The London Super Comic Con guest interviews continue with artist Yanick Paquette. Originally from Quebec, he has been working in US-published comics since 1994. His past projects include the New 52 Swamp Thing and Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer.
He is currently working on the much-hyped graphic novel Wonder Woman: The Trial of Diana Prince, authored by Grant Morrison.
How does it feel to work on such an iconic character as Wonder Woman?
I have in fact already worked on Wonder Woman in my early days. She was my first monthly, and at that time the goal was to survive the deadline while learning my craft. Although this work was very formative I can’t say I’m totally at peace with the result. So I’m glad I can redeem myself with the character in a context that is maybe the opposite of the monthly book.
What were your artistic inspirations and influences for this project?
After two years of nightmare darkness on Swamp Thing, I felt like using Wonder Woman as a rebound of sort. I want it to be as bright, even white as possible. I wanted it to be elegant and sensual, graceful.
Can you describe your creative process? – that is, what are the steps you take from concept to finished page?
It’s all very organic. If I work digitally I can open a Photoshop document with the script by my side and just hammer it down to what I want. So there’s not a real pencil stage, or inks, it’s just one long process of refinement of the visual idea.
You’ve previously worked on a lot of story arcs and single issues of ongoing series. How is working on a standalone graphic novel different, both artistically and logistically?
Actually, Grant [Morrison] is sending me fragments at the moment, so it is a bit like working monthly. I’m not even sure how the points of the story will unfold.
A lot of the female characters you draw are very physically attractive and – being superheroes – are pretty well-built, too. How do you draw the line between sexy and sexualized, in general and for The Trial of Diana Prince in particular?
It is a balancing act between drawing upon my own attraction to the female form and keeping my exploitative side in check to remain true to the characters. Maybe because my influences are more European in this respect (e.g. Manara), I often felt like American comics, especially in the 90s, were using such iconically simplified body shapes for their women that they were losing almost all sensuality. For Wonder Woman I intend to play on the contrast of Paradise Island filled with homogenized top model shapes and the real world with its diversity of female (and male) shapes, all equally beautiful in their own right!
Coming from a Francophone Canadian background, were the comics you were exposed to mostly American, Francophone/European, or from elsewhere (such as manga)? How did this exposure influence both your artistic style and your approach to, and entrance into, the industry?
There was very little manga in my reading diet as a kid. But indeed, I can’t think of anywhere else that is more at the crossroads of American and European culture than the province of Quebec in Canada. I was exposed to mostly Franco-Belgian bande dessinée at first and US comics in my teens, and I must have carried over some European storytelling values. The American comics of today have become a very hybrid sort of artistic mix. So maybe my cultural upbringing prepared me for it somehow.
I’ve noticed that you actively interact with fans on social media; what made you decide to engage with your public to this extent (unlike some artists and writers who choose to pull back from Twitter, Facebook, etc)? Has it influenced the way in which you approach your work?
I’m just an outgoing guy. Some artists choose to avoid the inevitable haters that lurk all over cyberspace. I totally understand that choice – it’s probably wiser too. But for me, it helps me to remember there’s a bunch of people awaiting my hard work and that my efforts are not in vain.
And finally, who are your art heroes? What were your artistic inspirations and influences for this project?
There’s obviously a good dose of Kevin Nowlan in there. But also Hughes, Manara, Jim Lee, Mark Schultz, Mignola, Williamson, Wrightson, P. Craig Russell, and a bunch of others, of course.