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Creator, Writer, Artist of ZED

by Richard Vasseur - (Posted: 8/12/2007)

Michel Gagne

Richard: How did you make your start in comics?

Michel: In 2000, while I was supervising the special effects for the movie Osmosis Jones at Warner Brothers studios, I came up with the idea of ZED. First, I conceived it as an animated series I was going to pitch around to animation studios. As the property took shape, I decided that I’d have a lot more control and fun if I did ZED as a self-published comic series instead. By Spring 2001, I printed 5000 copies of ZED #1 and that was the start of my comic career.

Richard: What is "ZED" about?

Michel: ZED is a tale of a young alien scientist, whose energizing device goes awry, destroying the utopian world of Xandria. Suddenly, his dream of offering his society virtually free energy become a nightmare as little ZED must come to terms with the knowledge that he not only caused the death of his parents, but the annihilation of an entire planet and its 60 billion inhabitants. ZED, it seems, has become a pariah hated by virtually everyone.

As the series unfolds, ZED must discover what really caused the disaster and how to cope with the disturbing answers.

Richard: Who are the supporting characters?

Michel: Here’s a hand full: Maxuss, a sadistic dictator who doesn’t hesitates to shred to pieces anyone who disagrees with him; Krah, a rock band composed of four headbanger stickmen who play the loudest heavy metal in the universe; Macku, a genius alien who invents the most awesome spaceship before suffering a bloody decapitation; Zyd, ZED’s demented guardian angel; The Butchering Four, Maxuss’ maniacal henchmen. These are but a few of the crazy characters that appear in the strip.

Richard: What is ZED's personality?

Michel: ZED is easy going, virtuous, extremely sensitive, smart, resourceful, caring and inquisitive.

Richard: What was it like working on "Batman: Spore" from DC's Detective Comics?

Michel: Doing the back-up for Detective Comics for 5 issues was a lot of fun. I did the most bizarre story I could come up with. I’m not sure the Batman fans connected with my vision though. After reading the DC message board, I realized that many of the readers would have liked to see me crucified for doing such an insane version of their beloved hero.

Richard: What is the comic book "Flight" about?

Michel: Flight is a comic anthology that features sequential works by young (and not so young) artists ranging from the animation, illustration and comic industry. The standard has been kept very high by editor Kazu Kibuishi, and I’m darn proud to be part of it!

In Flight, I’m serializing my epic (200+ pages) graphic novel featuring a cute little fox: “The Saga of Rex”. Each volume of Flight features a chapter of the story.

Richard: What was your involvement with "Osmosis Jones"?

Michel: I was the special effects artistic supervisor, in charge of creating the look of the microscopic effects found inside the body of Frank (Bill Murray's character). Some of the effects I created for the movie included molecular fire, cellular smoke, electrical impulses, DNA strand sequence, death of the villain (Trax), destruction of the city of Frank, microbes of all kinds, as well as the opening title sequence.

Richard: You worked on "Ratatouille" as an animator what do you think of the finished product?

Michel: I loved the film. I think Brad Bird is a great director and everything he has touched so far has turned to gold.

Richard: What did you do as Special Effects Consultant on "The Incredibles"?

Michel: Not much, really. I was flown to Pixar at the beginning of production to discuss ways of designing and animating special effects for the movie. I spent a couple of days having meetings with several people from the crew. I then returned home to Burbank (that’s where I lived at the time) and spent 2 weeks creating conceptual animation (some of it made it’s way in the end credit sequence). It soon became clear that they needed someone in-house to design the FX and I just wasn’t willing to move to Northern California at that particular time.

Richard: Who has supported you the most in your career?

Michel: To tell you the truth, all my family and friends are supportive of what I do. My wife is always there for me to bounce ideas which I appreciate tremendously. My two dogs are also very supportive in their own ways ;)

Richard: What is next for you in your career?

Michel: So much stuff! A video game coming out early next year; lots of animation projects including shorts and a feature film; ZED #9; Flight Vol. 5; more Xeko trading cards; a couple of new illustrated books; art direction for a live classical opera. There’s quite a bit more… In fact, every time someone comes to my studio, they think I’m completely nuts to try and tackle so many projects. Maybe I am. Time will tell.

Richard: How can someone contact you?

Michel: If you go to my website ( or, just go under contact and you’ll find my email and business address.

Richard: Any last words of wisdom?

Michel: Here are a three of my favorite quotes:

"Ideas are a dime a dozen, but the men and women who implement them are priceless."
- Mary Kay Ash
"Show me a person who has never made a mistake and I'll show you somebody who has never achieved much."
- Joan Collins
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
-Albert Einstein

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