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In the Heart of the Universe 

Jay Babcock talks with visionary comics author Alexandro Jodorowsky

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L.A. WEEKLY: You are at work on an alarming number of projects for someone of any age. Where is all the energy coming from?

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ALEXANDRO JODOROWSKY: Energy is coming because I will die very soon. I am old. I have so many things to do, so every day I get quicker, in order to do them! I don’t want to die without doing everything I wanted to do.

 

You are known as a filmmaker, but for the last 25 years you have been writing comics, not making films . . .

Everything I could not do in movies, I make in comics and writing. I do comics because I think it’s an art form as big as movies or painting or poetry. The graphic novel is a fantastic thing for me. For four or five years every Sunday I drew a comics page, a complete story. But it was very basic. When I saw Moebius making the drawings, I stopped. And I never make any more. Moebius, Boucq, Bess, Juan Gimenez, Beltran — they’re geniuses. How can they draw like that? It is a miracle. When you see a painting by Travis Charest? He’s incredible . . . some kind of a monster!

 

When you make films, you are present at every stage: scripting, designing, directing, editing and so on. But with comics, you write a script and give it to someone else.

No, it’s not like that. First, before I work with an artist on a series, I see his drawings. If I like his drawings, I can write for him. Because I admire this person! Then, I have a long conversation with him, to learn what he likes drawing, what he actually wants to do [in the series]. While he is speaking with me, I start to see him, his psychological profile . . . I make an invasion of his soul. An exploration. I go inside to find out who he is. What he is like. Then I discuss with him an idea for a story. He gives me a lot of ideas, and I say yes. Then I go up to the house and I write my story and then I convince him that I used everything he said to me. And he is happy because I am working with him. Not with his idea — I work with his feelings.

 

So there is a constant collaboration with the artist?

Yes. Constant. With Boucq, for example, on Bouncer, I call him by telephone at the end of every day. I say, “What have you been drawing today? How did you feel doing that?” Sometimes he says, “In this scene, I feel this character cannot do that,” and we discuss. If he doesn’t like that, or he cannot do it, I make another scene, similar, where he feels good. I am fascinated with these stories. For me it is not a work to earn money only. It’s a creative thing, you know?

Do you take risks in your work?

Yes . . . In The Metabarons, I always finish each book with an impossible crisis. They have a problem. The person has no testicle; he needs to make a son. How? Impossible. I wait . . . I wait . . . And then, slowly — thank you! — the solution came. It’s kind of a “mediumity,” a kind of inspiration. In one moment I have the idea. Then, when I start to write, everything comes! It’s like when you are a photographer, and you put the paper in the acid and slowly the photograph starts to develop. It’s exactly like that.

 

Can you know that it’s going to happen?

I don’t suffer to write it. But when I need to write a new series, a new album, for three days I do nothing. The only thing I can do is to see movies, see television, read . . . Because I am as if paralyzed! Suddenly, [with relief] the idea comes. I say thank you, because I am grateful. I am really grateful because I received the idea. But I don’t construct the idea. I am not a constructor. I receive the idea.

 

Where do you think it comes from?

The unconscious. It comes directly from the unconscious. I think the unconscious is a very, very enormous universe, no? And when you open the doors to the unconscious, you start to receive. Sometimes you see a terrible vision of yourself: desires you don’t want to have, ideas you detest, feelings that hurt you. When you open the door, you can see yourself in a very weird way, like a bad trip on LSD. You can have that. You have all the hell, and paradise, no? You need to have the courage to open the doors.

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