One of the most renowned and influential French comics artists, Régis Loisel is known in particular for his work in the fantasy genre. Along with Jean Giraud (“Moebius”) and several other pioneers, he helped set the stylistic standards that became the foundation of Franco-Belgian comics (“bandes desinees”) from the mid 20th century to today.
Most comics readers here in the US, despite the fascination with Japanese manga in some circles, aren’t aware of how vibrant (and different) the comics scene is in other parts of the world, like France, Belgium, the UK, Italy and South America.
Loisel is perhaps best known for his work on La Quete de l’Oiseau du Temps (“The Quest for the Time Bird”, published at one point in English as Roxanna and The Quest for the Time Bird), a multi-volume fantasy epic written by Serge Le Tendre.
Loisel worked on numerous short projects, as well as the multi-volume series Le Grand Mort and a striking adaptation of Peter Pan (images above, second from bottom). He also did visual development art for the Disney animated features Mulan (above, bottom) and Atlantis.
His comics pages manage to feel detailed and open at the same time, with passages of intense detail balanced by well spotted blacks and flat areas of color, all used to dramatic effect. He has a wonderful command of the environments in which he places his characters, both natural and architectural.
He uses visual texture to great advantage in creating atmosphere, mood and a sense of scale and distance, as well as controlling how long the reader’s eye lingers on a given panel,
Loisel’s website, though in French, is easy enough for non-French speakers to navigate. The major comics series, Peter Pan, La Quete de l’Oiseau du Temps and Le Grand Mort, each have a drop down menu to pages about each volume in the series. These are usually accompanied by a few sample pages that open in pop-ups.
Some of the volumes, in particular La Quete de l’Oiseau du Temps volumes 7 and 5 have more extensive previews. Volume 5 is supplemented with images of pages in their penciled or inked states in addition to finished art.
I find Loisel’s pencil drawings for comics pages particularly appealing; even though they are intended to be finished in ink and printed in color, they have a wonderful quality just as pencil drawings.
You can find larger images of some of Loisel’s pages from Peter Pan, along with samples of his visual development drawings for Mulan on Animation Treasures: One1More2time3′s Weblog, the superb blog of Hans Bacher.
Bacher is the production designer who, while working on Mulan, suggested to producer Pam Coats that he bring Loisel in on the project. Bacher has an excellent series of posts on Loisel and his work.