|Artwork from Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá's upcoming Vertigo series, "Daytripper"|
After a prolonged signing in the exhibition hall, Fábio Moon ("Sugar Shock," "5") and brother Gabriel Bá ("Casanova," "The Umbrella Academy"), arrived just a few minutes behind schedule to his Comic-Con spotlight panel. Moon opted out of the traditional moderator-based panel format, preferring to give a more personal presentation full of stories, art and self-deprecating humor.
"When I received the e-mail that I was gong to be a guest at Comic-Con, I thought it was a prank, so I took two days to answer waiting for friends to say 'ah, gotcha." I waited for the prank to be over, but it wasn't. So maybe it was a mistake because they asked for the wrong brother," said Moon pointing to his brother. "Everyone asked me, 'who is going to moderate your panel?' If I talk to much, you can all boo me and I'll start to show more pictures."
The slideshow opened with an illustration of the brothers tanning on the beach, which they joked represented their life as comic artists in Brazil.
"I'm not the artist, my brother is the artist, I'm just a stunt-double," said Moon as he continued.
Moon began with a story about he and his brother's humble beginnings as aspiring comic creators by showing one of his first sketches from his teenage years – a self portrait of a teenager in high top sneakers.
"Clearly [my success in comics] wasn't because I like to draw," said Moon.
Moon continued by describing how he and his brother's infatuation with the medium blossomed into full-blown love as they read every kind of comic they could from manga to erotic European comics, advising those who wish to work in the medium to do the same – especially as children and teenagers. Most importantly, though, people who want to work in comics should be prepared to work and make sacrifices.
"Making comics is so hard and enjoying life is much better, it took us a long time to sit down and draw, draw, draw to get better," Moon joked.
Additionally, Moon noted the importance of good editors the success of comic creators, citing his own experiences with the editors at Dark Horse for helping he and his brother meet their potential.
"The editor is the most important part of comics, because when you ask, 'Is this good?' They said 'No! This isn't working – do better," said Moon.
Moon also noted that skill is only the beginning of making good comics and that passion must also be present for a creator to most effectively tell their story.
"The best thing to do is to do what you love, so you have to figure out what you want to do in comics. For a long time we did superheroes, because that's what we read, but we didn't like to write or draw them. Then we decided what we did like – women," said Moon as he showed some of the duo's first drawings of attractive females.
"We were very shy, but we liked to talk to women and became fascinated by relationships," said Moon juxtaposing scenes from the brother's "De Tales" graphic novel with his description of relationships being a series of small but important images like eye contact and hand holding.
Moon pointed out that the he and Bá's interest in relationships is seeded within all of their comic work, including Hellboy stories, Casanova's relationships with his twin sister and father and in scenes from his upcoming "Daytripper," series.
"That was 14 minutes of my hour, what am I going to do for the next 45?" Moon asked a laughing crowd.
A fan asked what kind of music the pair liked to listen to while they worked.
"I like music, but when I'm working I work in silence, we can't talk with music and we are always talking," said Moon.
Another fan wanted to know about the duo's origins in comics and how they began getting their work to an audience.
"I self-published the first [comic], at the time there was no Brazilian market for people who were not doing kids comics. We wanted to talk about drunks and sex and relationships, so we made photocopies to sell to our friends to see their reaction. We were in college, in art college. People wanted to be painters and sculptors and whatever and had no idea what we meant when we said we wanted to do comics. It only works when you can show them," said Moon, "If they don't understand you it's not their fault, it's your fault and you have to get better."
He explained that the duo had been coming to Comic-Con annually for the past 13 years, but it took them three years to complete their first work, "Roland," which they published in 1999. Their current workload requires much faster turnaround, which Moon says he manages with a real love of the work.
"If I don't do comics I'll be miserable, and I don't want to be miserable. I want to live on the beach and meet ladies, for me comics are my ladies."
