This is the last stop on the tour! I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in the Last Man (The Stranger & The Royal Cup) blog tour and got the opportunity to submit interview questions to its creators: Bastien Vivès, Michaël Sanlaville, and Balak. The second book is out this month and it’s available for purchase. Here’s a synopsis:
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.
– Last Man: The Royal Cup from First Second
Without further ado, the interview!
The Last Man series is originally a French series that’s now being translated into English. Now that you have a second English book under your belts that’s releasing in June 2015, what’s the translation experience like? Do you feel that what you wanted conveyed originally has made the transition successfully?
Last Man is already translated in Spanish, Italian, German, and Korean. The good thing with the English translation is that we understand a tad bit better this language than the other ones (except for Italian). We are very pleased with the translation. Actually, there was some clever choices made by the translator we liked more in the English one. For example, Gregorio is more consistent in his way of speaking. In the French version he is too rude and curses almost as much as Richard, and that was a bad move from us. The guys at First Second may get the books better than us, ha ha! And, let’s face it, English is such a beautiful language. We are so intoxicated with American culture that sometime, a line comes in English first in our mind… So it almost feels “natural” to read Last Man in English. The title of the book is “Last Man,” not “Le Dernier Homme,” after all.
There is clearly some manga influences in the series and I’ve seen you guys discuss that in some interviews. Are there specific manga and/or anime that influenced this particular series? Also, what are your favourite mangas and/or animes? I grew up watching Dragon Ball Z, Digimon and Card Captor personally.
Balak: I… kinda liked Card Captor Sakura too, I must confess. But if I’d have to make a top three list of anime and mangas OF ALL TIME… Cowboy Bebop, Tokyo Godfathers and Space Adventure Cobra for anime. Last Man, to me, lives under the heavy influence of manga like Berserk and Fist of the North Star. And, oddly, Mitsuru Adachi’s work too.
Michaël: I love Dragon Ball. It’s the best.
Bastien: Animation-wise, I’m more a Disney, Hanna-Barbera guy. I love Miyazaki’s movie, though. And Fist of the North Star is one of the best comic books ever made.
I enjoyed reading the first two books, The Stranger and The Royal Cup, not just in terms of the story and pacing but also the art. It’s loose, fluid and lively which makes the fight scenes great to watch unfold. Have any of you practiced martial arts personally? How do you approach the action sequences that are very much a part of the book’s DNA?
Bastien: I practiced judo when I was a kid. The art of falling!
Balak: I don’t do sports. At all. I just watched a lot of action movies and anime.
Michaël: I’ve spent fifteen years as a Boy Scout. That counts as a martial art, right?
For most people, Aldana is the mystery we need to crack, but since book one, Marianne has always intrigued me especially as a single mother with great deal of agency who’s also got more going on than what we see. What inspired and influenced the creation of Marianne?
Balak: Bastien’s Oedipus Complex.
Lastly, you all bring different skills to this project and it appears to be a very collaborative experience. What are some things you’ve learned from one another, whether it be productive habits, strengths that offset weaknesses and so forth?
Michaël: I’ve learned a lot on scriptwriting and storytelling.
Balak: Bastien and Mic have two very different ways to draw, but it doesn’t show at all in the books, that’s like black magic or something. They make things look easy, but they are incredibly hard at work. I’m learning just by trying to keep up with these two devils.
Bastien: We learned to share our wealth, women, and alcohol. And we discovered unsuspected erogenous zones.
Balak: That too.
Thank you, First Second, for hooking this up, and to the guys for taking the time to answer my questions. The first two books in the series, The Stranger & The Royal Cup, are available now. I enjoyed reading the first two books and will follow up with a review on the site soon.
Bastien Vivès 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, and Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted with Jason Aaron and Jason Latour).
Michaël Sanlaville graduated from the Emile Cohl school, and later the Gobelins, after which he followed twin careers in animation, at the Xilam studio, and comics with Casterman Publishers.