Kristine Chester, Fanboy Comics Senior Contributor: Lara, Patricio, thank you both for taking the time to speak with Fanboy Comics. First, congratulations on the release of Volume 2 of your graphic novel series Archeologists of Shadows. For any of our readers who aren't already familiar, what is Archeologists of Shadows?
Lara Fuentes and Patricio Clarey: First of all, thank you for this interview. It’s really nice to talk to you. Archeologists of Shadows is a graphic novel series about a world in which every living thing is being mechanized. The Authorities of this world believe that it is the will of the Gods, so they help to fulfill their wishes controlling the creatures that are not yet mechanized. Baltimo and Alix are two of these beings, they decide to run away from the Authorities, and end up joining the Resistance, a movement that doesn’t accept the Authorities decree and plan. Baltimo and Alix must find the Gods which will help them understand what’s going on with their world.
KC: The two of you have been working on Archeologists of Shadows together for quite a while. How did you first become a creative team and what is your collaborative process?
LF: We both worked in the same publishing company for years, as editor and writer, and graphic designer and illustrator, so we worked as a team long before we decided to work on our own projects. Our creative process is a bit chaotic, since we also live together. It’s hard to say when we are working and when we are just talking about our day. We usually begin with brainstorming ideas, and then we polish them and refine them from there, but there is a lot of spontaneity. I can explain all the ideas and concepts I want to transmit to Patricio, and he often makes a conceptual drawing that is great inspiration for a setting or a character that initially wasn’t in the story. It can be kind of difficult to work like this, but also it’s incredibly fun and exciting. You never know what can happen next.
KC: Patricio, the art in Archeologists of Shadows is breathtaking and completely unlike anything else found in comics. What process do you undertake to achieve this unique style?
PC: The style for AOS is a collage of different artistic techniques merged together in PhotoShop trying to get the best result possible in a CG image. I have a big file with pictures of metallic objects and different textures and sculptures, but every book has its own artistic process, and I try to find new ways to make the AOS universe bigger with every volume.
KC: Like the art, the setting of Archeologists of Shadows is unique, successfully combining many genres, themes, and elements such as religion, steampunk, and technological advancement. What are some of the influences behind the graphic novel's unique setting and story?
LF and PC: Sometimes, it is very difficult to understand where ideas or concepts come from; you can find influences everywhere. We have spent most of our lives watching movies like Star Wars, Terminator, Alien, The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, reading authors like Asimov, Orwell, Tolkien, Kafka, Alan Moore, Moebius, and Neil Gaiman, but we also enjoy other genres and other authors as well, and it shows in Archeologists of Shadows. If you want to know more about some of our influences, you just have to [look at] most of the names of the characters in the AOS series, almost all of them come from a book, a TV show, or a movie that has been an influence for us. It’s sort of a tribute. Strange as it sounds being a fantasy story, inspiration comes with reality, trying to make sense of our problems and limitations as human beings in our society. You only have to take a look around and translate what you see into a language that you feel comfortable with, in our case, fantasy.
KC: Thanks to the process known as Mechanization, all of your characters are robotic or at least partially robotic. Patricio, was this a challenge to keep these characters looking varied? What about having them express emotions?
LF and PC: The truth is that everything has been a challenge with AOS. We’ve always felt like we didn’t have enough time to dedicate ourselves entirely to the project, not because we didn’t want to, but because of our other jobs. So, for me, it has always been an artistic experiment in very high speed with the premise that everything had to be epic, better, and different. We have been following master Yoda’s advice, and so we are not trying to make a graphic novel, we are making a graphic novel. Since it’s our first one, we are doing it our way, sometimes making mistakes, but with the hope that every book will be better than the one before and when it’s finished, we’ll have a good series in our hands.
KC: Mechanization is a fascinating concept. It works so well as a metaphor for disease or a warning against technology. Lara, what sorts of questions can readers expect to be answered about Mechanization in future volumes?
LF: We have been working hard on setting the world and the rules of this world in the first two volumes, so in the future we will focus more on the characters and their stories. For example, we will [learn] a very important piece of Calvin’s past, and we’ll have a better idea on what being an Alter Ego really means. I am very excited about the third volume, because it looks outstanding, the best work by Patricio yet, in my opinion, and that says a lot. We will introduce new characters and situations that we’ve been wanting to introduce for a while, so it’s going to be fun. Eventually, when we finish all the volumes planned, every question about the mechanization and the Gods will be answered.
KC: With two volumes already completed, what's next? When can we expect to see more Archeologists of Shadows? Do you have any other upcoming projects?
LF and PC: We are currently working on the third volume, and we hope to have it finished and ready to go in Spring 2013. We have tons of projects, we are just waiting for the right time. Right now we have to combine Archeologists of Shadows with our other jobs that pay the rent and allow us to feed our cat, which is pretty important, so we don’t have all the time we’d like to have to focus on our own projects, but we have a drawer full of ideas and stories in development that will eventually see the light, we can only hope.
KC: What advice would you give to our readers who are interested in independently creating their own comics or graphic novels?
LF and PC: The first thing would be to get your own Septagon Studios. Maybe you are a very, very talented person with all the time in the world, but eventually we all need help and collaboration, and finding someone who believes in your project and believes in you, who is willing to invest time and effort on a gamble that no one really knows if it’s going to pay off; that is priceless. When you try something independent, or “non mainstream,” most people will look at you as if you were doing things wrong. That’s because you probably will be doing something new, which is weird, because there is no precedent to know if people are going to love it or to hate it. It’s important to find a home for your work, and you should aim for someone who really likes what you do. There will be plenty of moments when you’ll ask yourself, “What am I doing? This is taking me nowhere,” so having support helps you do all the things you can’t (like contacting really cool websites that maybe will want to interview you someday). [Support] is really important, because no matter how independent you want to be, you probably can’t do everything on your own and always do it right.
KC: This being Fanboy Comics, would you care to geek out with us about your own favorite comics, movies, or games?
LF: I grew up watching amazing movies that I still love and consider better than most of the movies that are made nowadays: Star Wars, Terminator, Alien, Indiana Jones, Blade Runner, and Close Encounters. You can add to that list more recent movies, like The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, and Children of Men. As for books, I have a great deal of admiration for Isaac Asimov and George Orwell, who is one of my favorite authors. As for comic books, I love Alan Moore and Moebius. Lately, I’ve been very anxious to read the last issues of Locke & Key, and the third part of Avatar: The Promise. Patricio and I are great fans of the TV series, and the comic books are a real treat. As for games, I refuse to play any games right now. I know that if I begin I could never stop, I have self-control issues, and I wouldn’t be able to work at all at home, and I can’t afford that right now. Hopefully, someday in the future . . .
PC: I would name all the above, and add Fight Club and Pulp Fiction as two of my favorites. One of my favorite comic books is Arkham Asylum by Dave McKean and Grant Morrison. As Lara said, games are not allowed at home, but I’m a big follower of many art books of video games, like Halo 4, God of War, Mass Effect, and many others. Right now, I’m waiting for the release of The Art of Blizzard, and I can’t wait to have it!
KC: Lastly, what would you like to tell Fanboy Comics' readers who would like to learn more about you and your upcoming projects?
LF and PC: Stay tuned! We hope at some point we’ll be able to dedicate more of our time to our own projects, and when that day comes, we’ll be posting all about it on www.faithcreativefactory.com and for the latest Archeologists of Shadows news, visit www.aoscomic.com.