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Friday, March 19, 2010

Five Choice Books of Small Press Expo Book 4: MOTRO

by Max Evry

It is fun to imagine the whir of hundreds of printing presses and, yes, Xerox machines working tirelessly in the days and hours before the Small Press Expo kicks off each year. The two-day celebration of independent comics in Bethesda, Maryland attracts the many brave souls who put their hearts, minds, and cold-hard cash into getting their cartoon visions out to attendees.

With so many titles to choose from, it can be difficult to tell the wheat from the chaff. Is it a beautifully drawn title, or merely one with a nice cover? This series will shine the spotlight on five authors who represent the most promising emerging talents on the indie comics scene, including exclusive interviews where they discuss their process, their inspiration, and their joy in creating these works.


“MOTRO” by Ulises Farinas

The work of Ulises Farinas can be described in many ways, except perhaps “easily describable.” Visually his art is cut from the same cloth as past generation’s masters of intricate, detailed ligne claire, namely Moebius, Geoff Darrow, and Seth Fisher. In fact, it should not surprise anyone one iota if he were pounding out work for mainstream publishers in only a few years time, but to speak with him about it, or see the work itself, you may get the impression that this is not his goal…his goal is MOTRO.

That’s “MOTRO” in all caps, as he so kindly pointed out. We’ll forego any simple explanation of plot or who the young warrior boy Motro is, but we can tell you that the bearded Farinas himself is literally a character in it, along with a host of other strange creatures and hallucinogenic landscapes. Although there are several print editions, it is HIGHLY recommended that you check the work out online to experience it yourself.

What was your inspiration for "MOTRO", both conceptually and visually?

ULISES FARINAS: “MOTRO” is actually one aspect of a larger universe that I've been creating for the better part of the last 5 years. I've named it the New Elegant Universe, and it's sort of a mirror to our reality, but with almost every mythological, metaphysical, philosophical surreal thing I enjoy and imagine stuffed into it. “MOTRO” was created almost on a whim, when I decided I wanted to write my own hero's journey epic, influenced by “He-Man,” the “Beastmaster” movies, and the Arnold Schwarzenegger “Conan” movie.

What roles do psychedelia and meta-narrative play in your comics?

FARINAS: I've always loved the Ray Harryhausen stop-motion films, and I wanted a story that expanded that stylistic genre into a more personal narrative that addresses both being a viewer of B-movie classics and being a creator. Meta-narrative is what I consider the hidden over-story of “MOTRO,” whereas the actual adventures of the boy named Motro is what keeps the story moving. The character of Motro has some very limited understanding that his world isn't exactly what it seems to be, and his hero's journey is coming to terms with that. Exactly what is a hero's journey, if the hero becomes metaphysically aware? That's what I want to answer with this epic.

How does your work with the online Act-I-Vate comics collective give you freedom you wouldn't have by going through more conventional means of distribution?

FARINAS: The goals I have for “MOTRO” have fundamentally limited any means of conventional distribution. For American comics, 120 pages is considered a "graphic novel," but I disagree. 120 pages using the comics form, mostly condenses to a few hours of reading at most, and should be called a novelette. I seek to write a hero's journey that doesn't skip 40 years to get to the ending, and really explores a character's loss of innocence and slow soul death that would occur in anyone fighting to survive. This can't be done in 120 pages. I’m not sure how many pages it would take, but I want to write it as long as it has to be. Publishing online doesn't give me any firm deadlines and artificial constraints. Although I enjoy someone reading my comic as it’s created, the internet and ACT-I-VATE gives me the freedom to create in the long term, while I focus on more immediate projects that are more "economical."

You told me you are only 23-years old. How long have you been doing comics and what are your ultimate goals in terms of your career in the industry?

FARINAS: I've been drawing narratives since before I can remember. I literally do not remember a time where I wasn't drawing. My main focus in writing and drawing has always been the desire to have some ability to create life. I know that sounds insane, but the act of creation, of any creation, I think makes you more human and more sane, and it's been that constant need to create that has kept me relatively sane.

Check out Ulises Farinas HERE: http://ulisesfarinas.com/

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