FRNK is a a story of a 13-year-old orphan who sets out to find his parents and ends up in prehistoric times (watch the trailer here). Having just released the second volume of the fantastical adventure series, we were lucky to catch FRNK‘s creators – Olivier Bocquet and Brice Cossu – for a quick chat during the third day of Angoulême Comics Festival.
How did you decide to become comics creators?
OLIVIER BOQUET: First I decided I wanted to become a movie maker, although it was hard, expensive, and frustrating. But after some time I realized that I can be a storyteller without being an artist. I don’t have to do both. And once I realized that, I started making comics, which is much more rewarding than movies because you are free to do whatever you want if your story is good.
BRICE COSSU: For me it was a bit more simple. I’d wanted this job ever since I was a kid. That was it.
And how did you two get together on the project of FRNK?
OLIVIER: My editor Benoît Fripiat and I were trying to find an artist for FRNK. One day at the bookshop I found something that Brice drew (Les Enquêtes du Misterium, Soleil Productions), and I liked his style, so we contacted him. He drew two sample pages that looked as good as the finished book.
BRICE: When Olivier contacted me, I wasn’t available at the time, but when I read the script I thought, “Wow, I have to do this.” Since I didn’t have the time at that moment I warned them that I would only do the sample pages for the project. After a month Benoît sent an email telling me, “Now we really need to find an artist for the project, so if you can’t, just tell me now.” But when I’d done the sample pages it had been obvious that this was a project for me, because I’ve never done any other project with such ease. And then it all went really fast. I sent the first sketches of the characters, a month later we signed the contract and then another month later we started working.
And how many volumes do you have planned for FRNK?
BRICE: Well, we have many ideas for many volumes (laughs). Currently we’re working on the fifth volume, which is the first volume of the second cycle of the series. We finished the first cycle of four books. Each cycle will be three or four books. Well, probably four, because we have a lot of things to tell with the story. So if everything goes well, we definitely have a few cycles more.
OLIVIER: At least twelve! (laughs)
BRICE: Twelve volumes, not cycles!
Olivier, how did you come up with the story? What inspired it?
OLIVIER: As a reader, I was searching for a story that would mix adventure and humor, like Indiana Jones. And I couldn’t find it. It didn’t exist anymore. Over the last twenty years of French bandes dessinées, nobody had done it. I was frustrated about that, so I decided to do it myself. I thought, okay, who could be a great hero, in the kind of story you could imagine reenacting as a kid with your toys…? But it also had to be a story that had never been told before, and that was the hardest part. And once you have that, it just clicks and starts to move. I was aiming at creating a story that can be enjoyed by both children and adults.
And who inspires you as a storyteller?
OLIVIER: In the world of French comics I really admire Wilfrid Lupano. He is really talented and smart. I really like Fabien Nury. And Alain Ayroles, he’s a genius. He wrote De Cape et de Crocs (Delcourt). It’s a fantastic series, beautifully written. These are the main three French writers that I can think of.
BRICE: I agree!
Brice, what is the most exciting thing for you to draw in FRNK?
BRICE: The characters! What I love to do in books is to have strong characters and work with their personalities. There are quite a few characters in this book, which is great because you can give them different personalities, physical attributes, attitudes etc. But what I love the most about these books is that I don’t have to draw cities or anything like that (laughs). I love drawing nature so I am well served there!
And who would you say inspires you as an artist?
BRICE: Woah… There are many artists that inspire me, for various reasons. I read a lot of manga when I was little, so things like Dragon Ball were my first inspiration. Then I discovered comics as a teenager, and there are a few artists I admire, like Humberto Ramos, Joe Madureira. The list goes on and on. And I’m still discovering new artists today. The most inspiring Franco-Belgian artist for me is Alex Alice, who’s doing Le Château des étoiles (Rue de Sèvres), it’s great!
Header image: FRNK © Bocquet & Cossu / Editions Dupuis