Meet Jo Rioux, artist of The Daughters of Ys!

1. What initially drew you to graphic novels?
Graphic novels—or bandes-dessinées as they are known in French—were my favorite books to read as a kid. I devoured them! But “Comic book artist” wasn’t considered a wise career choice, so I never even dreamed I could do them for a living. It was only after art school, when one of the first contracts I was offered happened to be illustrating a graphic novel that I actually tried my hand at making them. I fell in love quickly! It’s a medium so full of possibilities that it remains my favorite way of telling a story.

2. What are some artists or styles that have influenced your work?
I just love the direction that children’s book illustration has taken in the last few years. My two biggest influences are Isabella Mazzanti and Matt Rockefeller. Mazzanti for her impressive atmosphere and style, and Rockefeller for his incredible colors and ability to draw absolutely anything. Over the years I’ve also absorbed a lot of lessons from japanese mangaka like Rumiko Takahashi and french comic artists like Yslaire.

3. What research or inspiration did you turn to when creating the art for The Daughter of Ys?
I tried to infuse the sea throughout the book—from the rolling hills of the coast, to Rozenn’s wild hair and Dahut’s flowing robes. I even used the color of the sea off the Brittany coast—a beautiful green-turquoise—as a base color in most of the pages.

There’s also a world renowned Celtic Breton singer Denez Prigent who sings hauntingly beautiful songs. I had his albums on repeat while I came up with the drawings and I’m sure it helped set the mood.

4. What scene did you most enjoy depicting?
I love working on action sequences, where I can really loosen up and draw sweeping gestures! It’s hard to choose from all the dramatic scenes in the book, but the very beginning of the story, with its crashing waves and deadly duel, was probably my favorite to draw.

5. Are there any hidden Easter Eggs or pieces of art that the casual reader might have missed?
The final monster’s shape is based on the triskelion or triple-spiral, an ancient European symbol that had great importance in Celtic culture.

Don’t miss The Daughters of Ys out in August!


Daughters of Ys book cover