Emanuela Lupacchino ANSWERS 15 QUESTIONS WITH JULINDA MORROW
When I think of traditional superhero artists I usually get the mental image of a solitary figure, usually male, working away at his drawing table somewhere in North America. Emanuela Lupacchino blows that stereotype out of the water. She is the beautiful and talented Italian artist behind Marvel’s X-Factor and countless other works for DC and IDW.
A gallery of Emanuela’s stunning art follows this interview.
Julinda Morrow: What path led you to comics and sequential art?
Emanuela Lupacchino: I was a biotech researcher before working as a comic artist. But I felt that was not the right job for me, because I was getting sad and bored with it day by day. My real passion was art and comic books, so I decided to be a comic book artist for life.
JM: What schooling or training did you receive?
EL: I studied for three years at one specialized academy for comic art and illustration, and I learnt a lot from books and listening to suggestions from professionals.
JM: Who, in your opinion, are the pioneers of sequential art?
EL: There are so many pioneers, and each one has done something great in a particular area. But I think the one that is very important to me is Dave Stevens. I based most of my studies of sequential art on his works.
JM: How do you define sequential art?
EL: A sequential artist, using panels in sequence, leads readers through an imaginary time, space and world with everything needed to make that story “true”. Artists establish the atmosphere, the credibility of a character’s interactions with each other and with the environment the story imagines for them.
JM: Do you find that sequential art provides you with near-limitless possibilities for storytelling or do you experience it as constraining?
EL: At the moment you decide to become a comic artist, you have to know that storytelling is all that you have at your disposal to communicate. The storyline and the way the artist unfolds it in words and illustrations is the most important part of the book.
The key to good storytelling is to focus your attention not on drawing or shots, but on what the reader needs to see to be engaged in the story – expressions and gestures of characters, and balance of light, environment elements. To make all these elements work together, the artist has to imagine being positioned within the story, among your characters and in the environment they’re in. You have to ask yourself what you would see around you if you were there, among the characters; and you’ve to imagine the way they move, how they talk or they react to something. That sounds a bit schizophrenic, I know! But it’s a good way to achieve a credible result. Storytelling is not something that makes you free or constrains you, it’s essential, it’s what you focus your attention on when you’re working.
JM: What qualities or resources do you believe are most important for a sequential storyteller to have?
EL: To take care of details in your life, to pay attention to every kind of emotion – of human beings, animals, plants – everything that can make you feel something; and being a good actor. Acting, or amplifying the intensity of a situation, is a good way to get a good storytelling.
JM: How do you approach your work process?
EL: First of all I think. Think of what I have to draw is a good way to visualize quickly the best way that you can do it. Then I sketch a quick layout of the page. Then I have a break, about 15 minutes during which I do something totally different. Then, having gained a fresh perspective on what does and doesn’t work in my layout, I fix it and then I go ahead with the final stage.
JM: How many hours a day do you work? Are you uniformly productive on any given day or more productive on some days than others?
EL: I work an average of about eight hours a day on my pages; but then you’ve to add to that amount of time mailing the office, fixing corrections and doing other little things. So I’m committed to a nine or ten hour workday. Some days are totally unproductive, but the most of them are good quite productive. Normally I work better during the winter because of the temperature.
JM: Was it a struggle, at the start of your career, to find work and make ends meet?
EL: No, it was not. I came from profession in which everyone learned professionalism and I transferred this attitude to the field of comics. It was a lot of hard work, but if you do it well, doors open easily.
JM: What has been your most valuable professional experience?
EL: Starting my career working regularly beside Peter David was definitely my most valuable professional experience.
JM: What inspires or informs you creatively?
EL: Everything that makes me feel good. A song, a cake, my cat, a nice movie, looking at other artists work, talking about my work with my boyfriend or other friends (something some good ideas come from people who are not involved with comics world.) In general, if you feel good, you are more creative.
JM: What is your position on digital comics? Are they a good thing or a bad thing?
EL: They’re new; they’re the next step of art evolution. With innovation, we always lose something and we always gain something. But that thing is not necessary a “bad thing” or a “good thing”. I think they’re a good idea to keep the comics up-to-date with current technologies.
JM: If you were to make any changes to the industry or the market what changes would you make?
EL: That’s a hard question. I would change the situation that the artists face in case they get ill, because is a very bad situation. I would like that a comic book artist has a way to afford this situation as a normal person who works for some company.
JM: If you could apprentice under any artist at any time in history and anywhere in the world who would it be?
EL: Dave Stevens!
JM: What, in the future, would you like to accomplish creatively?
EL: Working in a creative team on a movie adaptation of a comic book…Yoo-hoo…!