Young comics talent from Belgium – Yannick Pelegrin – is joining Europe Comics for this year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival!! Yannick earned his degree in graphic storytelling in 2017. During his last year at university, he created Aldo, a graphic novel he later polished and published with Ballon Media in 2018 (Europe Comics in English). He also drew the artwork of Oerwoud achter glas (Jungle Behind Glass), published by Pulp deLuxe, which won the Plastieken Plunk Award in 2017. In his work, he combines observations of humanity with the exploitation of his own imagination.
What led you to the world of comics? How did you become a comics creator?
I’ve been drawing since I was little, but making comics is something pretty recent. I started my studies at 14 at the Sint-Lukas Kunsthumaniora, an arts and humanities school in Brussels, followed by the LUCA School of Arts. And during that whole period I went from painting to illustration to even sculpting. When I went to my first year of college at LUCA I chose graphic design, because I was afraid that painting or any of the other options might be an ‘unreliable’ career choice. It was one of my teachers, Eva Cardon, who convinced me to study comic book design when she saw my drawings… And I did.
I had no history with comics at all, but I did feel sort of attracted to them. I slowly rolled into it and got better at making them. And in my final year at school I made Aldo and I was lucky enough that Ballon Media wanted to publish it!
Which other comics creators and works inspire you?
First definitely Judith Vanistendael, she was my tutor at school and the person who guided me through Aldo. She has an incredible way of telling a story. Her comics have a very natural reading flow and a great emotional impact, something I strive for. Second there’s Cyril Pedrosa. Sometimes his influence is visible in my work, I also like to work with large landscape-type drawings that tell many things in one image. With Pedrosa it’s both his drawing style, which is utterly beautiful, and his way of telling a story. It’s almost like you’re reading an animated film. It flows beautifully. I’m also very much inspired by movies, Enemy by Denis Villeneuve, Nocturnal Animals by Tom Ford and Chinatown by Roman Polanski to name a few. Which I think you see a lot in my images.
How did Aldo come together? How did you come up with the story and what was the creative process like?
As I said, Aldo was actually a school assignment, so we had to come up with something fast. I came up with the story of an immortal man, after watching the movie The Man from Earth (where a man who has lived for thousands of years reveals his secret to his colleagues, and it’s a sort of one-hour conversation-movie). I wanted to do something with immortality but expand on it, take it further than one room. And gradually I started sticking pieces of the story to each other and slowly but surely it came to be what it is. It was nice because for that year it was the only thing I had to do basically, for school anyway. But for the creative process, I mostly felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. But by the time the book was finished, I had started to get good at it.
Which part was more challenging? Writing the story or drawing it?
Definitely writing it, I basically had to learn to write. I’m by nature very bad at language and grammar. But I’m also a draftsman by nature. The drawing sort of happens by itself with me but the writing is always a big struggle.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m making a graphic novel about a man with very early-onset dementia. But that won’t be done until 2021 I think (it’s a very large book).
Header image: Aldo © Yannick Pelegrin / Ballon Media