Monday, December 1, 2014

Q&A with Federico Bertolucci on "Love:The Tiger"

Love:The Tiger is a beautiful wordless book depicting the life of a tiger. It is an all-ages book which carries itself as a documentary. Often compared to Disney, Italian illustrator Federico Bertolucci had actually worked for Disney studios in Milan in 1998. His expertise and professionalism made Love:The Tiger an award winning graphic novel. Thanks for Magnetic Press, Love:The Tiger will be available for the first time in North America as a Deluxe Hardcover this January 2015. I was so taken with this bubbleless book that I contacted Federico with a few questions. Here's our conversation translated from Italian.

TFQ: How did this project get off the ground? How did you come to work on this project?

Federico: I started to do this job by drawing comic strips for Disney; I've been sketching Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and other more contemporary characters for about 10 years. This has given me the necessary expertise to propose my projects to the print market in France, as well: there graphic novels are sold in book shops as collectibles. This project, Love, was created thanks to an idea by Frédéric Brémaud, the scriptwriter I've been collaborating with for about 10 years. We had already worked together on 4/5 books, when one night he saw me sketching an elephant on a piece of paper, and he realized that drawing animals came quite easily to me. From that very first moment I think he probably started searching for a way to use this skill of mine, so one day, drinking a Martini on the beach, he asked me to make a comic strip set in a jungle, with a tiger as the main character, and, of course, with no dialogs, as animals don't need them.

TFQ: In Europe, there are other books in this wildlife series Love (The Fox, The Lion). Are there any plans for those to be printed for the North American audience?

Federico: Yes, three books in the LOVE series have already been printed, and all of them will be published by Magnetic Press between 2015 and 2016.

TFQ: These books are without words making them easily enjoyable across the planet. How does illustrating a book without words differ from the average graphic novel?

Federico: Graphic novels usually have lots of dialog, readers love them because they can spend some time reading their pages. But in our case we ran the risk that readers might finish the entire book in five minutes and then put it back on its shelf in the book shop, without buying it.
That's why I chose a very detailed style, halfway between a pencil drawing and painting,
in other words, something not only quick to draw but also easy on the eyes.
Therefore, each cartoon is a real illustration; the lack of balloons has some advantages. For example it has enabled me to use cinema-like framing and this is, I believe, the reason why it turned out to be more similar to a storyboard than to a comic strip.

TFQ: How did you research and prepare for this book?

Federico: I used my memories, as I have always enjoyed televised nature documentaries, but of course I had to research the anatomical details of quite a few animals. I often used the Google images search, as well as an excellent scientific website, which offers a lot of nice pictures and videos.

TFQ: What are currently working on and can we hope to see it available in print within North America?

Federico: We're actually working on the fourth book, which is about dinosaurs. It's supposed to be published in France by Christmas 2015 and, hopefully, Magnetic Press will print it in North America, as well. At the same time, I'm working on another project, a series called “Little Stories”, where a comic strip and an illustration are blended together on each page, so that they tell both kids and adults the story of animals and their environments. In France two books have already been published, “The Forest” and “The Savannah”, as will be two more books at the beginning of 2015, “The Sea” and “The Jungle”. . I hope this series will soon be available in North America, too.

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