Hi Comicbook fans!
I am Chris Malgrain, writer-artist and founder of Oniric Comics, and this is my story.
I was born in France and knew as early as kindergarten that I was a comic book artist. I told all my friends my drawings were published and they believed me until their parents told them it wasn’t possible and they called me a liar. I was five and when I think about it, I find it pretty weird, but it shows there was something in me, a project that needed realization. The sci-fi cartoons I watched back then, the TV series, the comics I looked at, all gave me a burning passion for imaginary worlds and fed my imagination. The dream was always in me, I drew my first comics on school copybooks and pretended they were real published comics. I was happy.
Then at age 9, something fateful happened: I discovered American superheroes in a magazine. Spider-Man, the Silver Surfer and Nova–I immediately fell in love with those colorful heroes and the impressive city of New York, where their adventures took place. After years of drawing cartoon heroes and Disney characters, I knew superheroes were what I wanted to do. I would draw them and go to New York City!
Thus my American Dream was born. I was to start learning English at school the following year, and I decided I’d be good at English because I’d go to the States one day. The dream made me learn English feverishly. I drew pages and pages of superheroes, imagining the day when I would be published for real. I went to study English at University and as I had to work for a living and my art was not yet ready, I became a teacher. I taught and drew comics in my free time. I read a lot of comics too, especially John Byrne’s comics and Stan Lee’s classics. I love the 1950s and ’60s, and reading and rereading those stories kept feeding my dream. I dreamed of meeting Stan Lee and telling him how much my life owed to the characters he co-created.
Then I broke into comics. In France, at first. I was happy to work for the company that adapted Marvel comics. Besides superheroes, they published jungle and Western comics that had filled my childhood with wonder before I discovered superheroes. I thus got to write and draw those characters, and it felt so great to recapture the magic I had found in their adventures as a kid and give it to new readers. I understood that this transmission is what my life is all about. I was such a Stan Lee fan that I went to San Diego for the first time in 2002 to meet him. I was too late at his booth and didn’t see him. Of course, I had a good time there and made interesting art contacts, but basically, I crossed the Atlantic with one primary purpose and didn’t attain it. Ouch!
Then, one day in 2004, one of my editors, Jean-Marc Lofficier, who was based in LA and who knew my ultimate dream was to work for American publishers, emailed me that iBooks, inc. (not the Apple company), was looking for artists, and I should apply. I sent them samples and got an immediate response. I was hired on the adaptation of a story by Isaac Asimov! My American Dream was coming true at last! My editors on this were Steven A. Roman and publisher Byron Preiss, and everything was cool with them. But the project seemed to go very slowly, and I got worried. Then it was cancelled. Steven and Byron were sorry, and I was devastated. Was I cursed? I had missed Stan Lee two years before, I had done a try-out Superman sequence for Bob Greenberger that he had approved just before losing his position as Superman editor, and now this! Maybe I was not meant to work in the US after all…
Three months later, Steven and Byron got back to me and offered me a new job: Stan Lee’s Alexa! St-Stan Lee? Did you say, Stan Lee? I drew and inked a chapter of this comic and inked another, drawn by John Royle. The other artists on the book were Dave Gibbons and Dan Jurgens, and Small Little Me got his name on the cover alongside those giants! And two years after missing Stan Lee at San Diego, not only did I get to meet him, but I also got to sign a preview of the comic with him! That’s crazy, isn’t it? This has taught me that present failures may, in fact, pave the way for tomorrow’s successes. I don’t know the secrets of life, but my feeling is that when you have a strong desire from the bottom of your heart, it will manifest in real life through a kind of subconscious network. Anyway, whether destiny or mere coincidence, this magical meeting taught me to never give up my dreams. The road to their realization is not easy, but there must always be hope.
After Stan Lee’s Alexa, I got an offer from the mythical French magazine Pif. I co-created The Rovers (adapted in the US by Arcana Comics in 2012) for Pif and drew their adventures for four years. That led to other great projects that have occupied me until this day.
Recognition in my country is cool, but when I turned forty, I started to think about the flight of time and about what I really wanted. It’s time to devote my whole time to the dream of the 9-year-old child within me now.
As said before, my role is to be a transmitter of the magic of comics. To me, comics are meant to entertain and elevate us. To make our dream and use the energy of this dream positively in our lives. To give us hope when we go through hard times. I remember reading an article in the ’80s about a blind kid for whom Daredevil was a tremendous source of support and joy. Helping us real people is what superheroes are all about to me. They’re metaphors of the power within us to overcome our problems and respect other people. Tragedy is a necessary element in comics, but so is joy. Comics must be fun and inspirational. I know this sounds corny in today’s comic world, where cynicism rules. Heroes are no longer heroes, and they have no grandeur. The stories are dark for dark’s sake, and there’s no fun in them.
I decided to found Oniric Comics to bring back the dream that superhero comics represented for my generation, and thus contribute to a neo-classical trend. By the way, people sometimes ask me what «Oniric» means. Well, it is an English word, also spelled Oneiric, and it means «relating to dreams.» Not surprising, is it? ^^
Well, I hope you’ll have as much fun reading my comics as I did, creating them. Many thanks to the creators who have worked on some comics with me and to my closest collaborators: Formidables and Sideral scripter Steven A.Roman, designers Jim Arden and Fred Grivaud, and Oniric website designer Darrin Wiltshire. Darrin is also the head honcho of Temporal Comics, and we work together on the handbook Heroes of the Golden Age. Check it out too!
You can read all our comics here for free. Print versions are available at IndyPlanet
Enjoy, fellow dreamers!