Leslie is a simple pig girl. She loves sushi, she's stuck with a job she hates, and she lives under a brutal totalitarian government-one that punishes transgressors for anything deemed "unnatural." Leslie dreams of something different for herself. But those dreams are becoming dangerous...
Writer/Artist Mirka Andolfo tells you more in the interview about the colorful but terrible world-full of anthropomorphic creatures in Unnatural Volume 1: Awakening from Image Comics!
Vince Brusio: In the solicitation for Unnatural, it’s touted that the series is a tip of the hat to Reed Waller and Kate Worley’s Omaha The Cat Dancer. For the more mature seasoned readers — those of us who remember life before the Internet — Omaha is a familiar title. But the reference might be lost to some new readers today. So can you tell us how Unnatural is comparative to something as old school as Omaha?
Mirka Andolfo: Well, to be honest I don’t know very well Omaha: as far as I know it hasn’t never been published in Italy… It can be comparated to Unnatural because both of the series have anthropomorphic animals, and there’s a “sexy” side on the story (Unnatural is more sexy and sensual than erotic), and that’s it. In that sense, Unnatural could also be compared to other (amazing) comics as Blacksad, or the web-strip Lackadaisy. As for the mood and the theme, I find that more closer to Saga, just to quote a book that everybody know…
Vince Brusio: What’s your attraction to creating a story that uses anthropomorphic characters? Were there any other works besides Omaha that made you settle on such a vehicle for your stories? Were you blown away with what Orwell did with Animal Farm, and you never looked back? Or were there other comic book influences that helped shape your craft?
Mirka Andolfo: In my mind, I wanted to do something different from what I did before. In my comics (also in my first creator-owned book, that’s almost unpublished in US) I prefer not to draw human beings, I find that stimulating. Antropomorphic characters are both fun to draw from a creative point of view and difficult to manage.
As for the influences, I’m a kind of “sponge”, that absorbs in the background, without too much awareness, things from what I love. As artist, I always loved the work of many artists like Barbucci and Canepa (Sky Doll) or Guarnido (Blacksad), and many American and Japanese artists. As for the story: when I decided to work on a story with antropomorphic creatures, I immediately thought to Animal Farm. I started reading (again) that book (I did that when I was at school) while sketching Leslie and her friends. Then I became more and more passionate about Orwell’s books, and I wanted to read again the dystopian 1984. After that, I have not picked up those books again during the whole process: I didn’t want to ape those masterpieces, just be inspired by them.
Vince Brusio: Tell us about the characters in this story. Who do we cheer? Who should be despised? Who bears watching because we have no idea about the demons in their head?
Mirka Andolfo: In my idea, the characters should be explored little by little. Not always the first approach with each of them tells what he/she actually is. And above all, I did not want to link the deployment (good guy / villain) based on the breed of the animal. If I have done my job well, the reader should empathize for the good ones, but also – and especially? – for the villains, because I do not see the bad guys like cartoons, but all-round characters who have motivations. Always. Oh, well, almost always.
I really hope the readers will love Leslie, not only because she’s the main character, but because she’s a common girl. I hope the reader will be able to identify himself/herself in Les. She has a crappy job, her boss is a slimy stupid, she doesn’t have enough money… Problems that everyone could have. And we could say the same for her character: personally, I I have a lot in common with Leslie's personality traits. I'm a bit fearful, lazy, and… I love sushi!
Vince Brusio: The solicitation for the book offers that it’s a “thriller” and “fantasy.” But the book’s also said to be regarded as “romantic suspense.” So let’s hear from you what descriptive words or phrases you’d like to use in coloring this book so that we best see Unnatural is, can, and will be for the readers?
Mirka Andolfo: First of all, I’ve to admit that it was so difficult to find a category for Unnatural. Because it has a lot of different elements, a sort of hybrid with some soft erotic sides, too. I enjoy playing with genres: at a first sight, Unnatural could seems just a romantic story. But, little by little, some mysteries will take the upper hand, and the narration will become increasingly obscure. I adore contrasts: as much the colors and the character design are “cartoonish” (and a little bit “childish”), even more the story will be dark. All set in a world that is different from ours, but not so different, for many negative aspects.
Vince Brusio: Why are you making this 12-issue series? What compels you to be its creator? What’s the driving force behind your passion to see Unnatural from start to finish?
Mirka Andolfo: Originally, the series has been published in Italy (and in other European countries), directly with three trade paperback, but I wanted to do that with separate chapters (thinking about the American standard). Also in my previous books were in three volumes. I’ve never liked never-ending stories, so I prefer a story that has a beginning, and ends. I love working on the same characters when I work as artist, but as creator I prefer be concentrated on short runs, and then go. My creativity is constantly stimulated by what I see: artworks, novels, video games, comic books… I don’t want to fossilize on one story. I know that, from a commercial point of view, it is not a good reasoning, but I prefer working in that way.
I think I’m not good enough do describe what compels me to be the creator of Unnatural: at the beginning, it was only a divertissement, and, as I usually do with my project, I'm putting all of myself into that series. What I love, what I don’t like, what amuse me…
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.