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As good as it gets

SANJAY KUMAR

The writer and illustrator ought to share a chemistry, says Mako.


"In France, comic book illustration is the ninth art," proclaimed Mako, the popular French comic book illustrator at an interface with the public at the French Information Resource Centre in Delhi recently.

Mako has been an exponent of the popular genre of bond de scene (crime thriller), which has a wide readership across age and class in the Francophone regions of the world.

He was here in connection with the launch of his new collaborative work Air-Conditionne (`Air Conditioned'), with his long-time writer-friend Didier Daeninckx.

"The illustrator enjoys equal status as a writer in France," explained Mako in reply to questions about the role and relevance of illustrations in comics, graphic novels and other forms of creative writing. "It has been the wonderful rapport with Daeninckx that has worked for us," confessed this teacher of Fine Arts in a Technical high school in France. Elaborating on his long and fruitful association with Daeninckx, he traced his fancy from the days of his father reading him excerpts from comic books in the evenings.

Mako observed, "The 1970s and `80s were indeed the boom period for comics. An illustrator had to visualise a full-length book of 40 pages. That was a real challenge. However the writer and the illustrator ought to share an intriguing chemistry."

It has often been pointed out that the uniqueness of Mako's illustrations is that it is sans colours. Having done his entire work in black and white Mako quoted Satyajit Ray for his defence. "Ray once said that `simplicity is the strength of a story and its illustration'."

Talking at length about the challenging ordeal of the visualizations of a narrative, Mako opined, "The charm of a pictorial narrative is to capture the moment to begin a story. The rest follows... there are no readymade recipes. Nevertheless in comics one has no choices". In the duo's popular work, the `The Train of the Forgotten ones' Mako's designs were a perfect foil for Daeninckx's storyline.

However he resents the current trend of illustrating which tends to be a photographic capture of the narrative.

"There is no creativity in it. To work in a pre-determined space is to shackle the imagination," he asserted.

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