The original link (http://www.comicon.com/cgi-bin/ultim...;f=36;t=005716
) is down. But we've got the interview anyway.
MATZ NARKS ON THE KILLER
by Jennifer M. Contino - posted 11-06-2006
Get on your bulletproof vests, there's a new hitman in town and The Killer could be standing right next to you and you might never know until it was too late! In the popular series, “Le Tueur” writer Matz and artist Luc Jacamon bring a nameless everyman of an assassin to life and detail how he ends others existences. Le Tueur or The Killer has been published in several countries. Now the first of ten issues are available in English from Archaia Studios Press and we've cornered Matz for a few clues to the identity of this hitman.
THE PULSE: Let's start with the basics, you're got a story about a hitman, but just who is The Killer?
MATZ: The Killer is an ordinary man. He has no name. He uses various ones depending on his missions, and we never get to know his real name, nor too much about his past. He is not particularly handsome. He blends in a crowd pretty much wherever he goes. He speaks various languages and knows his weapons. He likes to be left alone. He has a general dislike for mankind. He sees the world as a bad and dangerous place, he sees no hope in human nature. He knows history and philosophy, but he has strange ways of looking at them. Ways that allow him to be a very pessimistic individual. Ways that allow him to think older generations have made such a mess of the world that they should not lecture the young about anything. He can list the slaughters and genocides and massacres throughout history and see a pattern of destruction in mankind. He doesn’t believe in god either. He is a nihilistic.
Deep down, The Killer series asks questions that are meaningful---about life, about death, about conscience, about what a man should do in the world, about what is morally acceptable and what is not. He tries to look through the appearances. It is controversial, but also honest. Maybe the character has biased answers, twisted reasoning, but the series, which is more than only the character, tries to grasp something basically humane and entertaining.
The Killer questions our society and the men that make it the way it is. He feels he owes no one anything, and that he only does what everybody else does, except in a harsher way.
THE PULSE: How did you come up with this character, and how did you decide to break his story down into the ten issues? I know it's already been published in Europe ...
MATZ: I came up with this character a long time ago. I first intended to write it as a novel, but I soon thought that given the fact that I wanted something with a lot of silence, a lot of monologues, the visual aspect could be very interesting, especially if what we see is not just an illustration of what we read. So the comic form struck me as the best medium for this story. I had previously published a couple of comics and a novel, so I thought I would be able to convey the most things in the comics medium.
The character itself is not the most original aspect to this series (a hitman is not precisely a new character), it’s more the approach. Reading the news, reading novels, reading history books, seeing movies, everything is packed with killers. But who are those guys? What do they think? How do they see life? I decided that my hitman should have a voice. We should be in his head. So it became trying to look at things through his eyes. We always see hitmen, hear about them, we deal with killings all the time, but what does it really imply? I lived in L.A. for a while, and in the building there was a triple homicide. It was a professional hit. Among the victims, there was three year old. What goes through the mind of a man who puts a bullet through the head of a three year old? How could anyone do that? Yet, it happens often, and throughout history it has always happened. Also, in books or movies, killers are often romanticized. They are good looking men, and they are cool. Look at Tom Cruise in Collateral. Curiously he ends up shot by a cab driver who hardly can hold a gun. My killer is not romanticized. Collateral is totally watered down compared to him. That’s why I didn’t want him to be handsome, or anything outside of the ordinary. He is not a hero. He’s just a character.
The whole series is a character study, but the thing is that the other characters we run into may not be killers, but they are not admirable either.
THE PULSE: That sounds like an intriguing concept. But for those who still need some more convincing, if you had to break it down to a few factors, what sets The Killer apart from some other life and death type tales or ones featuring those whose profession is to end the life of others?
MATZ: Basically what I just said. This Killer is not admirable. He is not handsome. He’s not Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt. He’s just a man, and we share his life. Some people seem to find him interesting, because he is not a fool. He takes his job seriously and he likes a job well done. His journey through the world reveals that the world he lives in is not a nice one. He is betrayed, he is lied to, he has trouble having meaningful relationships with anyone. But the overall arch is that this character is going to get out of his loneliness and isolation to make some friends that will eventually change the course of his life and the way he sees things. He will have to act on these feelings and become quite different in the end than when we first met him. The Killer takes a psychological and philosophical journey through the world and a lot of bad people who crawl in it.
