Like society, comic books are growing to be more progressive, as new creators with fresh perspectives from around the world enter the comic book industry. One of the most unique progressive creator-owned series came out this year with The Infinite Loop by Pierrick Colinet and Elsa Charretier. The six-issue miniseries by IDW Publishing will be collected into a trade paperback this Wednesday. We got a chance to talk to Elsa Charretier about the book and a bit about her artistic style.
Despite having their previous projects mostly stay in Europe, the creator-owned series from the French duo decided that the United States would be the best place for The Infinite Loop. IDW noticed the creators and eventually the concept made its way onto the pages.
“In France, due to the small size of the market, we can’t publish monthly comic books,” says Elsa Charretier, the series artist. “That’s why The Infinite Loop came out as a trade paperback in France. To us, comics are all about going to the store every week to pick up your issues! We absolutely wanted that for The Infinite Loop. Also, and it’s a bit less glamorous, but creator-owned titles doesn’t really exist in France. You usually give up parts of your rights, and that’s something we’re fighting against.”
Pierrick Colinet, the series writer, has been working closely with Charretier for years, as the two have been worked on a few titles prior to The Infinite Loop. The two have been known to build off of each other throughout their projects, which generally leads to better chemistry and series with more quality. Duos like Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, or Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, continue to push the industry forward with the perfect collision of words and art to create near masterpieces. While these are some of the most recognizable names in comics today, it may not be too much of a stretch to see Colinet and Charretier as the next big duo if they continue to work together and learn how to create stories that only the two of them together can make.
“Pierrick and I work very well as a team,” says Charretier. “We are very much alike, and at the same time very different. When we start working on a project, our point of views are similar, and we completely agree on what we want to do, but creatively we couldn’t function more differently. That’s great, because when one of us gets stuck with something, the other one can bring their own perspective.
“Overtime, we learned to trust each other’s opinion, which can be really hard when you work with someone new. When Pierrick tells me something’s wrong with a panel or a figure, I know he’s right 99% of the time (although I hate to admit it).
The two work really closely, as they come together with different ways to tell the story and bounce off of each other’s ideas. While Pierrick had a very clear idea of how he wanted the book to look, Charretier eventually took the appearance of the book into her own hands.
“Pierrick knew from the beginning that he wanted the storytelling to be fun and inventive. He came up with the flowchart idea, and that kind of set the tone of the book. As I was getting more confident after the first two issues, he stopped breaking down the panels and gave me complete artistic freedom. I really appreciated his trust.”
The mutual trust, and the closeness of the two, is even more evident when Charretier reads Colinet’s work. “I kind of like how he freaks out when I read a first draft. I read, take a long pause before giving him my thoughts, and savor my power… Priceless!”
The Infinite Loop is much more than just a typical science fiction story. Colinet and Charretier have together crafted a modern day love story that incorporates some of today’s most incredible civil rights movements, especially the LGBT movement. It’s a feminist title that features one of the strongest female leads in modern comics. The creators didn’t originally intend for the series to go in the direction that it did though.
“Pierrick didn’t decide he wanted to write a LGBT book. First, he came up with Teddy and Ano as a duo. He didn’t know what would happen to them, but he knew they were together. Then when he started thinking about their lives, how they would function as a couple in their society, he knew how hard the road would be for them -as it is nowadays for most of LGBT youth. That’s the real starting point, and that what led the whole story. As we started working on the series, we felt more and more concerned with, and more and more involved in the LGBT cause.”
The series also features Andromeda, a character towards the end that represents those that are gender fluid, a group of people that are rarely seen in the media today. Not only does the creative team make an effort to spotlight an underrepresented gender expression, but also the reactions of those who don’t understand. Of course, creating such a character can be difficult and disastrous if approached incorrectly.
“Andromeda was a challenge to write. Because gender definition is still a very sensitive subject, and you don’t want to be saying anything that’ll hurt people.”
“Ulysses, our main male character, is very uncomfortable with the idea. I feel it’s important not to ignore people who don’t understand. Accompany them and explain to them, instead of saying “This is who I am, if you don’t like it, then get lost”. This attitude won’t lead to better integration to my own opinion. Of course, after decades of civil rights fight, you’re allowed to put a foot down and say “Move on!!”
One of the biggest draws of The Infinite Loop is the stellar art. Charretier’s style makes the book fun and sexy, with a style a lot like Darwyn Cooke’s. Her inspiration and influences may surprise some though.
“I am, and have always been a great fan of animation. I didn’t know it back then, but all the Disney/Pixar movies I watched when I was a kid clearly shaped my actual style. I came to comics rather late and just started drawing 3 years ago, so I never went to an animation school. I didn’t have anyone to teach me the basics, so I learned how to draw by observing animated movies I liked, reading books about them… I know animation is not the same as comic book storytelling, but in terms of pure drawing, movement, anatomy, it helped me a lot.”
“As for storytelling, I’m really in awe at Tim Sale’s work. He managed to create a unique kind of panel breakdown that fits perfectly his artwork. That’s what I’m aiming for, finding my own touch. I love Darwyn Cooke’s work and I often get compared to him. The thing is, I discovered his work pretty recently. I imagine we’ve had the same influences!”
When asked if the story might continue one day, Charretier said that “It’s definitely something we’d like. We’ll do it only if Pierrick comes up with a great idea though!”