HELLO, MR. HULOT - Giveaway!
I have a treat for you today. HELLO, MR. HULOT is not your average picture book. It's based on the comedy act by French treasure, Jacques Tati. Born in 1907, you can see an example of his work in "Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot" or "Mr. Hulot's Holiday":
Click Here if the video above gives you any trouble.
Jump ahead several decades and David Merveille has translated the sublime comedy of Mr. Hulot into fantastic graphic images of 6 vignettes on a facing page with a charming resolution on the left after each page turn. Marveille is genius at choosing the just right moments to exemplify the humor and irony in each scene. Children will love the humor, while adults will cling to subtle, mature jokes that children won't catch. All said, this book is now a treasure too!
David is French, mais bien sur, so I am thrilled to have him visit today via a tranlator at NorthSouth...
Q. David - How did you first hear about Jacques Tati?
A. My first encounter with Tati was a disaster. I was 14 years old and was forced to watch "PlayTime“ on TV that night as it was considered a classic. After a quarter hour I couldn't take any more and escaped. I was so bored as I had the impression that nothing was happening. Luckily, a few years later I had a chance to reassess when I saw "Les vacances de monsieur Hulot“ (The Holidays of Mr. Hulot) and became a huge fan.
(Notice how the before and after works...and click to see the image larger in a new window.)
Q. What is Monsieur Tati or Mr. Hulot's status in French culture?
A. For all Francophiles Tati remains one of the biggest (not just in size) stars of the French screen. Even though he only made 6 feature films, he left an indelible mark on the film industry.
Q. How did you tackle this daunting project? And how did publishers respond to it?
A. My first book with the character of Monsieur Hulot "Le jacquot de monsieur Hulot“ (The Grey Parrot of Mr. Hulot) was published in France in 2006. For me it was clear that he had great potential in a children's book. First of all, his recognizable silhouette, which already existed on the magnificent posters by Pierre Etaix. The visual humour of the character, the love of detail, the architecture, all that for me, made him pre-destined to be a hero, or rather anti-hero, for children. My publisher, as well as Jaques Tati’s heirs, supported and encouraged me. They have been enthusiastic, given me confidence and some very good advice.
Q. I love your seemingly simple graphic images and will be showing off your work to students in my Design class at Hollins University this summer. How do you approach a piece? Do you choose shapes first, colors first?
A. When I was a child I read, like most Belgian children, Herge's "Tintin“ comics. A crucial influence! I am an heir of the "clear line" style. Sometimes, this feature of mine disappears but I always have the desire to stay legible, to keep my style, to stay true to myself.
For example "Hello Monsieur Hulor“ is a comic book. I went back to this style to keep the readability, but for my next book, I've been using acrylic and less clear strokes. For me, every book has to have its own style, where the drawings service the story. What is also important is to reinvent oneself, to keep the pleasure of creating alive.
Q. Mr. Hulot's humor is so subtle. How did you choose the moments to illustrate?
A. I submerged myself in Tati's universe, his subtle wit, his burlesque humour, the psychology of the Hulot’s character, which all has a certain poetry to it.
Q. Were these all scenes from his movies, or did you make them up?
A. I amuse myself by concealing references to the films in my drawings. I smuggle in certain interiors, characters or vehicles. I do not set out to adapt the films or specific jokes but rather invent new stories and new jokes in the style of the master.
Q. What do you think Jacques Tati would think of your creation which honors Mr. Hulot in such a lovely way?
A. Jaques Tati explicitly expressed the wish that his character Hulot would appear in films by other directors, as was done by François Truffaut in "domicile conjugal“. Therefore I think he would be pleased to see that his character is still alive and kicking in 2014. I also think he would be happy to see children laughing while reading my books. But I should also add that Tati was one of the greatest perfectionists of all time anywhere! I'm sure he would have had plenty to say about my work. I try to rise to his level but it is of course impossible. I try to do my best without feeling the pressure of Jacques Tati looking over my shoulder while I’m drawing. That would be counter-productive and paralyzing. One should not be afraid to develop the character Hulot, to modernize it a bit. It would be a mistake to stay fixed on one form.
Q. Do you have more Mr. Hulot books forthcoming - is this an ongoing passion for you? Or do you have other works-in-progress?
A. I have published around forty books for children, designed a number of posters, done illustrations for the press and advertising, and I also work in animation. At the moment I am working on a new picture book called "Monsieur Hulot à la plage“ (Monsieur Hulot at the Beach). He returns to the set of the black and white movie from 1953 "Les vacances de monsieur Hulot“ (The Holidays of Mr. Hulot). It's in the same retro style, same decor as "Hello Monsieur Hulot“ but like in my other books, new stories, new gags and as always, hopefully in the master’s sprit.
David, thanks so much for stopping by!
The kind folks at NorthSouth have agreed to give one free copy of HELLO, MR. HULOT to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US/Canada to win. Enter below.
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Photo credit Association Clair Obscur.