Solomon: Interview with the author Carlos Pedro
Interview by Rui Ferreira
Carlos Pedro got down to work and proceeded with a solo project, where besides drawing also elaborates the argument. He have almost finalized SOLOMON, his new book, which he aims to bring to the thoughtbubble festival in Leeds in November this year.
Carlos Pedro acceded to my request and gave us an interview where he talks about this new project, but also a little about himself, his career in comics and also gives us some tips. I would like this opportunity to thank him for the kindness and availability, thank you Carlos. Stay tuned and don’t miss the interview with him and at the end 6 preview pages of the new SOLOMON.
Your interest for comics, was something you always wished for or something that slowly showed up?
Since I remember being a person that my life has been populated by comic books. I’ve started reading them when I was 5 years old – first the Brazilian “gibis” with Disney characters then the “Turma da Mónica” ones, and later when I was in first grade came the american comics (still published by the Abril publisher here in Portugal). Every week I would nag my parents for a new book, and sometimes even more than one. Then there was the day I found out I could reproduce the drawing in those books if I held the book alongside the drawing page. I’ve started drawing Spider-Man and Wolverine and all the other superheroes I would find out and as I got older the idea of making it as a professional became my ambition.
Your first work in comics was with Kingpin Books publisher in 2006 with the series Super Pig. How did that opportunity arises? How important was this first job in your upcoming works?
That opportunity came organically. I was in high-school and had started reading the american editions from Marvel and DC. I remember thinking: “I need to know more people inside this medium if I want to end up working in it.”. So I met Mário Freitas, the Kingpin Book owner, in a Amadora Comicbook Festival 12 years ago.
I’ve became his client and friend and I would show him my sketches. In 2005 he told me about a project he wanted to develop: Super Pig. We published the first volume in 2006 and the second one in 2007. Impact wise it was devastating. It’s completely different to randomly draw whatever we want in sketchbooks or notebooks from drawing an entire page with all the care and detail it needs. To do a sketch from a simple character’s head, like Batman for example, it’s easy, To draw a 5 panel page where there is pacing, perspective, scale, details like textures, body language and other thousand points to checkout it is not. To an 18 or 19 year old that had never done that before it was abysmal to have a published book and totally devastating in terms of stress. That eye opener was something really important to me.
Meanwhile, you have done some other jobs abroad with some self-publishers like Freaktown Comics e recently with Atypical Comics. How have been this new experiences outside your home country?
My work with Freaktown happened in 2011. Russell had the idea for a comic book about Rollerderby. I’ve known him from the Mark Millar forum – Millarworld – and I contacted him about it. I had the need of a new project, something different from what I had done with Super Pig. He liked my pages and we closed the deal. In 2013 we worked again this time in the third volume – to speed up the process he hired an artist for the second number – and we launched the trade paperback in the Thoughtbubble 2013 convention in Leeds.
This year I saw that Atypical Comics was without an artist for their comic book “Keeper”, written by Geoffrey Wessel. I contacted him, we discussed it and I’ve became the artist for the third number – launched this year. He has shown desire for me to continue in the series and I hope I can continue to work on the continuation of the story. The experience has been positive. When you want to work on something and evolve in your craft you have to search for that: more collaborations, put hours on the worktable, practice and with some luck new projects and remuneration will come.
If you could choose a foreign publisher and writer to work with, who whould they be?
The kid in me would just shout out Superman and Grant Morrison. The reality though is that I would never draw something that would even reach the shadow of All-Star Superman so… The artist in me has the desire for organic projects that lead to creative freedom and collaboration. I think Image or Boom are by far the best publishers to bet on that field. I would see myself working with no problems with someone like Jason Aaron or Jonathan Hickman in something we could discuss, brainstorm and in the end do something that boiled with imagination and creativity.
What other writers and artists do you follow? Or have influenced your work?
Everything with the name Grant Morrison on the cover I buy, and if I don’t have it yet you can bet it’s on my list. Other than that I really enjoy the works of Naoki Urasawa, Warren Ellis, Jason Aaron, Jonathan Hickman, Mark Waid, Matt Fraction, Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire, Brian Vaughan. Artists wise I really love Frank Quitely’s work (best artist working in the business nowadays), Stuart Immonen, Cameron Stewart, Becky Cloonan, Sean Murphy, Chris Samnee, some Japanese artists like Obata Takeshi, Yusuke Murata or Urasawa himself.
