Forty years, the beautiful age, that of Jérôme K. Jérôme Bloche (Dupuis) that Alain Dodier revives with great success on the pages of Spirou then in an album of which the 28th, And for the worst, has just been released . An adventure perhaps darker and even more personal than usual for the famous and likeable detective with Solex. Alain Dodier, at the age of 12, already wanted to be a draftsman at Spirou. He dreamed it, he did it. His Jérôme is an everyday hero boy who looks like us and that’s also why we love him, without forgetting the clear and refined design of Dodier which was at the last Paris Book Festival. He answered Ligne Claire’s questions and humorously returned to his character, his early and 40 years of Spirou, before the next 40. Jean-Laurent TRUC interview.
Alain Dodier, your hero has shaken our attachment to the Spirou newspaper where your atypical hero appears with whom we have for many forty years of common life. A more difficult episode with And for the worse? Are we changing register for dramaturgy? Is it wanted?
In fact, I hadn’t noticed. Do you think it is dark?
We have pity on Jérôme in Et pour le pire. He is a victim.
Yes. True, but it was in the past.
But at this point, manipulated?
The subject, this type of harassment, really seems to have had a powerful effect on quite a few readers. A woman takes him hostage, her entourage tries to warn him but he sees nothing happening in his great candor. This is what generally happens.
I think we’ve already told you, asked, does he look like Jérôme after all?
I’m afraid of it. (Laughs) I don’t put much effort into trying to make him a compositional character. I feed it by myself. It is the simplest.
How did you come up with it?
Precisely from this need, from this taste for telling contemporary and everyday stories. It must come from my short experience as a postman at 18 and in fact when I got it into my head to make comics professionally I said to myself, why complicate my life by telling fiction, westerns, science fiction. I take myself, put myself in the character’s shoes and see what happens to him. It was simpler.
Less complicated indeed, more alive, natural.
It was enough to go out to get the sets, look around for the secondary characters. I took the easy way out.
He is a boy who has a simple life but who complicates it in any case. He is the toy of exceptional situations.
Already from his profession. He is a private investigator and his office surpasses people who have problems. It is true that he attracts them a little, but this is the fate of heroes. It is the lightning rod that catches the lightning I send him. Being candid, he does not see the storms coming and finds himself in delicate situations.
Forty years is already a long and beautiful journey. Did it go very fast?
I have not seen the time pass. But I tell myself that I won’t see the next 40 either (laughs). After all, it’s the hardest first half (laughs). Now I will explain my effort.
Is Jerome a hero who does not age?
Yes, it is the paradox. 40 years of adventures and he has aged six months. It’s the magic of comics and a series. The characters don’t change but the sets do evolve. Car, computer, laptop. I have introduced all of this in 40 years.
He is not violent, he has friends. He is an everyday guy, as you say.
He is a gentleman, not a man of action. His main weapon is his stubbornness, stubbornness. In the end, we don’t really know what’s going on in his head. We don’t see him thinking, he acts softly but he is a man of action.
Your latest album, back to it, is black. Jérôme is on the wire.
I will accept this idea because then you are not the first to tell me. Balance is always subtle. There have been other dark stories but with Jerome’s imagination. There she is pushed aside because he is a victim. With his awkwardness he generally relaxes the atmosphere, his eccentric humor. But this time his humor works less.
And for the next album do you know where you will take it?
Absolutely. The script is written. I begin to draw. Of course, this will have nothing to do with any new album in the series. We will forget the marriage, the failed permit.
Will he never have a driver’s license?
I fear him for one simple reason. The Solex is part of his uniform, of his silhouette.
Have you had Solex?
I’ve bought one since then, but I’m a fan of city bikes. I found a Solex at a flea market and drive it from time to time.
You are a true pillar of the Journal de Spirou.
I’m starting to be part of the furniture. A dinosaur, but I am very honored to be in the summary. It was my childhood dream. When I was 12, I told my friends that they asked me what I wanted to do after I became a comic artist in Spirou. A vocation. Without being an avid reader. I have read the Journal de Mickey and small formats. A compulsive reader, Tartine, Pepito. I had hundreds of them. Spirou, I only read it in a collection in a works council library for railway workers. This struck me. At 26 I returned to Spirou. Once the door was ajar, I slipped my foot so it wouldn’t close. I settled well and continued on my way. And I’m always happy to still be there. I am like a child when I receive the newspaper with the new Jérôme.
He is a character who has life ahead of him, who is fine.
As long as there are readers, I continue. I’m only halfway through (laughs). I still have so much fun and work in a very traditional way. After a month off from the release of an album, I write the whole scenario. It takes me four months each time. I do not know why. Then I put on my designer’s hat, reread and draw almost never retouching. The layout is calculated so I don’t move anymore.