We meet Frédéric Brrémaud and Federico Bertolucci

We meet Frédéric Brrémaud and Federico Bertolucci

With the publication of the graphic novel LOVE - Il Cane, by saldaPress, the two authors Frédéric Brrémaud and Federico Bertolucci explain the work behind the creation of the work nominated for the Eisner Awards. The latest published volume of the acclaimed comic series arrives in Italy in a hardcover version of which you can find our review here, and we took this opportunity to meet the artists who signed it.

Com was the comic series LOVE born? What inspired the making of LOVE - Il Cane? What is the message that the two authors wanted to send through their work? We tell you about it here, thanks to the meeting with Frédéric Brrémaud and Federico Bertolucci.

A ten-year collaboration

Frédéric Brrémaud (aka Brrémaud only) is a comic screenwriter born in Seoul who for several years, however, has been collaborating fruitfully with various Italian authors. The works signed by Bréemaud have seen him in fact alongside Stefano Turconi, Lorendo De Felici, Giuseppe Manunta, Luciano Bernasconi and Federico Bertolucci. The screenwriter is also a lover of the animal world and has therefore created numerous comics and graphic novels over the years whose protagonists were creatures of different animal species, probably publishing most of his works with this theme together with Bertolucci. With the Tuscan illustrator he has in fact created Piccole Storie, comics for children with a wildlife background, but also the acclaimed LOVE series, which has been nominated several times for the Eisner Awards.

Bertolucci, in this regard, boasts a large number of nominations for the prestigious award in Italy. Artist who has collaborated with Disney, Dreamworks, Mondadori, Dupuis, Mattel, Panini and many others, has received various awards in Italy and around the world and together with Frédéric Brrémaud has recently also signed Brindille, a graphic novel published by saldaPress. His collaboration with the screenwriter clearly bears the durability of time: the two authors have been working together, in fact, for more than ten years, obtaining great success and the favor of critics above all thanks to the LOVE series.

What is LOVE

These are graphic novels that bring stories from the animal world to paper, each time exploring the stories of different protagonist creatures belonging to different species. The peculiarity of these comics lies in their being "silent": in fact, they do not contain any dialogue and no trace of onomatopoeia, giving engaging stories that can be "read" only by admiring the illustrations. Specifically, those narrated in the graphic novels of LOVE, are plots that seem to take a cue from the documentary style, showing us the animals in their natural environments, engaged in their daily struggle for survival. We then asked the two authors if there is in detail a documentary that inspired them in the making of LOVE - The Dog and Frédéric Brrémaud answered us in this regard:

Yes and no. In the sense that I watch a lot of documentaries, but when I do I tend to eliminate the volume, because in the descriptions that are made the animals are excessively humanized. Some time ago I saw one, for example, which was a total cliché: there was talk of the lion as a king who dominated a kingdom from his throne, while the life of the lion is very different from how we imagine it. So yes, I am passionate about documentaries, but more than anything else I am passionate about nature and animals and I avoid those productions in which they are anthropomorphized. As for LOVE - The Dog, I have seen some documentaries on Australia, but specifically we had to study above all to understand how to make these animals coexist in the same space. We therefore set it in the areas around the Murray River, where kangaroos, platypuses, koalas live, so we tried to remain as realistic as possible, even if these animals do not meet so often, they do not always share the same territory.

A study that involved not only the screenplay component, but also the artistic sector, in order to create illustrations as closely as possible to the nature of the graphic novel's protagonist. Federico Bertolucci expressed himself in these terms in this regard:

I concentrated a lot on colors, such as the red of the Australian soil for example, but I studied trees above all. I realized that there are a lot of them, like eucalyptus trees, and it is possible to find them also in Italy so I observed them wandering around some parks and started making a couple. In reality, then I relied heavily on inventiveness: it is often said that LOVE is a realistic graphic novel, but it is largely the result of memory and imagination. To make a naturalistic illustration you need to read up thoroughly to know exactly the existing flora and fauna, but in this case we do fiction, we tell a story that is not true and in which we need to illustrate the same subjects over and over again , therefore we may also tend to simplify some figures.

