Comment j’ai aidé Séraphin Lampion à attraper son bus au pied de la Tour Eiffel

Flinflins Dame de fer loDanny Gregory et Koosje Koene, les 2 fondateurs de Sketchbook Skool, m’ont demandé de rejoindre leur Université en ligne pour y donner, à mes moments perdus, un cours sur le « Storytelling » dans l’une de leur « art klass » (oui, c’est bien l’orthographe correcte de « classe » à Sketchbook Skool) parmi d’autres artistes étonnants, que je suis fier de côtoyer.

Si vous n’avez jamais entendu parler de Sketchbook Skool, je vous invite à y jeter un coup d’œil en allant voir sur leur site et surtout leur blog. C’est une incroyable école d’Art sur Internet avec des vidéos en ligne et une communauté mondiale pour inspirer et stimuler chacun à raconter ce qui le touche au quotidien avec ses carnets à dessin.
C’est une communauté en pleine expansion avec déjà plus de 5 000 étudiants de tous pays et tous horizons qui constitue une  expérience fabuleuse qu’il faut avoir fait au moins une fois dans sa vie lorsque l’on s’intéresse au dessin, que l’on soit débutant ou artiste expérimenté.

parmi bien d’autres choses, j’y fais une démonstration en ligne dans ma « klass » – avec une vidéo tonique – pour expliquer comment créer une couverture pour un livre imaginaire ou réel. Et bien sûr, j’ai choisi de dessiner une nouvelle couverture d’album des Flinflins.

De manière étonnante, même si nous vivons la plupart du temps à Paris, je n’ai jamais fait, jusqu’à présent, de couverture sur les Flinflins à Paris. Probablement parce qu’il s’agit de notre routine quotidienne, je suppose. Il m’a semblé que ce cours était une excellente occasion de rendre un hommage à cette ville enchantée que nous n’avons jamais cessé d’aimer.

J’ai fait tout d’abord une esquisse rapide, pour essayer de mettre en forme l’image qui mieux représenterait le mieux Paris dans l’esprit de chacun.

Flinflins Dame de fer Sketch

Evidemment, l’élément le plus représentatif de Paris est sans aucun doute la Tour Eiffel. Plutôt que la représenter comme d’habitude en entier à l’horizon, j’ai pensé, qu’au contraire, il serait préférable de choisir une vue plus rapprochée permettant de se faire une meilleure idée de sa taille gigantesque.
Ensuite, il fallait ajouter au moins 3 autres éléments significatifs de Paris : des immeubles Haussmanniens typiques avec leurs toits de zinc très reconnaissables, une « Colonne Morris » typique faisant la promotion du prochain Opéra de Bianca Castafiore et… hélas, le traditionnel embouteillage Parisien.

Pour m’assurer que tous les Flinflins seraient bien visibles dans l’embouteillage (l’inconvénient des familles nombreuses), j’ai décidé de les montrer sur la plate-forme arrière d’un bus, plutôt que dans une voiture. Malheureusement, ces autobus à plateforme pleins de charme ne sont plus en service. Cependant, parfois vous pouvez voir avoir la chance d’en voir un apparaitre ici ou là pour une soirée privée, ou affrété pour des touristes.
Ah oui, des touristes… ! Tout au long de l’année, ils déferlent sur Paris, ce qui en fait la première ville touristique au monde. Ils sont dans l’ensemble d’agréables visiteurs à l’exception souvent des touristes Français, perpetuels insatisfaits et souvent, de mauvaise humeur. Nous avons tous fait l’expérience de ces personnages bruyants, toujours en retard et qui ne ratent pas une occasion de faire des plaisanteries de mauvais goût.
C’est ainsi que Séraphin Lampion, l’archétype absolu de l’empoisonneur est devenu l’élément central de cette couverture.
On peut penser que pendant qu’il achetait l’une de ces horribles Tours Eiffel dans une boule de neige en plastique, il n’a pas remarqué que son groupe embarquait sur ce bus qui vient de démarrer sans lui. C’est pourquoi il s’époumone pour essayer de le rattraper, traversant la route en déboulant sans même prêter attention au trafic, forçant ainsi les Dupond et Dupont à piler brusquement dans leur vieille Citroën 2CV et bondir de leur véhicule en exprimant le fonds de leur pensée dans un geste typiquement parisien.

