TV interview 2016.

La puce à l’oreille

tournée au restaurant La Réplique, à Genève.

La famille Dimitri et L’Afrique

Comment Masha Dimitri va-t-elle prendre la relève de son père, le clown suisse célèbre disparu cet été ? réponse dans un spectacle qui fait une grande tournée romande, « DimiTrigenerations ».
On réunit la famille Dimitri pour en parler, ainsi que de l’Afrique et ses codes de drague. Comment est-ce qu’on se rencontre en Afrique aujourd’hui ? Quels sont les jeux de séduction ? La pièce mise en scène par Marielle Pinsard à St-Gervais, « On va tout dallasser Pamela », a été vue par le peintre et illustrateur Jean-Philippe Kalonji.

Diffusion: jeudi 3 novembre sur RTSUn, à 22h50
Rediffusion: vendredi 4 novembre sur RTSDeux, à 01h25 et 13h30
En replay sur le site RTS Puce à l’oreille dès le 4 novembre 


Press-Zoo magazine

ZOO LE MAG /Cultural magazine  n° 55 -October-november 2014 issue: Zoo

Web press on – Creativity Decoded site

creativity decoded

web exposure 2013©.

TDG newspaper/interview.

Dark horse Blog / Interview on Ningen’s Nightmares

DHC: How different was working on Ningen’s Nightmares, as opposed to 365 Samurai and a Few Bowls of Rice?

JP: The challenge was to write a new story for readers that could be read independently of my previous Dark Horse book, 365 Samurai and a Few Bowls of Rice, but was also linked to the same universe. The format was also a challenge, as it was not a panel per page, as I am used to, but a traditional comic book with panels that US readers are more used to seeing and reading.

DHC: Was it a different process, step by step, working on something for the US market, as opposed to your usual French market?

JP: Yes, it was a bit different. I learned a lot working on Dark Horse art boards, composing with panels in mind, and it was a dream come true for me. I remember being really excited when I received my package of art boards! Company-printed art boards like Dark Horse’s are something artists don’t benefit from here in the European market. The publishing houses don’t ship art boards with their logos and crop marks on them. That system doesn’t exist at all! Normally, comic artists buy their own art board materials.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it could be inconvenient to draw on paper that does not fit with the style you are working in as you ink a page, because the quality of the paper may not suit your style. Those details can make a big difference. You have to change your way of inking. I made myself a test page when I received my art boards from Dark Horse. I was so anxious that my brush pen would react strangely on the paper—but it was so much fun to work on!

Also, I can say that I found it easier to speak with only my editor. Let me explain: In France, you can end up dealing with up to three other people, including your editor! Fortunately, it’s never happened to me, but I’ve heard from close colleagues that working this way can get very confusing. Then sometimes you will receive no feedback at all—it depends on the publishing house.

Working on Ningen’s Nightmares was a big challenge; I can’t lie. I put way too much pressure on myself during the art process. I wrote the script in French, then in English, then I got feedback, then I revised the script, and then I got more feedback! It was the complete opposite of my approach with 365 Samurai, when I was working on the story on my own! The only feedback I had was from some close friends who read the story and told me, “Yes, it’s great! I like the way you draw that scene.” It’s nice to get that kind of response…but you don’t learn anything. You don’t get out of your comfort zone.

Frankly, I can say that I learned a lot with Philip Simon as my editor. He knew how to push me and encouraged me constantly to change some scenes and redraw parts of my story to make it better. He pushed me to get more specific with certain sequences, to get my vision clearer and make the story I wanted to tell easier for readers to understand. I saw some clear differences between my Dark Horse editor and some French editors I’ve worked with during my career. I don’t want to discourage any future comic artists who may dream of being published in France. There are a lot of passionate editors there, too. Most of them are really good.

DHC: 365 Samurai is told in single panels in a very small, Japanese bunko format. What inspired you to go with that format? 

JP: What a great question. When I cofounded Netho Prod. Editions in 2005 with my old pal Stepag, the graphic designer behind the art box set of 365 Samurai, I called him to say that I had an idea. I wanted to do something different—unlike any traditional comic-strip book or French-market bandes dessinées(comics).

I was inspired to commit to that format for 365 Samurai to follow an idea that I’d had in mind from the very beginning of my career. My vision was to draw one panel per day and divide the book into a chapter for each season. Some characters would represent the seasons and have the Japanese names for each season, like Haru, which translates to “spring.” The main character would be Ningen, which translates to “human being,” and he would fight against 365 samurai throughout 365 days. Each day is a battle to move forward on the road of life. I thought his quest was simply everyone’s quest! Not necessarily killing people, of course, but everybody faces problems every day in life, big or small. It’s the same struggle, a fight every day. Thus, I drew 365 panels in total in a black-and-white postcard format, unlike traditional sequential comics. Each panel speaks for itself by using a style of composition and narration similar to that used in cinema. Therefore, reading it is more like watching a movie.

