Jean Van Hamme, the Great Master of Graphic Novels

As the author of cult series Thorgal, XIII and Largo Winch, which have sold more than 33 million copies worldwide and been translated in 25 languages, Jean Van Hamme (71) is undoubtedly one of the most successful comics writers of his time. Born in Belgium, Van Hamme switched from a successful career in marketing to full time writing at the age of 37. Apart from graphic novels, which have also included two very successful episodes of Blake and Mortimer, the prolific author also wrote the script for Diva, the 1981 cult classic directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix. XIII has been aired as a TV miniseries in the US, while Largo Winch was made into a film.

My main character trait: Impatience.

My greatest fault: Impatience.

The trait I am most proud of in myself: Tolerance.

My favourite quality in a man: A pretty wife.

My favourite quality in a woman: A sense of humour.

What I most appreciate in friends: The fact that they are real friends, and have been here for me in tough times.

The fault that I am most likely to forgive: Weakness, when someone does something wrong because he or she is not strong enough to face difficult circumstances.

If I could change something in the way I look: I would get younger, grow some new hair, have a smaller nose and be taller.

My favourite hobby: Talking with my wife, whom I married 35 years ago. I absolutely cherish the moments when we share our day together and exchange jokes and ideas.

My definition of happiness: Having projects.

My dream as a kid: To be a tramway controller, as when I was growing up in Belgium, they used to have a trumpet they would play to signal to the driver it was time to leave. I loved it…

My most beautiful memory: I have so many beautiful memories that I find it impossible to classify them. There is no hierarchy in happiness, I am just grateful that I was lucky enough to have had those moments.

How I relax: By reading in bed for one hour before I fall asleep.

Which animal I would be: A cheetah, as my modus operandi is very similar to this predator, in the sense that I always ensure that the pursuit of a prey -or goal- is worth more than the amount of energy I spend pursuing it. This is why I have never been to court…

My favourite works of fiction: As a kid, I loved Wild Animals of the Five Rivers Country, by George Cory Franklin, which tells several short stories about animals, and My Friend Flicka, by Mary O’Hara, a wonderfully romantic adventure about a little boy and his horse. As an adult, I have been very impressed by Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, which incidentally helped me to seduce my wife into bed when we met as we were the only ones in the room having read it. I also love The Horsemen by Joseph Kessel, which is just perfect.

My favourite place in the world: In front of my computer.

My biggest achievement so far: To be alive and in good health.

My definition of love: Complicity.

What life has taught me: That being happy is worth fighting for.

How I would like to die: Quickly.

My current state of mind: I want to have a fag.

My motto: “Let’s go for it and see what happens.”


The Cinebook Success Story

Created in Kent in 2005 by French entrepreneur Olivier Cadic, Cinebook has become the premier publisher of Franco-Belgian comics in English, successfully entering markets traditionally dominated by American superheroes and Japanese mangas. In less than four years, the company has published twice as many Lucky Luke in English as had been done in the past 50 years and by the end of 2010, it will have published 157 books from almost 40 different series, sold worldwide. From May 2010, Cinebook is publishing XIII in English, as only three of 19 episodes of the cult Franco-Belgian comic were translated in English in the late 80s.