Jean-Yves Ferri et Didier Conrad: Joint interview

Jean-Yves Ferri et Didier Conrad: Joint interview 2017-10-09T12:48:42+02:00

Tell us about the early beginnings of this latest album.

J-Y.F : Compared to the first two albums that we devised together (Asterix and the Picts, 2013 / The Missing Scroll, 2015), our work methods were now established. Back then, the only thing I knew about Didier was his work. Asterix brought us together! I should point out we live over 8,000 km apart, and most of our contact is by email, telephone or Skype! It wasn’t easy at first, but we know how to deal with it now, and working together is getting much easier.

D.C : We knew that this latest adventure needed a destination beyond the frontiers of Gaul, and Italy – which Jean-Yves first suggested – very soon seemed the obvious choice. That was the first stage. Then we had to find a good story. Jean-Yves is a talented writer, it didn’t take him long to come up with the idea of a journey across Italy in the form of a multistage race. Once the synopsis had been approved by Albert Uderzo, Anne Goscinny and Éditions Albert René, I just had to wait for Jean-Yves’s storyboard, and my work started: long sleepless nights drawing these world-renowned characters. I’m not going to lie, it can be exhausting and stressful – I don’t want to let down the readers, or Albert. Mistakes aren’t an option!

So how would you describe your collaboration with Albert Uderzo?

J-Y.F : Our collaboration has become very fluid as we’ve gone from one album to the next. When we showed him the first pages of our first album, Albert made some comments, both on the story and the illustrations. For this latest album, he just dotted an “i”, literally, because the only thing wrong was a missing dot on the “i” of “Transitalique” on the cover page! Other than that, he was very supportive for the whole project: his contributions are more encouragement than criticism.

D.C : That’s right, after three albums we can start believing we’re learning to appropriate not only René Goscinny style but also Albert Uderzo’s instantly recognisable drawings. They’re both great masters. We’re immensely proud to be taking over their adventures.

Did you have any particular problems with this album?

J-Y.F : The main constraint is time! Two years isn’t very long to put together an Asterix album. In the early stages you think “I’ll never make it”. The other difficulty is getting all of Albert and René’s complex teeming world into a story that mustn’t go over 44 pages. Those are the specifications but, when it comes down to it, the whole exercise is very stimulating.

D.C : I think I have an advantage over quite a few people in my line of work because – just like Albert – I love drawing horses, even though it’s very difficult. So when I was working on this 37th album I was in my element! I also wanted to perfect the little details in this album. Each page took about 30 hours’ work, compared to 20 on the two previous albums.

J-Y.F : I’m sure readers are going to be blown away by your drawings!

D.C : And you’ll definitely have them laughing with your jokes!