Olivier Jouvray: “The need to be a good storyteller is a fundamental parameter”

How did you end up writing comics?
Olivier Jouvray: “When I arrived in Lyon, I did not know what to do with my ten fingers, and I found myself in a Deug culture, communication and linguistics, a sideline, at the last minute. When I finished my studies, I started working as a freelance web designer and working right and left for local businesses. I trained on my own because I had access to equipment: after college I did not want to do military service and I was a conscientious objector. For 20 months, I sat in an office larger than the dean’s with a large computer and all the first computer graphics software and one of the very first Internet accesses in France. My cartoon brother, Jérôme, moved back to Lyon in 1999, and we decided to create a studio and move in together. I wanted to write, so I presented him with a synopsis, like a short story. He liked what he talked to his publisher about it: it was the script for the first album we made later, lincoln, the story of an immortal cowboy. That’s how it started.

What was the landscape of the comic at that time?
It did not have much to do with today. We have always bathed in it since we were little because our father studied at Beaux-Arts in Lyon, so since children we have been reading blueberry, Comanche… Western is our childhood thing, we played cowboys and Indians as children we saw The last session. It was obvious that we wanted to make a western first. In 20 years, the number of authors has exploded and the number of publications has multiplied by ten. If today we have almost 5,000 new releases a year, at that time it must have been around 800. We are the oldest workshop in Lyon for comic book writers in activity.

Are you still working with your family today?
In 2006, there was the first Lyon BD festival on the Plateau de la Croix-Rousse. We were the first ones worried and they asked us to help them make this festival the one we dreamed of. I worked on the pro day and my brother on shows to mix comics with improv, opera, dance … We really followed their first steps. For ten years we worked together, and during this time I continued my career as a writer. That same year, I became a comics teacher at the Émile-Cohl School, still with my brother, and we are still there.

You also co-founded with your boyfriend (novelist Virginie Ollagnier, editor’s note) The Comic Magazineso created your own magazine in Lyon?
In the 2010s, the world of comics changed a lot, with the advent of self-publishing crowdfundingthat with documentary comics, graphic novels … We wanted a real editorial project, serious and profitable, and we created The streets of Lyons. This is Lyon’s story, true stories only. Today we have 1,200 subscribers, we send the magazine throughout Europe, and as far as Australia or Japan. And then we have about fifty outlets in the city, each issue printed in 4,500 copies. It works well, we have fun, without commercials and without subsidies. Subscribers only.

Is Lyon a city of comics?
Yes, and it’s nothing new. It goes back to the post-war period! At the beginning of the war, many publishers and printers fled the Germans and settled in the free zone here in Lyon. With The streets of Lyons, we make our numbers, but also order numbers for the municipality or institutions like Emmaüs. It makes it possible to make a decompression chamber for young writers coming out of school before making big albums. It also makes it possible to establish connections between local authors and booksellers.

Also read on Tribune de Lyon: BD: Lyon vibrates to the rhythm of pencils

Woodkid, Mortelle Adèle, Diglee … There are some amazing names that came up
of your school, Émile-Cohl. Could it be a talent factory?

Less than the celebrities who came out of it, what interests me is to see the proportion of students who come out of my classes and manage to do their job and make a living from it. A student leaving an art school and wanting to do comics or illustration, in Lyon, he will find a job. Because many of us wanted to create a stimulating and exciting local environment with lots of projects that we can freely carry out as we wish. And there are people, in the management of the school, the festival and the City and in the local cultural institutions to work together. There is a real establishment. In an age where everyone only sees reality through social networks and screens, it allows us to bring these young people back to a form of reality. There are events, festivals, book signings, bookstores, meetings … It’s a real chance and there are few places in France where you will find it.

Also read at the Tribune de Lyon: Art Studies. Émile-Cohl wants to continue to excel

What touches you the most in a cartoon?
When I feel like I’m learning something. Not necessarily from a documentary point of view, but also in the way of thinking or talking about someone. When we make a script, we create characters, sets, an entire universe, and we get them to interact. We tend, if we are not careful, to make them all behave the way we do. But when you do comics, go beyond yourself, create characters that are in surplus, in crisis, or in evil. Villain characters are the hardest part! It’s hard to hurt his own characters. You have to play your characters, be the actor. It is an exercise in self-transformation to put oneself in someone else’s place.

You are very involved at the local level, on your networks, you share committed messages … Politics, why not?
Comics are only political. But I take the old definition of politics, in the sense of taking care of the city, of living together, of trying to understand how it works and how we manage to live together in the same place without fucking each other. . Since antiquity and the invention of democracy, politics has been accompanied by storytelling. The need to be a good storyteller is a fundamental parameter. Politics is something that really interests me a lot, for more than ten years, even though I do not want to do it. I have a real commitment, while maintaining my independent position as a writer. At the last municipal election, I was offered to run on two lists and at the same time I was offered to join the Freemasons. I denied everything. Give me a break! Writing about politics, understanding it, yes, I’m a screenwriter. Do it, no, I’m not interested. »

My breakfast with Olivier Jouvray

Lunch with Olivier Jouvray is not very conventional: there are chips around the roast beef, we chat with our neighbors at the table, we drag on the terrace in the sun as the man is inexhaustible, and then after trimming the end of the fat with the bosses – straight out of a Michel Audiard movie – we go for a walk in his workshop right next door, welcomed by a cheerful bunch of designers at work. It’s already 3pm and we say to ourselves that we could stay there all afternoon.

“I’m the type to plant my roots somewhere and let the roots run deep”says the screenwriter, anchored in 7e district for more than 20 years. “The revolution will come from the local. Start from where you are powerful » : The phrase is from another author with Lyon roots, Alain Damasio, but Olivier Jouvray embodies it just as perfectly.

Since his arrival in Lyon in the early 1990s, the native Oyonnax has never left, and has seen Lyon comics grow with him. In 2002, his group of fellow writers and cartoonists met at a headquarters in Croix-Rousse, the Café du Bout du Monde, run at the time by a certain Mathieu Diez. The basement in the basement is used for conferences and meetings, the bedrooms upstairs are residences for writers, “then we started organizing a kind of mini festival in his bar, we publicly signed our albums”.

Lyon BD’s embryo is on its way, it will be “authors’ favorite festival” and an inevitable event in Lyon. Gerard Collomb “was not against it, but did not care at all”, Gregory Doucet “love it, we talked 20 minutes after one of my conferences on collapseology”, remembers the screenwriter. In the neighborhood, he is known as the white wolf. “A little local celebrity”, he corrects modestly. Brilliant anyway.

The olive bar
35 rue Chevreul, Lyon 7e.


– Our meal –
A Lyon salad.
A roast beef with cooking sauce.
A floating island.
A pear pie.
A beer, a tea and a coffee.

– The bill –
40 euros

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