CBC Books calls PASCAL GIRARD's BIGFOOT Canada's best graphic novel

“A Q&A with Doug Wright Award winner Pascal Girard” / CBC Books / CBC Books / May 11, 2011

On Saturday, May 7, the best of Canadian comics from 2010 were honoured at the 2011 Doug Wright Awards. Three awards were handed out that night: the Pigskin Peters Award for experimental and abstract comics, Best Emerging Talent and Best Book.

Pascal Girard won this year's Best Book award for his graphic novel Bigfoot, which is about a young boy in a small town facing three big problems: a love triangle, an embarrassing viral video and a lurking Bigfoot.

Bigfoot is Girard's first long-form comic. When this Quebec City-based artist and illustrator isn't teaching, taking classes or working on commercial projects, he's producing award-winning comics and graphic novels. The Doug Wright Award isn't the first major prize Girard has taken home. His first two books, Dans un cruchon and Nicolas won the 2006 Quebec Francophone Comics Festival's Réal-Fillion Prize for best new Quebec talent.

Girard spoke to us about the thrill of winning a major English-language award, the trouble with Photoshop and his unusual inspirations.

Q: Congratulations on your Doug Wright Award. How does it feel?

A: Thank you. I feel honoured to have received an award named after a cartoonist whose work I truly appreciate. I'm surprised. I didn't think I would win, but it's great.

Q: What is you winning book, Bigfoot, about?

A: Bigfoot is the story of Jimmy, a teenager with a lot of problems: a complicated love triangle, an embarrassing YouTube video and a Bigfoot.

Q: YouTube videos and Bigfoot are two very different and interesting stories. What compelled you to write about them?

A: I was inspired by the Star Wars kid story and how one can lose control of the information on the internet. Also, when I was in high school there was a Bigfoot sighting in my area. I came from a small town and one day people were saying 'We found Bigfoot! We found Bigfoot!' It was the talk of the town. So I took these two stories and made one story.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of creating Bigfoot?

A: Bigfoot is my first long story. So, the first challenge was to write a story where I could maintain the reader's interest throughout the length of the book. The second was working with colour for the first time. Adding colour and using Photoshop took so long and was so painful! I still see the ghost of Photoshop on my computer screen.

Q: What was the most fun or exciting aspect of creating Bigfoot?

A: Overall, it was a fun book to do. I enjoyed it a lot. The setting of this story is my hometown, Jonquiére. It was fun to use real settings, every place has real stories and memories from my teenage years, for example, Jimmy's home was the house I grew up in, the high school was my high school, et cetera. It was also fun to work in a grid. It's a 12-panel page and it's always the same size. This allowed me to concentrate on the story.

Q: Bigfoot was translated from the original French text. What was the translation process like?

A: My translator is Helge Dascher, who has translated three of my books. So she has a good understanding of my work. She is very inclusive in her process, and makes sure that I am engaged in the translation.

Q: How did you become a comics artist?

A: I read a book by Jimmy Beaulieu and later spoke with him at a book festival. His way of working made me believe that I could draw my own story despite my lack of experience. And, I don't really know why, my first stories were published.

Q: What comics artists or writers do you return to again and again? Why?

A: Schulz. I read Peanuts when I was a young kid and I still do. I read a lot of Archie comics when I was young. Bigfoot is a bit like an Archie comic, it's a story about a teenage love triangle. And lots of artists at Drawn & Quarterly, my publisher, like Chester Brown.

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