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Girls Undressed

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After they took the comic book world by storm with their acclaimed eight-issue mini series Ultra: Seven Days, showcasing vivid storytelling and animated artwork, brothers Joshua and Jonathan Luna are back. At the end of May, the duo released Girls, an ongoing series evolving around a guy named Ethan Daniels which sold out  shortly after reaching stores the final week of May.

BF chatted with these two Lunatics about their new creation, while also covering the sexual theme present in their young oeuvre.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Ultra: Seven Days was an eight-issue mini series. Girls, however, is an ongoing monthly. What made you guys decide to switch to the latter format?

JOSHUA LUNA: Well, Girls will be a finite series as well—it will just take a little bit longer to get to the ending.  Basically, the length of all of our stories is determined by the material we’re working with.  Compared to Ultra, Girls is a bit more epic.  So, it demands a lot more out of us.

JONATHAN LUNA: Right—I don’t think we’d ever work on a book that kept going on forever.  We kind of view our books as films in comic book form.

BF: Has your view of comics changed after breaking in with Ultra?

Jonathan: As a medium?  Not really.  I love it as I always have—if not, more.  It’s such a great way to tell a story with imagery, not requiring an enormous crew and budget.
In terms of the industry, though, I think comics are heading towards a great place.  We’re seeing more diversity in stories and audiences than ever before, and it’s not going to stop.

BF: Although the title of the book would suggest otherwise, Girls deals with a male protagonist in Ethan Daniels. Is it easier to get into the head of a guy than the band of female heroes/celebrities you had to get into while writing Ultra?

Josh: It’s about the same.  I try not to get too gender-specific because it’s easy to run into stereotypes that way.  I think I’m more concerned with the character’s specific motivations, personalities, etc.  I just try to keep everything true to the specific character.  Or, just simply human.  When you look at it from that angle, you discover men and women are more alike than you might think.

BF: Something that is impossible to ignore is the presence of sex in your work. How did sex become a continual topic in your young oeuvre?

Jonathan: “Gender” sex is one of the most interesting subjects, I think.  It’s part of what makes a love story. “Sexual” sex is one of the biggest things that drives us all in just about everything we do—whether you’d like to admit it or not.  It’s a huge part of who we are, and we’d like to explore it through story.

We both just love to draw women.  The female figure is too beautiful to ignore—in any shape or size.  So, the subject of “sex” is inevitable for us to work with.

BF: I’m aware that it can be risky to incorporate sex into multiple issues or series, because people may start to think your work is synonymous with ‘making love’. Is that something you guys are cautious of when crafting your stories?

Josh: What’s wrong with making love?  [laughs]

BF: Does it bother you when I’m probably the zillionth person to use the word ‘sex’ in a conversation with either one of you?

Jonathan: Not at all.  Actually, this is probably the most we’ve talked about sex in an interview.

BF: I see. [Laughs] Seriously though, being from Europe myself, it has always baffled me that Americans get so Puritan over love and nudity, while at the same time they don’t seem to have much of a problem with gory violence. Are you consciously trying to change that mindset a bit with the work you produce?

Josh: I don’t think we consciously try to change anything.  I think we just try to stay true to the stories we love to tell.  Our stories definitely have a fair amount of gore as well, to be honest. 

Jonathan: Josh and I actually talk about the differences of American and European culture all the time.  It’s really interesting to see what makes one people act a certain way, and another group act another way.

BF: Do you guys feel limited by the relatively prudish attitude of the American public? I mean, from the perspective of a creator who tries to portray his characters as realistically as possible, isn’t it annoying that you can’t even show breasts during sex scenes, let alone on covers?

Jonathan: Well, the only sex scene in Girls #1 is when Ethan has it with himself.  [Laughs]  But, actually, we can show nudity pretty much any time we want to—we just choose not to show it all the time.

As for covers, I’d think it would be irresponsible for anyone to put full nudity on comic book covers.  These books can land in front of minors at anytime, and it’s just not good business sense—it’s extremely hard to pull off nudity when you’re not dealing with Fine Arts audiences.

BF: Enough about all this ‘sex talk’, let’s get to a more key aspect when it comes to basic comics storytelling: what are some of the key factors when it comes to creating realistic male and female characters?

Josh: Above all, I just have to know my characters.  Their aspirations, needs, flaws, strengths, nuances in speech, etc. Everything is accounted for.  But that doesn’t mean I have to explain their life story to the reader in vivid detail—a lot of that back story is just for me.  Because everything we need to know about our characters is revealed in the story—once they make choices under pressure.  That’s what defines our true nature: how we act when the poop hits the fan.

But I have to step into the characters’ shoes.  I need to become them, as strange as that may sound.  I’ve found there’s a lot of acting involved in the writing process. 

BF: In related, how do you guys try to develop lively and dynamic interaction between the two sexes (no pun intended)?

Jonathan: I guess we don’t really think about it.  We just sort of do it. [Laughs]

BF: Girls #1 went on sale at the end of last month. Was the fan base that loved Ultra equally receptive of your latest release?

Joshua: It’s still early, but we’ve heard mixed reactions.  Some people who loved Ultra thought Girls was too dark, or sexed.  That’s understandable.  But then there are the folks who like the more mature development in our work.  So, we can only urge people to give it a shot.  We’re having a lot of fun with it.

Jonathan: And GIRLS #1 has sold out recently, before the week was over.  I’d say more people have joined the ULTRA fans with the release of GIRLS.

BF: Luna fans might be a better way to phrase it, I guess. What can you tell readers about the events unfolding in issue #2, hitting stores on July 22?

Jonathan: All I can say is that GIRLS #2 is the hook.  It really sets the series in place.

Below is a  four-page preview of Girls #2:

Click to enlarge    Click to enlarge    Click to enlarge    Click to enlarge

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