Just yesterday I thought: this is almost like going back to my roots after a long journey. At least when it comes to painting and comics. I have to think real hard and surely I don't remember correctly... my first comic, that is. It may have been The Smurfs, it could have been Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse or a free comic from a local bank which they always handed out to young "clients". I didn't have an account, but my grandma always took me with her to the bank and once a month or so I got that comic. Later I got Asterix & Obelix and Batman. A rather odd present from my parents - they don't like comics at all, except for Asterix & Obelix which they somewhat consider to be of cultural importance. Well - at least the old issues were really good, the latter are embarassing to read.
In my teens I worked at the local library and they had a few other comics as well, but all were a bit similar to Asterix & Obelix - only later I would get to know these comics or that style as franco-belgian comics. Still, in looking back and realizing just how young I was and what little comics were available to me at that time, I have to say it's a bit impressive that I recognized the styles at all. After I switched school I got my hands on american comics and that was around the time independent publishers were a big deal in the states, Image was very new at that time and slowly comicbook artists emerged with a different, more personal style - Joe Madueira, Mike Mignola etc. . Aaand it was the aera of variant covers *laughs*... ah, good times. In between my love for shiny, glow-in-the-dark, foil-embossed and whatnot comics, I never forgot about franco-belgian comics, but they were rare even back then. And compared to imported american comics? Expensive, so I couldn't buy them. And.. they were also a bit... uh... frightening. I mean... the comic-book-shop had a lot of them! But most of them in the 18+ section and that wasn't exactly of my interests. I wanted dark fantasy, maybe horror, something like that, but not big tits. I read Möebius, Valerian & Veronique - ach, I can't remember all the titles! But again, those titles were hard to come by and then manga started to be a big trend. My first manga? Vampire Princess Myu. The style was sooo different from what I was used to. Akira and Battle Angel Alita (or Gunm, if you prefer), Gon... those reminded me of the european comics. For years I would read manga and american comics.. a little franco-belgian as well. I must have spend a fortune on those...
Lately, I've noticed, that my interest in manga is declining. Most stories are... bland. Inking style is stil.. hm.. beautiful, but I'm beginning to miss something special. Xmas last year I pulled a comic from my bookshelf, I had bought it, because it had an impressive cover, duh. The inside pages were impressive as well, but, the story? While still original and all, laughable - yet entertaining. It was also the first time, that I saw a traditional european comic merging handdrawn art with computer effects. Friends recommended "Chronicles of an Immortal" in comic-book form and I didn't hesitate at all to buy the artbook as well. I simply love the style. It may not be perfect, but I love it.
I'm slowly but surely buying more and more of those comics. I'm currently reading "The Unicorn" by Gabella and Jean and "Arawn" by Le Breton and Grenier. Do I recommend these? Well... no, not really - the stories aren't remotely as well written as those of "older" franco-belgian style comic books I read years ago, but do they entertain me? Oh yes! Do they offer a feast for the eyes? Certainly. It's also funny... both artists were influenced by american artists and at least one of then was influenced by manga! The former states Todd McFarlane as a main influence and the latter seems to sleep on artbooks by Brom and Royo. I tried to paint in a similar style or rather a similar technique as Anthony Jean who draws "The Unicorn". It didn't quite work out, seems as if my journey - although it has brought me back to were I started from whenI began painting - isn't complete yet. I still have to find my way.
What I can say: I feel more comfortable with what I'm doing, even If I have a lot left to learn and understand.