? Do you continue ?
In Flanders and the Netherlands already three parts of Otto are being published. Otto 1 has just been released In France, Wallonia, Switzerland and Canada. Otto 2 will be released in January and Otto 3 probably somewhere in the summer. At this moment I don't know yet if I'm going to draw a fourth part, it will depend on a couple of things. We'll see.
How did you work? Are you long hours in front of a blank page or is it lightning?
Otto 1 has been created in an improvising manner. I made up one page, then another, then the next and like that till the end. For Otto 2 and Otto 3 I used a script to make the story more coherent. Otto is pure fantasy, so I don't use experiences from my life or something like that.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have a lot of authors that I admire but two names rise above: Hergé and Lewis Trondheim. Hergé is of course an old love but every time a pick up an album of TinTin it keeps making a big impression on me, it’s still funny, still entertaining. Tin Tin is timeless. I especially admire his ability to make very funny jokes and still keep the main story roll like a train.
Trondheim I discovered by his comic series "Donjon", a parody on the Fantasy genre. What I admire in him is his unique storytelling, and also his drawing style that at first sight seems a bit simple, a bit loose, but is actually very effective. I'm especially a big fan of his comic series "Ralph Azham", if you don't know it yet, go check it out!
Apart answer my questions what are your next projects?
At this moment I'm in a phase of trying different styles and ideas. What my next project will be is also for me still a mystery.
Thank you for your answers Frodo... See you soon.