Interview by Frank Forte
Fufu grew up in tiny hamlet in Bavaria, in an old farm house filled to the roof with VHS cassettes and DVDs collected by his cinephile American mother, and his German father’s art books. He was always interested in comics, and studied graphic design in Germany, specializing in illustration. Later he went to Angoulême, France, to study at la Bande Dessinée.
Since around 2000, Fufu has worked as a freelance illustrator in various fields. He’s done countless illustrations for European role playing games, but has also worked on books, stage productions, and animation. In the mid 2000s he lived in Amsterdam for a few years, working on video games. In 2013 he created the Zombie-card game Zombory. His personal comics have appeared in many anthologies and zines in several countries and typically revolve around the surreal adventures of Ray Murphy – Detective of Dreams and his assistant Molluskhead. Today he lives in Portland, Oregon and Berlin, Germany, with his partner Susanna, who is a painter and a modelmaker for the film industry and their son Rocco.
HM: What’s on the drawing table today?
Fufu Frauenwahl: I’m currently working on a bunch of illustrations for a choose-your-own-adventure type book, in which you play a wannabe deity of Rock, who, to prove himself worthy of the position, has to guide a newcomer band to become the greatest Metal act on the planet. Fun stuff. And I’m preparing a few things that I’m planning to present at the upcoming CthulhuCon here in Portland.
HM: Do you have any work lined up for any comic book companies? Covers or short stories?
Fufu: Recently I did a story and a cover for the German superhero spoof series Captain Berlin, written by director Jörg Buttgereit, and also a Lovecraft-related short story for an upcoming anthology. But at the moment, when I have time next to my illustration work, I concentrate on my own personal series Ray Murphy and Molluskhead, of which I have done a slew of short stories in the past. Although they’re all self-contained short stories based on my dream diary, there’s actually a loose story-arc going on throughout the series and I still need to draw a few stories to make it work as a whole, at which point I would very much like to put out a collection. I haven’t really looked for a publisher though.
HM: Who are your influences in comics?
Fufu: Hard to tell, there are so many. When I studied in France I was told my style was very American“ and it’s true, I read lots of American comics when I was a kid, even though in Germany at that point the selections in the shops were pretty much split equally between American and Franco-Belgian comics, with manga coming along later. But I’ve always been an omnivore concerning comics. Of course I admire singular geniuses like Jack Kirby or Moebius, but also too many others to mention. In terms of comics writing, Alan Moore.
HM: Who are your influences outside of comics?
Fufu: That’s much easier to answer, actually. What I like in a work of art, or a story, is not so much entertainment or escapism but rather a sense of disturbance of normalcy, an effect of philosophical unhinging. I’m fascinated by the idea that we live in an illusory or warped state of reality, and that’s notion which is reflected in the literary works of Lovecraft, Kafka and several lesser known writers of the weird and fantastic, like for example Bruno Schulz, Alfred Kubin, or Thomas Ligotti, to mention someone contemporary. Or take the films of Cronenberg, Lynch, Roy Andersson and others in that vein.
HM: What inspires you to create your artworks?
Fufu: The work of other artists and writers, and I’m quite interested in science and philosophy. But above all, my sense of being thrown into this strange world.
HM: How does “a normal day of artist” in your life look like?
Fufu: Get up, get my son to school, work as much as possible, procrastinate as little as possible, pick up the kid, spend time with my family, maybe draw some more, read or watch a movie. Sleep.
That’s basically it.
HM: What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art?
Fufu: Nobody really cared about the comics medium at the school at which I studied graphic design, so in that respect I was pretty much an autodidact up to the point when I went to study in Angoulême, which was a great experience, but by that time much of my approach to comics and style had already formed. So I guess it’s somewhere in-between.
HM: Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What medium do you most often use and why?
Fufu: I work pretty much 50% digitally and 50% materially (does anyone even say that?). I do a lot of my illustrations purely on the computer, which I enjoy, however when I draw comics I like to keep it real and use brush and ink. The latter just feels more true somehow, but it’s kind of a Jekyll and Hyde thing.
HM: Tell us more about your workspace/studio.
Fufu: I mostly work at home, in my own study which has everything I need – my books, a desk with my computer and a drawing table. Nothing out of the ordinary, really.
HM: What is the hardest thing on being an artist?
Fufu: Being really good at it. Also: taxes and book keeping.
HM: Your favorite art or life quote is …
Fufu: I can’t say I have an absolute favorite, but I do like this one a lot:
“You do not need to leave your house. Stay at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Don’t even wait, be quiet, still and solitary. And the world will offer itself to you to be unmasked, it can’t do otherwise, in extacy it will writhe before you”
FuFu Frauenwahl – Comics & Illustration
Frank Forte Bio
Frank Forte is an accomplished designer, storyboard artist and comic book artist. He has worked in animation for feature films, TV and gaming. Some of the shows Frank has worked on include: Bob’s Burgers, Despicable Me 2, Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out, The Super Hero Squad Show, Marvel Heroes 4D, Lego Hero Factory, Lego Bionicle: The Legend Reborn, Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi, Re-Animated Pilot (Out of Jimmy’s Head), The Mr. Men Show, Bionicle: The Legend Reborn (DVD-2009), Lego Clutch Powers 4D ride at Legoland and Lego Atlantis. He co-created The Cletus and Floyd Show with Gene McGuckin, a tribute to animation directors Tex Avery, Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones. Robert S. Rhine and Frank Forte created the pilot episode of Sickcom the Animated Series, which was sold to Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival Of Animation in 2003.
In Frank’s spare time he paints. Recent shows include Laluzapalooza 2015 and Laluzapalooza Jury Winners Group Show 2015 at La Luz De Jesus Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), Villains of Animation at Van Eaton Galleries (Sherman Oaks, CA). Past shows include the CATZ Group Show at LTD. Gallery in Seattle, WA and the 6×6 group Show at The Phone Booth Gallery in Long Beach, CA. His art has been exhibited at Cannibal Flower (Los Angeles) and the Animation Guild Gallery 839 (North Hollywood).
Frank is also the publisher at Asylum Press, a publishing company that produces premium comic books and graphic novels within the horror, science fiction, and action genres.