Regarding this new project Solomon, What is it about and how did you came with the idea?
My elevator for it would be a mix between “The Cat Returns” from Studio Ghinli and the horror of the Lovecraft lore. Without giving too much away I can say it’s a story about decisions and facing life even when we see ourselves surrounded by inhospitable and weird situations. How did it came to me… Well the old way how we get our ideas. A bit of curiosity, another of self questioning, some influences from different materials from across my life, put it all in the psychic blender and process it.
What was the reason for doing it all by yourself, writing and art?
After finishing Keeper I decided it was time to challenge myself to reach another level in a creative level. I’ve acquired a cintiq and dedicated myself to explore the potential what this tool would bring to my art and decided it was time for this step. I’ve never written anything before and I confess I don’t see myself as a writer. I’m a 100% visual storyteller. As such I’ve focused on producing something coherent and emotional to me. Originally the plan was going to Leeds with some prints and portfolio so show around, but that would be a repetition of last year and not an evolution. I’ve thought it was time to do something entirely mine, with the risks and privileges it brings. So I would say the main reason was to test myself, raise the level of what I can accomplish as an artist.
How will the book be published? Is anything defined already? Can your presentations at the Thoughtbubble festival have an effect on this matter?
So far the publication is entirely up to me. I will do a small printing to sell and distribute around the even and later, still this year if everything goes accordingly, there will be a digital version in both English and Portuguese.
You have also been working with Kingpin in the design of the Anicomics festival props. Can you imagine yourself in other jobs other than the comics industry?
Absolutely. I love graphic design and illustration and even if it’s not my main academic formation it is something I try to follow, explore and create by my own initiative.
Is there any particular comics series that you may highlight or recommend to our followers?
I’m gonna mix it up: 3 series that marked me and 3 published nowadays. As I said Morrison is my favorite writer. From him point out two works that profoundly affected me: New X-Men and All-Star Superman. New X-Men was my beginning in the american published comics. It was my book from the end of adolescence to adult life and it’s by far the best phase from the mutants ever made – and yes I will defend this over every Claremont fan’s argument. All-Star Superman is the best Superman story ever. There is All-Star Superman and there are the other Superman stories. It’s an amazing exploration about the character and what makes it awesome. The art is phenomenal, the number of ideas which is thrown at us is absurd and at my eyes it’s probably the best comic book story I’ve read in my life. To end this tryptic I want to bring out The Death of Gwen Stacy – Amazing Spider-Man #121 and #122. I know it can be weird but I’ve read this hen I was 8 and it scarred me. I remember perfectly reading it and thinking that was a lie. Spider-Man didn’t save her and that to me that was impossible because he is Spider-Man and she was her girlfriend nothing about that made sense to me. I remember the surprise and the horror and the amazing Gil Kane art showing the fight in the bridge and the Green Goblin death later on and the despair in Peter’s face and the scene where Mary Jane closes the door and stays with him. Still today I get goosebumps thinking about it. From today: East of West from Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta it’s a brilliant sci-fi/western in an dystopian USA an in to me it’s the best thing they both produced together and solo. Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples, which I don’t believe there are many people not reading. The story of a family running away from war between their people, in a space-tree-ship, to raise their baby daughter, with the help of a pink teenage ghost. Everything in the last sentence is wonderful and everyone should be reading it. Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour tells the story of a city in the southern USA and of an old man coming back home and finding his hometown completely corrupted. Imagine a mix of Gran Torino from Clint Eastwood an Fargo from the Coen Brothers. And violence. Tons and tons of gloriously drawn violence.
Carlos Pedro was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1986. He is a freelance illustrator since 2012, but publishes comics since 2006. He graduated in architectural studies at IST and reads comics since childhood. He liked good food, good drinks and beautiful women.
Some of his works in comics include: Super Pig from Kingpin Books publisher, Keeper from Atypical, and he is the current illustrator for the Fast And Frightening series from Freaktown Comics.
You can see more of his work at his oficial page and follow him through facebook, thumblr or twitter @c_a_pedro.
Note: originally published at Universo BD, September 12th 2014.