Cute anthropomorphic animals, especially small ones with large expressive eyes, is a staple for comics illustrations and animations. But in Quentin Dufour’s work, he places his tragic hero – a black, upright cat with empty eyes – in constantly chaotic situations. Set in ever-burning worlds, staring at flowers with evaporating souls and hastily doing plumbing fixes, Quentin’s anarchic illustrations are his way of expressing what he observes in the world.
The French illustrator currently lives in Angoulême, having completed a comics and illustration course at LTAA Auguste Renoir in Paris. He continued on to EESI in Angoulême to further his arts education and developed his method of thinking about images. “I was already curious about artistic printing and printed objects but I really understood what this practice means to me while attending this school,” Quentin tells It’s Nice That. Besides running an animation workshop for students in school, teaching fine arts at an art school and doing a comics and contemporary art residency in FRAC in Angoulême, Quentin also shares a workplace with his friends. “We organise the independent small print festival Spin Off,” he notes. “I forgot to say: Angoulême appears to be the city of comics in France.”
Quentin sees illustration as something instinctual, something that can be done with limited resources and space. “I feel like drawn images are the best way to communicate with the world. Every illustration is a kind of manifestation of our interests, thoughts and inner questions,” he says. He lists an array of illustrators, comics artists, animators and publications that inspire him. From Yuichi Yokoyama’s straight aesthetic, Michael Deforge’s Ant Colony, Richard Short’s Klaus, Lagon magazine, and Masaaki Yuasa’s Cat Soup, Quentin’s appetite for the imaginative and refreshing seems endless.
“If I recall correctly, I started drawing the black cat in June 2018,” Quentin says. “It was a really hard moment for me. I was just out of school without a clear idea of what I wanted to do and not knowing where I was going. I had just broken up with my girlfriend and had no money.” This culmination of events, for him, turned into a feeling of incredibly bad luck that blocked his path. “Without really thinking about it, I used this little cliche black cat as a symbol for this bad luck.”
Concentrating on animals with stoic, jaded or inexpressive faces, he uses his characters and comics to reflect how he feels in interactions – as an observer rather than an actor. “I’ve already drawn a story with this character, a three-page comic about him being chased down by a vampire. Knowing that it’s some sort of projection, I’ll let you guess what this means,” he says. Currently completing a number of print projects for the publishing house he runs with his friends, Lazer Cao and with plans to write a story about a magic fire, Quentin seems to brim with ideas. His mix of contemporary art with the style of a comic, and characters whose expressions resemble the tragic half of the sock and buskin, he lets us into his mind with his exciting and frenetic series of illustrations.
About the Author
Alif joined It's Nice That as an editorial assistant from September to December 2019 after completing an MA in Digital Media at Goldsmiths, University of London. His writing often looks at the impact of art and technology on society.