Marcelo D'Salete about Brazilian comics
happened years ago, on a dull, rainy day, when a message from far-away,
Brazil dropped into Stripburger's
e-mail box. OK, I added “dull” and “rainy”
for effect, but the message was real. It contained few
words, but quite
some beautiful illustrations. We soon discovered that its sender,
D’Salete, is known as a comic strip writer as well. And that he is even
prolific in that field. His comics - sometimes brutally realistic, at
times lyrically impressionistic – gave us the chance to peek into a
scene, which up until that time had been quite unknown to us. Marcelo’s
publication in our magazine (No.47) was followed by a second (No.48),
second by a third (No.49), and as we were working on the latest, the
started itching to find out more about the context from which such
his originate. Marcelo proved to be a highly informative source and he
generously revealed some key facts about the Brazilian comics scene:
beginnings, the current state of affairs, and not least about his own
strip output. This interview with him is a brief introduction to the
of Brazilian comics awaiting you in the depths of this edition. He was
interviewed by KA and GR.
excuse our ignorance, but the Brazilian comic strip is, frankly
a mystery to us. Could you, for starters, depict what the situation in
country is, regarding the comic strip? Are comics popular, widespread,
they fighting for their place under the (Brazilian) sun?
The medium of comic strips is
well-known in Brazil. Of course there are
different kinds of comics aimed at different readers. The majority of
mainstream comics come to Brazil from abroad. On the other hand, there
original comic strip creations by Brazilian authors, which are meant
children. That kind of comics is very well received and sells well. In
Brazil, comics were long considered as something made exclusively for
and young readers. These days, young, “alternative” comic strip artists
looking for a new, adult target audience. However, that does not mean
neglecting their young readers. These authors want to show that they
the medium of the comic strip to express their views on highly
themes, and in an intelligent way.
you tell us a bit about the history of the Brazilian comic strip? When
start talking about the comic strip establishment in Brazil?
The comic strip was first born in Brazil around the year 1869 – its
midwife was the Italian illustrator Angelo Agostini. He created some
narrative with images and text, especially by placing the text below
What he was creating was still very close to illustration, even if we
already detect a narrative element in his work. It was significant that
Agostini published his images in the paper O Diabo Coxo (The Hunchback
Devil). Agostino was followed by many other works (Brazilian, but
especially foreign), which united images and text into a sensible whole.
Brazilian comics began to be
better known in the second half of the 20th
century. The most famous Brazilian author of comics is Mauricio de
characters from Turma da Mônica (Monica’s Class)
nationwide. He clearly understood the potential of those characters;
adorn all conceivable commercial products. You will hardly find a kid
hasn’t read at least one of his comics. Another author from the 60s I
like to namecheck is Ziraldo, who is exceedingly technically skilled in
strokes and composition. Ziraldo was interested in topics drawn from
and Brazilian folklore, which gave the personalities of his characters
there any practices in Brazilian traditional (fine) arts which involve
comic strip elements, or otherwise emphasise the narrative element?
Maybe... In the North-East of Brazil there is the so called literatura
de cordel,* which
is possibly reminiscent of comics
in its manner of production, being cheap and simple. The image on the
illustrates a text. However, in this form the narrative does not spring
the images themselves. The baroque was an important artistic era in
among its art we can find some of the genealogy of the world of comics.
time, the church was using images as didactic instruments, since a
of the population was illiterate. The stories of Christianity were more
accessible through painted images. However, a different, modern context
to the birth of the comic strip – dissemination through the medium of
your country have any kind of indigenous comics industry? If not, I
presume that “mainstream” comics get imported? If so, where from? For
what comics did you grow up on?
As a kid I used to read stories by the Brazilian
author Mauricio de Souza, later I started discovering stories about
superheroes. As a teenager I was into Sandman by Neil Gaiman,
Otoma’s Akira and the collection of
short stories Mundo Cão by Michelanxo Prado. A friend,
artist Pato, introduced me to the work of the Brazilian Lourenço
book Desgraçados. When I read those stories, I realised
that the world
of the comic strip was much larger than I had thought. Despite the fact
had been drawing from an early age, “mainstream” comics remained a very
thing to me. I couldn’t imagine myself drawing heroes. The type of
discovered with Prado and Mutarelli showed me how comics were linked to
literature and film, two worlds that are much closer to me.
is not a very important question, actually, but I would like to
verify the rumour that I heard some time ago. Namely, I’ve been told
Italian comics publishing giant Bonelli is a big name in the Brazilian
market... Is that correct? (If so, could that possibly mean that the
strip experience of an average comics reader in Brazil is similar to
the one of
readers from the countries of former Yugoslavia, such as Slovenia…?)