One of the major challenges in telling this story was building in some symbolism using numbers. It is very much in evidence, without using much text, throughout 365 Samurai. The symbolism with the numbers in 365 Samurai and a Few Bowls of Rice was conceived with my old friend Kily San. One night in a bar in Brussels, Belgium (I lived there for about a year and a half), we created the Ningen Bushido. Bushido literally translates as “the way of the warrior.” Bushido is a way of life and a code of moral behavior among the samurai. Its influences come from various religions, such as Buddhism and Shinto. The Zen of Bushido advocates respect for a certain stoicism, contempt for danger and death, absolute loyalty when an individual has given his word, and other codes enforcing honor and courage.

My Ningen Bushido, using numbers to build themes, goes like this: Seven days + seven samurai + seven battles = twenty-one paces on the road to your destiny. Three sacred rituals that must not be neglected are morning, noon, and night. Twenty-four hours under the sky, and you’re closer to finding the truth you seek. 365 is a philosophical number. If you don’t neglect the three sacred rituals, it’s understood that you will fight for six days and then rest the seventh day to sharpen up all five senses again. There are six enemies to be faced, and one sacred friend to find. Other numeric themes include seven reflections, two paths (life or death), two choices (love or hate), four seasons, four directions (north, south, east, and west). 365 days, 365 combats, 365 samurai…and few bowls of rice…

DHC: What can readers expect from Ningen’s Nightmares? 

JP: In this new adventure, Ningen lives through a nightmare. His journey isn’t easy at all. He will grow from his experiences, and he will meet new friends, face several threats, make hard choices, and discover some tough truths. But he’ll see some good times, too. My vow was to force him to grow as a character within a confusing and hard environment. I can’t reveal all the details. You’ll have to read the book! Ningen’s Nightmares is in the same universe as 365 Samurai and a Few Bowls of Rice, but new readers who discover this adventure will be able to read this graphic novel without needing to read the first one. But they may be curious to know what happened to Ningen before this adventure, so I intentionally included some small nods to 365 Samurai in the new book. Also, readers who have already read 365 Samurai will understand that it’s the genesis of Ningen. It’s only the beginning, I hope. I want to draw all the stories I have in mind for him, but doing more volumes, of course, depends upon readers’ responses to Ningen’s Nightmares now.

DHC: Did you learn anything new or come up against any obstacles or challenges when working on Ningen’s Nightmares? 

JP: Probably the most difficult new process was dealing with the page layouts and panels on some pages and some tricky panel-to-panel sequences. I had to keep reminding myself that I couldn’t use a single panel per page. I was given more freedom to compose long fight scenes and play with the narration, with fewer pauses in the story or page breaks.

Obstacles? Oh my God…I dealt with some crazy stuff during the process of making this book. I can say that it was a nightmare for me and perhaps a challenge for my editor. I remember our super-cold winter here in Switzerland, this past winter. The ice storm. We were freezing in our studio. The heat was broken at the time, and I was sick. I had a bad case of the flu, and I was unable to ship new pages because all flights were canceled due to the storm! Another time, one of the packages was stuck in customs, so I had to go pick up the pages personally, sign for them, and then wait until an appropriate hour (due to our time zones) to call my editor and tell him that he wouldn’t receive a package on time after all!

Sometimes—it happens to all of us—you spend the whole day drawing, and you wind up feeling like everything you do is crap! You start to doubt yourself and get stressed. Then I got tendonitis in my drawing hand, which forced me to stop for almost a month! This, of course, forced us to move the release date for the book! Seriously, it was crazy. But the end result is that the book is here. Dark Horse trusted me and my editor, and my dearest wife encouraged me. When I look back on the journey, I’m really happy about it, and I hope the readers will like the book too! Even with all the obstacles, it was so rewarding to work on this project and see the result.

DHC: Is your style inspired by any particular artists that you follow?

JP: Sure: Matthieu Bonhomme, Mike Mignola, Stan Sakai, Andrew Robinson, Michetz, Nicolas Nemiri, Robert Valley, Jeff Smith, Jason Pearson, Jamie Hewlett, Sergio Toppi, Katsuhiro Otomo, Uli Oesterle, Denis Bodart, Neil Ross, Yoann, Ciaa, Pierre Alary, Ted Mathot, Bill Watterson, Charles Schultz, Aude Picault, Emmanuel Guibert, Ashley Wood, Doha, Scott Morse, Ronnie del Carmen, Tadahiro Usegi, Jason Pearson, Jorge Fabri, Mike Avon Oeming, Kyle Baker, Dave McKean, Adam Hughes, Frank Miller, Peter De Sève, Olivier Vatine, Claire Wendling, Manuele Fior, Oren Haskins, Bill Presing, Enrique Fernandez, and the Black Frog.

—J. P. Kalonji

Behind the panels / interview -jp kalonji by Richard Gray – Australia




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