Sunday, October 24, 2010

#12 - Uli Oesterle

Your comic books are not assigned to one genre. You are mixing fantasy with realism and your stories are both funny and scary. Making comics in one specific genre is not that exciting?

Yes, I mix it intentionally. I’m not interested in working in only one genre. For “Hector Umbra” I invented a fictional storyline and added autobiographical elements. Put a lot of clichees in and reverse them, to get a really strange cocktail. For me, it’s important to let the story happen in a place I’m really familiar with, to make the whole story more authentic and believable. Therefore, “Hector Umbra” takes place in my hometown, Munich. The only problem to mix up genres is: I have the impression, that readers need to have their categories. An expectation, which “Hector Umbra” doesn´t have. 

One of most important things in your comic books is atmosphere. You are achieving it thanks to specific colours. But what else are you doing to create characterstic ambience and why is it so important for you?

I create atmosphere also with black areas, cinematic sequences or dialogues. Besides, colour also helps to make sure, that the storyline still stays understandable, no matter how strange the plot suppose to be. For me, it’s important to give the reader the impression to be inside the story, inside the character’s brains. I try to grab them by their emotions.

In “Hector Umbra” you have many dead characters and you are writing about the danger of illusions. So one of the main themes of this comic book is death and limits of sanity. What fascinates you in that subject?

Don’t forget friendship as a main-subject. I lost my best friend ten years ago. He died in abusing drugs. The years before I lost another two friends. In the beginning of the 1990’s, I suffered on a four weeks breakdown of my brain (technical term: aphasia), because of using drugs by myself. These dramatic happenings leave a constant impression in my head and delivers me luckily my recurring topics. Death and insanity are still very present in my entire life.

When you’re doing comic books – you work alone, but you are also working in a graphic studio with few other people. What’s the difference between working alone and working in a team?

Actually we are not a team. We’re ten and everybody works alone at his own projects. Rarely we do jobs together. But of course, we talk about our projects and exchange opinions. It helps to talk with somebody professional about a problem in storytelling or anything else. This is the great advantage against working alone at home. I won´t miss it.

Cinema has movement and music has sound. And what – for you – distinguish and make comic books a different medium?

Comic combines characteristics of movie, fine art and novels. On the other hand, it lives from the special style of the artist.

Many critics say, that everything in art had already been said and done. If that’s true, what are the new solutions and horizons for comic books?

God damn smart ass critics! Actually everything had already been said. Not only in art. But everything has a revival. You simply have to say it again, but in a different way and context.

Instant photography, like Polaroid, captures the evanescent moment. And what is evanescent for you?


If you could take only one picture, what would you photograph?

A bottle of bavarian beer.

You can also find Uli Oesterle here:
- Carlsen Verlag 

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