#GraphicNovels have a special place in our hearts here at Creators. Not only do we consume them ravenously but some of our Creators actually write and produce them! Mexican born Creator, Gerardo Preciado is one such Creator, penning what to many are seen as mini masterpieces and gems of fictional brilliance.
Bold, effective and twisted.
Hugo Robberts (WeeklyComicReview.com) on Preciado's 'The Deal'
He has produced fantastical, imaginative stories involving big-league superhero characters we all know and love, such as #Batman, #Daredevil, his own twist on #Superman, as well as conjuring up his own intriguing and thought provoking creations.
Last year we managed to connect Gerardo with DC Comics' legend Lee Bermejo as part of a competition that allowed writers and artists to have their work critiqued by an industry professional. It's safe to say that Lee was pleasantly surprised with their work, stating:
"First off, let me just say that you guys hardly need much of a critique from me. The level of work here is quite high and I think that what you both have done is rather astounding."
We couldn't agree more, and were lucky enough to steal some of Gerardo's time this week to talk about his perception of the graphic novel world today and discuss what inspired him to create them in the first place.
1. As both a reader and a writer, what do you think the role of graphic novels should be in today's society?
I think of comics as an art form as valid and as important as any other art form. It used to drive me crazy when someone said "this is a great comic, they should make a movie adaptation!" as if the comic itself wasn't enough. I read #Watchmen or #Preacher and I go - "that's a fantastic story!"
What I think people mean when they say something like that is "I loved that story. I would like to have that experience with another couple hundred people." I get that. Reading is a solitary experience, which is not good or bad, it just is.
I think that like any art form, a Graphic Novel (just a fancy word for Comics, really) can definitely open people's minds to new ideas, and that is how society accepts new ideas and grows over time. People seem to no longer be ashamed to be seen with a comic in their hands so that in itself is a step forward!
2. What freedom or restrictions do you think come with the graphic novel format in comparison with serialized comic books?
To me a good story has a good ending. The ending is very important to me as a writer. It's also very important to me that the reader feels something. When I write I don't want to tell the reader a story, I want them to be in it, to live it. I'm very aware of that when I write.
I think that mainstream superhero comic stories are very difficult to write. The reader knows the hero won't die at the end of an issue (and if he dies he'll return next year aligned with the release of his/her film), or that the characters don't really age or change much. I guess that's why I gravitate to smaller self contained stories.
The only time I've written mainstream characters (in fan fiction form of course), my OCD self just HAD to write an ending to these characters.
3. Your Superman-inspired graphic novel 'God's End' is thematically existential. How important do you think it is to create graphic novels with a deeper message?
I just write stories that I would want to read. I have written some, let's say, more serious, spiritual stories but I also like to write some fun silly stuff. The most important thing for me when I write comics or music is that the art reflects myself and who I am.
I am not a religious person but what I think of when I think of 'God created man in his own image' is that if you are a creation that reflects his creator, you are an artwork yourself and also, if you are being true to yourself you are also a creator. You are only a true artist if you 'create art in your own image', meaning that when you write a story or a song etc it must be something that only you could have done.
Again, not to get too spiritual here, but there is a magic that happens, when you align yourself and allow these ideas to come through you rather than from you. I think there is art everywhere, playing a sport can be art, cooking a meal can be art. I do think that most people are afraid of opening themselves up and showing who they truly are and that's why I value the artists that do.
Art is my religion. Having said that, I do write the occasional fart joke so don't take what I say too seriously!
4. To what extent do you draw upon autobiographical elements in your writing?
I hadn't realized this until very recently but I think I can pinpoint exactly the event that made me a writer. When I was around eight or nine years old I had one of my kidneys removed. I didn't know the implications of this operation were 25 years ago but it affected me deeply. When I heard the doctor tell my father that they were going to remove it (they didn't realize I was listening) I had never been so scared in my life I really thought I was going to die. So there I was on my way back home, confronting death and all I really wanted was to hug my mother and cry. Right before I was about to enter my house, my father kneels and tells me 'You can't cry, you have to be strong or your mother and your brothers are going to get scared' so I swallowed all those emotions. I think it formed a sort of black hole in my soul and to be honest, looking back, I think that I've always battled with depression from that day on.
The whole experience was so horrific and traumatic for me. I was filled with all sorts of spiritual ideas that I had no business having at that age. I guess I was just trying to make sense of it all. I've realized, most of my stories revolve around characters having some sort of realization, an awakening of being so much more than what they think they are.
As far as the depression goes, when I align myself, when I'm creating stories or music that are aligned with who I am, it goes away. To me writing is very healing. In some ways it is like the arc reactor that keeps Tony Stark alive, keeping the shrapnel away from his heart. So in a very literal way, art saved me and continues to do so as long as I keep writing stories that are true to myself.
5. What potential power do you think graphic novels have in terms of social change?
Like any art form, I think it can make a huge difference. I know they've had a huge impact in my life and really as an artist if you touch, or open one reader's mind, you've made it. Don't underestimate the impact a song, a story, a film can have on someone's life. It can be life changing, life saving even.
As far as social change, I think that we are not advancing as fast as we would like to as a human race, certainly not as fast as technology. That said, I'm an optimist, I think we're getting there and I think that art is definitely a very important tool in opening people's minds and accepting new ideas.
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6. The relationship between writer and artist is very important when it comes to creating a graphic novel. How do you go about finding the right artist? Is there a level of compromise needed to produce the final product?
I think that is the most important aspect. I think there is a right artist for every story, and the right story for every artist. I have several very gifted artists and they are all very different, they work differently and they like different things. If you choose the right artist for a project then you just let them be. Everything they show you is going to be great and everything you pitch to them, they're going to like. Every project (and I do mean every one) has run very smoothly. Most of the time we make very few changes and adjustments. The best projects go by so easily and so effortlessly that you feel you're somehow being helped by sorcery!
Gerardo has just released a stunning web #comic on his blog, PSYCARIO, and has hailed it "hands down the best collaboration so far". As well as publishing graphic novels, he has also released a #music project through his own label that concentrates on Italian slasher film scores.
To check out more of Gerardo's backlog of wonderful graphic novels, including Batman: The Deal and Daredevil, you can find them all at MoonheadPess.
This article is part of the Creators.co fanzine, Graphic Novels: The Breakthrough Medium That Revolutionized Storytelling.