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An interview with Ester Vanhoutte, a comic book writer

This year in March we organised a comic book workshop in LTC and we had a great time! Later, we had a pleasure of doing an interview with the person who held the workshop, Ester. Ester is a professional comic book designer from Belgium. Here’s what we found out:

by: Jovana, Gligorije and Dusan

Hello, Ester, how are you?

– I’m Fine, thank you very much (laughing).

How did you decide to come to Novi Sad?

– I was travelling this summer, I went to Istanbul and I met a friend of mine, his name is Lazar and he is from Novi Sad, so he invited me here and told me that I could stay at his place while I’m in Novi Sad, and so I did. And here I am now.

What did you like most about our town?

– I really like the mountain Fruska Gora. It’s really nice because if you sometimes don’t want to be in the city with all the noise and stuff, you can always go there and enjoy nature. And I also like that Novi Sad is not so big. Belgrade is a very big city, maybe even too big, but Novi Sad is exactly the right size.

What is your favourite place in Novi Sad?

– There is one little restaurant near the stadium. It looks very traditional and they have really nice food there.

Do you like Serbian food? If yes, what is your favourite dish?

– I really like Serbian food a lot. My favourite are burek and pljeskavica (laughing)

Do you find Serbian language hard to  learn?

– Actually, yes. I’m doing the best I can, but I’m having trouble all the time. Your language is very hard (laughing)

Are there some things from our culture that you found unusual or strange?

– I don’t know if this is true, but I heard that if somebody dies in a car accident, sometimes members of their family build a fountain instead of a monument on the sight where the accident happened. It sounds a bit sad, but it is also nice and symbolic.

How did you decide to work with comic books?

– I really liked reading comics when I was a child, and I was so lucky that there was a comic book store next to my house where I grew up, and I read them all the time when I was a kid. Then later, I was looking for something to study at university, and I found out that I can actually study comics, and I thought: “Hmmm, how cool would that be?”, and so I did (laughing)

Do you think that internet has a positive or negative influence on comic books?

– It’s kind of fifty-fifty. Good thing is that you can easily learn almost anything about comics online, and if you live somewhere isolated, you can easily get in touch with people from the comic book world. Bad part is that it is very easy to put stuff online nowadays, and a lot of people put very bad, low quality comics online, and you need to be very critical of what you see and read. But generally, I think that internet a positive influence on the comic book world.

If you were stranded on a deserted island and you get to have only one comic book, which one would it be?

Oh, noooooooo!!! (laughing) Such a tough question.. Well, if I had to choose, it would have to be a very old comic, called “The City”. It was made by a Belgian person over 100 years ago. What he did is that he made woodcuts (drawings on wooden boards) which he later turned into a comic book. There is only one drawing per page and they are of people living in the city and doing usual things they normally do, like going shopping or going for a walk… It’s not a big book, but the way he drew people is very nice, and he put a lot of small details in his drawings, so you really have to pay attention, and you will not get fed up with them easily.

What is your advice to foreigners who would like to come to Novi Sad?– Pljeskavica (laughung)… Well, Novi Sad is a nice place and there are many things you can enjoy. It is not like those big cities where you have so many huge monuments to visit, and soon you get bored. No, here, you have to explore the whole city, go for a walk and just enjoy the little things.

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