Devig: “Making fun of investigators with infallible judgment”

In this delightful second volume of “The Mysterious Histories of Major Burns”, our two heroes find themselves confronted with a dozen legendary stories from the Victorian era. The ghosts of Blake, Mortimer, Sherlock and Watson necessarily hover above this hilarious parody with black humor, sometimes absurd and chiseled dialogues.

Major Burns and Doctor Wayne parody two famous investigator duos: Blake and Mortimer and Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Why this double reference?
You should know that when they were created, my duo of investigators was not the result of intense reflection. Their first steps were taken in the form of “strips” on the internet and they were above all intended to amuse my friends. It is true, however, that their adventures were, for me, an opportunity to make fun of all these investigators with infallible judgment whose adventures invariably end in the triumph of truth and justice.
To be fair, the reference to Holmes is, in my case, much more cinematic than literary. I was, indeed, very influenced by the flamboyant films of Hammer. Major Burns is thus very inspired by the Peter Cushing of that cinema. As for Blake & Mortimer, it amused me to take up this form of classic narrative while perverting it somewhat even if, I can’t hide it, Jacobs remains a reference for me and one of my greatest shocks as a reader.

Graphically, “The Mysterious Stories of Major Burns” adopts the clear line dear to Edgar P. Jacobs. Is it a reference for you?
D. I’m not sure I can use the term “reference”. I draw this way without really asking myself questions about a legitimate or proper use of the light line. This graphic form is linked to the influence that my first readings of comic books had on me and, above all, to my concern to produce an immediately readable and fluid drawing.

As in the series “The little theater of operations” also at Fluide Glacial, your stories are inspired by real stories (or legends). Is it a formula that works well?
It’s funny because a lot of my stories start out without me knowing what references they’re going to tie into. It also happens that I can’t find one… I try, at first, to build a general framework in a storyboard and it’s only then that I see if this project could be connected to real facts or existing legends. Very often, and this is where it’s miraculous, my story fits perfectly into historical facts that I didn’t know existed at the beginning of my story. The search for documentation is one of my great pleasures so, in this sense, it is a formula that suits me very well.

How do you find these miscellaneous facts or these legends?
As I said earlier, these discoveries are the result of chance. They are dictated by the orientation of my screenplay. For example, concerning the story “Blacks dogs”, I had the idea of ​​making a story that would be a form of homage to the “Hound of the Baskervilles”. While documenting it, I came across the legend of the black dogs and realized that Conan Doyle drew heavily on this myth during the construction of his book. I can then instill a real basis for my story, which now rests on historical foundations.

Were you fond of the Victorian period?
I really like the Victorian period, as much the Gothic literature of those years as the many film adaptations. This rigid society, proud of its empire and in full industrial expansion fascinates me. It is in a way the beginning of the problems of the modern world.

The lines of Doctor Wayne are really very funny. This so British humor requires a lot of work on the texts?
The lines of Doctor Wayne are designed during the making of my storyboard. They come naturally to me when I put my characters in situation on my sketchbook. I don’t write my dialogues beforehand. I need to see my characters live on the page to imagine their lines.

There are also many macabre stories in France. We are already looking forward to imagining our two sleuths having to come and investigate in the land of frog eaters. Is it possible?
The trip to France remains in the back of my mind, but I would have to deal with my characters’ aversion to our country. I think at that point I would lean more towards a full narrative. Great Britain is always for me an inexhaustible source of inspiration even if I took the party, in the new adventures of Burns, to send our protagonists around the world. My two heroes will thus move away from the London mists in order to participate in a great scientific adventure, with many twists, in the direct line of that of Darwin.

Interview by Emmanuel Lafrogne
(on Twitter)

“The Mysterious Tales of Major Burns”, volume 2 by Devig. Freezing Fluid. €15.90.

Devig: “Making fun of investigators with infallible judgment” – TOUTENBD.COM