Through his company Midas Monkee, artist Paul Louise-Julie has two popular indie comic book series, The Pack and Yohancé under his belt. I caught up with Paul recently and asked him about what indie producing was like and what’s next for the company. Check it out…
TBG: You come from a fine arts background. I remember seeing some of your sculpture work online. What got you into comics and graphic novels?
PLJ: I’ve always loved storytelling. More specifically, visual storytelling. I grew up in France where sensual art and mastering communication through the senses is deeply rooted in their cultural pedigree. From Rodin to Monet, it’s all about telling a story simply by stimulating the senses. That’s what drew me to art: the ability to connect my mind to others without saying a word; to express myself in ways that transcend speech. To be honest, that’s all sculpture and painting is. Parallel to all this was my love of cinema. Film combines all of these disciplines to, once again, stimulate the senses in the goal of communicating a story. By the time I had gotten to college, I had many stories that I wanted to tell but fine art was to abstract of a medium for them. In France, comic books or “bandes dessinées” are considered to be the “9th Art”. They’re a hybrid phenomenon that provides the immersion of film and the personal artistry of literature. Seeing as I didn’t have any money nor did I feel like dealing with Hollywood’s bureaucratic bullshit, comics seemed like the perfect narrative to tell my stories. I could make a movie for the price of a pen and paper.
TBG: Most of your characters are from Ancient Africa, can you explain how you research your characters?
PLJ: Africa has been a part of my life since I was an infant. My parents’ business is based in West Africa (still is actually) so as a result, I traveled across the continent. They’re also art collectors so they brought back many African art pieces from their travels. Growing up around these certainly had a large influence on how I see Africa and my heritage. So when I finally went to live in Africa in 2008, I did everything I could to analyze and take apart these fascinating kingdoms and empires. I studied every aspect of precolonial cultures in West Africa until I understood how black people inherently function in their own civilizations. This allowed me to reconnect to my ancestors in their prime and think like they think. The next challenge was using this data and repackaging it to fit my storytelling needs. So once I have a model of a particular culture, I dismantle it and reorganize it to create a fantasy counterpart but with African DNA.
TBG: You’ve launched quite a few things in the past year, How many titles do you have now?
PLJ: Yes. I released my first book, The Pack 001 in March 2015. Since then, I’ve released 2 sequels and the first issue of my African Space Opera, Yohance.
TBG: Yohance doesn’t have the same look as The Pack, is that your face we see as the main character? What is that technique called?
PLJ: Haha, yes. That is my face however each one is completely painted. Some fans asked me if it was photoshop and I told them to look closely. You can see the brush strokes. It’s all about knowing when to use the lineart to denote shape or shadow and let the light do the rest. The reason for that is twofold. First, ever since I was a kid, i always wanted to be in Star Wars. So, i promised myself that if I ever made a Space Opera, I’d give myself a spaceship so I can roam the stars like Han Solo. Second, space operas only work if they feel tangible. This forced me to create a new style where everything is painted and textured like a film still. From the pores on the skin to the lens blur bokeh, everything has to feel real. Using my own face was just an added bonus because I was already going to paint realistic imaginary ones anyway.
TBG: What’s up with the Pack? You had mentioned that there was going to be an Expo video but we haven’t heard anything since. Can you give us an update or sneak Peek into Issue 4?
PLJ: I did. The Pack Expo video has been done for a few weeks now. I decided to release it closer to Issue 4’s release in June. I felt that fans have already waited so long, I might as well make the wait as short as possible before I start building hype again. But don’t worry, the video will drop sometime this month. I’m excited for it. A lot of awesome things are coming in these next 3 issues. Issue 4 picks up right where Issue 3 left oﬀ. The Pack is broken; they’re trying to pick the pieces back up and escape to Nubia without being detected. That proves to be very diﬃcult when every gang in Egypt’s underground now wants to kill them. On the other side, you have the Sobe-Ka cult who are finally asserting their rule over Egypt for the first time in 200 years. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed.
TBG: How’s production on Yohance 02 moving along and what can you tell us about it?
PLJ: Yohance 02 is going great. I’m halfway through with it. It’s been a bumpy ride because I’ve had to develop a whole new array of techniques just to achieve a few of the scenes in this book. I think fans are going to really enjoy it because it’s already leaps and bounds beyond Issue 01. “The Ekangeni Crystal” was just an introduction. Now we can finally get into the deep parts of the story. We finally get more insight into why this Crystal was so important and who the major powers at play are.
TBG: What’s next for Midas Monkee? Like in the next 5 years or so?
PLJ: Oh that’s a loaded question. I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t a blueprint but it’s always getting modified and expanded as things progress quicker than expected. I just launched Phase 2 this year which will see over 11 new titles and 3 series including The Pack and Yohance. It will also introduce an important character in the mythology of Aya, Queen Candace of Nubia, in her own mini-series at the end of the year. I’m also happy to announce that all backs will be available in print, PDF, CBR, and even signed copies directly from the website. This was something that I’ve been striving towards for 2 years so it’s quite an achievement. Finally, there may or may not be news relating to a movie coming in a few months. We’ll have to wait and see.
TBG: Please name 5 other artists that have influenced you or who you think are underrated.
George Lucas, Moebius (aka Jean Giraud), Sara Pichelli, Olivier Vatine, and Frank Frazetta
You can purchase copies of all available Midas Monkee titles in print or in digital here
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