- interview by Steve Ogden, FEB 2007
Michel Gagné allows his imagination to run away with him. Whether creating lavish or bizarre illustrations, comic book epics, or visual design, he leaves the mark of his unique creativity on his work. He took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to us.
ANIMWATCH: Where are you from originally?
MG: I was born in Roberval, and grew up in St-Félicien, two small towns about 2 ½ hours north of Québec City.
ANIMWATCH: How long have you been in the art business?
MG: I started professionally in 1985, but I've been doing art my whole life. It's an obsession.
ANIMWATCH: How do you make your living?
MG: Doing animation, books, comics, commissions, illustrations, licensing designs, selling artwork etc. I make a living being creative and doing what I love.
ANIMWATCH: Where are you currently living?
MG: I live in Washington State.
MG: There are so many. Here's a succinct list: Jack Kirby, Eiji Tsuburaya, Steve Ditko, Picasso, Kandinsky, Yves Tanguy, Yerka, Oscar Fishinger, Osamu Tezuka, Miyazaki, Don Bluth, Ishiro Honda, George Lucas, Moebius, writers such as B R Bruss, Richard Adams, H G Wells, Philip Wylie, and many more...
ANIMWATCH: What advice would you give artists just starting out?
MG: Every artist is different and has their path to follow. I didn't listen to most of the advice that was given to me when growing up so who am I to give advice. I'd say it's up to each artist to find its own path. Be true to yourself. Set goals and go for them. There are no rules.
ANIMWATCH: How do you think an artist can best cultivate their creativity?
MG: Never sit on your laurels. Keep creating. There are people that come up with one idea and they'll protect it and stick to it and put the blinders on. I say, don't put all your eggs in one basket. Keep an open mind, and be receptive to the potential of creation. There are so many doorways to creativity. I, for one, want to make sure that I remain open-minded enough to go through any of them.
MG: I enjoy all the various media I've worked in. What really matters is the project, not the media.
Of course, I tend to favor my own projects over commissioned work, but not always. Sometimes collaborative work is very stimulating.
ANIMWATCH: Your continuing Rex saga is one of my favorite things in the Flight comic anthologies. How much of the whole story do you have outlined?
MG: The full story is figured out. As a matter of fact, I pitched the entire epic to Flight editor, Kazu Kibuishi, last summer and he seemed to really dig it. It has a lot of twists and turns, but the whole thing is going to feel very coherent and unified once I'm done.
ANIMWATCH: How much of the story do you have finished?
MG: I have 78 pages completed and I've done 30 pages of rough layouts for the next chapter to be featured in Flight 5.
ANIMWATCH: How long do you think it will take you to complete?
MG: Well, I've got 3 more chapters to be published in Flight which comes out annually, so that bring us all the way to 2009. Then, the plan is to publish the full graphic novel the following year with roughly 30 more unpublished pages (prologue and epilogue). I was planning the whole thing to be 160 pages but it might be closer to 200 when I'm done with it.
ANIMWATCH: Zed #8 is just about out. Nice to see you exercising your inner headbanger. How long do you expect this series to be?
MG: I'm pretty sure things will wrap up in issue 10.
ANIMWATCH: How far ahead have you scripted it?
MG: Everything is figured out till the end but I don't have an exact breakdown of how many pages each passage of the story will take to unfold. It's all in my head but not on paper yet. But at this point I'm really aiming to finish with issue ten. That won't mean the end of ZED though.
ANIMWATCH: Do you have any plans for an animated version of Zed?
MG: I have so many plans in my head I can't even count them. Plans don't mean much until the work gets started. Let just say that I remain open to the endless possibilities the animation medium has to offer.
ANIMWATCH: Insanely Twisted Shadow Puppets is outstanding. Tell us how that came about. Did Nick come to you?
MG: In the summer of 2004, I started thinking about doing independent animation again, except this time, I wanted one of the big studios to foot the bill for the production cost. After a few weeks of brainstorming, I came up with a concept for a series of short animated films called "Insanely Twisted Shadow Puppets"! I was thinking that they would be very short, used a style similar to my book "The Great Shadow Migration", and be aired as interstitials between programming and commercials.