Cover art by Fabio Moon
cover design by Brian Wood.
Story and art by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba.
Coming out from AiT/Planet Lar in July.
know more here.
Monday, April 26, 2004
Friday, April 23, 2004
Images that tell and words that show
In a way, we have been doing it for ages. Maybe now it's a little different, maybe now we're actually doing it in a bunch of pages that, together, will do what we have been doing for ages, but still it's basically the same thing.
We're telling stories.
Like so many other times, the start is basically the same: a blank canvas. It's blank and it will continue to be that way until you do your job. You don't know if you'll do a good job and if the story you have will be the one you'll tell, but only by telling it you'll find out. So get on with your life and let's tell some stories.
Here's a story:
I love comics. That's what I want to do with my life: spend it doing comics, telling stories, creating something that I hope will last in the mind of other people instead of only in my own. You see, I have no choice. I can do a bunch of other things, all related to drawing, that are easier than doing comics and that nowadays pay more, and I do these things in order to make a living and to keep myself always creating, but only on that kind of work, I would never be happy. I can only be happy doing comics. That's what defines the meaning of my life: my undying need to tell stories mixing words, images and emotions. I have no choice but to do comics.
So that's what I'll do. Actually, that's what I've been doing for at least the last seven years. Am I getting paid? At the beginning, I wasn't, but I realized that, if I never did any comics, I wouldn't get any good at it and, therefore, I would never be good enough to get hired to do it. That's something very important that I couldn't emphasize enough: you will only learn how to do comic books doing comic books! And since nobody was paying me to do any comics, I decided, alongside my twin brother, to do it anyway, so we started doing what you can call a mini-comic. We did it, photocopied it, stapled it and sold it for just enough to pay for the copies.
It was so cheap that it was ridiculous for anyone not to buy at least one to try out (we produced forty issues). And we sold it basically at college to our friend who weren't really into comic books, but were our friends and bought it gladly. More then that, they liked, they told us things they thought were cool, what they had learned from it, and we realize another great thing about doing it all by ourselves: there's nothing better for you to improve your work than feedback. Ant the comments we would get referred to the basics of doing comic books, since our readership did not consist of any "comic-book nerd". If they did not understand something, it meant that it was not working on the most basic level, it was not telling the story. If you're not involved in the comic book world, you don't care if the artist doesn't draw like the Batman artist, you just look at it and go from one balloon to the next, looking at the images on the way. The images are nice, sure, but if, by the end of the magazine, you didn't understand what happened, you're not stupid (well, that fellow over there is. Yes, you, with the yellow shirt), it's the story that's not told well enough. There's nothing better for those who want to tell stories than to show your stories to people that never read comic books. They aren't trained in the medium, and they shouldn't. That's your job.
Where's that story going, you might ask?
Well, today is a good day. I woke up, came to my studio and finish inking some pages. They are illustrating this. I think they're nice.
I don't know where the story's going, I'm still living it. It's like when you read a good story, you don't know how it's going to end but you want to keep reading.
I want to keep reading.
Posted by Fábio Moon at 6:22 PM
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
It's no tourist attraction
Comics are fun.
I grew up loving the fun in comics. They made me laugh, they made me cheer, they made me happy. That's what they do.
But doing comics is no ride in the park. I know a lot of my friends who, like myself, dreamed about becoming a great artist in our then-favorite super-hero book when they were young and nowadays have given up on doing comics just because it's too hard.
Is it really that hard?
I think the bigger difficulty is to realize in how many levels doing comics is hard. First, you have to finish your comic, and most people I know give up before that. Those are the lazy ones, the "blame it on the system" ones. Then, after you finished your first - hopefully, not the last - comic, comes the part where you see what's right and what's wrong in your work, and for that you need to have an objective view of your own work. Not many artists have that. Not in the beginning, anyway. In the beginning, they think they're great and those suckers who disagree are schmucks. That's the wrong attitude, artists must learn to listen to criticism.
Well, you finally learn from your previous mistakes. Is that enough? No, of course not. By learning from what you did wrong, you can become a better artist at your work, but then a question arises: what if the work is not your own? Believe it or not, you have to be a better artist to tell somebody else's story, or at least to be paid to do it. If you're working on your own, you are an artist, and that's great, that's what I want to do, but if you want to work for others, then you have to become a professional.
Being professional is the hardest part. It's work at it's basic. You have to wake up, sit down and work till the work is done. Everyday. All the time. Always doing your best. Always trying harder.
And then it's ready.
Your comic book.
And you look at it, flip through, and realize it's still fun.
Posted by Fábio Moon at 3:58 AM
Thursday, April 15, 2004
Don't you wanna know their story?
I do. I look at this image and it already tells me something that I just yet can't understand. I need more. More than just one image. More than just one look.
But there's still no story. It's not written. More important, it's not drawn, for you can write all the comic books you want, they're still only scripts if the images aren't there. It's great to tell stories, to have interesting ideas and it's even greater to be able to do comic books, but it all takes so much time. After you have your idea and before people can see it in a comic book, lies an eternity. It feels like that, anyway.
And then there's the money. You know him, met him already. Everybody have. He's not someone you would miss if he walked by next to you, for everybody is staring at him. You wonder who's that guy people are looking at. Well, he's the money, and without him you can make all the comics you want and still nobody will see then.
Maybe the money is on your side. Is that enough?
You still need to be there. If you want to do your comic book, you need to take care of him. And, no matter what absent parents say, you can't take care of anything if you're far away. You need to be there, you have to answer questions, you have to make phone calls, you have to do a thousand things to make sure all those things are invisible to everybody else. All that people need to see is the comic book. All they need to read is the story. All they need to look at are the nice images.
And all they need to be left with is the undying desire for more.
