[contacted by Peter D'Herdt]
Books of Peter Madsen (1958, Denmark) (in English):
Along the Way (Interpresse) Diary from Greenland (Frederik E. Publishers) Signe’s Christmas (with Johannes Mollehave, Danish Bible Society) The Son of Man (Danish Bible Society + sketchbook, private edition) The Story of Job (Danish Bible Society) The Story of a Mother (Carlsen Publishers) Valhalla (13 comics, Interpresse/Harlekin Publishers/Carlsen Comics)

Thanks for the mail.
I am happy to hear that you are familiar with some of my work, although I have done quite a lot more than the (very early) 3 albums you have seen... I hope one day to be able to publish more books in Dutch if I can find a publisher...
Do I know Franquin? Absolutely — and he was in many ways my entry into the wonderful world of comics!
I will gladly try to answer your questions. Here you go:

What makes Franquin so special?

His humanity and his ability to see the world from a child's perspective.
To me the ultimate proof of his position as a supreme humourist was a cartoon he made of himself standing with an oldfashioned clock with a chain that he had taken out of his pocket exclaiming something like: "Gosh, I didn’t know it was this late!" Only... it wasn't a clock but his heart and the chain was the coronary artery — only a world class humourist would be able to laugh at himself in a serious situation like that! Besides — a true humourist (and humanist) laughs at himself first!
What was your first contact with the man his work? What do you remember of it? Did you met him personal?
When I was a child Franquin's work wasn't published in Danish. I saw some of his books in French, bought them from a French bookstore in Copenhagen with my pocket money and litterally learned French through reading his comics with a dictionary! Later on I got Comment on Devient Créateur de Bande Dessinée, a book in which Philippe Vandooren asks Franquin and Gillain (Jijé, pd'h) questions about their profession. My mother helped me to translate the book. I was about 15 years old and it was a huge inspiration!
Later on I was lucky to meet Franquin at a couple of occasions. Once I visited him in Brussels. I remember that I had this picture in my head that his house would look something like the castle of Champignac — and I was very disappointed when I saw that he lived in a modern appartment with very cool designer furniture (but actually — if you study his comics you can easily spot his fascination with futuristic design also). However — when we entered his studio there was exactly the environment I had imagined — the old table, the scraps of paper with doodles etc. He was working on a page of Idées Noires and I was thrilled to see that it was made almost in the same size as the printed page — with a huge amount of details! His waste basket was full of discharded doodles — and I was dying to pick them up — but asking for a sketch would make me a mere "fan" instead of a "colleague". As much as I would have loved to have one of those drawings I have never regretted that I didn't ask him. The experience of being there and feeling that we were "fellow artists" was fantastic!
What is your favourable Franquin album, - adventure, - joke or - character and why? 
My favorite character is the little Noël (I don’t know his name in Dutch) from a very romantic Christmas story that I think was called Noël et l’Elaoin Shrédu (Sdrétu, pd'h) or something like that.
My favorite Spirou album is very predictable: Le Nid des Marsupilamis.
Has Franquin influenced your work?
Yes, a lot. I studied his way of drawing in every detail and probably learned a lot by copying him. Later on I luckily got other "heroes" that I copied for a while and (hopefully) I have gradually been able to let go of the influences and find my own solutions. The thing is — Franquin had his own special way of drawing a cow for instance. But it was his own unique way and he probably found it after days or weeks of studies. A lot of the details are not at all naturalistic (the mouth for instance) but the finished creature looks just right and is a perfect caricature of a cow. However, when somebody else copies it (and there are a lot of "Franquin cows" out there in other comics) it rings false because the drawing is not based on personal observations like his. There are no shortcuts, we all have to make our own observations!

What impact has Franquin on the comic world today?
I think he has shown us all that it is possible to create a totally personal vision.
All in his comics have been through his "filter". He didn’t just make small guys with big noses, all his characters are human beings with personalities, all his animals are personalities — and even the "dead" things, like buildings or cars are caricatures that bear his stamp — his vision!
When I look at his comics they always make me want to work harder — and they remind me of how much fun this work is!

[vertaald door David Steenhuyse]