Maria Llovet has been creating comics since 2011. As a Spanish-American author, illustrator, and animator, she is best known for Heartbeat and Eros/Psyche. Here at the Grimoire of Horror, we were excited to have the opportunity to interview her about her roots and what is yet to come.
Can you tell us how you first got interested in comics, and what are some of the artists that originally inspired you?
Comics were always part of my life, my parents used to read comics and I grew up in a home where comic magazines and bd albums (mostly Asterix and Tintin) were something normal. They also took me to comic conventions as a kid here in Barcelona. There was also a lot of anime in the local tv, and when manga started to get published in Spain and I was all for it.
My favs as a teen were Evangelion and Utena, and a bit later authors like Ai Yazawa. It was when I was around 20 that I discovered Crepax , Moebius, Frank Miller, Dave McKeen, etc, and at that time I had also moved to a less mainstream taste in manga, with favs like Suehiro Maruo, etc.
Your material covers mature themes like sexuality and psychology. Why did you choose graphic art to explore these themes and what have been some of the reactions?
I always knew I wanted to do art, but it wasn’t sure about the discipline at first. I tried to enter into fine arts but got rejected, then I studied graphic design and later fine jewelry. After that I was unsure what to do next, I was debating between fashion design, 3d modeling and comics.
But I never stopped drawing or writing since I was a kid, so graphic expression has been always natural to me. Another of my main interests is cinema, it has a lot in common with comics because they’re both based on visual narrative. That’s my favorite thing in the world, telling stories through image and sequence.
The reactions have been mostly positive. But as time goes by I feel I prefer to stay away from reviews, weather positive or negative, because they create interferences in my creative process. I’ve read about many authors who feel the same, it’s not easy to disconnect from the world sometimes.
How would you describe your own aesthetic environment, such as your decor, style, etc.? Does it reflect your work or do you keep it simple?
I try to keep it as simple as possible. A couple of years ago I started a process to declutter my life in general. I can’t believe the amount of things I got rid of and gave away. It game me so much peace to do that. Lately I took down some posters I had next to my computer and now the walls are bare. I find it easier to work that way.
What is one of your current favorite comics?
I don’t really read that many comics, to be honest, I mostly watch movies, old and new, and learn constantly from them.
But recently I’ve been reading The Many Deaths of Laila Starr, by Ram V and Filipe Andrade, and I have to say it had been a long time since I enjoyed a comic so much. I think every single aspect of it is beautiful. It’s a gem.
What frightened you as a child? Does it still resonate with you?
I’m not sure, maybe darkness, or weird shapes in the dark. But it went away when I grew up.
One interesting thing of growing up in the 80’s, is that there were lots of movies that were considered for kids that were kind of scary. So I think many people developed a taste for that. For example, one of my absolute favs is Return to Oz, I absolutely revered that movie. And if you look at it, it’s kind of scary and weird. But it is one of my biggest references from when I was a child.
Is there any trait that you write into your characters that you wish you had more of in yourself? Or is the opposite true?
Mmm, no I don’t think so. I don’t really think in those terms to be honest. There’s always things from the author that make it into the work or the characters, I think that’s natural. But usually it’s not in the form people expect. Nothing literal or specific. I think it’s important that people understand that fiction is fiction, and has nothing to do with reality; the character is not the author, and the words the character speaks are not the thoughts of the author unfiltered. I always say that I like to be “true” in my work, that I find it very important, but that doesn’t mean necessarily to speak about reality. What it means is that I want to tell the truth about that particular story, to approach this world in a consistent and coherent way, and with honesty, that makes it ring true to the audience.
What are you thoughts on the current state of comic books in the West, and did you face any initial difficulties when trying to get your work published?
I think we’re living an exciting moment where the spectrum of what can be published is broadening, maybe because the audience is also embracing a broader image of what a comic can be. I don’t think it’s about replacing anything but about adding more, the bigger this spectrum the better and richer any industry will become.
One of the most difficult things about publishing your work is not the publishing part, it’s the actually doing the work. Most people think they can’t, they won’t be good enough, they won’t get picked by the editors, the readers won’t like it, etc. So they never even start.
The first and worst enemy creators have is ourselves. This is a battle you fight every single day.
Is there anything upcoming you would like to hype, and what is the best way for people to keep up to date with your work?
Right now Porcelain is debuting with Ablaze, I’m so thankful for it’s reception even before hitting stores! And at this moment I’m working on Faithless III with Brian Azzarello at Boom, that will be the ending of the series so I’m pretty excited! I’ve also have been developing some new ideas for personal projects next year! I’m very busy and very thankful!! 🙂
I usually post any news about my work on twitter and instagram (both @m_llovet).