With Harmony, Vol. 1 (hardcover), Insight Editions are bringing Mathieu Reynès sci-fi comic of the same name to the U.S. for the first time. In the following email interview about it, Reynès discusses what inspired and influenced both the words and the art, as well as who he thinks should play the titular super soldier if she comes to the small screen.
Photo Credit: © Chloé Vollmer Lo
Let’s start with the story. Who is Harmony, what does she do, and when and where is this story set?
Harmony is a teenager, she’s around 16 years old. It’s hard to tell you more about her because at the beginning of the story she is amnesiac, so she knows nothing about herself. The reader and will have to wait for her memory back. Let’s just say she is “special” and had a special youth… I will note that the story is set nowadays somewhere in North America.
Where did you first get the idea for Harmony, and how, if at all, did that idea change as you wrote it?
I did the first sketch of Harmony in 2006. She had no name and no story, she was just a concept…she was very close to Charlie from Stephen King’s Firestarter in my mind. I wrote different stories around that girl with powers and finally compiled most of them in Harmony in 2011. The big change from my first idea is that she’s finally not the only one to have powers, there are other kids with powers as well.
In Harmony, she has been modified by the government to make be a super soldier. It’s an idea we’ve seen before; Captain America: The First Avenger comes to mind. What makes Harmony different?
I have no idea. Because she is her. She’s a young girl, she has her badass style, she fights for her freedom not to get revenge for what she suffered. She doesn’t want to be a hero, just to be herself and have a normal life. She’s just a teenager trying to find her way.
I didn’t want to be original at all cost, I wanted to tell her story and tell my version of this stereotypical character.
Are there any writers, or specific stories, that had a big influence on Harmony but not on anything else you’ve written?
Like I said, Stephen King was a big influence with his Charlie and Carrie. Katsihiro Otomo’s Akira is just behind. I discovered the manga when I was 13-year-old and it was like an electroshock. And of course, comic books like X-Men or Gen 13. I read these when I was a teenager and they still influence my work today.
How about non-literary influences; was Harmony influenced by any movies, TV shows, or video games?
I really enjoyed the TV show Fringe. I think I was watching it during the period I was writing Harmony and it probably fed my inspiration. Back in the ’80s, do you remember another TV show titled Misfits Of Science?
Courtney Cox had telekinetic powers and many other points in common with Harmony.
As I said most of the influences date of my childhood. They built my imagination.
And then for the art, are there any artists, comic book or otherwise, who you think influenced the art in Harmony more than in your other comics?
It’s hard to say, there are so many artists I admire and try to get influenced by. Otomo of course, even if it doesn’t show a lot. Sean Gordon Murphy for his ink work. Marcial Toledano, Olivier Coipel, and so many others.
I really admire the work of Lewis Larosa, he is the master of shading. It doesn’t show in the first volume of Harmony, but in the next one you will see how he influences my art.
It’s important to me to keep feeding my own art style being influenced by other artists. I’m never satisfied with it so it helps me progressing. I can spend hours on Instagram or Pinterest watching great images from artists all over the world.
What about movies, TV shows, or games; did any of those things have a big influence on the art in Harmony?
Sure. I’m not a gamer, I can’t find time for that, but I watch a lot of Japanese and American animation. They are great inspirations to me.
Now, Harmony was originally published in 2016 by Europe Comics, and in English. Is there anything different about this new version of Harmony, Vol. 1?
The Europe Comics version was digital only. Like the original French books, it was published in volumes. The Insight Comics version compiles the first three volumes: Memento, Indio, and Ago. The pages are the same, I think no changes were done from the digital English version…except that it’s now a real book and that makes all the different to me.
Europe Comics’ website lists four volumes of Harmony. Is that the whole story, or is it still going?
In France the 6th volume has just come out. I’m currently working on the 7th one which is the last chapter of the story.
Are there plans for the rest to be published by Insight?
I have no idea. I hope they will. It will probably depend on the success of this first part.
Now, as you know, Hollywood loves turning comic books into movies and TV shows. Has there been any talk of making a Harmony movie or show?
There is a project of turning Harmony into a TV show. There is or there was…I have no news about it, I don’t even know if it’s still a project. Anyway, if Hollywood is interested I think we can find a deal. I would prefer a TV show than a movie to have time enough to develop the characters, give them depth and personality. The story narration is quite deliberate in Harmony, I like to take my time to tell the story, to construct the characters and the atmosphere. Movies can hardly afford that.
If the show does happen, who would you want them to cast as Harmony and the other main characters?
Harmony was inspired by the singer / actress Taylor Momsen [Gossip Girl], but I think Chloe Grace Moretz [Kick-Ass] would have been a great Harmony. And for Nita, Russel Crowe [Gladiator] would be perfect.
And what role would Chris Evans play?
Ha ha! Sorry, but I’m not a huge fan of Chris Evans… He would probably play a soldier who get his ass kicked by the kids.
Finally, if someone enjoys Harmony, Vol. 1, which of your other comics that are available in the U.S. would you suggest they check out next?
I would suggest The Water Memory. I only wrote the story, I didn’t do the art, but I really like this book. And it’s the only other one of mine available in the U.S.