Yes, the publishing house Bonelli is active in Brazil. I know a bit of Ken
Parker and Dylan Dog, but besides that I don’t really know
about that part of comics production.
Is there a strong division between “mainstream” comics
and “alternative” comics in Brazil?
There seems to be. There is a stable market for mainstream comics. A
part of that market consists of comics by North-American authors.
comics are a small niche. A yet smaller market is Brazilian alternative
The alternative comics that I know of are created by authors who wish
present their work to the public, but are rarely noticed by the bigger
publishing houses. That happens for two reasons: for a long time,
publishers didn’t see a marketable product in Brazilian comics; the
is, these authors can’t afford to produce new comics continuously,
get no paid jobs in this field. So what follows is a vicious circle.
this can be further linked to the fact that Brazil has a remarkably
percentage of illiteracy (one of the highest in Latin America!). There
groups of independent comics artists which deal intensively with the
of production – and, above all, the distribution – of local comics.
necessary to have (and keep), besides big publishers, also such
deal with alternative comic strips.
Could you remind us of any
Brazilian comic strip artists or comics that
reached worldwide fame? (I also mean emigrant authors of Brazilian
origin.) I regret
to have to admit that I can’t think of any right now on my own...
The most famous, popular and oldest is Mauricio de
Souza, who publishes his work in various countries in the world. After
lot of people appeared who dealt with comics in a more
American mainstream fashion – by that I
mean the method of production, which consists in authors splitting
phases of production (pencil drawing, inking, colouring, finishing
I highly value the
work of Marcelo Quintanilho, who
currently lives and works in Spain, mainly because of his strong,
As far as I know, the biggest
comics scene on the South-American
continent is in Argentina, where they also have some internationally
authors (like Joséja Muñoza, for example). Is there any
exchange of comic strip
influences between the two countries?
There is some communication. But, sadly, it’s quite
weak. Considering their geographical closeness, it should be stronger.
works that I saw most frequently in older Brazilian (alternative)
were by the Argentinian cartoonist Carlos Nina. As for Jose
Muñoz, I only know
about one of his works to have been published in Brazil - Billie
A more recent publication is Che (illustration: Alberto and
Breccia, script: Hector German Oesterheld). In 2008, I was invited to
festival Viñetas Sueltas in Buenos Aires. That was a
experience. I was introduced to the works of excellent drawers and
Jorge Perez, Lucas Varela, Salvador Sanso, Ivan Bruno, Angelo Mosquito,
Vazquez, Brais Rodriguez. The event also included exhibitions and
It’s undeniable that the medium of the comic strip is very strong in
It was on that very “journey” that I discovered Breccia’s work.**
Extraordinary. Brazilian publishing houses completely ignore the
these artists' work. I was lucky to have my comic book debut Noite
published in Argentina, in Spanish, by Thomas Dassance’s publishing
These days there are comics
festivals are sprouting up like mushrooms
worldwide. I suppose that even your enormous home country has a couple
Which festival(s) do you like taking part in?
An important Brazilian international comic strip
festival is Festival Internacional de Quadrinhos in Minas
Gerais. I went
there in 2004, in
association with the magazine Front. This year I attended a
comic strip authors in Rio Grande do Sul. There are other festivals as
São Paulo, which is a huge city, there isn’t a comics festival
accompanied by exhibitions and related events (discussions, jam
the alternative comics scene. Which is a pity. As for festivals outside
Brazil, I contributed to the 7th Luanda Cartoon
festival in Angola
this year. If it hadn’t been for visa problems, I would have taken part
personally as well. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time, so I only
part in a few such events.
Among others, you are sharing
the pages of this edition’s Brazilian
sector with Daniel Bueno, Jaca, Laura
Teixeira, Rafael Sica ... Do you know any of these authors, what can
us about them?
Daniel Bueno is well-known in the local illustration
business. He also originates his illustrations digitally. He is one of
in this field. Jaca belong to the older generation. I first saw his
at the FIQ (comics festival) in 2004. Paintings. His comic
language is very specific. Distracted, somewhat rough, complex. He
the phenomenon of pop culture and its massiveness ... His works are
characterised by an emphasised “plasticity”, as are those by Laura
for example. I went to university with Clayton Junior, as well as with
animator Adams Carvalho; I learned quite a lot from their work during
studies. I think I only encountered the work of Rafael Sica this year.
it. His narrative has a very specific rhythm in the frame of comic
full of experimentation.
