THE BRAIN BEHIND THE COMICS
Born in Verviers, on November 17th, 1933.
Roger Leloup received his training under Jacques Martin (who draws Alix). After serving as long-time assistant he then ended up with Hergé, for whom he executed scenery and technical drawings for 15 years: for example, the modernisation of vehicles in "The Black Island" is his work, along with Nyon train station in "The Calculus Affair", and Carreidas's private jet in "Flight 714". Through hard work and precision he learned the profession. "I have taken over Hergé's biggest fault - the maniacal - but also that you have to believe in your character. I believe in Yoko as he believed in Tintin. And that's why the reader can believe in her too."
There, Roger Leloup also learned the rules a classic comic has to fulfill. It's a tradition he believes in: accuracy of details and credibility of the script, even for the most fantastic stories, are necessary components for a good comic.
"I have a saying that expresses my vision on the profession really well: I am no engineer, but I try to be ingenious.."
On Christmas Night of 1968, Roger Leloup sketched for the first time the delicate face of a beautiful Japanese girl. In 1969, he knocked at the door of the publishing house of Robbedoes. This on the advice of Peyo, with whom he had also worked. Under his arm, he carried his first draft for "Trio of the Unknown", the first Yoko Tsuno adventure. One year later she made her début in a weekly magazine. "Thanks to Yoko I can now forever live the dreams I had when I was a child. She has the courage, the cool-headedness and the faith I never had."
You don't need 26 albums to prove that Roger Leloup can be called one of the greatest contemporary authors of comics - an author that is capable of taking us along to a faraway past, or a planet that exists milions of light-years away. This talented, methodical and precise storyteller has created a world that rings logically from beginning to end, and that is created around a modern heroine. A heroine in the noble sense of the word: human, tolerant, respectful - even to those who have wandered from the straight path.
Above: Roger Leloup appearing on Channel 2. (Image courtesy of Theo Jakiemów)
Below: Roger Leloup together
with Caroline Arssenault. Several years ago, this girl won a Yoko Tsuno look-alike
competition in Canada.
During the 15 year he worked with Herge (Tintin), Roger Leloup learned
how important it is to make his scenery as beautiful and real as possible. Otherwise,
many of the strip`s readers wouldn't like the stories. "I made
the backgrounds. The most difficult part was to merge the style of the characters
and the background."
"The vehicles on earth are exactly the same as real ones. Houses and monuments are photorealistically exact. I base my drawings on buildings I have studied and looked at. Sometimes I even make models to develop more possibilities."
Here is an example of a model that Roger Leloup himself made, with wonderful result. This model was used to elaborate details for the castle in "Prey and Shadow". (Image courtesy of Branca Heus)
"When I write a science-fiction story, then I haven't got any examples. Everything is already there in my mind. So I can draw anything I want and let my fantasy flow forth. But when I'm back on earth, everything has to be exactly as we know it. I love to draw sci-fi. In my mind, I built the cities of Vinea, Shyra on Ixo, the satellite city Kifa... they all are glorious graphical wonders of pure imagination. When I start to draw backgrounds like that, I only draw what I find beautiful."
A moving interview (in French) of Roger Leloup for the programme "Un monde de bulles" of the channel Public Sénat (French TV).
He retrace his career from his father's hairdresser's to Yoko through Jacques Martin and Hergé. He talks about the intensity, the uncertainty of creating,
his job. He also mentions the forthcoming book.
Interview of Roger Leloup by Ilse
Interview of Roger Leloup by Actua BD (in French)
(page 1, page 2, page 3)
Interview of Roger Leloup about Hergé by Ket Paddle (in French)
(1st part, 2nd part)
Interview of Roger Leloup in Spirou for the prepublication of "Khâny's secret" (in French)