Artist of ZED
by Richard Vasseur - (Posted:
Richard: How did you make your start in
Michel: In 2000, while I was supervising the
special effects for the movie Osmosis Jones at Warner Brothers
studios, I came up with the idea of ZED. First, I conceived it as an
animated series I was going to pitch around to animation studios. As
the property took shape, I decided that I’d have a lot more control
and fun if I did ZED as a self-published comic series instead. By
Spring 2001, I printed 5000 copies of ZED #1 and that was the start
of my comic career.
Richard: What is "ZED" about?
Michel: ZED is a tale of a young alien scientist,
whose energizing device goes awry, destroying the utopian world of
Xandria. Suddenly, his dream of offering his society virtually free
energy become a nightmare as little ZED must come to terms with the
knowledge that he not only caused the death of his parents, but the
annihilation of an entire planet and its 60 billion inhabitants.
ZED, it seems, has become a pariah hated by virtually
As the series unfolds, ZED must discover what
really caused the disaster and how to cope with the disturbing
Richard: Who are the supporting characters?
Michel: Here’s a hand full: Maxuss, a sadistic
dictator who doesn’t hesitates to shred to pieces anyone who
disagrees with him; Krah, a rock band composed of four headbanger
stickmen who play the loudest heavy metal in the universe; Macku, a
genius alien who invents the most awesome spaceship before suffering
a bloody decapitation; Zyd, ZED’s demented guardian angel; The
Butchering Four, Maxuss’ maniacal henchmen. These are but a few of
the crazy characters that appear in the strip.
Richard: What is ZED's personality?
Michel: ZED is easy going, virtuous, extremely
sensitive, smart, resourceful, caring and
Richard: What was it like working on
"Batman: Spore" from DC's Detective Comics?
Doing the back-up for Detective Comics for 5 issues was a lot of
fun. I did the most bizarre story I could come up with. I’m not sure
the Batman fans connected with my vision though. After reading the
DC message board, I realized that many of the readers would have
liked to see me crucified for doing such an insane version of their
Richard: What is the comic book "Flight"
Michel: Flight is a comic anthology that
features sequential works by young (and not so young) artists
ranging from the animation, illustration and comic industry. The
standard has been kept very high by editor Kazu Kibuishi, and I’m
darn proud to be part of it!
In Flight, I’m serializing my
epic (200+ pages) graphic novel featuring a cute little fox: “The
Saga of Rex”. Each volume of Flight features a chapter of the
Richard: What was your involvement with
Michel: I was the special effects
artistic supervisor, in charge of creating the look of the
microscopic effects found inside the body of Frank (Bill Murray's
character). Some of the effects I created for the movie included
molecular fire, cellular smoke, electrical impulses, DNA strand
sequence, death of the villain (Trax), destruction of the city of
Frank, microbes of all kinds, as well as the opening title
Richard: You worked on "Ratatouille" as an
animator what do you think of the finished product?
Michel: I loved the film. I think Brad Bird is a
great director and everything he has touched so far has turned to
Richard: What did you do as Special Effects
Consultant on "The Incredibles"?
Michel: Not much,
really. I was flown to Pixar at the beginning of production to
discuss ways of designing and animating special effects for the
movie. I spent a couple of days having meetings with several people
from the crew. I then returned home to Burbank (that’s where I lived
at the time) and spent 2 weeks creating conceptual animation (some
of it made it’s way in the end credit sequence). It soon became
clear that they needed someone in-house to design the FX and I just
wasn’t willing to move to Northern California at that particular
Richard: Who has supported you the most in your
Michel: To tell you the truth, all my family
and friends are supportive of what I do. My wife is always there for
me to bounce ideas which I appreciate tremendously. My two dogs are
also very supportive in their own ways ;)
What is next for you in your career?
Michel: So much
stuff! A video game coming out early next year; lots of animation
projects including shorts and a feature film; ZED #9; Flight Vol. 5;
more Xeko trading cards; a couple of new illustrated books; art
direction for a live classical opera. There’s quite a bit more… In
fact, every time someone comes to my studio, they think I’m
completely nuts to try and tackle so many projects. Maybe I am. Time
Richard: How can someone contact you?
Michel: If you go to my website (http://www.gagneint.com/ or http://www.insanelytwisted.com/), just go under
contact and you’ll find my email and business
Richard: Any last words of wisdom?
Michel: Here are a three of my favorite
"Ideas are a dime a dozen, but the men and women who
implement them are priceless."
- Mary Kay Ash
"Show me a
person who has never made a mistake and I'll show you somebody who
has never achieved much."
- Joan Collins
"Imagination is more
important than knowledge."