Posted by Fábio Moon at 6:59 PM
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
This is strictly a awe to a great artist. Since his story in "Endless Nights" saw the light of day, Frank Quitely jumped from a celebrity artist to god. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but his work on the latest Sandman book is just beautiful, it's by far the best one in that collection. Not only it's pretty, you can't get tired of looking at it, and it's comics storytelling at it's best. It's a poem in a land of heavy prose.
Now we are waiting for his next comic book. When will it be out and what it will be, it's uncertain, but in the meantime we can now appreciate Frank Quitely covers. Painted covers, of course, since we discovered he is such a great painter. Why should we expect anything less?
Let's just hope he doesn't turn into the next Travis Charest, gone to the land of "one beautiful page a year".
Posted by Fábio Moon at 4:15 PM
Monday, April 12, 2004
Thursday, April 08, 2004
AutobioGraphix has been nominated for Best Anthology in the 2004 Eisner Awards.
When people say that the Eisners are the Oscars of Comics, they forget something that, at least for me, makes all the difference: the Eisners are named after Will Eisner, not only a master of our medium but also someone who's still alive and kicking, AND who's always at the ceremonies to hand you your award. How cool is it to receive something from the man who inspired us all?
Will Eisner was probably one of the first names in the comic book world that I learned, mainly because of the stories he told. He told his stories, and not Spider Man's stories. I'm not the kind of fan who can tell you which artist did that X-Men magazine I read many years ago, because at that time I was only reading it a X-Men magazine. When I read anything by Will Eisner, I did it because he did it, it was his and, thus, I wanted it. I'm too young for his Spirit comics, but I read some, eventually. What I first saw of him were his Graphic Novels, and those were fundamental on what I would like to do in comics: stories about real people, real problems, and the magic that is life while we deal with whatever crosses our way.
I loved Will Eisner's "The Building". It was one of the first comics that I saw people talking about, people who didn't really read comics, and that stayed with me. It told me how a building can be a character in people's life, and it also told me that a comic book can also be a character in people's life.
Today I live in a building called "Hammond" because of that Graphic Novel I read so many years ago.
Posted by Fábio Moon at 11:35 AM
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
How can we transform that good idea for a story into a dialogue that could seem natural and would tell everything it has to? Some times, I begin thinking about the stories from a scene, for the images come first to me. Alongside these images comes the meaning, the idea I want to tell, in need of shaping into some sort of text form, be it a narrative or a dialogue.
The first one is the easy solution, a little distant, it comes in lots of different forms and it has a initial advantage: in life, no one narrates their own actions. That said, one can expect a more literary text in the narrative. Even the "thinking" captions are some sort of narrative, once we don't think out loud and there is no continuos and rational line of thought in our heads.
The dialogues are a whole other story. How, then, can we transform an image and a stampede of little peaces of thoughts in a dialogue that would glue everything together and complete the picture? You must have the whole story clear in your head and what point you are at. Afterwards, you need to know what is happening on your page to decide what that single panel will tell, which part of your speech in in that panel's hands. Finally, you need a dialogue that flows trough the panels, bonding and making the continuity of the page.
You can't think the panels independently, neither the pages and so on. You can't tell everything in the first panel and have nothing left to the rest of the page, the same way you can't have a great page followed by a terrible failure of storytelling. You need to work the text with the images, the dialogues with the captions, the panel among them, the pages, the chapters, the beginning, the middle, the end. And I'm sorry, but a good story needs all these elements before you start drawing it.
Knowing it already makes the whole difference.
I had an idea for a new story, but I'm still looking for the right dialogues to tell it.
Posted by Bá at 12:56 PM
Monday, April 05, 2004
Where they come from
There she is, from time to time. Always smiling, sweet, she's such a cute girl, carrying under her arm her little folder. This one little folder, always the same, with a picture of her albino cat on the cover, never has the same stuff inside. Every time I open the little folder and flip through, I find new images. Some look familiar, still they are new. Who never found something strange familiar just as a reflex?
Moment of reflection: Do I change around her? Does the world change and I just follow? Or is it all just my fantasy?
"Did I take long?", she asks.
I tell her she didn't with my head, and she smiles even more. I smile back. I bet you would smile too. She then open her little folder and tear one sheet off.
"Here", she says, stretching her arm and offering me the tore sheet of paper. "Here's another idea."
I glance quickly through the page, the images drawn in it, the words written. Everything makes sense and soon enough I know how I should continue my story.
"Where did this one came from?" I ask, my eyes still locked in the sheep of paper.
"He's a security guard in a museum", she starts. "He stays all day long protecting paintings, looking at them and making sure the people do just that as well. When he gets home, he dreams with paintings."
She raises her index finger to her lips and makes a cute face.
"He's a heavy sleep, never noticed I went there."
She smiles, I lose myself in her smile, and she leaves certain that I don't really remember what was the question I have just made.
But the idea she brought me is still in my head and I go back to the story I have to tell.
Posted by Fábio Moon at 10:54 AM
Friday, April 02, 2004
"We live by the shadow of an ideal image we make of the world. There it is, perfect, and here we are. How, we can't really tell. If we could, maybe we would be perfect too.
But if we were, we wouldn't be here. We would be there.
And we wouldn't be more than images."
To do comic books is to create worlds. The pictures and words are guides that take us through this worlds, presenting us the story they have to tell. It's very important that the pictures and the words tell a good story, for us to want to come back to this world.
"What will happen on the next page?" is the question that must arise in the reader's mind page after page.
It's useless to know how to draw if you can't tell your story in an interesting way. Every angle, every shadow, every gesture, it's all there for a reason.
One image leads to the next, and you should always be craving for more.
Posted by Fábio Moon at 7:13 PM