On Television

I was on Dutch TV, in a 25-minute interview that covered everything from my image of God to the upcoming Stripmaker des Vaderlands election. The program is called ‘Het Vermoeden’ and set in an old-fashioned train compartment, to facilitate guests talking about their life’s journey and the next station they expect to arrive at.

Of course, it was all done in a studio, and this is what it looked like:

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The interview was done by Marleen Stelling, and felt like a very pleasant, almost casual conversation about Life, the Universe and Everything:

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I was a bit nervous about how I would come across on TV – I hardly ever see myself move or talk the way others perceive me, so it was really er, interesting to watch myself. The thing that struck me most was how lively I gesticulate:

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And second, I was touched to find myself mirroring my long deceased grandfather, Hendrikus Berkhof, who was professor of Theology and would have loved to see his granddaughter carry on his legacy, in a way:

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The whole interview (in Dutch!) can be watched here.

All in all, it was a very intense and positive experience! It makes me even more confident that not only could I handle being Stripmaker des Vaderlandsvoting still open until the 30th! – , I would actually enjoy the media aspect of it.

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Because, let’s be honest here, I just love talking about myself.

And comics.

And myself in relation to comics.

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#RCCC 2017

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There’s something about cons that really gets me pumped to create. Maybe it’s being surrounded by all of the amazing artists of Artist Alley, or the waves of incredibly nice people buying and complimenting my art, or just being completely emotionally exhausted by the end of it. Whatever it is, the second I get home I immediately get to work on one of the crazy new projects that is my current obsession.

And this year was no different! I go to RCCC every year and this was definitely my best and favorite year of all time.

It was A++

You can find Jon on Twitter where he posts his silly drawings and sometimes brags about his kids, and you can find out more about LOOK here.

Background of ‘The Mercenary’

NBM Graphic Novels will be reprinting all 14 volumes of Vincente Segrelles groundbreaking graphic novel series The Mercenary in updated, remastered volumes.

In anticipation of this exciting release, we’re previewing the supplementary pages that will be included in the back of every volume.

* * * * *

merc2When I was little, just like most children, I liked to draw—although in my case it was a somewhat unhealthy hobby. I was born in 1940 and my childhood took place during the Spanish post-war period, an era of hardships and rationing. I remember that, when I was very young, but old enough to remember with some clarity, I secretly got up at 6 in the morning and shut myself in a room so I could draw, making sure to cover the crack at the bottom of the door with a towel so that the light shining through wouldn’t give me away. They found out and my nocturnal adventure was over, but I continued drawing during allowed hours. Storybook illustrations fascinated me and I tried to copy them. Later came comics and especially movies.

And then there was the influence of my uncle José Segrelles, my father’s brother. Uncle Pepe, as we called him at home, was a well-known illustrator in the 1930s, a great watercolor painter specialized in fantasy.

In the apartment where we lived, we had books illustrated by him and a few framed reproductions of his work, but the crucial thing was the artistic atmosphere that I breathed in at home. The “Uncle Pepe” atmosphere, as would be expected, affected me a lot and framed my professional aspirations for the future: my dream was always to be a painter-illustrator.

But life took me down many roads before reaching this profession. My stint in a truck factory and in advertising did not quash my vocation, and in my free time I continued drawing.

And finally I achieved it, first illustrating trading cards, then research books, and finally book covers.

When I reached the comics world, I was already much older than is usual for authors in this specialty, but I had a background of hundreds of covers in a wide variety of topics including fantasy and dragons, some of them mounted and ridden by warriors, iconography that I would use to create samples and to find work in comics.

 

“I remember well when these books first came out. I bought all of them. They had a great influence on me as a painter; also on my interest in sequential art. Vincente Segrelles is a superlative storyteller in both words and pictures. Like the extraordinary art of his Uncle, Jose Segrelles, the work of Vincente is not to be missed!”

– Joe DeVito, creator and illustrator of King Kong of Skull Island

Why Sartre today?

SARTRE

This graphic novel about Sartre’s life is being published in the US by NBM, in a pessimistic era and in a global political context that, in short, can be described as worrying and freedom-destroying. “The story of a life is the story of a failure”. Sartre was amused by his own irony in writing that we are constantly running after that which makes us incoherent, dissatisfied, incomplete beings: desire.

 

However Sartre and his existentialism were not pessimistic. It was important to me to show his full personality in this graphic novel. His entire life was crossed by desires; as incoherent and misunderstood as they might be by his contemporaries as well as the reader of today. These days I appreciate more his partner Simone de Beauvoir and her work as a feminist, but at that time I wanted to continue to develop my thoughts and writings on him.

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In 2011 at 23 years old, I graduated in Contemporary Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, the school where Sartre also studied. This field of study “Contemporary Philosophy” inncludes philosophy which followed the great revolutions in thinking by Nietzsche, Marx and Freud, to today. My thesis I defended was on Sartre’s attraction to psychoanalysis. This attraction is a story of love and hate; as a thinker of his time, Sartre wanted to go deeper into the Freud-Marxist legacy. He was extremely interested in one of the most important revolutions in the XIXth century. He was excited and afraid of the idea that the human psyche comes with a dark zone called “the unconscious”, and we finally acquired the tools to explore it, like a new language or a forgotten Atlantis.

