Brazilian Sugar: Fabio Moon Talks Sugarshock

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Artist Fabio Moon and his brother Gabriel Ba, born and raised in Brazil, have been creating their own comics since they were in high school in the ‘90s, and have since entered into the world of American comics. Gabriel has earned acclaim for such works as The Umbrella Academy and Casanova, while Fabio won an Eisner for his webcomic Sugarshock with Joss Whedon. In October, the award-winning webcomic will be issued in a print edition from Dark Horse Comics. Broken Frontier spoke with Moon about the comic and his background.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Fabio, tell us, how did you wind up working on Sugarshock?

FABIO MOON: The editor of the story, Scott Allie, is also working with my brother on Umbrella Academy, and he was trying to find me something exciting to do as well. When Joss proposed Sugarshock, Scott thought the vibe and style of the story needed me and he called.

BF: How would you describe the story for people who are thinking about picking it up? Is it very different from your past work?

FM: It's funnier than my past work. It's about a rock band formed by cute girls and a robot bass player, and when they fall right into trouble, they just keep playing it by ear.

BF: Did you and Joss develop the story together?

FM: Joss had descriptions for the characters, but I had a lot of freedom developing the visual part of the story. Maybe I got it right very fast, but Joss and I got in sync very fast and there were very few corrections before we started to work on the pages, and even then it went smoothly. I think we both like to create stories with cute girls, so there was no wrong in our way.

BF: Did you have to approach the work differently, given that it was serialized in short installments online?

FM: I actually did it the same way I did all other stories. Same size, same paper, same process. I didn't know how it would work online, but I was happy with the way the stories were displayed on the net and how you could read and link to each chapter. It wasn't the longest of the stories, so I think it worked really well on the internet.

BF: You've collaborated with your brother on a number of projects; was it a major shift working with someone else this time?

FM: The major shift is on the stuff I'll actually draw. The stories I create with my brother don't usually involve alien races, intergalactic battle and the secret story of Abraham Lincoln. Whenever I'm drawing a story from somebody else, I have to stretch different artistic muscles.

BF: How did you feel about Sugarshock winning the Eisner for Best Web Comic? This isn't your only Eisner, right?

FM: It felt great. I was very happy. I felt like the goal was met, and that was to make people read the stories no matter what. For me, that's the appeal of webcomics. No matter where you are in the world, you can read them, and the creators make them available for free, and if you like it, you'll spread the word.

I also won another Eisner for best anthology with the book I did together with my brother and three other friends (Becky Cloonan, Vasilis Lolos and Rafael Grampá). The book was called 5, we were 5 artists and there's nothing better than getting an award for something that we only did out of our love for comics.


BF: Tell us a bit about your background in comics. What was your earliest work, and how did you wind up getting into American comics?

FM: I started publishing fanzines, which were mini-comics with the stories my brother and I wanted to tell. At the same time, we were doing some submission pages for super-heroes, but they sucked. And the reaction we got from our own stories was always better, so we kept doing it in Brazil. We have 7 books published in Brazil now, besides several stories in anthologies. We even published a book called ROLAND- Days of Wrath in the states in 1999/2000 with a writer called Shane Amaya, because we won a Xeric Grant for it and it really help to promote the book, but for the most part we just kept writing and drawing our own stories. At some point, as we kept showing our stories to American editors and publishers, we started to find some people interested in publishing them, and in 2003 we published a story in an anthology called Autobiographix(which was nominated for an Eisner), alongside creators like Frank Miller and Will Eisner, and later in 2006 we did an entire book collecting our stories, called De:TALES (which was nominated for an Eisner). Both books were published by Dark Horse and edited by Diana Schutz. After that, we were in, and I think it was a matter of choosing the right projects and telling the right stories.

BF: I understand that you and your brother have published a fanzine called "10 Paezinhos". What sort of material is in that?

FM: We like to tell stories about human relationships set mostly in urban environments, and these are the stories we told in the fanzine so that the people we were selling the fanzine to, who weren't conic book readers, would have something to relate to in the stories. We were very experimental in the art, to a point where the art didn't matter as much as the story, and it was a great way to develop and discover the type of stories that we wanted to tell.

BF: Are comics a big part of the culture in Brazil? Do they read a lot of American comics?

FM: In Brazil, there’s a lot of the Marvel/DC stuff, and some of the Dark Horse more mainstream stuff, but a lot of the alternative or independent American comics are not very well known in Brazil. But in recent years this trend is changing, and as graphic novels are migrating to libraries and bookstores, more authors have been published, like Jeff Smith, Craig Thompson, Terry Moore, Will Eisner, Paul Pope. We get some stuff from Europe too, and a lot of Manga.

BF: Not a lot of people know this, but you picked up your nickname "Moon" because you were a fan of J.M. DeMatteis’ Moonshadow series, and your brother’s last name "Ba" is also a nickname. Why the aliases?

FM: We have secret real names so we don't get attacked by the mob of fans (mostly women).

BF: Do you do anything outside of comics?

FM: I dance a mean Tango and Samba.

BF: What other projects do you have coming up?

FM: I have a series coming from Vertigo/DC called Daytripper written and drawn by me and my brother, and it starts coming out in December. It's different from anything we've done before, but it appeals to people who might have enjoyed any of our current projects. Everybody should check it out.

Sugarshock is in stores October 21st from Dark Horse Comics priced $3.99


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