Alain Ayroles, master storyteller who is both scholar and general public

Four years after the success of Tricky Indiesthe screenwriter launches The Shadow of Lightsa historical series, narrating the tormented destiny of a libertine nobleman between France and Canada in the 18th century.

Culture can be fun!», says comic strip author Alain Ayroles who infuses his abundant “erudition” into a new historical series, The Shadow of Lightsfour years after the success of Tricky Indies (250,000 copies sold). For more than 30 years, the screenwriter of Of capes and fangs Or Garulfo is a recognized figure in French comics, combining a taste for escape, humor, a sense of historical detail and verbal gluttony.

His new trilogy, drawn by Richard Guérineau (The Song of the Stryges), narrates the tormented destiny of a noble libertine between France and Canada in the 18th centurye century, halfway between Dangerous Liaisons And The Last of the Mohicans. The first volume, entitled The enemy of mankind (Editions Delcourt) and printed in 100,000 copies, released Wednesday September 13.

Read alsoThe deceitful Indias, the masterful adventure

If he claims this “erudition», Alain Ayroles ures with a laugh that she is “very superficial“. “The idea is to enrich, without weighing down. Through all these cultural references, it is also to bring details which will make the universe credible», Explains to AFP the fifty-year-old, with shoulder-length hair and a slight South-West accent.

Role games

He is very “conductor», comments Thierry Leprévost, fellow student of the Beaux-Arts d’Angoulême who became his colorist for Garulfo Or D. “It’s a straight line, nothing is left to chance“, he explains. “He has a great literary culture and researches a lot. He is one of the best of this generation.»

Culture doesn’t have to be something boring and dusty», continues Alain Ayroles. “I always had this hope of telling people: Here is an entertainment story, which is there to amuse you, but which will perhaps teach you things, arouse your curiosity.»

This objective places him in the footsteps of “big names in comics” like René Goscinny Or Jean Van Hammeestimates Jean-Philippe Lefèvre, former presenter of the show A world of bubbles on the Public Senate channel. “He is truly one of the ten screenwriters who have this ability to speak to the general public while respecting them.», notes this specialist.

Born in 1968 in the Lot, the young Ayroles organized role-playing games in Angoulême with some of his future accomplices, such as the designer Jean-Luc Masbou (Of capes and fangs). “Summoning the collective imagination through references and clichés, even if it means diverting them, comes from role-playing», confides Ayroles.


This great lover of Monty Pythonwho has worked in cartoons for a long time, admits to enjoying “take a boat» his reader, as in The deceitful Indias, the story of a 17th century Spanish scoundrel with an incredible destiny set against the backdrop of the quest for El Dorado. This large format album (160 pages), carried by the lush drawings of the Spaniard Juanjo Guarnido, wins numerous awards and a hit in bookstores, with more than 250,000 copies sold, when a Goncourt prize, on average, sells more than 350,000 units, according to a study by the GfK institute. “The deceitful Indias is a somewhat unique phenomenon in publishing. It was a big gamble», appreciates Christophe Scotch Arleston, creator in particular of the successful series Lanfeust de Troy. “And the bet worked, also reaching an audience that rarely reads comics», adds the screenwriter, who nourishes “great professional admiration» for Alain Ayroles.

The latter recently tackled the dark side of the Age of Enlightenment by creating with Richard Guérineau the Chevalier de Saint-Sauveur, an ambitious 18th century gentleman, depraved and unscrupulous. “Making him suffer insults is exhilarating», smiles Alain Ayroles, who does not rule out going beyond the planned trilogy. However, there is no question of “produce more» only one or two albums per year for this father of two children, who also published a short play in verse in 2000. “It was rather lucky for me to refine, to try to favor quality», he notes. But “it’s a fragile economy, nothing is certain», immediately specifies the man who co-founded in 2007 a group of comic strip authors within the National Union of Authors and Composers (Snac), faced with a profession that has become “more and more precarious“.

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