The cover to my latest book, Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes (from Infinity Plus), features a collage by my friend Marc Tessier. I’m completely in love with that image; to my mind, it perfectly captures the mood of the book.
I’ve known Marc since 1989, the year I opened my first bookshop, Nebula, in Montreal. He was one of the many talented and fascinating people I got to meet during my years as a bookseller, a phase of my life that ended in 1998. I’ve been fortunate that our paths keep crossing. And I suspect there are more collaborations of various sorts in our future. Marc’s career, interests, and endeavours are multi-faceted, and I’m delighted, with this mini-interview, to give Infinity Plus readers a better glimpse at Marc’s work. To keep up with Marc, visit likeanacidtrip.blogspot.ca.
CL: Marc, you’re a writer, a cartoonist, a photographer, a publisher, and a teacher. Knowing your body of work I see how all of these form a whole picture of who you are as an artist, but I’d like to hear in your own words how of all that fits together.
MT: I am reading a biography of Leonardo Da Vinci and there is the term Renaissance Man, which described artists that had to master very different skills in order to get a much fuller picture of the human creative landscape, Now, we say multi-media artists. I rather prefer the other term. To succeed, you have to do one thing and stick with it the rest of your life. I’d rather do many things and in the process get a much bigger kick out of life. Or maybe just doing one form of art would just bore me.
CL: Where were you born?
MT: In a town halfway between Montreal and Québec City called Drummondville. It was founded by an English general called Drummond but it is mostly French.
CL: What’s your first vivid memory of comics in your life?
MT: It’s really hard to tell; my mother had this huge collection of Spirou magazines from Belgium. Comics have always surrounded me. Vivid memories: The mystery of Atlantis, a Blake and Mortimer adventure by Edgar P. Jacobs, is the first comics that really grabbed me as a kid (mixing mystery, archeology, Sci-Fi and Belgian surrealism). I also had a very vivid dream as a kid in which I woke up after seeing the most beautiful comic strip ever created (it looked like a cross between Spanish painter Miro and Italian comic master Lorenzo Mattotti). I remember waking up and realizing that I had imagined it, that that potential was within me to create such beauty and I’m sure it’s why today I still love and publish comics.
MT: I will give that to my parents: they were forward thinking. Both were bilingual and they took us to the States every summer. As a kid, I would watch English cartoons and read books in English very early. So, my French Québécois identity was fused with English culture (Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K. Dick are early influences). Montreal was the only place for me to wind up in because of that fun and exciting mix of cultures. That’s what I always liked about that famous Montreal comix scene in the nineties, the fact that there were no borders, French and English working together, mutual respect and admiration.
CL: What projects of your own are you working on right now?
MT: I just submitted two exhibit proposals, one to Le Mois de la photo à Montréal [The Montreal Month of Photography] and the other to the Maisons de la culture [Houses of Culture] in Montreal. My publishing activities take most of my time, so it’s fun to get back to photography. I just published Within Are Monsters (Ici sont les Monstres), a photo-novel that includes two chapters in comics drawn by Jean-Claude Amyot and Stanley Wany, taking place in an alternate reality where Kaiju like monsters have taken over the government and the economy. I am also working with comic artist Siris on a proposed graphic novel that would tell the extraordinary life story of surreal Québécois painter Jean Dallaire.
CL: What’s coming soon from Éditions Trip?
MT: A new issue of Trip magazine with over 300 pages featuring an international comics section and, that’s always a huge job to organize. Also there is a new book by Rupert Bottenberg that should be out in May for TCAF [Toronto Comics Art Festival]. A beautiful little art book with Taiwan artist Tang-Wei Hsu is also on the board (a project brought to us by Rupert Bottenberg through EN MASSE). Finally, for the end of the year, a new graphic novel by Louis Rémillard about an Iroquoi native returning home in 17th-century Québec.