Welcome to Self-Published Spotlight, a regular interview column where I will be highlighting self-published comics and the creators and small print publishers who make them.
*This interview has been edited and formatted slightly for clarity.
Atilla Schwanz is the artist behind writer Jonathan Thompson’s (Tales From The Dead Astronaut, Burn Residue, A Game Of Doubles) latest Kickstarter campaign, the graphic novel, The Killer-In The Dead of Night. With just days to go before the campaign ends, the very busy artist (hailing from Itlay!) sat down with us for a bit to talk to about his amazing artistic approach and style to this riveting comic narrative. Check out the interview below and make sure to support the Kickstarter campaign so we can all get our hands on this book!
Monkeys Fighting Robots: Atilla, first of thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I know the campaign deadline is days away. I’m sure you are busy! So this is always my first question: What’s your comic book origin story? How did you get into comics?
Attila: I don’t have a precise moment. I have loved art from a young age. I remember that I have always loved comics. Since being a child I read every kind of comic. I began with mangas and classic American comics like Image, Marvel and DC. Now I’m more interested in graphic novels and short stories.
MFR: Who or what would you say are your biggest influences?
Attila:My influences arrive from all the arts. My masters are H.R. Giger (He’s god for me), Gustav Klimt, Caravaggio, Sergio Toppi, Dave Mckean, Vangelis, Bjork, Klaus Schulze, Matthew Barney, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Hans Zimmer, Philip Glass, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, J.R. Tolkien, Philip Dick, William Shakespeare, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and many others! I love, no, I live for art!
MFR: And did The Killer: Dead of Night have any specific artistic influences?
Attila: The principal influence is Japanese cinema. I also looked at classic Japanese art. But in general, I study different sources for any page. I follow winds of chaos and distinct emotional situations!
MFR: Can you tell us a little about your artistic background? When did you start creating art?
Attila: I was possessed by a Daemon of Art when I’m 6 years old: I saw Walt Disney’s Little Mermaid at the cinema and everything changed! I graduated in Visual Arts from Brera Academy of Milan. I won different contemporary art prices and exhibited in different European cities. In 2018 I found the KNOT the artist collective. My work ranges from artistic installation to painting, to illustrations, comic books and graphic design. I love the potential and flexibility of the ballpoint pen, especially when used in contrast to the materiality of elements and pigments. I work above all with ink, watercolor, acrylic color and pastel. Sometimes, I work with a graphics tablet. The main focus of my work is the influence that the visual image has on man and society. I’m particularly interested in the body, rendered a fetish by the obsession of appearance; evaluating and examining spectators’ reaction and transformation with this ‘metamorphosis’. All this is expressed, in most cases, by the figure of the “monster”, for its dramatic potential and its changing character.
MFR: Doing research for this interview, I came across your previous work Symposium Club. Can you tell us a bit about this project?
Atilla: Symposium Club is a graphic novel written by Andrea Cavaletto and issued in Italy by Edizioni Inkiostro. It is a new interpretation of Greek mythology with a splatter-punk and horror pulp style. The book talks about this couple of hedonists looking for a mythical and mysterious club (the Symposium Club) where every desire is reality. During the investigation, they meet several interesting characters.
MFR: How did you get connected with Jonathan on this project? Where you aware of each other as creators?
Attila:He saw my work thanks to Rossano Piccioni, his partner on Burn Residue. He thought that I was the perfect artist for this project. I thank Jonathan for having wanted to involve me in this fantastic work!
MFR: Can you describe The Killer to readers? What’s your elevator pitch on the book? Attila:THE KILLER – IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT is a horror graphic novel about a bloodthirsty serial killer working as a hitman for the Yakuza and his target, an old, life-worn samurai ready to commit his final act. THE KILLER is an homage to the insanity of Japanese Noir films like BRANDED TO KILL, TOKYO DRIFTER, PALE FLOWER and the daring art of Marcel Duchamp, Dave McKean, Liam Sharp, and Bill Sienkiewicz. For fans of ARKHAM ASYLUM, BLUE IN GREEN, FROM HELL, and DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH.
MFR: How would you describe your style on The Killer? Google seems to want to put you under the ‘fumetto’ label?
Attila:I don’t know! I try to communicate emotions and sentiments. So I change my style and technique in accord with this purpose.
MFR: What was the working process with you and Jonathan? What kind of system did you guys have to get these amazing pages done?
Attila:It’s a freeing work system. Jonathan describes the pages and dialogue. After seeing my sketches or paintings, he then changes texts or adds new scripts. We influence each other with our works. The keywords are “no restrictions”.
MFR: Do you have a favorite moment, image or page from The Killer?
Attila:I love the Killer. All moments where madness and chaos rule are my favorites!
MFR: Your work has so much to it. What kind of tools and processes did you use to create? Was it a different process than what you have done before?
Attila:Thank you! I follow the winds of chaos! I work with different techniques. New for me is the use of watercolor with a classic style.
MFR: Where can those interested find your work?
Attila:I’m on the most popular social media, like Facebook and Instagram. Soon I will have my website. It’s under construction.
MFR: Anything final you would like to share with our readers?
Attila:Yes! Support and donate for THE KILLER-IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT Kickstarter project, please! There are many surprises and gifts for supporters. For any news follow me and Jonathan Thompson on our social media accounts.
Assistant Comic Book Editor. Manny has been obsessed with comics since childhood. He reads some kind of comic every single day. He especially loves self-published books and dollar bin finds. 'Nuff said!