Flinflins Dame de Fer esquisse Grise 001
À la fin du dessin, trouvant la façade du bâtiment un peu vide j’ai rajouté le capitaine Haddock rugissant à la fenêtre et un policier en faction dans le coin gauche, me rappelant ce vieux dicton parisien qui veut que là où il y ait un embouteillage, il y ait forcément un flic dans les parages. 😉

Et si vous voulez voir quand est la prochaine session de cours de Storytelling, c’est ici.

How I helped Jolyon Wagg catch his bus in front of the Eiffel Tower

Flinflins Dame de fer lo

Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene, founders of Sketchbook Skool, have asked me to join their Fakulty to teach an art klass on Storytelling (Oh…Yes, this is the proper spelling of “class” at Sketchbook Skool) among other outstanding artists I’m so proud to join.
If you’ve never heard of Sketchbook Skool, I urge you to have a look at it on their blog. It’s an amazing online video-based art school and global community dedicated to teaching and inspiring people to tell their stories through illustrated journaling.
It’s a fast growing community with more than 5 000 registered students and a fabulous experience every people who like drawing, beginners as experienced artists, should take once in his life.

Among many other things, I gave an online demo in my klass (thru an amazing video shooting) on how to create a cover for a great book. And of course, I decided to draw a Flinflin Album cover.

Surprisingly, though we spend most of our time living in Paris, I never did a Flinflin cover on Paris, until now. Probably because our Parisian life is our daily routine, I suppose. So I decided this course was a great opportunity to craft a special tribute to this enchanted city we never stopped loving.
I did first a quick sketch, trying to elaborate an image that could best figure Paris in everybody’s mind.

Flinflins Dame de fer Sketch
Of course, the most representative element of the City of Light is undoubtedly the Eiffel Tower. While it is mostly shown far on the horizon in one full piece, I thought, on the contrary, it would be better to take a closer view to make people realize how gigantic it is.
3 other obvious significant elements should be found: Haussmann buildings with their highly recognizable zinc roofs, a ‘Colonne Morris’, so typical of this city, displaying a poster on the next opera sung by Bianca Castafiore and… Paris traffic jam.
Since we are a large family I decided to show all the Flinflins characters on the rear platform of a bus, rather than in a car, to be sure everyone can be seen. Unfortunately, those platform buses are no longer in service. However, sometimes you can see some of them popping up here and there for a private party, or chartered for tourists.
Oh yes, tourists…! All along the year, lots of tourists are coming to Paris, which makes it the 1st touristic city in the world. They are all nice tourists with the exception of …French tourists, often unsatisfied and grumpy. So what if we showed one of these evil pupils? We all know these evil pupils who are noisy, speak loudly, are always late and make terrible jokes.
This is how Jolyon Wagg (Seraphin Lampion), the absolute archetype of the annoying guy came as a central piece of this drawing.
Let’s assume he was buying one of those horrible Eiffel Towers in a snowy ball, didn’t notice his group has boarded on the bus, and has just left without him. So he’s running after the bus trying to catch him, crossing the road without paying attention to the incoming traffic, causing the Thompson and Thompson to stop abruptly their old Citroën 2CV.
They popped out of their car, expressing what’s in their mind in a typical Parisian gesture.

Flinflins Dame de Fer esquisse Grise 001

At the end of the drawing, the facade of the building looked a little empty. So I added Captain Haddock roaring at the window, and a policeman on duty in the left corner because remembering the old Parisian adage that where there is a traffic jam, you should necessarily look for the cop around. 😉

Comics heroes Tintin, Spirou and Asterix: Je suis Charlie

Je Suis Charlie JCD light

I am lucky guy because I grew up in a land of freedom, a country where men decided to free themselves in 1789 with the French Revolution and chose to write the Human Rights declaration.
However when I was a young kid, it was still a country with some degree of censorship and restricted rights for women. There was a public organization whose job was to watch over youth publication and apply censorship if needed. And a newspaper could be shut down or a TV show canceled on a single call from the Ministry of Information ;
And at that time, women who wanted to apply for a job, still needed to get a written authorization from their husband.

There were very few TV programs for kids, except on Thursday, the day off at school.
Comics were our primary home entertainment, with 3 main magazines ‘Le Journal de Tintin’, ‘Spirou’ and’ Pilote’ with its emblematic character, Asterix le Gaulois, who featured exactly French spirit: a nation divided in as many opinions than citizens, but able to talk with a single voice when it needs to.

