BY JENNIFER M.
CONTINO We catch up with Flight contributor and ZED
creator Michel Gagne to talk comics, time management, and find
out what's next in his career.
For those of you who
haven't had a chance to check out ZED yet, Gagne describes his
lovable lead as a "cute and adorable scientist." Gagne said,
"He's discovered a clean and efficient way to produce energy.
When he demonstrates his invention to the hierarchy of the
galaxy, ZED inadvertently triggers a deadly chain of events -
a monumental disaster that claims the life of his parents, the
hierarchy of the galaxy, and 60 billion beings."
"Critics have called ZED a UFO on the comic scene,"
Gagne continued. "They say it doesnít seem to be connected in
any way with current trends. In a way, ZED is very juvenile.
Itís written like itís for a 10-year old. But then, it also
deals with issues like genocide, corrupted politics, and other
extremely tragic events. In issue three, ZED contemplates
suicide! The comic also features a foul-mouthed heavy metal
band called Krah. People love them. Theyíre a big hit! Iím
hoping to have Steve Rolston write and draw the Krah
adventures in a spin off series called: The Krah Khronicles.
Thereís also a cruel tyrant named Maxuss who doesnít hesitate
to kill on a whim."
Gagne said, "If I had
to find words to describe ZED they would be: adorable,
disturbing, juvenile, gory, reflective, cute, shocking,
childish, mature, sadistic, spiritual, and innocent. ZED is
full of contradiction."
Gagne enjoys working on this
series, but said it's tough not being able to devote all his
time to the further adventures of these characters. He's
currently only producing one issue a year, due to other
commitments. "I'm always worried when I solicit a new issue of
ZED that no one will order the book," he said. "I'm glad to
see many retailers supporting ZED. It's all word of mouth.
People buy it from me at conventions and they recommend it to
their retailers. I really appreciate the support. When I work
on ZED, I always have a good time. Itís a way to branch out my
creativity. ZED is a wonderful hobby!"
where I want to take the story in a particular issue and
thumbnail all twenty three pages in usually one session of two
to three hours," he continued. "Then, I let it sit for a
while, reworking it here and there. When I start drawing for
real, everything is locked down. Iíve always been a fan of
comics and one of my dreams has been to have my own comic
series. I love everything about doing ZED: from conception to
Gagne said, "Because I
already had published quite a few books before ZED, the
transition to comics wasnít bad. I had to face many problems
when I started publishing books but I gotta say, ZED overall
has been pretty smooth sailing. Of course, you keep learning
new things all the time. You learn about paper weight and
surface; how the ink reacts on various types of paper. I
experimented with the first 6 issues. I like the formula I
found with #6 so I decided to stick with it for issue #7. I
can also see how much Iíve grown with my Photoshop skills. The
art is becoming a lot fuller. Iím spending more time on the
backgrounds. All the lines in issue #7 are different shades of
gray. In issue 1 to 4 the lines were black. Now, Iím really
trying to push the grayscales. ZED is a black and white and
grayscale comic. Iím putting a lot of effort in that
Gagne considers ZED to be his "labor of love"
and hasn't had any real problems creating the series. "When I
work on ZED, I always have a good time," he said. "ZED is
good. If you look at it with the innocence of a child
(although the series is definitely not aimed at children) and
get into it, youíll witness a cosmic epic filled with dark
humor, cute drawings, plot twists and disturbing monsters.
What could be wrong with that?"
Along with ZED # 7,
Gagne has a story in the latest volume of Flight. He told us
how he got into that anthology. "A couple of years ago, Kazu
Kabuishi approached me to do work for his anthology Flight,"
Gagne said. "I told him I had an idea for a 150-page graphic
novel with my little fox character 'Rex' from my 1998 book
A Search for Meaning: The Story of Rex. He liked the
idea, so I did the first 17 pages for Flight: Volume Two.
Volume Three, coming out at the end of June, features the
second chapter which is 28 pages. Rex goes through a traumatic
event that has a massive impact on his life! The story
"Rex (Flight) is silent, in color and
evolves in a completely organic manner," Gagne continued. "ZED
has dialogue, is black and white and is serialized in 23 pages
installment. If Rex is All Ages, ZED would be PG-13. The
limitations are different but the process is similar. I
thumbnail, and let it sit for a few days/weeks/months, while I
move on to other projects. I come back when Iím fully
inspired, and throw myself into the work. I love the format
[of Flight], the freedom to do what I want and the fact that
itís in color. Flight seems like a perfect fit for my ideas. I
think Kazu has a really good eye for quality. The caliber of
artists is amazing. I love looking at everyoneís wonderful
work at the Piccolo Factory Message Board where we post our
stories. Iím so honored to be able to open the book with my
stories. Itís a huge honor."
Along with his comics,
Gagne has several other projects on tap. He gave us some
details of the works. "Iím involved with a trading card game
called XEKO," Gagne said. "The first set of 116 cards was
released in April and itís showing lots of promises. Iím
working on the second set now. You can check out some of the
work I did for the first set here: http://www.gagneint.com/Final%20site/Gallery/illustrations/XEKO/XEKO_main.htm
I also have a couple of new hardcover books in the works. One
of them is called My Insane Childhood. Itís been in the
making for the past three years. Iím hoping to wrap it up in
the next few months. And of course, ZED #8 and Flight: Volume
4 and 5. You can view a 6-page preview of ZED #7 here: http://www.gagneint.com/Final%20site/books/ZED/ZED_7/ZED_7_pages.htm