Who are, in your opinion, the
most interesting Brazilian comics authors
at the moment? Can you mention a name to us, which we should keep in
pay attention to? (We are particularly interested in authors from
There are quite a few so-called alternative comic
strip authors (by that I mean those outside mainstream markets) active
Brazil at the moment, who have a strong and original approach.
Mutarelli is one of the most important authors of that kind. He started
the early eighties and has kept his work outside the framework of the
conventional comic strip. Condensed. He has created his own niche with
immense production. And it is only today, 20 odd years later, that he
and appreciated. Nevertheless, that is more due to his later work in
industry and his literary endeavours – he is a writer as well. Some
important authors from Mutarelli’s era are Laerte Coutinho, Luis
Gonzales, Angeli, Flávio Colin, Marcatti and Mauricio Pestana.
They are all
part of the alternative comic strip movement from the 1980s. Laerte
is, in terms of comic strip language, possibly one of the most creative
on Brazilian ground. Marcelo Quintanilha (Gaú) is a
representative of the
younger generation. He published two books of short stories. Both focus
microcosm of Rio de Janeiro. Quintanilha has a sophisticated
the gesticulation, speech and rhythm of the city's inhabitants. Not
only has he
mastered the narrative perfectly, his drawings are an exquisite
delicacy, as he
works on every detail with great care.
Eloar Guazzelli is an author who
experiments with the
visuals and development of comic strip morphology. Besides short
work deals with literary and historic texts. His syntax is emphatically
lyrical, surreal, open.
André Kitagawa is a
representative of a more classic
style of narration; his expression is sarcastic, tough and rough. His
are precise, almost surgical. He is able to balance lyricism, violence
cynical humour into a meaningful whole.
Two young and in my opinion very
good comic strip
authors are Rafael
Coutinho and Rafael Grampá.
there is DW***,
a good cartoonist, but nevertheless poorly known in Brazil. I would
to mention Guga Schulze and his comics album Saida 3; excellent
and a special kind of narration.
Another revelation I had this
year is Pedro Franz. He
develops original topics and he is dealing with them from different
view, simultaneously maintaining control over the rhythm and tone of
Besides the above mentioned
artists there are others,
whom I did not mention for lack of space and memory.
Tell us about your own comic
strip creations now. More directly
speaking, what is the life of a cartoonist in Brazil like? Can you make
by it, or do you do anything else?
I don’t work at comics exclusively. The market for
that is small in Brazil. I carried out two or three commercial
brought me some money. In general, cartoonists tend to do illustrations
their main profession, which are considered a “safer” medium. I draw
because of the complexity of the medium – through them, I can tell
own stories. In general, I prefer to tell my own stories or stories
attract me. For that reason, I worked with writers like Kiko
Dinucci, Bruno Azevêdo and Eddy Gomez. I started drawing comics
at the end of
high school, basing them on stories by Kiko Dinucci, who is also a
a São Paulo samba specialist. Then quite a few years went by,
and during my studies
I was acquainted with the magazine Front, a
collective publishing project, managed by an internet group (the
the project were Kipper and Orlando). I contributed to six editions of
magazine. That was my school of comics. Big authors, such as Eloar
Oswaldo Pavanelli, Maxx, Theo Cordeiro, André Kitagawa etc.
work in that zine. I was only a beginner. Later, I started publishing
magazines, such as Graffiti, Ragu, +Soma, Suda Mery K! and Stripburger.
Now I have a full time job and I draw in my free time. In 2008 I
comics album entitled Noite Luz; I didn’t earn much with it.
that book brought me in contact with some people who liked it and I had
chance to talk with them. That’s priceless. If all goes well, I will
new album next year.
you share with us what actually brought you to Stripburger? I
remember that you sent us some illustrations when you first made
us. We then asked you whether you drew comics as well, and it turned
were actually very productive in that area ...
My first encounter with Stripburger
was through the internet. Daniel Bueno
sent me a message about European and South-American comics magazines. I
saw Stripburger’s web site and I liked what was
published there, so I sent my stories.
