Au moment de commettre l’acte fatidique, un ange le sauve puis lui montre ce que serait la ville sans lui : son meilleur ami serait un homme terne et soumis, sa femme malheureuse, les gens qui travaillaient pour lui seraient au chômage. Cette fable nous montre que chacun est important et agit sur le monde, même si nous sommes parfois loin de nous douter de la portée de nos actes. Telle est la trajectoire unique de l’auteur Vaughn Bode.
L’impact de Vaughn Bode a été immédiat dans sa discipline, la bande dessinée, et au-delà son célèbre Cheech Wizard aurait inspiré, directement ou non, de nombreux auteurs américains et européens, tels Régis Loisel ou encore François Bourgeon qui a eu une démarche similaire dans ses premières œuvres. Enfin, et surtout, dans le Street art ou le Spraycan art, ses dessins de femmes rondes ou de personnages rigolos ventrus ont fait le tour du monde sur de multiples murs, métros et trains, telle une déclaration d’amour universelle. Vaughn Bode, l’androgyne tourmenté, aurait apprécié…
Qu’aurait été le monde s’il n’avait pas existé ? Une autre question vient aussitôt à l’esprit : comment serait-il s’il ne l’avait pas quitté si tôt ? Sa générosité d’artiste semble s’être arrêtée d’un coup… Un élan brisé.
|Hommage de Vincent Pompetti à Vaughn Bode|
Rich: What is the storyline of « Sir Arthur Benton »?
Vincent: The story I drew speaks about the cold war beginning, which is a very dark period. We show that both American and Soviet side are quite not clear and looks like each other. The american and english governments decide to use ex-nazis and SS officier to struggle the new enemy, Staline, Occidental leaders decide to create « the organization », specialized in infiltration and anti-communism propaganda. The Soviet threat and the safety of the « free world » seems to justify assassinations and other unofficial missions, or tactical decision, like the choice to don’t help the czech republic, who became communist. It is very close of what we have today: a lot of cynism and paranoia.At the end, even the smartest characters are quite lost, because when you want to control the world, or your vision of the world, the disappointment is great when you realize you can’t. There is always an unanticipated event that change the problem.
Rich: Who are the main characters and how did your art portray them?
Vincent: We have four main characters : Sir Arthur Benton is an english officier, anti-communist, and he lead the unofficial « organization » , a kind of cia : Benton has no morality and it is not a problem for him using ex-nazis against the communists, and he’s quite insensitive to the death of his spies.
Benton is seconded by Colonel Marchand, a french spy who hate him since the WWII. In the name of the soviet threat, Marchand accept several missions, trying to work with Helmut, a communist friend which is a double agent.
Helmut is an idealist, but disappointed by the Soviet Union.
Brigitte is the fourth « musketeer « , she works with Marchand since around1928.She is a kind of guardian angel for Marchand, always behind him and a very secret person.
Portraying them was quite simple, I mean that except Benton, which is a charismatic english lord, the others are working secret agent, so they do their best to look like « mister nobody ».Marchand and Helmut are very strict.Brigitte is more charming, in the past she had sex with the enemy to obtain some informations.
I played also with chiaroscuro, in order to have this particular half-light atmosphere on decor and faces.
Rich: What is Paris Tonkar?
Vincent: Paris Tonkar is the first european book ever published in 1991 about street art and graffiti, written by Tarek. Now it’s a magazine in which I work as journalist. I got the great opportunity to interview David Lloyd and Mark Bodé for the comic part.
Rich: Who is the publisher of « Sir Arthur Benton »?
Vincent: I and Tarek have made several books with EP Editions, which published french versions of some american graphic novels as « Blood »(Kent Williams) or « M » (John J.Muth). But nowaday the europeans publishers have to pass through a big crisis due to the lack of professionalism and commercial organization. We expect soon a lot of change, and maybe another publisher, who will be able to sell « Sir Arthur Benton » in america I hope.
Rich: Do you enjoy drawing scences from the past?
Vincent: Oh yes, I like very much Hitchcock movies, black and white scenes from the 50’s.It was very pleasant to develop such universe with old cars and working with the light and character in the shadow
Rich: Which comic that you worked on meant the most to you?
Vincent: I am very happy to have worked on the Arthur Benton books, because the story about the cold war was great,the characters were very rich and realistic. My friendship with Tarek the storyteller, made the work easier, and i liked to drawn that because it’s not my favourite universe and the first drawner (Stephane Perger) is a friend and an excellent artist, so it was challenging. I enjoyed also to drawn a funny pirate story, always with Tarek.
Rich: What advice do you have for other artists?
Vincent: I dunno, every problem has his own solution. But having a strong faith, being passionnate and curious with opened eyes are general truth always good to remember.
Rich: How do you feel about having your art on exhibite in shows?
Vincent: My mother is a very good cook (my family is italian) and she always make delicious speciality or sweet cakes with a lot of passion, working hard, sometimes late in the night.She do that just to share with his friends and people the result of her work. I like to feel the same thing with my art : I share what I love to do, as simple as that.
Rich: Which other artists do you admire?
Vincent: A lot of classical english or american : Waterhouse, Alma-Tadema,Maxfield Parrish, NC Wyeth or Arthur Rackham.In comics, I always have in front of my bureau pictures of Alex Raymond, Harold Foster or Frazetta.Special thoughts for him, Al Williamson and Jeffrey Catherine Jones. I am also especially following the books of Scott Hampton.
Rich: What is next for you in your career?
Vincent: Well I’m working with Tarek on a very exciting project, an adaptation of the Julius Caesar’s « Gallic War », which is a dream since my childhood.We’ll speak about the relationship between Caesar and Vercingetorix , and the complexity of these antique times. I am also preparing projects of my own, one about the legendary civilization of Atlantis, and a kind of adult space-opera, half poetic and half psychologic.
Rich: How do you spend your free time?
Vincent: I spent my time in nature (I live in Brittany), and try to travel when it is possible. But I read a lot of books also.
Rich: How can someone contact you?
Vincent: On my blog you have the possibility to contact me, I give you the mail address ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rich: Any final words of wisdom?
Vincent: We are living a very special time, very difficult , I am quite optimistic because mankind have the possibility to understand other ways to see the world through science, internet, but also spirituality and psychology. I hope we will be able to overtake our « dark side », despite the appearances.
Interviewed by Richard Vasseur/Jazma VP : jazmaonline