MARTIN MORAZZO ANSWERS 15 QUESTIONS WITH JULINDA MORROW
Martin Morazzo caught my attention in 2009 after he and his writing partner at the time, Robert Burke Richardson, won the Zuda Comics competition with their online serial Absolute Magnitude. In 2010 DC Comics shut down their Zuda Comics imprint and ceased publishing titles from this venue.
Martin is now illustrating an exciting new title, Great Pacific, written by Joe Harris and published by Image Comics.
A gallery of Martin’s warm and inviting art follows this interview.
Julinda Morrow: What path led you to comics and sequential art?
Martin Morazzo: My dad used to be a comic book collector when he was a kid, so in my grandparents’ house there were these homemade trade paperbacks with old comic books from the fifties. I used to go there all the time and grab these books full of cowboy stories, sit there and try to draw all the pictures I’d seen. There was also a book called Historia de la Historieta Mundial (A World History of Comic Books). The first pages had an explanation of the sequential language, and how to create and craft a comic book; then came a lot of pages with many different strips, [and] some sort of catalogue around the year 1950. I used to look over and over again. That book was really inspiring and, luckily, I still have it on my bookshelf.
JM: What schooling or training did you receive?
MM: When I was sixteen I attended an art school in Buenos Aires and took a comic book course there with Antonio Salinas and Osvaldo Walter Viola, two renowned Argentinean artists.
JM: Who, in your opinion, are the pioneers of sequential art?
MM: First of all Will Eisner, then Alex Raymond, Hal Foster and Milton Caniff coming behind him. At least these are the ones I feel that set the rules for the modern comics.
JM: How do you define sequential art?
MM: Magical. If you can plunge yourself in and really experience the story—that is where the magic happens. You stop looking at a sequence of drawings and texts and see the movement and sounds as if it were all alive.
JM: Do you find that sequential art provides you with near-limitless possibilities for storytelling or do you experience it as constraining? Please elaborate.
MM: It’s limitless. You can tell any story, in any setting, in any time with any characters—and the list goes on and on. Of course there’s a lot of work in it, but you can do whatever you want and not depend on a production budget or any location—as you must, for example, in the movies.
JM: What qualities or resources do you believe are most important for a sequential storyteller to have?
MM: To be conscious of what he or she’s doing, the story that is being told. To be clear and understandable while creating a flow from panel to panel.
JM: How do you approach your work process?
MM: I usually work with a writer so when I first get the script I read it pretty straightforward. Then I do another, more thorough, read and make little doodles for each panel there in the printed script pages. Then, I do little roughs for each page, not bigger than one by two inches. Reading the script for a third time, I do the layouts at a size of four by six inches. I scan those and send them to the writer, to see if everything is OK and understandable. Then I start in pencil on page one, I do a loose finishing, then ink it, and do corrections with white ink. Once I’ve gotten at least four new pages, I scan them and in the case of color pages I use Photoshop or send it to the colorist in packs of four to eight pages.
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?
MM: I work as a graphic designer during the day and do my comic book work at night. That gives me at least two to four hours per weekday and six to eight hours on the weekends to dedicate to drawing. I find I’m more productive on those days when I start the day working in comics, but I wouldn’t meet any deadline if I only worked on the weekends, so I have to take time in the week too, though the inspiration and concentration are harder to get.
JM: Was it a struggle, at the start of your career, to find work and make ends meet?
MM: It’s very difficult to break into comics. It’s been slow, but I was patient, I did a project here, another there, and one led to another, till I won the Zuda contest, along with writer Robert B. Richardson and letterer Kuen Tang, and Absolute Magnitude was published digitally on their site. Then Joe Harris saw me there, and we started working together, crafting Great Pacific—finally a project to be published as it is meant to be.
JM: What has been your most valuable professional experience?
MM: Definitely Great Pacific. Working with Joe has been amazing. He’s very talented and very professional. Editor Shawna Gore came in while we were already doing the first issue and has been amazing too. I feel really lucky to be working with them.
JM: What inspires or informs you creatively?
MM: I find inspiration in any kind of art I can experience—watching a movie, looking at a painting or even going to a concert.
JM: What is your position on digital comics? Are they a good thing or a bad thing?
MM: They’re a good thing. If they’re going to be the only comic book platform in the future I don’t know, for the moment they co-exist with the printed comics. I think a massive change will come one day when paper will not be used for printing anymore, but we’ll be all prepared for that step, and comics will transform completely into the digital format along with books, magazines and every other printed piece.
JM: If you were to make any changes to the industry or the market what changes would you make?
MM: I think I would publish more new stories and give the old characters some rest. Because comics a limitless media I often think that going around the same characters for many years is a loss of energy and potential.
JM: If you could apprentice under any artist at any time in history and anywhere in the world who would it be?
MM: Oh, I would choose Moebius. He’s definitely mastered the comic art, so I think I could learn a lot from him. In fact I do; I find it really inspiring and educational to look at his drawings; I often lose myself in them.
JM: What, in the future, would you like to accomplish creatively?
MM: I’d love to continue working in comics my whole life. It’s something I wished for so hard that for now the only thing I expect is for it to keep happening every day.