Thursday, 20 June 2013

#ReadItMD13 Comics and Magazines Week - ReadItDaddy interview the mighty Metaphrog!

Louis - Red Letter Day. If you haven't "met" Louis yet, it's high time you did!
It's #ReadItMD13 Comics and Magazines week and we've been very fortunate to have a brilliant response from all manner of fantastic comic and magazine folk on the blog this week. Today we feel extremely honoured to be joined by Metaphrog, aka John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs - the genius duo behind one of the most brilliant, bittersweet and surreal comics we've ever read - the fantastic Louis comics.
The dastardly boss and his sidekick up to no good. Shiny!

ReadItDaddy (Phil): Thanks for joining in with our #ReadItMD13 Theme Week celebrating children's comics and magazines. Tell us a little bit about yourselves, and the mighty Metaphrog!

Metaphrog: Metaphrog is just the two of us, John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs. We met almost 18 years ago when Sandra moved to Scotland from France and John returned from The Netherlands. Pretty much right away we realised we got on well and wanted to work together making comics. Sandra has always been drawing, and John always wanted to be a writer. We have made lots of different comics together and are probably best known for our Louis stories. We have been very fortunate that they have received so much attention in the media and have been nominated for so many awards.

ReadItDaddy (Phil): We really love Louis, and it seems a lot of other folk do too. How did you come up with such an original character and concept, what inspired Louis?

Metaphrog: The first Louis book came out in the year 2000 and was inspired by the world around us. We wanted to explore the idea of a character who was almost a prisoner and who couldn’t quite see the world around them. The world Louis lives in is quite dark, dangerous and nasty. Some of the inspiration certainly came from the way our own environment and eco-system was being treated. For example, Louis’ job is to make fruit and vegetables and to fill bottles with air. It is not exactly a fulfilling role and so it is understandable that he dreams of exploring the mountains.
Beautiful panel work as Louis gets on with his day
ReadItDaddy (Phil): We've really struggled to find great child-friendly comic stories, graphic novels and magazines that are engaging and 'meaty' (most seem quite lightweight). Do you have any favourite influences?

Metaphrog: Both of us grew up in different countries at different times reading Tintin, but we both read a lot as children growing up. Favourites would include Oor Wullie and The Broons for John, and Sylvain et Sylvette for Sandra. Funnily enough, neither of us really read comics between the ages of 12 and 16 but then Sandra read a lot of European Bande DessinĂ©e, American and British comics, while John explored things like Zippy the Pinhead and other underground comics and fanzines. There is definitely room for growth in the world of great comics for kids!

Louis and his beloved friend FC
ReadItDaddy (Phil): I grew up with some of the great 70s comics, most of which seemed to involve lots of very talented Scots. What do they put in the water up there!

Metaphrog: It’s true a lot of Scottish writers and artists were involved with magazines like 2000AD and have worked for the bigger American comic publishers over the years. I suppose there is a strong oral tradition of telling stories in Scotland. Many of the comics published by DC Thompson sold in vast quantities for decades and that meant millions of people read comics which must have influenced the following generations.

ReadItDaddy (Charlotte): Can FC have his own story one day?

Metaphrog: That would be a great idea, we don’t think Louis would mind.

ReadItDaddy (Charlotte): Will Louis ever get married? (Daddy points out that this MAY have already happened but we haven't finished off all the Louis stories yet!)

Metaphrog: Louis hasn’t already been married but he does meet a friendly girl in Louis - Dreams Never Die and also in Louis – The Clown’s Last Words so who knows? It could possibly happen. Part of the sadness of the Louis stories must come from the fact that apart from FC Louis is alone.

Our huge thanks to John and Sandra for stopping by the blog. Visit the Metaphrog website at  and John and Sandra's blog at and get some seriously awesome Louis in your life too!