Ulises Fariñas Finds His MOTRO

ad15b388-c2e0-4497-acf6-4363237d85f6MOTRO, the new comic by Ulises Fariñas has just landed from Oni Press. Jason Borelli shared some words,

At first glance, MOTRO looks to be another story set in a less-than-ideal future, where a boy with superhuman strength follows the prophecy of his dead father to fulfill his destiny. Also, there is a miniature talking motorcycle. Dig beneath the surface, and the reader finds deeper meanings from the book’s creator, Ulises Fariñas . Best known for writing Jude Dredd for IDW and creating the Pokemon homage Gamma, Fariñas seeks to make a lifetime commitment with MOTRO, which comes out this Wednesday from Oni Press. I sat down with the author at Du Jour Bakery in Park Slope (across the street from the Brooklyn Superhero Factory) to discuss his project.

Bleeding Cool: What is the main premise of MOTRO?

Ulises Fariñas : I never have a real easy way of putting it. It’s about all the terrible things you do growing up, what they make you into, and what they turn you into. Each issue is about a new story, and there’s not really a clear narrative between each issue, so there’s not really an overarching plot to sum it all up. Generally, each one explores a theme.

BC: What inspired MOTRO?

UF: You ever see that movie Krull? You know the movie Beastmaster? It’s pretty much like Saturday morning matinee movie than goes straight to VHS. I always liked that a whole lot. I really enjoyed wrestling as a kid, so I kind of wanted to make a larger-than-life character to tell a story that’s very intimate.

BC: How long did it take for you to establish this world?

UF: I’ve been drawing it in some way in about the last ten years. I kind of make it up as I go. There’s a little bit of having elements that have been established a long time ago and mixing it up with stuff I’ve decided, “I want to do this right now, it’s my comic book.”

BC: What are the main themes of the story?

UF: A common theme is what I usually put it as “toxic masculinity,” the way men are in the world, the way they expect you to be violent, the way they expect you to bury emotion. That’s kind of tied together with the entire Conan the Barbarian-type story. You usually think you have these fantasy stories and you have these proto-masculine archetypes. No one really explores what it is to be masculine in the stories. What makes Aragon a hero? What allows his character to do these violent acts, and the next day is just Tuesday for him. That’s the theme that unites it all together.

BC: What do you find more challenging: writing or drawing?

UF: Definitely the drawing. I think in comics the artist is doing most of the legwork on a book. I think writers get too much credit. The reason I switched to writing most of the work is specifically because of that reason. You can’t get the same amount of respect being just a cartoonist in comics, which is insane. You think you remember a comic because of the art. I definitely think an artist is most of the legwork. That’s definitely the challenge, and so I can do more work, I switched over to writing.

BC: MOTRO is scheduled to run for twelve issues, with three four-issue volumes. Was that your idea or Oni’s?

UF: A little bit of both, because of the schedule I work on is very slow to draw MOTRO. I usually have other projects to do to pay the bills in the meantime. Basically, it’s a compromise between how I want to get the book done and also what works for them economically.

BC: How long would you like the book to run?

UF: Ideally, it is what it’s going to be. Whether I’m going to be doing it with Oni or I’ll end up doing it on my own in the future, I’ll always be doing MOTRO. I don’t really have an ending in sight. When I finish this run, I’ll probably pick it up and do it again, and maybe tell the same story over and over and over again until I die.

BC: What do you want readers to get from MOTRO?

UF: I guess if they’re dudes, to allow certain softness into their life. And if they’re not a dude, to think, “Wow, this is a really fun comic.”

BC: And what have you gotten from it?

UF: It’s interesting when I write something for a long time, I feel like you formed a relationship with the character, and you have a certain sentimentality with what you have the characters do and what they end up going through. When I was a kid, I would always play with stuffed animals, and you end up creating this lush, emotional internal life for them, and you end up doing the same things with characters as an adult.

BC: How much of the book have you done so far?

UF: I’ve completed the first volume. Issues 1-4 are done and in the can. Next year, I’ going to get started on the next four issues.

BC: What else are you working on beyond MOTRO and writing Judge Dredd?

UF: I started this publisher called Buño.  We publish books by people of color. Right now, we’re publishing Light, which just came out in September, by Rob Cham. It’s a wordless graphic novel. I think it’s really a beautiful story. The next book we’re going is called Cloudia & Rex, which is something I’m writing [with Eric Freitas]. Daniel Irizami is drawing. It’s about an Afro-Cuban family. I’m Cuban and Afro-Cuban, and the artist is Puerto Rican. It’s sort of like a modern approach to the Shazam/Captain Marvel superhero powerset without being a superhero book. I think it’s very fun, and it should come out next year.

BC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

UF: Buy books by me. [laughs] Go out there and support the artists and creators you want to be in the comics industry. I think we spend a lot of time talking about what comics should be, but we don’t spend a lot of time actually making those comics happen and supporting the comics when they do happen.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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