Franck Uzan sounds like the superheroes he depicts in his art: the secret identity of a mild-mannered financial IT analyst by day giving way to, as he puts it, “avenging artist by night.”
Franck grew up in France, absorbing and gaining artistic inspiration from French versions of Marvel comics purchased by his brother. “As a child, I used to copy all the cool stuff I had an image to work from. I started with a famous french anime, The Smurfs, and later the serious stuff: comics.” He then graduated from The Smurfs to the highly-detailed Image comics of the 1990s. “Clearly an Image comics teen, my art is heavily 90's influenced, very detailed and dynamic.” Franck identifies the legendary Jim Lee, one of the original Image artists, as his greatest influence.
Describing his process, Franck says he does not do much pencil work, only using it to set up the structure of his volumes and their movement. He then moves to inks, adding effects, textures, and, according to him, “way too many fixes.” As his art continues to mature, he aims “on getting a more natural approach to it.”
Today Franck resides in Israel, his home of the past 15 years.
Q&A WITH FRANCK UZAN(@Fuzart_insta)Franck Uzan is bilingual with English as a second language. His answers are presented with minor edits.
What is your favorite artistic medium?
Franck: Old school here, ink (mechanical, no brushes or quill) on bristol board, smooth stock.
Is there an artistic medium you haven’t tried that you would like to try?
Franck: I have tried water coloring and digital coloring, and I'd love to improve and explore those methods more deeply, but finding the time is difficult.
Favorite character to draw?
Franck: I love drawing Wolverine because he is a very graphic character with a killer design, especially his mask and claws. He is fierce and dangerous looking, a kind of anti hero. A good, hairy guy--with an attitude that he can back up, obviously. My favorite version is the yellow & blue uniform because it jumps off the page.
Tell me about the most interesting experience you’ve had completing a commission.
Franck: Some people are really specific about what they want and determined to get it. A client, who I now call a friend, requested that I add a barcode (printed or drawn) on the piece. In the end, I glued a printed one on and found myself retracing it to homogenize the piece. By the way, the piece came out real great with this add on.
Of all the art you’ve ever created, which was the most difficult to complete?
Franck: I did this piece for a French collector, which was a depiction of Bruce Wayne's parents’ mourning scene. Damn those face angles were hard to get, and the amount of detail I had to produce almost broke my hand.
What’s the hardest character to draw?
Franck: Characters that somehow need a likeness feel or a straightforward one.
Which character are you asked to draw most often?
Franck: Spawn. I never thought the character had such a huge community.
What was the first character you remember drawing?
The very first comics image I copied I remember vividly. I was in awe with this Falcon pin-up art from a French-translated book where he has a bird in his hand.
What’s your all-time favorite comic book cover?
Franck: Marvel Comics Present #79 by Barry Windsor Smith.
Who are your top-five favorite artists and why?
- 1. Jim Lee has the most giving career, and he’s still doing comics and out of this world art.
- 2. Todd McFarlane is the most successful comics artist living EVER. His Spidey art was a slap in your face.
- 3. Marc Silvestri is the artist's artist. Simply put, he’s created some of the best looking art EVER.
- 4. John Byrne is the foundation. He ruled the game in the 80s, and I still hold his works dearly.
- 5. Barry Windsor Smith because he’s such a master, with his almost Biblical depictions and a color palette and an approach that’s so unique. He really transcends the medium. He should be celebrated as much as Frank Miller, in my opinion.
What projects are you working on?
Franck: I'm currently working on an indie of mine and creating custom artworks for comics collectors all around the world.
What do you find unique about comics and comic art?
Franck: The unique experience it provides making you feel, care,"bleed," or overall happy. The escape route it opens.
What are your influences?
Franck: I have an Architecture degree from Ecole d’Architecture de Paris La Villette, so I’m very sensitive about design and overall look, so I try to bring that to the table in my art.
How would you describe your style?
Franck: I tend to create extremely detailed pieces, trying to give as much dynamism as possible and to use unique POV/angles to give more drama.
You are tasked with re-imagining your favorite comic or character. What would you choose and how would you approach it?
I'll choose the X-Men, despite the difficulty in representing so many characters on one page, because of its reflection on humanity’s traits. I really don't know what's going on in the series nowadays, but I'll definitely bring them back to their roots: character development and interactions, and a hell of a lot of action.
What is the closest to a deadline you've ever cut it?
Franck: I set my own deadlines on commission work, and I never miss. Seriously, I guarantee my pieces on the date I communicated to the client.
How would you convince someone who doesn't read comics to give them a try?
Franck: Two books: Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. Even if they are visually categorized as heroes books, the narration, plot and realization is far away from the common idea people will have of a comics book. Very smart and mature approach with original and strong characterization of classic heroes intertwined in an hell of a story.
Do you add any easter eggs or running gags in your art?
Franck: I should!
What artistic detail do you feel the average reader is most likely to miss?
Franck: Those damn backgrounds that are the real time consumers.
What advice would you have for an aspiring artist?
Franck: I'm one myself, but I'll say sit and draw, dude/gal!