Though there’s no typical route into comics art, it’s safe to say that not many artists started out working toward being a lawyer. Then again, Marguerite Sauvage’s personal journey has been marked by unconventional plot twists, as she’s progressed from doing a French web comic to becoming an in-demand freelance illustrator who’s been nominated for both Eisner and GLAAD Awards.
First off, the basics…
Your specialties (artist/writer/letterer/inker/etc.): Artist
Your home base (city/state or just state if you prefer): I’m from France but live in Montreal, Canada.
The Dreaming [DC/Vertigo]
Fanbase Press Contributor Kevin Sharp: What attracts you to making comics specifically over other artforms?
Marguerite Sauvage: I grew up surrounded by comics, French bande-dessinées, and I was fascinated by the art and stories — even though most of them were not specifically [for] my age. So, it’s been something I always kept in mind. Then, as a teen I discovered manga, and then the U.S. comics through Image in the '90s. What I love with comics is that you can do whatever you want, no FX are too expensive, and it is the confluence of drawing and storytelling.
KS: Did you have any favorite characters back in that time of discovery?
MS: Not specifically, except Lum from Urusei Yatsura, the manga by Rumiko Takahashi.
KS: When you first started to develop your taste in comics art, whose work drew you in?
MS: Bill Sienkiewicz was a blast when I discovered his art, especially Elektra: Assassin. He was the one who drove me into U.S. comics. I’m also a huge fan of Moebius, Toppi, and so many others...
KS: If it hadn’t been comics, where would might you have ended up? Was there any other career path you tried before this one?
MS: My studies at University were not in art but in law — information and communication — so after graduating, I was destined for a really different career. I did some interviews and was not really feeling at the right place, so I built up a book as an illustrator and sought out work. I’ve been a freelance illustrator ever since.
KS: Wow, that is quite a change. Had you considered art at all by then?
MS: No, my parents considered it "not a job,” so being an artist was actually my first act of (late) rebellion. I hadn't had any art training at all, except I always drew as an autodidact in my spare time and always was [a big fan of] images and graphics.
KS: What was your very first professional comics work?
MS: I drew a webcomic called Les Madeleines de Mady that got published. Then after that, I did a few books with Delcourt, Casterman, and Jungle; and some pages in Le Journal de Spirou by Dupuis.
KS: And how did you break into the U.S. market?
MS: I was discovered on Twitter by the editor thanks to fan art I did of various comics characters. My first job was the covers of Hinterkind for Vertigo.
[Author’s Note: Being tagged on Twitter is also how Marguerite found out about her Eisner and GLAAD nominations. In her words: “That’s how it works now.”]
KS: Circling back to what your parents originally thought about the prospects of an art career, you must have felt a special pride when you became successful.
MS: I did, yes. Or at least emancipated.
KS: Now that you’ve done covers and interior work for so many different comics publishers, what’s something surprising you’ve learned about making comics that you didn’t know before you started in the field?
MS: That it’s actually possible to do 22 pages a month (but as I do colors I often need a bit more).
KS: These days, is your daily work routine fairly steady, or does it vary depending on projects?
MS: I have regular daily hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 or 6 p.m. (family, you know). I work in a shared office space with other artists and a publishing company called La Pasteque. My days are always full, no matter what I’m working on.
KS: If you were set free with a wide open art toolbox and no deadlines or expectations beyond just the pure joy of creating, what might you come up with?
MS: I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t love that, because I like to conquer my art through freedom out of constraints. Nevertheless, I think it would be a feminine character with lots of graphic shape and fantastic patterns and ornaments.
KS: Looking back at your path so far, who are some people who helped get you to where you are now?
MS: I had two mentors who helped me in becoming an illustrator: Dominique Bonan and Colonel Moutarde. As far as being a U.S. comic book artist, Yanick Paquette.
KS: Before we wrap up, what’s a comic or graphic novel by someone else that you look at with admiration?
MS: There are plenty, but to pick one I’ll say This One Summer [by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki]. I love the art, I love the subtleties of the story and how dense it is. I like the pace of the action — contemplative, touching. This is the kind of book I'd die to do!
KS: Finally, talk a little about what projects you’ve got going. What can you tell us about working with Trina Robbins on Fearless?
MS: I had the chance to meet [Trina] in Chicago few years ago, and she's passionate and very encouraging. Our story is about the women of the Golden and Silver Ages in comics: Ruth Atkinson, Violet Barclay, Marie Severin, Flo Steinberg, etc.
I’m also working as a guest artist on The Dreaming. I’m really happy about this [as] a fan of Sandman and Neil Gaiman’s universe. This is more dark and fantastic content that I really feel interested to work on.