[In this installment of our series of Editors Notes, Kim Thompson interviews himself (in a format he's dubbed "AutoChat") about Isle of 100,000 Graves by Jason & Fabien Vehlmann, now available to pre-order from us and coming soon to a comics shop near you. – Ed.]
I was surprised to see that the new Jason book was written by someone else. It concerned me a bit, and then I read the story and it reads like every other Jason book! If you hadn't told me it was written by someone else I'd have assumed it was pure Jason. Did Jason heavily adapt it or something?
No. The only thing Jason changed in the entire script was one panel: Fabien wrote the last shot of Gwenny to have a tear trickling down her cheek, and Jason decided to keep her expression more blank and ambiguous.
That's amazing. The whole book is just so… Jason.
Yeah, Fabien Vehlmann is a great French comics writer who works with a lot of people, and he has these chameleonic skills. The great Belgian comics editor Yvan Delporte (who shepherded Spirou through its best years and wrote The Smurf King) called him "the René Goscinny of the third millennium" and it seems appropriate: Goscinny was also a virtuoso at switching his style to match each cartoonist, if you read Asterix and Lucky Luke you'd never know it was the same guy. Vehlmann wrote the 7 Psychopaths book for the Sean Phillips-drawn BOOM! book, too.
The story is, Fabien and Jason met and got to talking, Fabien told him he had an idea for a book he thought Jason could really make something out it, Jason told him to write it, and he did.
One of the benefits of working in Jason's abstract style is that something that could be really, really gross (the academy for torture) is pretty benign.
Yeah, although much of that is how cleverly Fabien keeps the grisly stuff off panel. If you read closely the only torture you see actually going on is the scene where they're beating the bell with the guy's head inside it, which is sort of cute. And the heads all get chopped off off-panel, you just see the severed heads rolling into the panel with funny expressions on their faces. As Bill Gaines would say, it's all done in good taste! Oddly, it's arguably the most kid-friendly Jason book. I mean, it's less violent than Harry Potter.
I don't have many questions. It's just another great Jason book. Reminded me a little of True Grit.
Yeah, the plucky, mouthy little girl. I think it's just a standard character, really. You could probably just as well cite Addie Pray from Paper Moon.
Or Pippi Longstocking, from Jason's neck of the woods.
Kinda, although Pippi is Swedish and Jason Norwegian. Us Scandinavians hate it when you Americans confuse our dinky little countries.
It seems appropriate for this to be the shortest of these interviews, Jason himself being a man of few words.
What's next for Jason?
Actually if you go to Jason's blog, Cats Without Dogs, he's been keeping his fans apprised in great deal as to the progress of his next book, Athos in America. He's already told me what his next book will be, but I'm not supposed to tell. And he hopes to visit the U.S. again in the next year or two.