Interview

For a local magazine in 1994 I think...

APIKONISI

VASSILIS GOGTZILAS

A 15YEAR OLD DREAMMAKER

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He is a high school student.He has been drawing since he was a little boy. His classmates make compliments about his sketches but they often ask him: “Are you still drawing?”. Vassilis Gogtzilas creates comics. His stories have been printed in local newspapers and magazines and took part in exhibitions ( like the recent one that was mounted by Radio-Utopia and had an anti-war and anti-racist character). He believes that comics are not made to be exhibited. Stories are not made to be "hunged on the wall but to be read. It’s for somebody to hold it,read it and reach into conclusions about their life. A comic story is a motive for thinking…" Although many people think that all this creating comics story is something that he will be bored of in some years. It’s a “madness” that has been declared the most modern one among Fine Arts. He is a teenager that doesn’t go out often.On his free time he stays home and draws.His heroes dance in the paper. They were created from his dreams.This is why they are capable of anything.For hope or for disaster.Vassilis Gogtzilas puts them in small panels. They come alive and they keep us company. Are there any friends more loyal than the papered ones from our childhood( and not only then)?.

 

- When did you start drawing,Vassilis?

I was very young.I was in the kindergarden,when I started drawing some small sketches…My parents encouraged me to keep doing it and time after time I liked it more and more. It was obvious from my early years that I followed my father’s steps,who was drawing…

- When did you get the comics virus?

I was drawing sketches till I bought my first comic book, you know Lucky Luke, Asterix e.t.c.Later, when I was 12 –13 years old, I started creating my own stories…

- Did your parents encourage you? 

Yes,they helped me,but they explained to me that this wasn’t a profitable job here in Greece…I kept drawing and when I went to Junior High,my classmates always asked me to draw something for them. Then I cooperated with teachers in school papers and several exhibitions.I made several drawings.

- This means that your sketches were widely accepted.People liked your sketches?

Yes,but I got the courage sometime later…I went to the Y.M.C.A. to attend some drawing seminars, but I didn’t like it because I think common drawing is very conventional…I was attracted by the scenario,the evolution of the story with the ink’s help,the world that you can create…So I asked around and this is how I met Antonis Fotopoulos, who was teaching Comics at Praxis atelier and that was when I started dealing with it more seriously. Fotopoulos was publishing the “BOOMERANG” magazine and there was where I printed a story with the title “A WALK AROUND THE WORLD” based on one of his ideas, later he recommended me to a newspaper named “Aggelioforos” (Messenger)- the newspaper was renewing its material then- and I started printing some comic strips…I still have a cooperation with them but I am always waiting for something new…

- Do you think that a comic is more premordial than the other fine arts, since it’s based on a scenario and the story evolves , contrarily to a static frame or a painting?

A comic has only a few things in common with painting or literature.It has many things in common with cinema, because there is a story, plot, tenseness that have elements of direction,photography,scenario. Painting and design depend on the artist’s skills and the scenario depends on the writer’s skills. 

- So, what is the importance of speech and line in a story?Would you rather cooperate with someone who writes the stories or you prefer to think of the plot yourself ?

What I prefer is me having the idea and give it to others to write stories for me,unless it’s an idea that I would like to work on myself.

- Do you believe that somebody can work on their skills if for example they work on different techniques…I assume that you would like your studies to be on this field, am I right?

By studying you get the basic knowledge,on which you can support, but the details in a sketch are up to you,it’s your personal style.The details don’t make a good designer only by putting the image in the right place.

- Are you talking about harmony?

Yes. 

-Do you see any evolution in your style, since you started drawing? 

Yes, and the more I work the better I get.

- Do you think that a comics creator is not getting enough attention here in Greece considering that there are only 1 or 2 magazines of that kind?

I don’t know about that but what I know is that a comics creator can’t be widely known through these magazines. Most people have the wrong idea about comics.Some people think they are caricatures and others think that all of them are cartoons like Mickey Mouse.Comics are not only for children, some stories are so terrifying that would scare a little kid.

- Is it because there isn’t a fairytale’s plot but a disastrous plot that people got the wrong idea about comics?

There are stories with a normal plot, like Lucky Luke,where the narration is simple…there are comics artists that make simple comics…

- Basicly comics deal with stuff like science fiction,Future, with the theory of chaos, cyberpank e.t.c. , theories that are based on cynisism and violence.

These are things that are censurable in literature too.Violence is the main subject mostly in American comics, and all marketing actions are based on it only to make big sales.

- Which is comics’ target group?

There are comics for every age, fortunately.

- Do you believe that a comic, which is a series of sketches that tell us a story, is reflexing reality, the world we live in today?

Sure. Ioannou, Arkas are making fun of Greek everyday life.

- Do you like those two? Is there anybody else from the field that you like?

Arkas is a good writer but his sketches are too simple , he doesn’t have the professional drawing that I prefer…I would like his sketches to be more for adults.

- He derives his childness from his irony.Maybe his is doing it on purpose, when he constantly plays with his disadvantages and his complexes, and he is trying not to make too complicated sketches.

His scenario is really good,but the lines in his sketches aren’t as intense as in UDERZO’s for example in Asterix.The lines are pretty intense and the final result is very beautiful.There are lines that seem like blots but not as in Bill Sienkiewicz’s sketches, which is the right one.

- Is he the one you like best?

Yes, I prefer the American artists,like Bill Sienkiewicz, Jack Kirby, Sam Kieth e.t.c. From Europeans my favorite is Liberatore.

- Would you like to have a hero, like Corto Malteze, who will be Vassilis Gogtzilas’ trade mark? A character famous and lovable?

I create different characters every time.I don’t focus only in one.Everybody though have the same aim: ESCAPE.They create new worlds in their imagination.I have been working on one lately… I named him “DREAM MAKER”…

- Well everything takes place in fantasy and metaphysical.Aren’t those worlds full of loneliness?

Not always…

- This is the vibe I get as a reader.Comics’ heroes are lonely.There are disasters happening around them and they just walk alone.

You have described Malteze…Maybe you’re right.He is lonely but he socializes with many people in his life.

- Vassilis, do you have any plans for the future,like studying?

I haven’t decided yet. As far as art is concerned, I completely separate it from school…I just want to build something solid for the rest of my life.Comics aren’t acceptable from people. I would love to live for it and gain money from it, but here in Greece this is almost impossible.

- Something must be done from you, the new generation. “BABEL” was very close in shutting down…

There are no editors who publish greek comics.In order to sell they reprint foreign comics,translated.

- This is because those comics creators have established themselves in the field.There are publications in Europe that are seriously interested in new talents that draw and administer professionally an album’s issuance.

I don’t know much about Europe, because my main interest was for American artists.European artists have quality stories and good art but they don’t have power like the Americans, who, we should mention, are very productive.They keep the reader’s interest alive, adding more and more elements and details in their art, in order to make impressive stories.

- They know show business better than anybody… 

They print new issues every month.You know they aren’t like the Europeans- one Album,one Hero,but they have series with the same hero.We borrow elements from them.

- Would you like to see something similar happening in Greece or in Thessaloniki in particular? 

It would be a good thing for Thessaloniki or Greece generally a magazine with only Greek comics artists, to motivate younger kids. “BOOMERANG” was a very good concept but it’s not issued any more.

- We wish that for you, all new comics creators and for the Greek comic itself. You have plenty of time ahead of you!