I was lucky enough to find someone who is inspired by my work.
find that the stories in your comics have something in common with
those of the Japanese cartoonist Yoshihiro
Tatsumi – not from an artistic
point of view, but
rather with their realistic themes, their feel for social reality, the
man as the protagonist, open endings... Do you know that author, were
you influenced by him? If not, who are your role models (in comics, as
in other artistic forms)?
I’m not familiar with Tatsumi’s work. But thank you
for the hint. Some Japanese mangas represent a strong reference point
They certainly raised the complexity of comic strip expression to a
level. Katsuhiro Otomo, Tayo Matsumoto, Takehiko Inoue are real
that style. I find Akira one of the best works that I read in
years; due to its rhythm, cadence, and exceptionally sophisticated
eastern market is so big that even absurd creations, such as the first
Tsutomu Nihei’s Noise or the obscure
stories about Eru-Guru by Suehiro Maruo etc. can find their
place in it.
In addition to manga authors, there are Japanese filmmakers that
again and again. One of them is Takeshi Kitano. In fact, his film
closely linked to comic strip language. I have recently discovered
Miika’s films. Audition, Ichi The Killer, Blue Harp and his
to theThree Extremes are fantastic! I
love Hitchcock, Tsai Ming-Iiang, Antonioni, Haneke, Kieślowsky,
Cassavetes, Spike Lee. I have also watched some brilliant African films
Cedo by Ousnam
Semben and Abouna by Mahamat-Saleh
Despite its ups and downs,
Brazilian film production
boasts some very special works. Glauber Rocha’s films, some films by
Sganzela, Sergio Bianchi, Cláudio Assis, Luis Sergio Person,
Andrea Tonacci, Karin Aïnouz and Hector Babenko (among others)
dialogues, which are from a Brazilian context.
About American comics... Quite
some time ago I read
Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan. Simple plot, expressed through a
form with an excellent scenic layout. Ware makes simple, everyday
significant. Creates a specific rhythm. And simultaneously he tackles
which are particularly sensitive to Americans: racism, weakness, etc.
I like reading Daniel Clowes
again and again,
especially his album Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron. I would
point out another remake work, which is rarely discussed, but
absolute reference point to me; that’s The System by Peter
complex, quiet and effective narration – it seduces you.
In 2008 I participated in a
comic strip festival in Algiers (Algeria),
where I came into personal contact with the French comic strip artist
Lehman and Jeremy Nsingi and Barli Baruti from Congo. At a book fair I
introduced to the work of the European author Mark Turunen
(Finland); it excited and fascinated me. Some other European comics
that I value highly are Mattotti, Stefano Ricci and Hugo Pratt (all
comics show, as it seems to me, your great sensitivity to
contemporary Brazilian social reality, especially of the marginal
groups. .. What is your relation to the world depicted in your comics?
narrate the stories first-hand, from your own experience, or do you get
from some other (information) channels?
A story can start in various
ways. Very often they are
born from discussions that I have with my friends, sometimes they come
news, or they are based on something that happened in the street. The
story from the album Noite Luz is
based on a real fragment of place and time. A friend told me about a
worked in a night club. I took his anecdote and developed it into a
story of my
own. On some other occasion I was told about the death of an
acquaintance in a
fight between football fans. The story entitled Bulldog was born from this.
My latest story, which hasn’t
been published yet, is based on an unusual
event. A dark skinned man is standing in a parking place in front of a
shopping mall. He is surrounded by security guards. They are sure that
he is a
car thief. They beat him up. In fact, the man was the owner of one of
Well, this story is already strong in itself, but I had to expand it. I
other elements and created a new story, which tells about prejudice,
crime and consumerism. These topics attract me in a certain way, that’s
often reach for them. However, it seems to me that there is a certain
between the Brazilian social context and the topics discussed by
Nevertheless, more than the
inspiration that triggers the story, these
days other aspects intrigue me: the methods and possibilities for the
portrayal in the form of a provocative, intelligent, efficient and
narrative. The choice of the main plot is important, but exploiting its
narrative and visual potentials is even more important.
your album (or rather, comic strip novel) Noite-Luz
I asked myself: is this a comic
book, is it literature, or is it already film? Is Marcelo a comic strip
a writer and a film director in one? Should Noite-Luz be placed with the
other comic books on the bookshelf, or would we rather put it next to
short stories and novellas?
