Jean-Luc Istin: “”Terres d’Ogon” is the first fantasy series (…)

Your creativity is well established, but I was wondering if the revival of Black Panther Had he contributed to the rise of this African Heroic Fantasy universe?

I haven’t said it yet, and most of the time when we draw the parallel between Black Panther Y Ogon Lands, I shut up. But at the risk of unsettling some fans of WonderfulI am not a fan of this movie at all. I like superheroes, but not this feature film that presents clichés that are sometimes too close to reality. Lion King, compared to what he had a right to expect from such a production. That being said, perhaps subconsciously, this success pushed me to continue with the project.” Ogon Lands “…which did not bear this name at the beginning.

In his thanks, he mentions his wife as an inspiration. To what extent did his research on the Dogon people influence this new series?

When I met my wife, a little over 26 years ago, she had studied the Dogon during her higher education. Logically, he told me a lot about her and I was captivated by her fascination. In itself, this is not the starting point of this African fantasy, but when I wanted to give a name to this vast territory, logically, I used the word Dogon because it immediately allowed us to identify the roots of this new universe.

Of course, you will not find any Dogon in these albums. the Ogon Lands they are not Africa, but an African-inspired fantasy in the same way that the Lands of Arran are a European-inspired fantasy. And for the record, Arran is an island in Scotland.

About links with lands of arranwe find the red elves at the heart of this first volume of Ogon Landswhen we had already been able to meet this race in the series elves. Is this a way of indicating to the reader that bridges exist between the two universes?

The limited black and white version

Absolutely. It was important to bring a strong link between the series of the lands of Arran and those of the lands of Ogon. And if everything started from the series elves, it all made sense. The idea is that the Lands of Arran, like the Lands of Ogon, would be home to elves, orcs, and dwarves. But as much in the Lands of Arran the ancient races are despised, increasingly rejected and finally lose their luster, as much in the Lands of Ogon, the ancient races are regarded as gods and goddesses, and respected. The red elves, for example, have powers in the Lands of Ogon that those in the Lands of Arran have almost forgotten…

If we also discover Centaurs in this first work, it is especially the Togs who capture the attention. Did you want to develop African-specific breeds for these Ogon Lands ? Where did the idea of ​​great apes come from?

I am fascinated by monkeys and in particular orangutans and gorillas. But the idea of ​​using a gorilla civilization only comes from my geeky side: it’s the Planet of the Apes that haunts me over and over again. So what a joy to work with talking gorillas and see them come to life under the brush of Kyko Duarte !

The civilization of the Togs borrows an architecture (even rites) that is reminiscent of that of pre-Columbian civilizations. Did you want to convey the feeling of a warrior people who could be cruel to their enemies?

Absolutely. And they are, cruel to their enemies. But, and it is said on the album, some tend towards cultural appeasement.

We also discover humans, and more specifically the Kulus. Did you draw on existing traditions to bolster the plausibility of your beliefs?

To be honest, I have looked and re-looked at thousands of photos and drawings of different African peoples from the early 20th century to the present day. And whenever I was creating a script for a tribe, I offered Kyko Duarte some images to inspire me. Thus, for the Kulus, one can easily notice that they are directly inspired by the Mursis (Ethiopia).

Later you will see other tribes of different inspirations, Malians, Zulus, etc. Kyko attracted almost all the major peoples of the Ogon lands. We eventually did the exact same thing when we created the Lands of Arran, when we drew inspiration from medieval European elements to define the different peoples (hence the Yrlanais look like Vikings). Tolkien did the same with Middle-earth. A fantasy universe always draws its characteristics from reality.

When reading this first work, we feel a particular care to take care of the psychology of the characters. Is this, ultimately, one of the keys to Le Monde d’Aquilon: fantasy embodied in complex characters whose motivations the reader can understand?

I don’t necessarily realize the “care” that is given to the characters. I do it unconsciously probably because I want everything to be coherent and natural. It’s true, though, that I want people to believe in these characters, for Ubu to be tangible, Aggor and the rest. And Kyko does the same by bringing them to life visually. Her Ubu touches me a lot.

How was your relationship with Kyko in this new series? So she also set a graphic chart for the other volumes that will follow?

Working with Kyko is a godsend. I don’t know how he does it, he must be endowed with powers because he reads my thoughts to such an extent that he almost always succeeds when he creates a town or draws a page: that’s what I most often expected without daring to hope. Kyko is actually at the origin of a graphic card that lists the main towns, the creatures, some cities that we will find in the next 3 volumes.

We can’t wait to find out!

Do you want examples? This is how I present the Pumaranga territory and how Kyko draws the towns:

the pumaranga

From its border with Massaly, Pumaranga has a desert to its west and a red rock belt marking the end of the desert. On the other side, we enter a green area where the centaur people live: half man, half giraffe. Half man, half zebra. There is another tribe that lives in Pumaranga in osmosis with the centaurs, these are the Carablanca. Small men (1m20) who paint their faces white. Half of the country is a vast forest where there are giant trees on which houses are built. A third people inhabits this country: they are the filed teeth, the hereditary enemies of the white faces, raised in hatred.

The Centaur People:

the white faces

People who do not have magicians, composed of people of great kindness and innocence. They live in osmosis with the centaur warriors who offer them protection. In exchange for their protection, the carablancas give jewels to the centaurs.

Town of white faces:

The other people of Pumaranga are bloodthirsty people who hate the Whiteface.

Filed teeth:

The next three volumes of Ogon Lands They are produced by writers and cartoonists already known to readers. How will they fit together?

The next three volumes are really independent of each other. The idea was to place independent stories in different regions to allow readers to experience this new world. These next three albums will be coming very soon, about every 3-4 months. But, at the moment, we have not started a second season.

Interview by Charles-Louis Detournay.

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