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Sartre was deeply attracted by this perspective, only it was impossible for him to admit that this unconscious is ruling us, deciding things for us, driving us with dreams and Freudian slips. I wanted to look at the reason why. Sartre actually strongly believed that human beings are ALWAYS free and that they only decide for themselves, alone. This counteraction between the two concepts of unconscious and freedom haunted him his whole life. He never underwent psychoanalysis himself but instead wrote several books about artists and writers to vicariously experience the analysis process. These writings he poetically called “existential psychoanalysis”. He published texts and essays about Baudelaire (Baudelaire), Jean Genet (Saint Genet, Actor and Martyr), Tintoretto (The Sequestered of Venice), Gustave Flaubert (The Family Idiot)… and himself (The Words).

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We could criticize him for being so stubborn to the point of writing an unreadable 3000 pages on Flaubert to “psychoanalyze” him and therefore completely avoid the main concept of psychoanalysis. Ironically, he came to the same conclusion as Freud; a psychoanalysis is endless (even if not useless). Maybe he pursued the question of the unconsciousness not out of intellectual curiosity but fear. Sartre was approaching death at the time of the writing of this colossal book and was using many destructive drugs. It was also the time when he missed the ’68 revolution in Paris and was accused by the youth of being a bourgeois writer; an intellectual who stayed in his comfy office writing on lofty issues while the streets were on fire.

 

As he was emphatically defending freedom he did indeed forget his privileged social milieu (born in the tony Saint-Germain-des-Prés, he received the best education possible). How then, could he dare to say that violence can be justified, if its noble aim is to defend freedom? Or that a slave somehow always has a choice, even if the only one way of escaping is in thought?

 

This graphic novel definitely does not solve these complex philosophical-political problems. My aim was to make them visible by showing the man behind these strong ideas and inconsistencies. “The little man” as his “amour nécessaire”, Simone de Beauvoir, called him affectionately. He was a stubborn man who loved life and people. An Epicurean who loved to travel and party. A radical artist who only used drugs for philosophy and not for literature, as literature had to stay “pure”.

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While criticizing him, we could also give him credit where credit is due. As a young writer, I admit that I was charmed by his obsession for freedom, his relationship with Simone de Beauvoir and their many famous friends. In Sartre, I wanted to show the sexy and sometimes dirty back-stages, distilling anecdotes that are least well-known about him and Simone de Beauvoir. Also to show that it is not completely hopeless to cling to the defense of all kinds of freedoms, even at a time when the world seems to draw the outlines of an existential prison.

See the new Sartre book and stay tuned for artist Anais Depommier’s tour starting next week!

Meet Vincente Segrelles, Creator of ‘The Mercenary’

NBM Graphic Novels will be reprinting all 14 volumes of Vincente Segrelles groundbreaking graphic novel series The Mercenary in updated, remastered volumes.

In anticipation of this exciting release, we’re previewing the supplementary pages that will be included in the back of every volume.

* * * * *

In them I will explain how and why I started The Mercenary, my way of working, anecdotes, and interesting tidbits about the way that I write comics and especially the direct relationship between the issues and my passions. I have illustrated each supplement with many samples my work, and everything that you will see, from the illustrations to the models and sculptures, was done by me.

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The Cult of The Sacred Fire was one of my first introductions to fully painted graphic novels and to this day holds up against the best of them. Segrelles inspired generations to push the art further with this breakthrough book and 40 years later, its looking better than ever. A must-have for any illustrator or storyteller.”

– Jimmy Palmiotti, writer of Harley Quinn; creator of Painkiller Jane

Now Read THIS!

The stellar reviews keep coming in for PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN! Win Wiacek, writing from the UK on his NOW READ THIS blog, has proclaimed the book as a…

“thoughtful and totally immersive glimpse of a life both remarkable and inescapably pedestrian:a reflection on common humanity and day-to-day existence with all the lethal pitfalls they conceal and joys they promise.”

Wiacek also says adds that PRIDE is a “seductively sedate, powerfully evocative and poignantly human-scaled fable of a guy with no hope and the odds stacked against him from the get-go…”

To close out the piece, Win mention this as a great comic to hand to even a non-comics-fan, and a musical pairing suggestion was made – a recommendation to spin Bob Seger’s “Mainstreet” while reading the book. I’ll have to try that myself.

I’d also add another musical pairing – “Tender Years” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, from the cult hit movie soundtrack Eddie & The Cruisers. There’s just the right amount of passion and nostalgia in that song to go along with Andrew’s story. Readers with a keen eye for detail will also notice Eddie Wilson’s iconic cut-off black shirt is the same one worn by Andrew Peters.

To read the review in full, go here.

For more about PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, including how to order, go to NBM Graphic Novels.

Thanks for reading!

-T.J.

 

 

 

 

Rose City Comic Con 2017

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I’m going to be at RCCC again this year! But this time won’t be like my other years tabling there, oh no. For this year I will have in my possession a tome of incredible power. A book containing knowledge beyond imagining. A book about a little robot. And his friend.

It’s LOOK. It’s the book I made. That’s the book I’m talking about.

Hope to see you there!

You can find Jon on Twitter where he posts his silly drawings and sometimes brags about his kids, and you can find out more about LOOK here.