I am glad that Noite
Luz made that
kind of impression on
you. It shows that comic strips can be as complex and profound as any
artistic form. A good artwork makes the public see reality from another
with a new set of eyes, with a renewed sensibility to it. I am
fascinated by a
variety of artistic forms, which undoubtedly affects my work. Through
medium of the comic strip I can combine diverse art genres in a
whole. And, best of all, comic strip artists can, like writers, do
In that same
work (and in other works you made that I had the
opportunity to see) the words are scarce, while the silences are loud,
screaming, all-encompassing; where there are any dialogues, they have
destructive power of a volcano. Can you explain to us, how do you see
both in your comic strip (very film-like) creations as well as in
I think that
the imagery in comics can create many
possibilities of understanding. I am trying to research that field.
important. However, if they are not well applied, this can ruin the
Pictures open the door to the imagination in unlimited ways. Whereas
when it is bad, closes this universe of possibilities, obstructs our
imagination and our reading – which happens with many traditional
attention was drawn to this by Peter Kuper’s The System, as
well as by Akira, Noise
and some others (mainly comics). Perhaps the majority of comic strip
aren’t used to reading images that effectively. In general, they tend
separate, define, catalogue, understand superficially. They almost
overlook the complexity of the images. It is true, that we live in a
images, in which these images are essential. However, we are used to
reading them superficially. We do not enquire deeply about them, don’t
ourselves in the details, we don’t understand their nuances. A comic
is well planned in terms of its form, demands from its readers to read
carefully, to enquire, to learn how to see and how to look. When I’m
the plot of my comics, I (first) write a lot of dialogues. However,
start drawing and perfecting them, I systematically do away with all
surplus text. The image itself should tell the story. Words help, but
is most precious of all.
Marcelo, thank you very much for
a look at Marcelo’s works here: www.dsalete.art.br
* These are songs
in verses consisting of six lines; their content is usually of a
nature or based on contemporary events.
Songs of this kind are published in booklets (generally
about 10 pages, with one song in each booklet), the covers of which are
traditionally adorned by woodcuts.
Enrique, Cristina and Patricia Breccia; the son and two daughters of
Alberto Breccia (1919 - 1993), the legend of Argentinian comic strips.
*** You can read his comic strip Projection
on the pages of this very edition of Stripburger.
d'Salete (b. 1979) is a researcher and a
specialist in the field of Afro-Brazilian fine arts, with a Masters
art history and a degree in graphic design. An illustrator and comic
artist, he has also worked as an art history and illustration lecturer.
comics have so far been published in the magazines Front, Grafitti,
Quadreca, Contos Bizarros, +Soma (all
in Brazil), Suda Mery k! (Argentina) and
produced some of his comics in collaboration with the writers Kiko
Eddy Gomez, Bruno Azevêd and Edson Aran.
has illustrated various children’s books. He took
part in the exhibitions Consecuencias
(Barcelona, Spain, 2003), Ilustrando em Revista
(touring exhibition, Brazil, from 2005 on)
and in the
exhibition of the original illustrations from the magazine Front
with other Brazilian comic-strip authors like Eloar
Guazzelli, Jaca, Stefano Ricci and Toppi.
Gerais, Brazil, 2003). He has also participated in some comic strip festivals:
Festival Viñetas Sueltas – Primer
Festival Internacional de Historietas de Buenos Aires, (Buenos Aires,
Argentina, 2008), I.
Festival International de La Bande Dessinée d’Alger, (Algiers,
Algeria, 2008) and
Luanda Cartoon (Luanda, Angola, 2010). He published a selection of his comics in the
Noite Luz (reviewed in the 49th edition
of Stripburger). He lives and works in Brazil.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND MAGAZINE PUBLICATIONS
(Com-arte) (BR), 2001
Noite Luz, Via Lettera
n. 10, Via Lettera (BR), 2002 (Trânsito)
Front n. 11, Via Lettera (BR), 2002 (Cheio de Azul)
n. 12, Via Lettera (BR), 2002 (Noite Luz)
n. 13, Via Lettera (BR), 2003 (Mamãe)
n. 14, Via Lettera (BR), 2003
Bizarros, Abril (BR), 2003
76% quadrinhos n. 16, (BR), 2007
Mery K! n. 5, Ex-abrupto (AR), 2008
76% quadrinhos n. 17, (BR), 2008
št. 47, 2008 (Between Roses and Stars)
št. 48, 2009 (Sketch)
št. 49, 2009 (Fifteen