INTERVIEW WITH BRAZILIANS GABRIEL BA & FABIO MOON
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?
Gabriel Bá: Um… I think first and foremost we always loved to draw, we were always drawing as kids and growing up so, um…when we really found a passion for telling stories, comic books were the most relatable one – because of the drawings, because we were always drawing and I think that’s the appealing part…Yeah.
JM: Do you want to jump in there?
Fábio Moon: We have the same answers, it’s the same story, we did everything together; we drew in the sand on the beach, we drew on the walls at home, we drew everywhere. So the aspect that we can draw everywhere, that was something that we could do together so that was very appealing for us as twins. When we realized that we liked to tell stories, we…it was natural to tell stories with drawings and comics were the medium to do that.
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?
GB: No, we map everything. We think about the whole story.
FM: No, we are very meticulous. We think too much. We think too much so it looks easy and people don’t have to think, they just have to jump and dive into the story; and for that to really happen we have to think a lot beforehand.
JM: What is the single most important element of a comic book? Would you mind explaining your choice to our readers?
FM: Well, I think the most important thing is storytelling. It’s how you connect one panel to the other and how you connect one page to the other because that’s how the story flows. The flow of the story is the most important thing and it’s what creates the story in the head of the reader. So the way you put your panels and put your dialogue inside the panels and the way you make the composition of the drawing, what [details] you put in and actually leave out – [these all] determine the flow of the story and that will help the reader diving into the story and fuel it, like, uh, continuously, or get in the way. When the reader remembers a comic book, they don’t remember one panel or two panels, they remember the story happening in movements and to do movement with two pictures you have to be a good storyteller. So storytelling is the most important thing.
JM: What moves you creatively?
GB: Well, it can be lots of things. It’s always…I think it’s always when we see something different, something new that clicks in our heads and we feel, That’s so right, so natural, why haven’t we seen that before? Why haven’t we felt that before? It’s just like falling in love…just like falling in love. You just know it and you can’t turn back…and so everything can give, you know, can have that effect on you, you know…little conversations, um, of getting to a place that’s really awesome and meeting someone that will change your life…so all these things are the things that really inspire us to tell stories.
JM: If you were to have a favourite tool of the trade – one you couldn’t live without – what would it be?
FM: Well there is one thing that I couldn’t do without, which is inking with a brush because it gives a very handmade feel for the artwork because it is not precise and it incorporates the mistakes and the beauty of the crooked line – and for me that’s something that’s…it’s what appeals to me in other comics and it’s what I try to put forward, artwise. I think, like, for the expressiveness of the art it’s important so you can see the author in his pages. It’s not only the words that carry the story, the art also carries the story and they both reflect who did it. So there must be some way to leave a trace of the author in the work and for me it’s using a brush and making things dirty…so I think that’s something I couldn’t do without. Otherwise it’s…there are techniques and there are ways of doing the story and dividing chapters and using dialogue and using colour or black and white – everything can be used in favour of the story but I couldn’t do it without a brush to make everything look like it was made by me. And he [Gabriel] doesn’t use a brush so it’s a completely different thing.
GB: Yeah, I don’t know. I think, for me, it’s paper. There are lots of people who are doing digital art directly in the computer. You have tools that emulate the pen or the brush and you can get the same effect. You see art that you can’t really tell it was made on a computer, but for me, having a page in front of you, having different types of paper that give different types of effects; that you can feel the pencil running through the paper or, you know, bumping into its texture. You can see everything in front of you. You have a relation of proportion, of movement between your body, your hand, and the space that you draw in and, ah, I think that’s crucial for the type of art that I do; so I don’t want to imagine myself doing it otherwise.
JM: Are you currently working on a project you’d like to tell our readers about?
GB: Well, we’re working on three different projects right now. One is Casanova. It’s a miniseries that’s just wrapping up a third arc and we’re gonna start the fourth one pretty soon. It’s with Matt Fraction, another writer.
FM: We’re doing a new miniseries for Mignola and The Hellboy Universe. We did the previous one and now we’re doing a kind of sequel to that.
GB: Yeah, and we’re doing a book adaptation for the Brazilian market, adapting a classic novel from Brazilian literature to a comic book, but that will take some time to get ready because it’s a massive book and it’ll be a massive graphic novel.
FM: Yeah, it’s about twin brothers who hate each other.
GB: So it’s not like our story.
GB: But it’s very intense.
JM: Are you a tea drinker or coffee drinker?
FM: Coffee drinker
GB: Coffee, always coffee.
FM: We drink a lot of coffee. Black. No sugar. Strong coffee.
JM: Are you a “day person” or “night owl”?
FM: We are a day person.
GB: We like to wake up early and have a long breakfast. We work better during the day, during daylight hours even if we have, you know, very strong lights over our table, it’s always better to work during the day; and although during the night it’s quieter and people call you less it’s better to work during the day, then when you’re done you can, if you have time, you can see your friends and stuff. So it’s best if you try to have a regular routine like the rest of the world so you can, you know, interact with them afterwards.
JM: If you had to choose one comic artist that has most influenced your work, who would that be?
FM: It probably would be Will Eisner, yeah, because of the thematics of his work telling stories about normal, regular people, and inking with a brush and working beautifully in black and white and making comics that are appealing to people everywhere in the world and…yeah, in terms of comics, he would be the most influential, maybe.
GB: I would say there is a Brazilian cartoonist called Laerte and, ah, he’s from São Paulo, the same city as we are from, and he’s an amazing artist and he’s a great writer and he writes crazy stuff about regular life, so he really pushes the barrier of creativity in his comics and he had a huge influence on us [as we were] growing up reading comics and he still…he really still [is] doing great, amazing work.
FM: He still hasn’t stopped pushing barriers.
JM: Do you feel that your native country has an influence in shaping your style and your professional outlook?
FM: Yes, definitely, yeah, the way our characters relate to each other is Brazilian and the way we want to portray emotions, it’s completely related to the way we live in São Paulo and the way we relate to our friends and family and…it’s how we perceive life. We couldn’t fake it – it would be like a story of Brazilians living in New York or a story of Brazilians pretending to be Torontonians.
JM: Do you imagine that where you grow up is sharply reflected in your creative work?
FM: Yes; too much.
GB: Yes. Yeah, our stories are very metropolitan and urban and that’s because we grew up in São Paulo. We have a lot of other influences from Brazilian culture from other parts of the country and as we grow up and [we] mature, we get more of that. But it’s very different from someone who grew up in the countryside or on the shore of Brazil the way we were raised and the experience we had and we love to explore all of those things; not only the ones that influence us and show naturally on our work, but the other ones as well, to appeal to other people, other kinds of readers, their experiences.