Acid-drenched colours and vibrant compositions permeate Animal Press’ archive of Risograph zines and illustrations. The Belgian-Korean publishing house was originally set up in 2013 by Jinhee Han who was subsequently joined by It’s Nice That’s much-loved illustrator Baptiste Virot. After printing multiple publications in South Korea, the duo moved back to Belgium but didn’t completely cut their Korean tie. “We spent more than two and a half months producing our first two books of the year because we wanted to print them ourselves. It took a really long time. It was difficult but fun. We then met a guy in Seoul who loved printing so we proposed he start his own Riso atelier. He followed our advice and named it Animal Print. We now work with Animal Print in order to produce as many publications as possible,” Jinhee tells It’s Nice That.
Delirium, one of Animal Press’ latest releases, is designed by Baptiste Virot and does not fall short of its name. A series of self-contained images, Delirium is a rabbit hole of absurd scenarios and disorienting situations. “I drew inspiration from the 70s magazine Hippies, in which graphic design, illustration, comics and text come together. A few years ago I was terrified by the prospect of colour. All my work was in black and white. I tried using crayons and watercolours but it didn’t work out. It was softwares like Photoshop that made me confident in colourful illustrations. Delirium is actually my first coloured comic book,” Baptise explains. Delirium is a tapestry of explosive worlds and chaotic moments, brought to life by Baptiste’s bold use of pinks, greens and yellows. The result is a publication that could function both as a series of illustrations and as a set of posters, while remaining true to the comic book format.
Baptiste has created a comic book that is accessible to anyone, but confusing to everyone; “Some of the stories in Delirium are totally non-sensical or seem normal until you reach their bizarre endings. After they finish my book, readers must feel very confused. I hope Delirium sticks in people’s minds. Perhaps, some weeks after reading it, someone will suddenly remember one of the book’s pages during a dinner party and reflect on how odd it was. I like mysteries that stick in our minds.” This is Baptiste’s strength. His art can be thought provoking even when it appears in a familiar and straightforward format.
“I am confident in the power of simplicity. I prefer drawing clear lines that can be understood by everyone rather than using effects,” the artist reveals. Baptiste now channels his energy into producing comic books and illustrations that can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of background. Gender inequality, the illustrator explains, pervades the comic book world and often perpetuates prejudiced gender conceptions. It is this sexism Baptiste is trying to combat through his work. “I would only draw male characters as a young boy because the heroes in my favourite comic books were men; Tintin, Achille Talon and Thorgal. The comic universe is sadly reflective of reality in that most powerful positions are held by men. Gender diversity was at the forefront of my mind when I was creating Delirium so I wanted to allocate important roles to everyone.”