This week, Becky Jewell talks to Brazil’s Estevão Ribeiro about his life and works.
Translation: Estevão Ribeiro was born in April of 1979. He has spent most of his life writing stories and comics. He is the author of the comic anthology Little Heroes, which came out in the EUA in 2012, and also is the author of A Corrente, which will be published in Italy in October of 2012.
Graphicly – Your comic strip, Hector and Alfonse, is very cute, but also full of truth. How did you come to invent Hector?
Ribeiro: Hector and Alfonse were invented when I was waiting for a script meeting for an animated series that I was testing out.
I was trying to draw a bird about to take off from the paper. On my third try, Hector was created. After that, I thought that I’d like to draw a friend for Hector. He needed to be simple like Alfonse, yet different and distinct. Alfonse was more difficult to create.
Graphicly – We first encountered your work in the book Little Heroes. Did you enjoy working on this project? Can you tell us a bit about your process for creating and curating this comic book?
Ribeiro: Little Heroes was a big project and I’m very proud with how it turned out. At it’s core, it is about kids and teenagers, who, at in some point in the story, do something heroic which makes them into big heroes. I hadn’t the money to give the contract artists, but they wanted participate this project because they liked it. If you had the chance to honor your favorite hero, why not?I wrote the whole script, and all of the stories happen without speech balloons. I wanted the book to be ‘silent’ like this because I could show this collection to a person from any other country and this person would be able to understand the story and also appreciate the art.
This first chapter honors the DC Comics characters. The next three chapters honor the Marvel heroes, and classic heroes (like Dick Tracy, Tarzan, Flash Gordon and others), and the last chapter in the comic book honors the villains. The collection won the Troféu HQMIX as the best comic book for kids and teenagers in 2011. The Troféu HQMIX has been established for 21 years, and is like the Eisner award in Brazil.
Graphicly – How do you balance your family life and your life as an artist ?
Ribeiro – My wife Ana Cristina is a writer too, so she understands my job responsibilities. I work as an art editor in a journal in Rio de Janeiro, and so I have only a few hours each day to write some project or to draw my comic strips. My wife knows that all I do is for her and my stepson Miguel.
They are a present force in my work as well. Miguel reads my comic strips and books for children (he’s 9 years old) and she read my books and helps me in some translations. We are a good team.
Graphicly – You are doing work with the emmy-nominated Kiyash Monsef. Can you tell us anything about this project?
Ribeiro: The project involves production work on the second season from graphic novel online Urgent Evoke, part of a big innovative social game created by Kiyash for the World Bank Institute.
Since this graphic novel is about Brazil, Kiyash needed a Brazilian writer to help him.
I heard about this project through you, Becky. So I sent Kiyash some links about my job experience, including Little Heroes, and I was hired.
Kiyash is a successful artist and has welcomed me into his world.
Six episodes are currently in the works for this project. I can’t talk more about this project, but I can say that you’ll see a different kind of game at work for me.
Graphicly – What is your artistic process? How do you come up with ideas, and how do you get these ideas into comic book form?
Ribeiro – I’m always working. I’m always thinking about a new comic strip, or coming up with ideas for my new novel or thinking about writing projects for TV, but I don’t have time to dedicate to all of these ideas, because I’m not able to live 100% on my comicbook-related income. So, for the most part, I transform my ideas into comic strips or short stories.
I write the scripts in a word doc and let it settle until I find time to draw it.
I don’t like to write in the streets or send myself idea reminder e-mails. I like to keep an idea in my head until I can write it down on my computer. If the idea is good, I will remember it.
The comic strip “Hector and Alfonse” is drawn with a tablet. I don’t do sketches, I draw directly into Photoshop with a brush.
Graphicly – Have you always wanted to be a comic book artist? When did you start to do art?
Ribeiro: I was born in 1979 and I have 2 brothers and 3 sisters. My brothers liked comics and so I learned to like them too. But we were a very poor family, and art production in Brazil is costly. I always wanted to work with comic books, but before I started my first job as a newspaper writer in 2000, I worked in the graphic design industry. I’d wanted to understand why it was so expensive to do a comic book in Brazil. When I finally understood the market a bit more, I began to publish my own works.
Graphicly – What can you tell us about life as a comic book artist in Brazil?
Ribeiro: It’s very hard, but it’s better than it was 20 years ago. The big years for Brazilian comics were in the 1940s, when the war interrupted the circulation of foreign comics in Brazil. So, our local artists needed to do their own stories or create new stories about well-known characters, like Buster Brown.
In the 1960s , there was “Monica’s Gang”, a comic created by Mauricio de Sousa. Shortly after it came out, Mauricio de Sousa Produções became a big studio in Brazil. Mauricio is our Disney or Stan Lee.
For many years some of Disney’s comics were created in Brazil, especially Zé Carioca. In the 1970s, the most famous artist to draw Zé Carioca was Renato Canini. He is to Ze Carioca what Don Rosa is to Scrooge McDuck.
In 70s and 80s, comic and cartoon artists in Brazil would work in Mauricio de Sousa Produções and the Brazil Disney studio. Artists could also go into work with erotic & horror comics, celebrity comics, and of course they could make their own characters. In cartooning, an important group was formed by Angeli, Laerte, Glauco. These artists created the Chiclete com Banana, an underground comic book with a big influence across two generations of Brazil artists.
In the 1990s and into the 2000s, the market in Brazil was a very complicated place for comic book writers. Almost all of the American studios want just artists, while comics writers must live in Brazil doing basic industry comics or write for Mauricio de Sousa Produções. The idea of creating Brazilian stories AND publishing them in Brazil is still mostly a dream.
Yet, more and more Brazilian artists are printing their own works and bringing them to Comic Cons in Brazil and the USA. We are exporting authors, artists and stories. It is an exciting time.