“Seeing” the animal voice, with Frédéric Brrémaud and Federico Bertolucci

Regarding the main peculiarities of LOVE, namely the absence of balloons and human figures, the two authors said I decided to continue on this path also for the next possible volumes. Words would in fact tend to denaturalize this graphic novel, as Frédéric Brrémaud reiterated:

LOVE with balloons would change too much. And if we were to talk too much about man, it would become a classic comic, like what everyone else does. Over time, however, there has certainly been a change in the attitude used for the realization of LOVE, especially in the desire to tell: at the beginning we only wanted to show nature and its beauties, then over the course of these ten years we have tried to also show how much nature is in danger. My attitude is also becoming a bit "militant" in this sense, because I believe that it is no longer enough just to show how beautiful animal creatures are, but to tell something so that we can talk about them. Surely there are others who make a greater social denunciation, we speak of nature in these terms because it is what we do best: for example in LOVE - The Dog we show the beauties of Australia, but we also tell about a world that almost does not exist. it is more (if we think of the fires that destroyed everything) and that it is destined to disappear if we do not do something.

It is precisely on the aspect of animal feelings and relationships that LOVE sometimes focuses, giving an insight into the daily life of the creatures that populate our planet and their relationship with the world and with others. In this regard, Federico Bertolucci clarified some points:

We have not transferred human emotions into animals. Maybe some expressions are a bit exaggerated, but just as the expressions of men in comics are exaggerated in general. But there are no "human emotions" and "non-human emotions", they are the same for everyone. An animal is afraid as a man is afraid, an animal falls in love like a man falls in love, feels pity, feels joy, in short, we all interface in the same way with this world, some more with some of the five senses and some with others. Therefore we should not be surprised when an animal has feelings that we consider to be purely human. It is clear then that in nature you have to eat in order not to be eaten, you have to survive, but also in humans the feelings of love and pity persist when there is no hunger. When there is hunger, man too is able to eat another man.

Frédéric Brrémaud, again on the question of feelings in animals, then continued:

In LOVE - The Dog perhaps the feelings are more evident because the dog is one of the closest animals to the 'man. I remember that on my parents' farm there was a dog who, when a lamb was about to be born, came home barking to warn us; he protected other endangered animals and did not approach smaller wild animals. This is because he was also trained to behave like this, so the dog sometimes has human attitudes precisely because he lives with us. After all, we humans are animals too, we are only higher up the ladder, even if it does not mean that it is the most beautiful place, and the dog in my opinion is not very far away.

How I tell you about the animal world, between reality and fiction

In our review of the graphic novel LOVE - The Dog we found a sort of documentary imprint applied to narration. Federico Bertolucci, however, clarifies the fictional nature of the graphic novel signed together with Brrémaud, in which elements of real ecosystems are declined in their stories through the imagination:

The documentary often makes above all shots from afar, in our chance, on the other hand, the narration follows the protagonists closely through the classic canons of cinema and comics: for example, there are close-ups, reverse shots, with the illustration of the comic we decide what to show, while those who make a documentary maybe sometimes he has to be content with what he can get back. We decide what to make our characters do, it's a comic fiction.

The sentiments narrated by means of Bertolucci's beautiful images, however, are real. Something that we tend to forget is in fact the ability of animal creatures to be able to base their behavior also on emotions, and not only on simple instinct, something that both authors remind us through a clear declaration of intent:

The "romantic" culture has perhaps influenced everyone a little, so in general when we talk about love we always think of the love between a man and a woman, or at most filiar love, but in reality love is also affection and interpersonal relationships in general. If a person stops on the street to help another person in difficulty, isn't this also love? What we talk about in LOVE is this kind of love.

The volume of LOVE - Il Cane published by saldaPress, to enter the wonderful and sometimes ruthless animal world of Frédéric Brrémaud and Federico Bertolucci: you can find it at this link.

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