Our interview with the illustrator Guillaume Singelin on the occasion of the French translation of the game

Two years later, the first Citizen Sleeper will indeed be entitled to a complete French translation. Scheduled for February 1, 2024 via a free update, this will allow people who have a little difficulty with English to fully enjoy the adventure. On this occasion, we were able to ask some questions to Guillaume Singelin, a French artist who took care of the character design of the game, who is also known as the author of comic books such as Mutafukaz’ Loba Loc and more recently, Frontier.

Presentation and introduction

  • First of all, thank you for this interview! Can you quickly introduce yourself, who are you and what is your role in Citizen Sleeper?

Hello, my name is Guillaume Singelin and I am the “character designer” on Citizen Sleeper. In summary, my role was to illustrate the characters created by Gareth Damien Martin, the creator of the game.

  • You are mainly known for your work in comic books, especially with Label 619, but you also work in video games, as with Citizen Sleeper. What is your relationship with video games? Wasn’t Citizen Sleeper your first experience?

It’s true that most of my career revolves around comic books. But it’s an activity that also allows you to change fields, which is great. Like many, I grew up with video games, which always stimulated my desire to draw, especially at the time of game covers and very rich artwork booklets. And today I continue to play (not as much as I would like) for pleasure, but also because there are always many inspiring games even for working on comic books.

Before Citizen Sleeper, I had the opportunity by chance to create key art (the illustration visible when you are on the online game stores). Then I participated in the small game Bravery Network Online, which was more consistent in terms of work, but where I was not the originator of the artistic direction. Citizen Sleeper is not my first experience, but it takes on a different scale due to my involvement in terms of work, but also of more personal commitment.

  • Was drawing for video games a personal desire? An opportunity that presented itself?

Despite my admiration for video games in general, it was never a specific goal. It must be said that at the time of my studies, the medium tended a lot towards a desire for photorealism, which I didn’t really like. But for a few years now, indie games offer more artistic and personal visuals, which I really like. And the chance of the internet is to be able to quickly get in touch with developers. When I was offered my first key art, everything happened very quickly.

Citizen Sleeper soon to be in French

  • How was the collaboration with the studio responsible for Citizen Sleeper done?

I knew his first game In Other Waters, and unusually, I have a small fanart that allowed me to get in touch with Gareth the creator. He knew my work in comic books, so we were meant to cross paths, a few months later he offered me to work on his next game. It was a very smooth encounter, almost natural.

  • What attracted you to Citizen Sleeper?

When Gareth pitched the game to me, I was immediately charmed by the universe, it checked what I liked in cyberpunk and science fiction (at the time I was starting a science fiction comic book project), with a human approach that spoke to me a lot. When we exchanged ideas about the works that would influence his work and therefore the creation of the characters, we quickly saw that we had exactly the same lists in mind. So despite speaking two different languages, sharing the same culture really helped.

  • We have learned that a French translation will soon be available for the game. That’s great! Did the language barrier bother you at any point? Did you contribute in any way to the arrival of a French translation?

It is true that when I was testing the first builds of the game, I really had to concentrate, or when I received character descriptions, I had to be very focused. But we quickly found our way of working, with a lot of reference images.

For the translation of the game into French, I contributed because thanks to my French audience, Gareth received many requests from French players, which put a little pressure on him, hehe. But then it was the Riotloc team who did this tremendous work.

  • A sequel, Citizen Sleeper 2, is in preparation. Do you think we can also hope for a French translation? Maybe later?

I hope so, of course the feedback on the first episode will probably condition this choice a bit. It should be taken into account that it is really a micro-studio (we are mainly three working on Citizen Sleeper). But if there is one, I think it will indeed be later.

Process and creation

Citizen sleeper 1 2

  • How did your work unfold? What did you receive as a basis to guide your drawings? Tell us a little about the creative process!

Gareth first provided me with a vast bank of images, and even references from films, series to give me the general atmosphere of the game, to understand what kind of science fiction he had in mind. As I said before, it’s that we had the same references in mind which simplified the process a lot. Then I received short character descriptions, more or less precise. This was really intended to give me some strong information about the character’s personality. All of this coupled with a series of images, sometimes going as far as references to actors and actresses for the faces, sometimes fashion photos for the clothing.

After that, it was a back and forth between me and Gareth, with lots of sketches, in order to really capture the essence of the character. What was nice is that sometimes I really aimed for the idea he had in mind, and sometimes I deviated from his idea, which pushed him to readjust his writing. The process was very fluid, I found the pleasure of working with a scriptwriter in comic books.

  • Citizen Sleeper and your comic book Frontier were released a year apart. Both works take place in futuristic universes, how did you manage this “cohabitation” of projects?

It’s indeed a funny timing, for Frontier I had my own universe in mind. But inevitably, juggling between two close universes meant that I drew from one and the other, there was a mutual influence I think. Fortunately, this cohabitation was rather positive.

  • Was there any influence between the two projects? Or possibly ideas you had for one when you were working on the other?

The writing of Citizen Sleeper and Frontier was set before our meeting. So the universes were stable, but it is certain that the themes are very close, so it is very possible that I drew from the writing of Citizen Sleeper to adjust my dialogues. Gareth being a very good writer, and me a beginner, I had a lot to learn from him. Graphically, it was a real back and forth of influence.

Citizen sleeper screenshot05 3

  • And now, what is next? Do you have any particular desires? Do you plan to work in video games again?

I will first focus on the second episode, and comic books are a medium that I really like. Whether I want to continue working in video games will depend on the projects. I found the perfect partner with Gareth. I very much appreciate small, even micro-teams, it’s more human and I think we can do more personal things there. I have participated in the pre-production of games for large studios in the past, and it was not an interesting experience for me. So I will see based on opportunities and people.

  • If you had to pick one game in 2023, which one would it be for you? Do you play regularly? What is your current favorite?

Unfortunately, time really is lacking for me to fully play, but last year, I think of Alan Wake II, especially for the very marked artistic aspect. It’s clearly the type of game that could inspire me to do detective stories in comic books. At the moment, my little favorite, but it dates back a bit, would be Fuga Melodies of Steel, both for its artistic approach and its JRPG mechanics (a genre I like).

  • Last question: do you have any anecdote or unusual story to tell? Something that has marked you in relation to Citizen Sleeper? Or maybe just an anecdote that makes you smile now about your career?

What will always make me laugh is that what I really liked and admired about In Other Waters (Gareth’s previous game) and what made me want to create the fanart, was that the game had an immersive and imaginative capacity thanks to the fact that it didn’t show any characters and had an almost abstract rendering of its universe. So when he asked me to participate in Citizen Sleeper, I was very honored, but at the same time I thought that my role as a character designer would somewhat break the magic that had pleased me so much. In the end, Citizen Sleeper gained a new identity and I don’t regret having participated.

A big thank you to Guillaume Singelin for his time and his answers. We remind you that the French translation of Citizen Sleeper will be deployed on February 1st on the various platforms. Its sequel, Citizen Sleeper 2: Starward Vector, is in development for PC and Xbox Series.

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