Moon also discussed his earliest interactions with comic creators at the convention, which impressed him and taught him to take chances on new techniques. "You have to go big and be bold and fail," said Moon.
Given their background reading a variety of comics, one fan wanted to know what Moon's current favorites were.
"Can I say I draw too much and don't have time to read?" said Moon, "The last impressive things I read were from an Italian guy, Geppi, and a book a read called Tree Shadows by a French guy, Cyril Pedrosa, and I liked 'The Umbrella Academy,'" he laughed while his brother covered his face, "I try to read as much as I can because it's important to keep up with what people are doing, but I don't have time to read, which I regret every day."
Expanding on their origins in self-publishing, a fan asked what got the pair their first published work in the United States.
"We won a Xeric grant," said Moon, citing how years of submissions eventually yielded approval to work on "Roland."
The next fan wanted to know how the brother's decided who would draw particular comics and if they ever fought over assignments.
"We always have in mind which [of our styles] is best for the story. We didn't have that vanity, that's what always on our mind when we figure out how to separate the work," said Moon.
The next question came from a fan who wanted to know if they thought their success had inspired a new generation of Brazilian artists to make independent comics.
"Yes! We have two awesome artists here whose asses we keep kicking to do comics. We definitely made an impression in the Brazilian market and showed others it was possible to make comics," said Moon.
Another Brazil-based question came next, when a fan asked how the brothers were exposed to so many comics in the South American country.
"Well, by the time I left my tree house and went to walk my elephant…" he joked about Brazil's exotic preconception, "In Brazil, comics are still on the newsstands, and our mother loved comics, so we had them around since we've been breathing. We got everything, so we read everything from Garfield to 'Mad Magazine' and we had a great library at our school with all kinds of comics, like 'Tarzan' and 'Prince Valiant.'"
"Kids don't realize that comics are made by people, they're just there. It took awhile to realize that it wasn't just one guy drawing in several different comics"
The brothers recently dove into the world of fashion with a line of t-shirt and hoodie prints, which one fan wanted them to discuss.
"We just did a clothing line in Brazil, and that's cool and great and it helps to spread the word about comics, but you have to focus on the story, you can't fall into the glamour," Moon laughed as his his brother modeled his hoodie from the line.
Another fan asked about the duo's awards in comics, which Moon described as gratifying, emphasizing that it's important to know what you want to do and focus on doing it in order to do it well.
Given that the pair has published a lot of semiautobiographical work, one attendee wanted to know if there were any stories Moon and Bá were too embarrassed to tell.
"That’s the good thing about doing comics, is, you can change the endings – Yeah, I got the girl, and we lived happily ever after," said Moon. "It's the way you tell a story that sounds truthful and doesn't sound lame. It's like having a friend; you don't feel embarrassed to share your mistakes."
One fan was curious how Moon and Bá financed their early comics career, given they didn't start making money from their work until much later on.
"I did lap dancing," joked Moon, "Luckily, we only had to do illustration work, I did every kind of work possible: ads, storyboards, magazines, caricatures... whatever I had to do so I wouldn't have to worry about money when I was doing comics, so I wouldn't get sidetracked." Moon also pointed out his freelance jobs were good for teaching them other things, such as how to incorporate color into he and his brother's stories.
Moon closed the panel previewing he, Bá and Dave Stewart's upcoming "Daytripper," a limited series that will run at least ten issues and tell the story of a young man on his way to fulfilling his dream of becoming a writer.
"It's a story about how you become what you dream of, How everyday can be something very little and very casual that can influence your life later on – on what you'll become when you grow up and how it can even impact your children when they grow up. We're telling the story of a man who wants to become a writer in the shadow of his father's illustrious writing career, jumping from one moment to another in the character's life," said Moon.
Things wrapped up when a fan asked a last minute question about Moon's feelings on collecting graded comics versus reading comics for pure enjoyment.
"Comics are made to be read, not collected, they're made to be remembered and to live on in readers' minds," said Moon to applause.