How did you create Superinohalfway between a tribute to fumetti and a parody of American superheroes, as its name suggests?
You have no doubt seen this special issue of Spirou’s diary (the 4277), in which Disney would have humorously bought Disney. Well, the editorial staff had asked us to participate and with Lewis; we had created a character named Mic Maca superhero in the spirit of Superino, except he purposely looked like Oswald the lucky rabbitthe first character created by Disney.
The confinement went through there, during which we played a lot of video poker with the publisher Olivier Jalabert, Lewis and many others. Several projects were born from these meetings, including this desire to make an album together, Lewis, Olivier, Brigitte and me, in the wake of the Mickey and donald already published previously. Of course, we had to get out of Mic Maca kind of ersatz Mickey, to invent a new character and a new graphic design, and this is how Superino was born!
And you maintained this rendering vintage ?
Yes, I really enjoyed our work together on Mickey and donald, and I wanted to prolong this atmosphere thanks to the work of Brigitte. And all of this spawned the other legend of Superino, the forgotten Italian hero. We therefore embroidered a whole fable around its creation, which generated this story in history.
To explain to the reader, you pushed the creation so far as to imagine a false legend around the Italian edition of Superinoas you could have done with Mickey and this story idea found in 2016…
Imagining this legend around this cursed hero that we would have found, gives us a context and a background on which to rely; this justifies the parodic aspect, vintage and offbeat, while remaining within a logical framework. »
- One of the false advertisements that dot the book
False advertisements, readers’ letters, inside covers,… All of this had to be part of this framework?
These are mostly Proust madeleines in our eyes. For my part, I liked to read the letters of the readers of Weird, and I had as much fun making the covers as discovering the fake ads designed by the publisher. It also paces the story.
The tone is still quite parodic! Your billionaire hero hides his double life from his mother by pretending that he spends his life in the toilets of his mansion. He even goes so far as to record himself during fateful moments in order to take notes for a future book…
Because we allow ourselves with Superino what we could not allow ourselves on the Mickey and donald. On these, we knew and accepted the limits agreed with Disney. This time, the absence of constraint pushes us to go further, even if it means brushing against the borderlinebut we do not cross the line because Superino must remain a book readable by all. Lewis, and this is his art, plays on double reading: the children will laugh at the jokes, and the parents will also find something else in them. In a way, I think we realized the Mickey or Donald that we could have done if we had completely let loose on those. As Lewis puts it so well, we could always take characters like Mickey or Batman that don’t belong to us… Or create our own! And here, we opted for the second solution.
- One of the inside covers
You had previously explained to us the arrangements that you had found with Disney on Mickey, so you benefit here from a complete letting go.
Of course, some of the content of Superino would not have been validated by Disney. And for my part, I am super-happy that we can finally put it there. This is the advantage of creating your own universe… in the spirit of fumetti and comics.
To come back to the fumetti, a genre that you like, who are your bedside authors?
I’m less familiar with station fumetti, but I’m really a big fan of Cavazzano. By drawing Superino, I surprised myself by reopening Cavazzano, even if this type of drawing is very natural for me. I watch how he composes the life behind the characters to stick to this type of universe. It remains a reference for me, even if I remain light years away from its graphic level.
Compared to your two previous collaborations of the same type, you have reduced the format of your work. Always to stick to the Italian publications of the time?
We really wanted to give the impression of having Fumetti or Comics in our hands. And as we knew that we were going for a large pagination (about 90 pages just for the comic strips), the reduction of the plates was imposed and we quickly agreed on this format in two strips, this reminiscent of old comics.
The reference to old American productions is not limited to this format?
The fact of working in half boards compared to a traditional format gives me the impression of moving faster, and even of drawing faster. After twenty large format albums (except Open heart) where each stage required three days, I managed in this case to produce two pages of rough or inking per day, which was very satisfying.
At the same time, the pace of the narrative is also more hectic.
The format of the story required me to be very effective on each drawing, in order to elicit an immediate understanding of the action from the reader. For the rest, I mostly stick to the Lewis storyboard. Strictly speaking, he doesn’t write a screenplay, but he directly twists the story and he manages to impose the rhythm of the story. This pagination is certainly a more pressing constraint for him, because it forces him to place a cliffhanger at the end of each page.
The second difficulty lies in the serialized aspect of the story, one of the starting points that we had imposed on ourselves. A specificity that had to be kept for prepublication in The Diary of Spirou, which imposed fairly short chapters, even if each page of the magazine took up four boards. A little pride for me, because it was my first prepublication in Spirou !
Your hero refers to Bruce Wayne in Batman, but he also uses a rather particular vocabulary. Should it be distinguished in this way?
Superino is ultimately a parody of himself. His relationship with his mother, who is unaware of his double life, takes on the trappings of a perpetual sketch. Like his way of registering and finding punchlines completely ridiculous! It fits beautifully into the tone of the story.
are you done with Superino or do you have other parody projects with Lewis Trondheim, Brigitte Findakly and Olivier Jalabert?
Nicolas Keramidas: It is rather a question for our editor Olivier Jalabert.
Olivier Jalabert: I was not part of the team of the first two games. With Superino, we wanted to produce a funny book between friends, a humorous twist, via a project in which we believe and which we have carried out with sincerity. The hoax around Superino only works once, and it doesn’t make much sense to renew it because we’d take readers for fools. Now, if we really sell 500,000 copies, we will certainly ask ourselves the question again!
Interview by Charles-Louis Detournay.
This article remains the property of its author and may not be reproduced without his permission.