Every year, in the countdown to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October, we bring you a series of interviews with guests at the event. This “Festival Focus” for 2019 is with Jean-Baptiste Pollien, aka Jibé, a French cartoonist, illustrator and graphic designer from Lyon.
He has worked as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer since 2010 and is the author of comic series such as Sans Emploi (published by Marabout) and Basse Def (Omaké Books) and has participated in some collective works (Kokekokkô, On dit de Lyon, La psychanalyse des Super Héros...).
Jibé also helped Lyon BD Festival to create the longest comic strip in the world by writing the story and storyboarding the 1.6km long creation, now an official Guinness World Record.
He also created the independent label, “Quenelles Graphiques”, in order to create and promote collective works (On dit de l’An 2000, Happy Hour...) and exhibitions.
What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Jibé: I have just finished working on a comic that took me approximately four years to complete, so right know I am taking a small break from drawing for myself. Sure, I have bills to pay, that's why I keep on drawing comics, but for other people and clients, so I don't think they're worth mentioning it here.
I've been thinking about my next comic for weeks now - maybe I should start writing it down...
Which comic project you've worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
Jibé: The comic project I am the most proud of is always the last one I've made, so it basically changes every two years... For the moment, it is Super Basse Def, my latest effort, which is about adventure and video games and pixel art, and it is available right here, and you can read the beginning here (in French).
How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Jibé: I don't really plan my day, as I usually work on different projects at the same time. I'm also a graphic designer, so I can draw an illustration for someone in the morning, and create layouts for a magazine in the afternoon, and do something totally different the next day. That's what I love about my job, I can't get bored working on the same kind of work, every time.
What's the best thing about being a comics creator?
Jibé: You work alone and you're not forced to negotiate with someone to create something you like.
And the worst?
Jibé: You work alone and no one tells you that you are doing things the wrong way.
What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Jibé: Twitter, I guess... But seriously, the thing that prevents me to start working on something I really love is the fear that I can mess it up and spoil it. My head is full of wonderful comic books, but I don't trust my mind and my hand to transcribe them properly on paper.
Do you think it's easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Jibé: I think it's easier today, and it has been that way for ten years now. I mean, look at me: I'm aware that I wouldn't stand a chance in this business 20 years ago. Publisher are always looking for the next talent, so they hire more young artists and test them on the market. That's not really expensive for them, as they constantly lower wages and do little if no promotion at all. Publishing 20 new artists and getting one success out of it is still a good deal for them, when the 19 other not-so-new artists can try their luck elsewhere.
Please note that I said it's easier to get published today - not easier to get successful!
Have you ever been to the Lake District before and if so what did you think of it? If you haven't, what are you expecting?
Jibé: I have never been to the Lake District before, and I am looking forward to it without anything specific in mind. That's the best way to get surprised and have a good time, just like a boring planned party versus and unexpected crazy one.
Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
Jibé: I am not really into worshiping comic artists, or any artist for that matter, because their work and their personality can be so different... It creates an uneasy cognitive dissonance. But if I really had to, I would gladly meet Franquin. But he is dead. And he was depressive. Well...
How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
Jibé: Exposure and publicity. I can tell numbers are always higher for my books when I attend comic festival and events. It can be tiring, because they mostly take place on weekends, but they are a great opportunity to get one self's work known.
What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Jibé: There are so many advice to offer... One of the most important would be "know your rights", because it helps on the long run. The other one can be "do something else if you want to pay your bills", but that can be a bit depressing.
What's your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
Jibé: I don't read that much comic books nowadays, but the last one that I enjoyed is L'arabe du futur (The Arab of the Future) by Riad Sattouf. It is a smashing success here in France and it has been translated in English.
Jibé, thank you very much for your time. Looking forward to seeing you again in Kendal!