THE PULSE: What inspired this work? How did you wrap your head around this professional assassin? Was it tough for you to relate?
MATZ: Actually, the head-wrapping part is probably the most interesting thing about this project. I just started to wonder what a hitman could be thinking about life, as he probably needs to make things work for him in some logical way, in a way that allows him to go through his days and the next thing you know, I find myself thinking about how to whack somebody in the best possible way. I have researched weapons, etc.
I found myself on my Vespa in the streets of Paris thinking about those guys who stop at a red light next to a motorbike with two men on it, the passenger pulls a gun and shoots the car driver, then they take off and are never caught. I have been spending some consistent time thinking about the best way to take somebody out. And then about how the perpetrator must be handling committing a crime like that. That’s what The Killer is about
: who are these guys, how do they live?
THE PULSE: How would you describe this to the non-typical comic book reader? It sounds like something that isn't geared for the spandex and cape type.
MATZ: The Killer is I believe a little bit more literary than your average superhero serial (even though I got nothing against those). As I originally thought about doing it as a novel, I guess it gave it a pace that is not very common, based on flash-backs and a rather entertaining breakdown of the story. I tried my best to avoid anything boring dealing with the matter, yet I didn’t want to leave out the rough edges of the subject. I hope this comes across.
THE PULSE: Who are some of the writers who played a role in the voice you found for this Killer?
MATZ: When it comes to writers, I would always think first of two American novelists, James M. Cain and Jim Thompson. There were also a couple of well-written movies that inspired me, like “Le Samouraï”, by Frenchman Jean-Pierre Melville. I am a big fan of American thrillers and Mystery, what we call in France ‘Noir’, because the covers of the first books were black. I have a special fondness for Ross Mc Donald, James Lee Burke and Willeford, who try to bring into these kind of stories a great “humane” dimension.
THE PULSE: What's coming up in these ten issues? Is it one continuous story or ten separate ones that weave together for the greater picture?
MATZ: It’s one continuous story. The original version is broken down in five books. The American version in 10 issues. At the end, you have resolution and closure, but there will be more. I suppose when you do an American movie involving a killer, he has to die in the end. A graphic novel doesn’t have the same constraints. We have room for more interesting situations and outcomes.
THE PULSE: When you're not making comics, how do you spend your free time?
MATZ: Actually, making comics is what I do on my free time. I have a day job as video game writer, or more accurately now as an executive in a video game company, in charge of everything related to story and writing. When I go home, I hang out and play with my kids, and then when they are asleep, I turn on my laptop and start working on those comics.
THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?
MATZ: Right now, I am working on another series with the same artist I am doing The Killer with, Luc Jacamon. It’s a sci-fi piece, or more accurately anticipation, titled ”Cyclopes” (Casterman). It’s about a guy who finds himself employed by a security company at a time when military operations around the globe are privatized. My hero is Italian and American. He becomes a mercenary and has to deal with many issues, including a surprising and unwanted fame.
We are also talking about doing another cycle for The Killer, and I am currently researching that. There is a lot of material for this series, and going back to him and his twisted mind is fun.
I have another series I am working on, a historical epic piece with a hero who is an English man who enlists in Napoleon’s army. It’s called “Shandy” (Delcourt). The second book did pretty good in France, so we’ll keep that up, even though it’s a little bit on the backburner for now.
And I have another project I am working on, which is a whole new collection of books, designed to produce graphic novel versions of top-of-the-line thrillers and noir novels. So I am currently working on an adaptation of a great Jim Thompson book, “Savage Night”. It’s very interesting and a dream I had for a long time. It’s a lot more difficult than I expected, though, but it allows me to read Thompson all over again. The whole purpose of this collection is to produce high quality books, so we will be working with top of the line artists and writers, and that is very motivating.