Interview Zelba , draftsman and author, Saint-Étienne-Coronadays

A. Bujak, éditions Futuropolis, 2019

Where are you living?

A little over 20 years ago I settled in France after studying graphic design and illustration. 
In Saint-Étienne, which is close to Lyon.

How old you are? (if you don’t mind answering)

I recently turned 47.

What inspires you?

As a draftsman and author of comics and graphic novels, one could easily assume that I mainly move in this milieu
 and take inspiration from other authors and / or artists. But this is not the case. I read quite a lot of books 
by my colleagues, but I feel much more inspired by music, film, theater, concerts, art exhibitions, etc., the 
things that take up a lot of space in my life and that often occupy and affect me a lot.

Tell me about what you do?

I am currently working on my 11th book project. I've tried out many different comic genres, 
from autobiographical graphic novels to socially critical fictions, slightly "slippery"
 fairy tales and practical guides. There was even a comic play among them. But I feel
 most comfortable in the autobiographical or autofictional line, which I like best as a 
reader. Life just writes the most beautiful stories, or the scariest, most exciting and
 erotic! What I like so much about the work of the author and illustrator is that it is
 very varied. It always starts with a spark that jumps over, an idea that gets stuck and 
screams to be expanded. Then I start writing, looking for my "actors", sketching the 
characters, looking for image and documentary material. I then read a lot that has to do
 with my current topic and try to familiarize myself with things that are not necessarily 
easy for me to find. This is actually the most exciting phase of any new book project. 
Sketches become final drawings, dialogues emerge from the first spark ... I also do the 
coloring myself. It's all very time-consuming. It's nice when you know relatively quickly
 that there is also a publisher that wants to support and publish a project. I've already 
worked with many publishers, but just under two years ago I ended up with my dream publisher, 
with whom I will hopefully stay for the first time. When a new book comes out, my life 
changes suddenly for several months. The 
hermit and loner becomes a social being who goes to book fairs and comic festivals, signs 
books and chats with readers and fellow authors. And then the next spark often jumps over 
and I withdraw into my cave ...

What’s the structure of a typical day like for you?

There are different "typical" working days. I often don't start before 8 a.m. I spend most of 
the day in front of the computer as I have been working almost exclusively on the graphic 
tablet for several years. I also make sketches this way, as I save myself having to scan and
clean the drawings. I try not to work longer than 11 p.m., which doesn't always work when you
have a deadline. There was a very clear deadline for my last book, which is about my youth as a
performance rower at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification:
November 9, 2019 for the 30th birthday of the fall of the Wall. I then worked over 70 hours a week for 7 months, including all weekends. That was pretty exhausting, but we
Germans are well known for our punctuality! I couldn't possibly be late and damage the
reputation of my compatriots! After these insane 7 months,
i adopted a dog that now forces me to take regular breaks and move my legs. When I am absorbed in my work, I
forget everything around me. Sometimes I even forget to eat and drink. So it was very useful to have young children who remind you that it is now time to eat. But the small children grew up and I too old
to produce even more small children who remind me of eating and drinking ... ha ha ha! Every day,
however, there is a fixed appointment that I always keep when I can: at 11 a.m. my husband, who is a freelance artist and often works
in the same studio, and I stop our work and have a coffee and eat together Chocolate. We exchange
ideas about what we are doing, give our opinion, ask the other for advice, etc. One of my daily highlights!

What are some of your favorite sources for information?

We banned televisions from our home over 20 years ago. I prefer to listen to the radio. 
Sparks have jumped 
over to me from radio broadcasts before! In the evenings, when my eyes are tortured by 
the screen and I am 
often too tired to read long, my husband reads me articles from various newspapers. This 
love for being read 
is probably one of the many remains from my childhood that I will try to keep for my entire 

How does social media influence your life?

I would love to say that social media has zero impact on my life. That would be a lie, 
however. I observe that 
my daily Facebook time has increased significantly in recent years. I spend too much time 
in front of the 
screen anyway. However, it is a very good means of staying in contact and communicating 
with your audience and 
other artists and authors as a semi-public and yet so lonely person, to keep yourself 
informed about cultural 
offers and to keep track of the progress of your own projects to inform. I try to only 
use Facebook for work 
and to disclose little personal information. But that doesn't always work.