Dear Mr. Geradts, my name is Ville and I live in Finland. My friends and I own Finnish biggest Donald Duck-fansite, Ankkalinnake.org.
So, it's a pleasure if I can ask some questions to you. These are the questions:
1. What is your alltime favorite Duck story? How about in your own production, which one of your stories you like most?
I hesitate between the Barks story where Uncle Scrooge's money falls out of the sky and everybody becomes a millionnaire, and the other story where Uncle Scrooge has to spend his money lavishly, goes on a trip with Donald and buys new cars all the time on the flimsiest excuses. These stories impressed me a lot and in fact they still make me dream about being horribly rich, which I am not.
I remember my own stories rather vaguely. When I plunge into my archives I am often very surprised when I read certain stories that I had completely forgotten. I remember the subjects, such as a tunnel through the earth, cars that run on ice, energy from termite farts, the moustache war, but I don't remember what I did with it.
2. Have you ever regretted becoming a comicbook artist?
On the contrary! I had other jobs and none suited me so well. I have been a physics & chemistry teacher at a girl's school. That was nice because there were lots of girls, but I found out that I was not born to be a teacher. I found myself in front of forty rowdy girls just a little bit younger than myself and not one of them was interested in physics. And in chemistry even less. I still like girls a lot, because I quit the teaching business...
I was in laboratories, which was very boring and I worked with computers when computers were still big primitive monsters.
But I prefer to be alone, amusing myself with a funny story I am inventing, hoping to amuse millions of kids.
3. If you had to describe your relationship to Disney Comics with one word, what it would to be?
Predestination. I share the same birthday with Donald Duck. (Not the same birthyear, but almost)
4. How long does it take you to write one page? Which part of your work do you like most?
This depends. Sometimes I have a great idea and the story is so easy to write, it will almost write itself. Then I can write ten pages in two days. After writing the texts I do the roughs. They take longer.
The last story I finished (this morning) was very hard to write. The subject (football) was imposed. I am not a sports person, so I had a hard time writing it. I had already done a football story before which was really great, about a football genius who came from the steppes of Asia somewhere and it kept popping up in my mind and bothered me. I spent a full week on it, or more.
I prefer writing the texts and laying the story out in good scenes where the action will be funny, where twists happen, where emotions rise high etcetera.
What I like less is drawing the roughs afterward. I know it's helping the final artist a lot if I do a rough of the panels, but I am a slow drawer. I try to do them as funny as I can, to keep my spirits high.
5. How do you get ideas to your stories?
Inventing stories is a lot like dreaming. In dreams you think about things that happened in the daytime that give you food for thoughts in the night. But in dreams you will change everything so you don't even know what you are dreaming about. Everything can be really weird. Sometimes stories work their way into my head that way.
But it can be otherwise and simpler. Seeing hurricane documentaries on TV can give me a great urge to do a story about a hurricane. Thinking about the energy problem give me lots of ideas for Gyro Gearloose. I am constantly hunting for ideas. I write them down before I forget them (which is VERY quickly) so my studio is littered with annotations that are often so cryptic that I do not understand them after a day or two.
6. Is there any certain character from Duckburg that you prefer to write?
No, all characters are different and have their own personality, so it depends on the mood you are in what character corresponds. I am a very calm guy but inside I'd like to explode like Donald does. I do not like to spend my money, just like Uncle Scrooge. I like to invent things, like Gyro. I try not to be dishonest but in fact I am a little like the Beagle Boys.
I adore writing Big Bad Wolf stories, because of his relationship to his son. First, it is special that he has a son and not a nephew, like Donald. He is really his father. And he wants to eat the friends of his son, which is pretty horrible when you think about it.
There are a few characters I like less, such as Mickey or the little puppy dog Scamp. They don't inspire me much.
7. Who are your own favourites among the Disney artists? Who is the best artist to work with?
I admire Vicar. He has a very solid and very funny style that looks like Barks, but is completely his own and very recognizable. Mau Heymans is very funny and does great exaggerations.
I never know which artist will do my stories, so it is always a big surprise when I see the final work.
8. How often you get feedback about your stories from your fans and what kind of feedback you usually get?
I lead a very isolated life and the feedback I get is when I read letters in "Donald Duck" magazine. The last comment there was from a girl whose mother is a teacher and who used my Donald "Inflation" story to teach the principle of heavy economic inflation in school classes. I was very proud, because very few writers know how to explain something serious and be funny at the same time.
9. Your best advice to beginner comic artist?
For writers: read a lot. For artists: draw a lot. For both: start teaching at a girl's school and see if you like that.
10. I have one more question. Can you send your autograph and maybe a little drawing, too, for me?
It's a pleasure, if you can because you are one of my favorite comic-artist in this world.