Exclusive interview with Marvel and Disney animator Pascal Campion
09 June, 2017
Exclusive interview with Marvel and Disney animator Pascal Campion
Pascal Campion, the illustrator and creator of animations for Dream Works Animation, Paramount Pictures, Disney Feature, Disney Toons, Cartoon Network, Hulu, PBS has talked with Kviris Palitra newspaper. The French-American artist, who has been working in the industry for the last 15 years, is the author of very popular Penguins from Madagascar cartoon as well as Marvel Comics characters.

At the same time, since 2005, he has his own project called Sketches of the Day, in the frames of which
Pascal has created close to 3 000 personal works. The project has 400 000 social network subscribers.

At the moment, Pascal Campion is the art director of joint project from Netflix and Warner Bros. The project is called Green Eggs and Ham.

Pascal Campion has talked to us about his works, love, childhood and Madagascar Penguins straight from his Los Angeles home.

You are drawing from the age of three and as I know the first thing you painted was the cover of comics that your brother gave you for “copying”. Many years after this you are making illustration for Marvel Comics, Disney Feature, Disney Toons, Cartoon Networ, etc. Was this your dream which came true?


I started drawing later than three actually. I'm not sure what age, but I was not the typical kid that draws constantly... I even was pretty bad at drawing when we had school assignments and such. I felt self conscious about it. It was maybe around 6 or 7, when I could read and started to read comics that I would ask my brother to lend me. He would make me draw the characters on the inside cover.

After that, when I got the "bug" for drawing I started getting more serious about it, but I was still not good. I was never the kid that drew well… all the way till high school. After that, I was the kid that drew comics and eventually got better.

But from 8 or 9, maybe ten on, my dream was to draw for Marvel comics, so when that happened a few years ago, I was absolutely overjoyed.

For Disney and other animation studios it wasn't something I ever considered until college. Animation had little appeal to me back then until I saw the movie called "The Iron Giant". That movie totally changed my perspective on the art of animation.

Which was your favorite character or fairy tale in childhood?


Around the world in eighty days by Jules Vernes. The main character, Phineas Fogg was amazing to me as a kid because he always knew exactly what to do and would never let things get in his way.

Still to this day I love the book and the character.

What or who influences you during the process of making animation?


During the process of making animation...not very much influences me. I haven't actually done animation in a few years now because I'm mostly designing these days. But when I was doing animation, I was still trying to figure out my process. I didn't look at many other animators because I was very conscious that my way of working and thinking about animation was very different.

In terms of designing/drawing/illustrations that's a different story. I am very influenced by all the graphic novels I read (and still read) as a child. From Tintin to Asterix, to Lieutenant Blueberry, Brousaille… I would read anything I could find that have sequential art. I was an avid reader.

I remember finding Akira when I was in high school and being shocked at the kinetic energy coming from the art. I could just look at a panel and feel the bike speeding down a tunnel or a character hitting the ground - something I had not experienced before.

I also have a huge fondness for illustrators, not necessarily as much when I was younger because if it didn't tell a story in time I didn't care for it, but later, when I got to college and even after that I started developing more and more an appreciation and a love for artists such as Winslow Homer, Karl Larsson, Monet, Norman Rockwell, Remington, Andrew Wyeth which I'm loving right now.

Recently I got into Alex Toth. I'd heard his name before but wasn't very familiar with his work and didn't care for it, but I was lent a book of his and just fell in love with what he was doing in terms of blacks and whites, drawing, storytelling - just beautiful work.

All these things influence me tremendously.

Now let’s talk about the present. I often look through of your “Sketches of the Day”, they are filled with emotions. As I understand the dominant theme are relations, between two beloved, between parents and child, between friend or human and nature … you really believe that only love can save the world, or you want to give the people this hope?

I don't know if love can save the world - that's a funny question. I do know that I love the feeling of it and that's why I draw it a lot. But I also talk about just everyday relationship which is also about love under a different form and can be just as interesting, not as dramatic, but more fulfilling in many ways.
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Daily Sketch by Pascal Campion

When I started doing daily sketches, my idea was just to make people smile once a day. That was it. Not laugh out loud, just smile... It evolved from there. After about a year or two, I started wanting to explore different types of situations and feelings (my wife strongly suggested that as well! She's a HUGE influence on my work) . After my daughter was born it felt like everything I did had a paternal bend to it and it made me evolve even more. When my twin boys were born, it triggered again a change and we got more superheroes and action oriented things. When big things happen in my life, it influences what I do for my daily sketches.
I do think the images are more about making people smile and dream and maybe give them some hope, but I don't know if they are as strong as that. Hopefully one day I'll create a truly iconic image that will resonate that strongly!

As “The Penguins of Madagascar” is one of the most popular animations for kids in Georgia, can you look back and tell the making process?


Is it really? The process was very simple for me.

I was working from home (I lived fifteen /twenty minutes aways from the PDI/Dreamworks campus at the time). The production designer would just call me or email me, and I would come in for a meeting and he would tell me what sequence he wanted me to work on. Then I would go home and do some drawings on it. I was only involved in visual development for this, not in actual production, so I had a lot of fun things to do... explore what a street in Hong Kong could look like, or the polar caps, or what would the penguins look like in different shapes and positions - things like that. Very fun.

During the years the theme for cartoons has changed, the animations that were popular many years ago aren’t interesting for our children nowadays. New heroes have come up. What do you think about this process? Are you planning to make new superhero for the future?

It's just the way things go. I know a lot of people talk about how great cartoons were before , but when I look back at some of the cartoons I used to watch as a kid, the vast majority of them just don't hold up to today's standards. The process of animation has gotten so refined over the last few decades that it's hard for something like Goldorak to compete. It was drawn crudely and barely animated at all. While today's TV shows have an animation style that is much closer to feature than it is to TV the way it was a decade or two ago.

The world is changing too. People are roughly the same but the problems and social situations that exist now are different from what was there a decade or two ago so the creative response to it is different. The characters now reflect more the world of today than they do the world of yesterday and I think that is most likely what will keep happening.

There are definitely a few "older" cartoons that I still love seeing. Lupin the third for instance - it does feel like it's from a different time, but it's still incredibly charming, or the Mysterious cities of Gold - even if this one does suffer from the fact that animations nowadays are so much more fluid, but it's still a beautiful storyline.

By Nino Tsipuria for Kviris Palitra

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