Organic, brooding and psychotic. Róbert Odegnál's comics shine with these and much more - he's been hailed as the next star-to-be of the Hungarian comics scene and there's a reason why. We included two full pages of the next, yet unpublished part of his series the caller (A Hívó) and we faced him with the very fearful chairleg of truth!
THE DOSE: You suddenly became well-known some two years ago. First you won the main prize of the Flash anim contest Vadkelet Pályázat, then won the shared first prize at the Míves Céh comic contest. How do you look back on these events now?
ODEGNÁL: I had already been more or less obsessed with my own cartoon by the time Vadkelet started. I was completely dumbfounded that anyone else but me should be interested in comic books at home and especially marvelled at the extremely high level some people achieve in this field of arts. The theme about the bouncer was not entirely worked out and I definitely seem to be more gifted in drawing than writing the texts. Still, I really enjoyed the possiblity of doing the job entirely on my own. The Míves Céh competition taught me that unless I feel attached to the theme and the mood, I cannot do a good job.
THE DOSE: Next year brought Gauder Áron's film titled Nyócker, in which you drew the backgrounds. It is from this period on that I remember your first drafts for A Hívó. Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
ODEGNÁL: First I only wanted to make a kind of surrealistic comic book, mainly based on my own dreams, yet more and more realistic elements got involved eventually. What I really wanted to create was an efficacious, well-painted something, mainly because I have to admit seeing lots of badly done works already. I wanted a portfolio that will not disappoint the viewer and swallow the artist's identity – unlike the most of the industrial sketches.
Here at last I really had the chance to show a world I truly like. The fact that A Hívó got as far as publicity was especially important to me, because I finally realized where I was at that point and the direction I needed to turn to. Of course, I must mention the help of Tóth H. Józsi, my publisher, and Magyarósi Gizella, who took care of the texts.
THE DOSE: Where does your adoration for comics come from? Whose works did you like when you were younger? Is there anyone you could name as a source of inspiration now?
ODEGNÁL: I think every child has an innate adoration for comics, books, films – to sum it up: good stories, if they can get hold of them. I think the only reason why someone reading comics is such a big deal either as a child or an as adult is that the genre was so restricted for such a long time. As a child I remember a collection of roughly ten seasons of Füles in the house where we lived. It is these I used for cutting out and rearranging the various kinds of cartoon series. I mainly liked the style of Fazekas Attila.
Of course, I always happened to come across a couple of Sweedish Batman/Spiderman copies as well. Not to mention the mainly French works of art in Kockás, Hahota and Vampi magazines. These days it is easier to get foreign comic books. I find unique quality style of drawing crucial in this respect as well. Among my favourites are Dave McKean, Ashley Wood and Simon Bisley. They were the ones to abandon the well-known and commonly used technique of inking. Of course the traditional „American” style also has certain remarkable advocates, such as Jamie Hewlett, drawer of Tank Girl, for example. I do not go for usual in stories, either. I find that a lot of adult comics hover on the shameful level of a bad soap opera. These don't become more exciting merely by appearing in comic book form.
THE DOSE: A Hívó won you the Prize of Best European Graphic Artist at the 28th Eurocon Sci-fi Festival in Kiev. Did this divert your attention any more to working abroad? Do you intend to cooperate with foreign publishers or artists at all?
ODEGNÁL: I do not seem to notice any effect of the prize so far. The most important thing would be for me to actually show some considerable foreign publishers my portfolio, but this is very difficult in Hungary. The seriously big publishers probably employ truly professional writers and drawers, but I'm not entirely sure I would like to cooperate in making a well-written, well-constructed, yet entirely indifferent story. On the other hand, I don't think drawing comic books about superheroes would be a problem as long as I found anything exciting in it and I was given a free hand to use my own style.
THE DOSE: What is your opinion about the present state of the comic book market in Hungary, both from the consumer's and the publisher's point of view? What changes do you think this market will undergo in the following five years?
ODEGNÁL: I guess the present situation might as well be projected to the future. I don't think a flood of comic books, be it of high or low quality, is a serious threat, but they will infiltrate us in a relatively low number (say, a couple of thousand) of copies. What I do feel glad about, though, is that publishers dare to initiate publishing unusual, truly high quality comic books as well (such as Tükörváros).
THE DOSE: Which technique (hardware as well as drawing style) did you use while making A Hívó? Do you plan to use the same style all through the three intended parts of A Hívó series, or do you intend to change the style somewhere on the long way?
ODEGNÁL: Apart from the characters I painted in Painter, I used many of my own 3D backgrounds and very rarely some digital pictures in my computer. I'm pretty sure some changes in style and technique will be necessary as the story goes on, especially because I prefer work to remain exciting for me as well.
THE DOSE: What can we roughly expect from you concerning A Hívó? Are there any works in progress, to be seen in the future at exhibitions or perhaps online?
ODEGNÁL: I don't exactly know how quickly I can finish the remaining two parts, but I plan to do it in two years, if possible. I still am employed in a full-time job so I must stick to book covers (which I like doing) and detergent advertisements (which I don't)...