Yann Balac’h was born and raised in Brittany, developing a particular passion for Breton culture and traditions over his school years, and spent much of his spare time playing the Breton pipe and practicing Breton wrestling. At the age of 23, he had an epiphany while visiting the Saint Tugdual church at Concarneau: he decided to become a craftsman of stained-glass windows. He got his qualifications and tried to make a living from his art. But job openings were few and far between! So he did a master’s degree on ‘Mab Kagn,’ the kelp gatherers in the Trépassés Bay at Pointe du Raz in the 17th century, but he sadly never found a publisher for his thesis.
That’s when he discovered comic books at the Saint-Mayeux festival, thanks to Fournier’s album “L’Ankou.” So he launched himself into his very first comic book creation: “Les exploits de la patrouille des Macareux,” which was unfortunately turned down by the newspaper Ouest-France, but was eventually published in an obscure Belgian weekly… named ‘Spirou.’ That’s where he met the artist Hislaire, with whom he started working on “Sambre,” which was initially set in Brittany… until Hislaire decided he’d prefer it to be in the South of France. Disappointed by this ‘betrayal,’ Yann abandoned comic books and started competing in Breton wrestling tournaments, and soon found considerable success. Unfortunately, following a dodgy leg-lock, he had to give it all up!
Disillusioned with the Celtic world in general, he made his way over to the US, where he found a new passion for ‘nose art’ techniques (the decoration of airplane cockpits) by the side of ex-US Air Force pilots. But there aren’t so many job openings in that either.
After a rather dark (and derelict) time in his life, he somehow got embroiled in borderline legal diamond trafficking, between Anvers, Las Vegas and Rabat Gan in Israel. He learnt to distinguish a Tsavorite from a Boart in just a glance, and to spot the tiniest imperfection in any gem.
When the police get wind of his activities, he had no choice but to flee to Australia where he got into seeking and exporting meteorites… but the competition was pretty stiff! The years went by, and he became increasingly bitter towards the sense of his own failure. At the Saint-Malo festival of “Surprising Travelers,” as he was signing his autobiography, he met artist Joel Parnotte, who was doing a signing of his own work “Les Aquanautes.” The two of them hit it off, and decided to create the “Sang des Porphyre” saga, based on a true story about the Rotheneuf family, bloodthirsty pirates who terrorized the coast of Saint-Malo in the 18th century.
He later partnered up with André Juillard for “Mezek” (Le Lombard 2011, Europe Comics 2016), a fast-moving drama about mercenary fighters at the dawn of the Israeli state. And later that year, he published the tenth volume in the striking historical fiction series “Pin-Up” (Dargaud 1994, Europe Comics 2017), alongside artist Philippe Berthet. Also in 2011, Yann contributed his writing talents to the legendary series “Thorgal,” giving rise to the sub-series “Louve” and, a few years later, “Thorgal – The Early Years” (Le Lombard; Europe Comics in English), in tandem with artist Roman Surzhenko.
Fascinated by these artists’ superb images, Yann has now fully returned to his early passions, weighing anchor once and for all in the magical world of comics!