INTERVIEW WITH GABRIELLA GIANDELLI
A variety of international stars gathered on May 5 & 6, 2012 for this year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF). Sequential Highway was fortunate enough to interview a few of the festival’s very engaging and outstandingly talented guests.
Julinda Morrow: How did comic books come to be your chosen form of creative expression?
Gabriella Giandelli: Ah, well, at the same time I started to work with drawings after the art school, there was a particular moment really, that many new authors came out with a new kind of comic – not classic –in which the stories were more contemporary and also the drawings were different; not the ah…well, there was a kind of revolution in comics in Italy and that gave me the, you know, the spirit to want to be in that field. I understand that it was a language that probably made it possible for me to develop the poetic imagery that I draw. I was discovering myself at that time. Yesterday I went to a panel, ah…where the other people, the other authors, were big readers of comics when they were young, but for me it was different. I was not a big reader of comics when I was young. I discovered comics when I was around twenty.
JM: Do you map your work out in rough before beginning to draw, or do you, from the beginning of your project, let the work flow from page to page?
GG: Ah, no…Well, when I begin a project I try to have a lot of my material, I mean photographs. Maybe I work that way because after the art school I went to film school so I work as I would when I begin a movie. So you take photos and…I don’t know. For example, if I want to work in a specific period, a historical period, I try to have all the stuff that gives me the inspiration; having all that material makes me feel more secure at the start. Then I do a kind of scenario but very open. I don’t have a closed storyboard. I want to be free to change during the work.
JM: What is the single most important element of a comic book? Would you mind explaining your choice to our readers?
GG: Well, the story. The story and the drawings. You have to find a balance between the two. For example, I’m not attracted by a story where there is a lot of text and simple drawings. I prefer to have um, you know, the same quality. But yes, a harmony between story and drawing is important – is the magic, I think – of comics,
JM: What moves you creatively?
GG: Most of the time what I try to express with my work is the human faculties, the human life. I’m interested in describing people’s lives and their, ahh, their… their inability to communicate sometimes. I don’t know, I love for example, in movies, I love the work of [Ingmar] Bergman. People that work about the human condition and the magic of life. This balance of what is real and what is a dream, and all that it means for a person to be in this world and to find their way. I don’t know if that’s clear…
JM: If you were to have a favourite tool of the trade – one you couldn’t live without – what would it be?
GG: I mostly work with pencil. Sometimes I use pen and ink but I think after [so many] years I have developed a particular style in drawing with pencil and people…and fans…love my [work in that style].
JM: Are you currently working on a project you’d like to tell our readers about?
GG: Well at this moment I am doing a new story but it’s not very long. It’s a short story, it’s a particular project with an editor in Italy that makes big books. So it’s strange, a weird size, so it’s interesting because it’s possible to have a lot of detail in the drawing. Right now, I’m trying to find a solution for this story. One of my dreams is to do animation; I hope to do that. I’m trying to understand how to do that.
JM: Are you a tea drinker or coffee drinker?
JM: Are you a “day person” or “night owl”?
GG: Day. I prefer…if I have to finish some work, I prefer to wake up very early. During the night…I don’t know…for me, the light is important.
JM: If you had to choose one comic artist that has most influenced your work, who would that be?
GG: Ah yes, my big master is the Italian [artist] Lorenzo Mattotti. He was my inspiration when I was young and then I met him. And after years of knowing him he surprised me every time with new work. I’m amazed every time I see new things he’s done; every time it’s amazing.
JM: Do you feel that your native country has an influence in shaping your style and your professional outlook?
GG: I think so. But [even if] people might not see in my work, I was very influenced by American authors, Daniel Clowes, for example, or Chris Ware. I don’t know…for me they are geniuses and I tried to learn [from them]. So I think my work is Italian but I think it is very important for me to look, to open the door to other influences that come from other countries.
JM: Do you imagine that where you grow up is sharply reflected in your creative work?
GG: I think so. It’s not easy to work with comics in Italy and I think, I don’t like suffering, but I think that gives me a kind of motivation because, I don’t know, maybe if it was easier, maybe I would, I don’t know… but I do feel that it’s important for me to do what I do in my country.