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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

5 Questions for... The Last Man Team! | Blog Tour

I've been talking about the recently translated French series, Last Man, for some time now, and teasing that I'd be hosting a Q&A with one of the authors (as well as including it in my Graphic Novel Week, which will be coming soon!).
Well, the tease is over, because one of the creators of the series is dropping in today to talk to us about how Last Man came to be, and the fascinating process of not only working as part of a storytelling team, but then taking that story from one language into another!
Check it out below, and then make sure to see what the Last Man team has to say about their intriguing world in the rest of the blog tour stops!

What inspired the story and the world of the Last Man series?

Balak: Bastien is known in France for his graphic novels, (I wouldn't say they’re artsy fartsy but I'll say it anyway: they’re ARTSY FARTSY – but good ones), but he always want to try different things. After reading Bakuman,  he wanted to make a big, epic manga-ish adventure. The challenge of drawing twenty pages a week, developing characters and drama over hundreds of pages, it's appealing. So he asked me to jump onboard, since he knew I was some kind of an otaku who loves manga storytelling. And Mic was the perfect choice to make the team complete, since he shares the same sensibilities and a similar drawing style with Bastien.  We dug into what excited us as teenagers, the kind of stories that made us fall in love with comics, movies, etc. We decided to go with a tournament story, quite conventional, and to put a little twist in it with that big rude stranger in it, teamed up with that innocent little kid. Bastien wanted to tell a story about a child and his mother, and the relationship between them. And it's more exciting to do this with fights and people chasing after one another!
Bastien Vivès

What's the process like of working together to bring the story to life?

Balak: Picture three kids playing with GI Joes, He-Man and Polly Pocket toys, locked up in a room, making up stories. That sums it up quite accurately. In short, Bastien comes up with the idea of the volume, I storyboard it, come up with dialogue, and Bastien and Mic draw ten pages each; then repeat.

What was the process of translating the book like, and is there anything you're concerned was lost in translation?

Balak: The book is very well translated. The US audience lost a little bit of cursing, but nothing major. It's very faithful. The most important stuff is to keep the names of the characters and the locations right. There is a hidden secret meaning to them....

The series is already established (and acclaimed!) in France, but is there anything you want this new audience to know going in? 

Michaël Sanlaville
Balak: We hope you'll like this universe, because we're currently explanding it in other mediums, video game and animation. It's a very cool and fun experience, and the relationship the French readers have with our characters, Richard, Marianne, etc., is incredible. Some people come at us, saying that they had goosebumps reading this or this bit, that they were tearing up with joy, or rage, or was just plain sad after some event…. That's such a huge gift to have that kind of feedback from the readers. That's why you're doing this job in the first place. We hope American readers will have similar reactions.

And lastly, I like to promote interviews with the author's own words for the book via Twitter, so: Your book (or series) in a Tweet -- the Last Man series (or one of the volumes) in 140 characters or less. 

Balak: To promote the interview, right? Hm. "Last Man is the best thing coming up from France to the US since Lafayette in 1778, says authors, drunk"

Best answer ever.


The Last Man series by Bastien Vivès, Michaël Sanlaville, & Balak 
Richard Aldana is defeating all challenges in the Games, despite his outlandish refusal to use any magic, and relying solely on martial arts. With young Adrian fighting at his side, he's beginning to look like a likely contender for the Royal Cup.

But in a breathtaking twist, everything changes: this world is not what you thought it was, and Richard Aldana is certainly not who he claimed.

Bastien Vives studied illustration and animation at the Ecole des Gobelins. After movie-making classes, he dived into comics, and his first title came out in 2007.

Balak (aka Yves Bigerel) works as a storyboard artist, 2D animator and TV show director in France. He works with Marvel Comics on the new digital Infinite Comics brand, as a storyboard artist (Avengers VS X-men with Mark Waid, Guardians of the Galaxy with Brian M. Bendis, Wolverine: Japan's Most Wanted with Jason Aaron and Jason Latour).

Michael Sanlaville graduated from the Emile Cohl school, and later the Gobelins, after which he followed twin careers in animation (at the Xilam studio) and in comics with Casterman Publishers.

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