In Pilote weekly magazine, there was another character we all loved. Le Grand Duduche created by Cabu was a lazy irreverent high school student… like us. He used to wear jeans and basketball shoes. Like us ! He also had long hairs. Like us ! He was an antimilitarist, like us and any youngster in the 70’s. And he hated overall human stupidity combined with vulgarity from people full of certainty that always hit you with their truth.
In the 70’s, underground magazines were also banned (well I suppose they wouldn’t be called underground otherwise). So, we used to go directly at one of the author’s home, to secretly buy ‘sous la couverture’ L’Echo des Savanes, the first comic magazine for adults, who exuded its toilet humor. Not that we loved toilet humor, but since these magazines were forbidden, this type of humor had the taste of freedom for us.

At that time Hara Kiri, the predecessor to Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, which prided himself to be ‘bête et méchant’ (stupid and bad), was shut down for its irreverent cover (‘Bal tragique à Colombey’) when General de Gaulle died. But the whole staff of the satirical newspaper decided it should be born again, under the name “Charlie Hebdo”, in a ironic reference to the General.
This weekly newspaper used to blast every form of order, among which 3 main pillars as favorite targets: Justice, Religion and Republican order (Soldiers, cops, etc..). Cabu specially loved to ridicule the army with his main character ‘Adjutant Kronenbourg’ in reference to the (awful) beer that was served in the bars of every military camp.
So, I used to smuggle Charlie in the barracks of the regiment I have been sent to, on military service, to give myself a touch of rebel.
Later on, Le Grand Duduche progressively became more a pacifist than an antimilitarist guy and turned out to be a poetic ecologist. Above all it became obvious he was a never grown-up teenager, which was one more reason for me to love him.

Little by little, after years of battle the very last remaining of censorship were banned…and Charlie Hebdo came back to a more confidential circulation, though it never gave up its satirical spirit, pointing out and blasting every dysfunction of our modern world, like a king’s fool.

All these memories were brought to the surface with the terrible terrorist attack. Like millions of citizen of this country, French people I was knocked to see one could be shot for having tried to make laugh people with a pencil and a paper. I was unable to draw for a few days, loosing all sense of humor.
I realized behind the lost of friends and companions that filled my life with instants of joy, the freedom our generation and  generations before have fought for was at stake: freedom of thoughts, freedom of expression, women rights…modern civilization!

Little by little I realized, I needed to exorcise this savagery with the comics Characters of my childhood, and started drawing Tintin, Spirou, Asterix, mourning their friend Le Grand Duduche, to claim with them ‘Je Suis Charlie.’
Then I put my pen on my desk and decided to move along.

So, I did not listen to those who told me not to mobilize for this weekly rag.
I did not listen to those who did not want to march with the National Front, or those who refused to do so with the “Red Leftists”.
I did not listen to right-thinking intellectuals, for whom the very idea of this gathering would be against Charlie’s spirit.
I refused to hear cowards advising me to avoid a dangerous place which would be a perfect target for terrorists.

No, I went walking simply because I was Charlie.
Not that I am a very avid reader: I bought it less often than I should have and they often irritated me more than they made me laugh.

No, I went walking to tell my commitment Republic key values, more specifically freedom of expression, the foundation of our democracy.
I went walking to share the sorrow of families of the victims, to express my rejection of violence and claim the terrorists I was not afraid… we all were not afraid !
I went walking to testify with 4 million people that the poison of hatred and division would not grow in France.

I went walking silently with fervor with a worthy crowd to claim to the world that nothing could ever destabilize this country because what unites it is stronger than what may divide it.
I hugged an old “harki” (muslim vet in the french army) with wet eyes, thanking him for being there. I helped my neighbor to hold up a sign ‘Je suis Hyper Casher’ (‘I am Hyper Kosher’). I met one or two famous people who came anonymously and some coquettish girls, with a pencil proudly planted in the bun. I saw, for the first time, what Freemasons in  uniform looked like. I applauded police squads with the crowd. I met friends of the victims in tears and I even found a Charlie (Waldo in french) with his red hat and his striped sweater.

Today Je suis Charlie and I hope I have written  a new page of France history with millions of people of good will.

# JeSuisCharlie