Jok and Santullo, how did you get to know each other?
SANTULLO: If I’m not wrong, it was over 20 years ago! In the Argentine city of Rosario an event called “Legends” was organised and I brought my first publications made at that time. On that trip we met with Jok and since then we have formed a strong friendship. We started working together a few years later, in 2005.
JOK: We were really young and I remember it was a time (the late 90s) when indie creators really collaborated with each other, displayed a good amount of organisation and stood together in constant contact, despite the absolute lack of social networks (as we know them today). All the big local publishers had disappeared all of a sudden and fanzines and indie publications flooded the scene. Santullo and I made friends with each other and with many other colleagues in that context… Those friendships still last today. As young, inexperienced creators we needed to struggle for attention in those days, and I believe this made colleagues more cooperative than competitive, and it was really easy to make good friends under those circumstances (despite living in separate cities). Later, along the way of festivals and other activities, we met our beloved translator Magnus, who is also a multi-talented creator in his own right.
How well do you get along creatively? Do you disagree sometimes or do you entirely share a common vision?
SANTULLO: We generally work very well together. In fact, I rarely remember that we were not quick to agree. I think it helps a lot to have the same background, or at least a very similar one, of reading, references, or movie culture. All this allows us to share an imaginary world. Then there’s all the time that we have been working together, which also has given us a lot of practice.
JOK: Santullo and I kind of share the same influences and love for genres (there’s so much to explore!). I completely trust his skills and determination, and we seldom express any doubts or concerns to each other. Having shared the creative process for so long allows us to face any kind of endeavour without hesitation. It’s almost a miracle to have fully grown creators getting along this way… having known each other for more than twenty years neutralised our egos completely, I guess.
What brought you two to comics? What is your goal when you propose a story to the public?
SANTULLO: In my personal case, it was a natural process. Just as I enjoyed reading short stories and started trying to write my own short stories, the same process occurred as a comic book script writer. I really enjoy telling stories in any format.
And I really hope that that same enjoyment, which I now find in writing as much as in reading others, is transmitted to the readers: the emotion, the fun, the pleasure of a story told as best as possible to the extent of my capabilities.
JOK: I´ve learned to read with comics (by myself) and have been producing my own comics and characters since I was around 5 years old… I’ve never been detached from the medium ever since, it’s just part of who I am. Devoting most of my time to it was not a conscious choice, I´ve always been exposed to comics as a reader, fan and student… All pretty natural steps of evolution. Of course I didn’t know I´d make a living out of it, but my love for the medium was never in doubt. I believe this made things easier for me when I did decide to drop my former day-job for good in order to jump into professionalism.
My goal as a creator is to provide a convincing world inhabited by attractive characters (both protagonists and antagonists). Readers should feel drawn to keep turning pages, enjoying the ride and wanting to know more about the world and characters I´m depicting page after page. I try to focus on keeping scenes interesting but also pay attention to backgrounds also featuring characters full of life and expression. I know it’s quite an ambitious goal, but it keeps me healthily busy!
What do you think comics can bring the world?
JOK: In comics, you can show the inside world as accurately as the outside world… This allows you, as a creator, to tell all kinds of stories. It’s a very rich medium and you can rely on text as much as you can lean on images (and everything in between and in every possible combination). It’s a very valid means of communication and expression with a lot of potential yet to be explored (even for non-fiction contents). I wish world-wide markets would reflect this power… Maybe digital publishing does the trick, let’s wait and see!
SANTULLO: I think comics are something unique. A language that allows the enjoyment of image and word in unison. A language that contemplates the reader’s reading times like no other. And comics have shown something in their more than a century of life: they are capable of telling any type of story, any story, of any genre. For me, comics imply absolute freedom.
Why are you so drawn to fantasy?
JOK: Since I was a kid, I fell in love with movies and cartoons, as well as books and comics, such as The Never Ending Story, Conan, Masters of the Universe and some local characters (Wolf, Nippur, Or-Grund, The Magician and The Moving Fortress, if you wanted to look them up). But I keep enjoying the genre as an adult too (I´m a big fan of George R.R. Martin´s novels and I keep enjoying Alcatena´s art as much as I did in my younger days). I know some readers might find fantasy´s boundaries a bit tight (or outdated) today, but I feel very comfortable adding condiments to the mix in order to “degenerate the genre” just a bit. For example, the Dungeons and Burglars series features a Tarantino/Ritchie-esque touch we really enjoyed developing. Regarding the Merlin and Hector saga, we´ve kept a more classical approach, but adding a modern twist on the art and making some personal choices (and taking some risks) along the way of touring the legend.
SANTULLO: Fantasy is one of my favorite genres. And in particular one for which I feel very comfortable working with Jok (the other could be terror). In particular, what we are doing with Merlin is a kind of historical fantasy, because it contemplates both the magical legends that surround the character and the possible “real” story that could have been his temporal context (all interpreted in our own way, of course).
To be continued Monday 15 March