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About the project

Book covers

Pages 1 to 24 in English



Location research

Brussels, guided tour

The making of 80 Days

Benjamin Button

Press review


80 days : About the project

How 80 Days was born.

'Four or five years ago I had this idea about a guy who got a year younger each day. Usually for an idea to become a project, then a scenario and finally a book, the whole process has to mature over quite a long period.
Initially I imagined an old gentleman, very rich, a sort of Citizen Kane, lying on a huge bed, in a huge room, in the middle of a huge manor house, in the depths of winter surrounded by snow outside, with his huge family gathered in the huge drawing-room, clustered around the fireplace, waiting on tenterhooks for the patriarch to hand in his chips so they could get their hands on his huge fortune.
In short, everything was huge.
Everyone in the family hates each other, and they all know that there will be fireworks as soon as he croaks.
The priest has been called to his bedside to administer the last rites, as it is feared - or hoped - that he will not last the night.
But the next morning and every day after that he is stronger. His reverse-ageing process exasperates all concerned and fuels the family feud. It becomes obvious that the guy is anything but a nice person and has spent his life spreading hatred, dividing to conquer. That was as far as I got with my idea and I couldn’t go any further because I couldn’t see how it was all going to end and - most importantly - I couldn't work out why the guy was getting younger.


So I gave up, but the idea must have continued to develop in the depths of my mind waiting for the right moment to emerge a few years later.
In the meantime, Olivier Guéret and I created the Gerry Geronimo trilogy, and then suddenly the other story resurfaced - the various elements taking shape in my mind, scene after scene.
I finally realised two things: first the plot had to be more ‘intimate’ and focus on just two characters. Secondly, the idea of getting younger was essentially a pretext for the main character to have his time over, to make up for the moments in his life when he had ‘strayed’. I wanted it to be a book about missed chances, leading from one thing to another, like the handing over from one generation to the next.
This time I decided to give my first impressions to Olivier Guéret, just for him to read and offer his advice. At the time I was determined to see the project through by myself. He liked the idea a lot and, right from the start, provided interesting suggestions. So I asked him if he was interested working together again, as we did on the Geronimo series - the cornerstone of our collaborative work.


Technically speaking, 80 Days is completely different to Gerry Geronimo. With 80 Days I started with sketches which were then scanned and coloured on the computer. There is no inkwork. I was encouraged to explore this method by my new publisher, Casterman. They liked Gerry Geronimo but felt this style of illustration was too restrained, too cold for the ideas we would be evoking in 80 Days.
After several fruitless attempts (direct colour, gouache, acrylics, water-colours, reworked photocopies, etc.) I resorted to this technique of sketching, combining a messy method (soft crayon) with an extra-clean one (computer).'



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