an interview with Patrick Saradar!

Hello people,
As you know, we have commissioned comics artist Patrick Saradar for the artwork of our new album (which, by the way, should be out early next year!). We had a small chat with him on anything from comics to coffee painting to Lovecraft. And yes, these are his drawings!

Patrick, tell us a bit more about you.

I was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and started reading comics and drawing when I was about 2. I moved to Switzerland with my family in the early 1980s, because of the Lebanese civil war. I spent the rest of my childhood in Geneva, reading comics such as Strange, and watching cult movies such as Alien, Blade Runner, Mad Max, The Thing, Re-animator and... yes, Ferris Bueller's Day Off! All this led me to illustration.

How did you learn to draw?

I was self-taught at first, but when the time came to choose an occupation, I decided to learn to draw professionally. I went to Geneva’s École des Arts Décoratifs and then to the École Émile Cohl in Lyon, France, where I studied acrylic painting and, above all, gouache. Gouache is my favourite technique. It is more difficult to master, maybe, but you can dilute it with water to paint in watercolour, or you can work with it as a substance. I also discovered charcoal painting, which makes it possible to play with light and shadow to better effect. Oh, and I also learned to paint with mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, coffee and other food items… Yes, our teacher really was into modern art... But I loved it! I felt like a child again!

I also taught myself various comics styles: manga, American, Franco-Belgian... you name it.

Has your work been exhibited?

Yes, I had the pleasure of seeing my drawings exhibited at the Galerie Osmoz, in Bulle (CH) in 2006, and at the Maison d’Ailleurs, in Yverdon (CH), at the excellent Lovecraft exhibition (“L’expo qui rend fou”) that was held there in 2008.

How would you describe your style? What are your main themes?

I draw in a realistic style. My settings are either the city or the forest. It’s not a conscious choice, but I always end up drawing one of these two!

My recurrent theme is memory – that is, not only memory as such, but also consciousness, remembrance… the five senses, and how they can be modified or augmented by psychotropic drugs. I also like to play with the idea that humans are confronted with concepts or entities that are beyond their understanding.

What inspires you?

I’m fascinated by the arts, by the fact that a human being can devote a life to creating works of art, whatever they may be. When I draw, my inspiration can come from plastic arts, a book, a movie, a painting… and I’m a literary bulimic! I couldn’t imagine a life without books. I read everything and anything.

But I would say my main source of inspiration is music. Music is the love of my life! Actually, I feel unfortunate that I had to concentrate on trying to master one art only; I had to choose between drawing and music, and I chose drawing. I would have like to have mastered both. That’s why I’m fascinated by someone like Stanley Kubrick, who, before becoming the great director we all know, was in his youth an unmatched chess tactician, a jazz drummer and a photographer. This is sheer genius!

Do you listen to music while you draw?

Oh yes! This is great for inspiration. I couldn’t find ideas without music. I know many comics artists who draw while listening to music, but no musician who creates music by reading comics! When the music is good, it can put you in a special state of mind, it can create the right atmosphere for drawing on paper. I can listen to anything from The Horrors to Devo to Goldfrapp… to Ptolem! I like listening to your tracks when I draw, that’s why I agreed to make the artwork for your new album! I also listen to many film soundtracks.

Oh, we also love soundtracks! What are your favorites?

Heat, Psycho, Blade Runner… More recently, the Inception soundtrack is quite good. I could also mention works from Basil Poledouris, Christopher Young, John Barry… and anything from Elliot Goldenthal.

Did any movies inspire your drawing?

Not so much. Maybe Ghost In the Shell, Shining, Possession by Zulawski, and the horror flick Don’t Look Back, to some extent.

You said you are a literary bulimic: which writers do you read?

Lovecraft, of course. Phillip K. Dick, Arthur Machen, Aldous Huxley, William Burroughs… 19th century literature, such as Tolstoi, Dostoyevsky, Maupassant, Conan Doyle… As for the more recent writers, I love Thomas Pynchon and Umberto Eco.

Getting back to comics, what are your favorites?

Gosh, there are so many of them! Those that really inspired me include: La Vengeance d'Arn, by Jean-Pierre Dionnet and Jean-Claude Gal. It was my first visual impact and was a defining moment for me. Before reading that, I found comics were, let's say, entertaining… but this all changed when I saw Gal’s drawings. They have such power! From a visual point of view, they’re the most beautiful comics in the world. Every board drawn by Gal is a masterpiece – period. This is as good as anything by Caravaggio. This is what decided me to devote myself to drawing rather than to music.

Rork, by Andreas. Andreas is a real outsider in the world of comics; I’ve never read something even approaching his work. His scenarios are very, very strange... a bit like David Lynch. Reading Andreas’ stories led me to try to widen my ideas when writing a scenario, to avoid falling into clichés and the traps of easiness that we often find in recent publications.

I could also mention Akira, by Katsuhiro Otomo: a one-of-a-kind on all levels, scenario and visuals. But it’s mainly the visual rhythm of its pages that mostly inspired me.

From Hell, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, of course! Alan Moore is my favorite writer, so I had to mention this outstanding graphic novel which is so rich in references. A major work of the 9th art!

I could go on forever but will finish with Moebius. I’m always impressed by how he can modify his style in each of his works! For me, he really is the perfect artist. Even though he is an important name in the world of comics, he never hesitates to question himself at each new work. It’s a beautiful lesson in humility.

Several graphic novels have been translated into films, e.g. Watchmen, just to mention one of them, written by your favorite writer, Alan Moore. How do you feel about this?

I’m not a huge fan of this. The Watchmen movie was ok, very close to the graphic novel, but still something gets lost in the translation. I would say the best example is Ghost in the Shell: there, the animated film went beyond the original comics, which is quite something! I mean, creating a comic on such existential questions, and not sounding pretentious… who can beat that?

Have you been working in the film medium?

Not by means of my drawings so far, but, as it happens, as an actor! In 2003, I played a secondary role in Le Bon Moment, with Pascal Bernet, a great actor. I also co-wrote, co-directed and took the main role in the short CRAZY People. The guy who was meant to feature left us at the last moment so I had to fill in. This was a really good experience.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on two graphic novels. The first is a SF story, while the second is more horror/fantasy in tone and inspired by Lovecraft.

We look forward to reading them. Thanks, Patrick! And keep up the good work! 
People, you can order Patrick’s drawings at his email address, saradar7@hotmail.com