After almost 10 years of gestation, the animated series based on the comic created by Réal Godbout and Pierre Fournier is ready to be broadcast. An adaptation directed by Martin Villeneuve (Imelda), who entrusted the voice of the gruff FBI agent to Benoît Brière.

For those unfamiliar with the antihero created by Réal Godbout and Pierre Fournier in the early 1980s, Steve “Red” Ketchup was originally a supporting character in the Michel Risk series, published in the now defunct Croc magazine.

But by the very admission of its co-creator, Réal Godbout, Red Ketchup was so popular that the two cartoonists brought it back to life in a series (for adults) which bore its name and which was declined in short stories, in the style of a soap opera.

The FBI agent, an occasional drug addict, had been the subject of scientific experiments by Dr. K during the Vietnam War. This is what made him almost immortal, and explained that he could drink windshield washer or gasoline without consequence. One thing is certain, in nine albums, the albino colossus with a brushed cut has never lowered his eyes before a rival.

Blood, humor and a bit of foul language, that’s basically what caught the attention of director Martin Villeneuve when he was 9 or 10 years old.

“It was the kind of forbidden comic book, Martin Villeneuve tells us. There was nudity, violence, it was quite raw. But since my father and my brothers were all comic book lovers and we subscribed to Croc, I devoured all that. The visual bill was also striking. Red Ketchup was a muscular hero reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone. What’s not to like?…”

The genesis of this adaptation is as interesting as the series itself. It all started at a party organized some twenty years ago by the publishing house La Pastèque – which had just published the two volumes of its photonovel Mars and April, which Martin Villeneuve would later adapt for the cinema. . That evening, the young director pitched the idea to Réal Godbout and Pierre Fournier (who were present since La Pastèque had reissued their albums) to adapt their Red Ketchup series into a cartoon.

Let’s quickly go over the feature film project carried out with Yves P. Pelletier, which did not come to fruition. Just before the pandemic, the animated series adaptation project was proposed to Jacques Bilodeau, of Sphère Animation, who immediately set foot in the stirrup.

Once the broadcasters were on board – Télétoon la nuit in Quebec, Adult Swim in the United States – the producer invested approximately $15 million to produce the 20 episodes of 30 minutes each. Hundreds of people got to work.

The story – which continues over 20 episodes – is inspired by Red Ketchup’s first three albums: La vie en rouge, Kamarade Ultra and Red Ketchup vs. Red Ketchup. In the series, we will find the villainous Dr K (Alain Zouvi), who tries to get his hands on Red Ketchup in order to continue his scientific experiments.

“Dr. K’s goal is to clone Red Ketchup into an army of supersoldiers and build the Fourth Reich to rule the world, all against the backdrop of the Cold War,” says Martin Villeneuve, who will voice the character. by Bill Bélisle, a misanthropic journalist in search of subjects that will make the headlines…

“In fact, he invents stories, but they end up coming true”, explains Martin Villeneuve, who chose to entrust the voice of Red Ketchup to Benoît Brière – a regular in cartoon dubbing.

The experienced actor chose to give him a cavernous, very hoarse voice. “I had no choice,” he laughs, “I don’t look like Red Ketchup at all. Besides, someone who runs on oil, he sure has a voice like that! I was inspired by my character of Verrue, whom I play in Broue, who is a slightly drunk itinerant, and whom I interpret with a hoarse voice. But I can tell you that after two days in the studio, my voice is damaged…”

We can also hear the voices of France Castel (Sally Ketchup, Red’s sister), Gabriel Lessard (Peter Plywood, junior Canadian secret service agent who accompanies Red Ketchup), Widemir Normil (Chief Sullivan, Red’s boss) and Émilie Bibeau (Olga Dynamo, a Russian spy), who dub all of their characters as “Quebecers”.

If the ratings are there, a second or even a third season of Red Ketchup is quite possible.

“There are six albums left and Réal Godbout, who is in great shape and who scripted episode 2, is working on a new album, so there is material for at least two more seasons. That’s what worries Benoît Brière… “I’m starting to have calluses on my vocal cords,” he laughs. So, I am ready to continue if necessary. »