Fans of great comic art have long been fans of the brothers Fiumara. Brother Max has blown us away on books like “B.P.R.D 1948,” while Sebastian has stood out on projects like the “Loki” mini-series he did with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Now, Sebastian will be joining Max in the Mignolaverse, as he pencils the opening arc of the upcoming Abe Sapien ongoing series (with Max following up on the next arc).
We talk to Sebastian about getting into the world of comics as an artist, finding his way into the Mignolaverse, what appeals to him about Abe, and more. Thanks to Sebastian for chatting with us, and make sure to talk to your local retailer about pre-ordering “Abe Sapien” at your local retailer with Diamond code FEB130010.
Over the past few years, you’ve really started to make a name for yourself in the comic world, with some high profile work like the totally rad “Loki” mini-series and a few Ender’s Shadow minis bringing your name to the forefront. Had you always wanted to be a comic artist, and how exactly did you start working in the industry?
Sebastian Fiumara: My way into comics came from loving superheroes. I spent most of my childhood watching cartoons and TV shows like Super Friends. I wanted to draw superheroes all the time! Not until I was a teenager did I start to look for them in comic books. And I immediately fell in love with the media.
Many years later after studying, I met Spanish agent David Macho Gomez at a comic convention in Buenos Aires, who I would work with during the first years of my professional career. He introduced me to American publishers and got me my first job at Avatar Press in 2002; the book was Steven Grant´s “My Flesh Is Cool”.
Who are some of the artists that inspired you when you were younger? Are there any in particular that you feel helped you become the artist you are today?
SF: Well, mostly Leonardo Manco. My brother Max and I studied with him for a couple of years and had the chance to share a lot of time with Leo at his studio. We learned almost everything from him; but I think that watching him at his desk putting all that passion on every page he was drawing was THE thing that made us decide to work in comics.
Also, since the beginning I’ve had a strong influence from artists like Dave McKean, Kent Williams and Moebius. I love the sensibility those artists have and how they approach the stories they are telling. I´m always looking for that kind of feeling in my art.
SF: I think I was very lucky; kind of “talking to the right people at the right time” situation. When I finished my exclusive contract with Marvel I started to look for other publishers to work with. My brother Max was already working with Dark Horse on B.P.R.D. and I loved what he was doing. To be honest, until that moment, I’d never read a B.P.R.D. story, but I immediately became a fan of the book and the team. So, I wanted to give it a try. Mike and Scott looked at my portfolio and they were really interested in doing something together. I remember that by that time I also met John Arcudi (through Facebook). He was very enthusiastic and supporting about my work since the beginning; I’m sure he had something to do with me coming into the “Mignolaverse” too.
So, while we were in talks to do a project together, I was finishing an assignment for DC. Soon after that, Scott came with the proposal of the Abe series. It couldn’t have arrived at a better time!
Your brother Max also works in comics, and in this world of Mignola books as well. Do the two of you compare notes and discuss characters and your work, as you work up a story at all?Continued below
SF: Totally! Max is joining me on Abe after issue #3, so we’ll be working on the same series. We share the studio too; it makes it really easy to talk about character designs and thoughts on the story. What is really cool to me is that we inspire and stimulate each other with our work. Max has this vision of things that is really amazing. To look at his version of Abe (or any other character I’m also drawing) triggers me with aspects of it that I haven’t seen yet and that can strengthen the idea and take it to a whole new level. It’s really exciting to think about the things that we could develop together for this series.
What is it that appeals to you so much about working on Abe Sapien and in this world?
SF: First of all, I love Abe more than I love Hellboy. For me, it feels very natural to draw him. To be part of the development of Abe in the series (alongside with Max) is a privilege as an artist and as a fan of the character. If you are already reading any of the Mignola books, you know that he doesn’t care about the Status Quo; he wants his creations to grow and to experience different things. The way he, and Scott and John think about these stories is really appealing too. What happens is fantastic and surreal but they always try to keep it grounded in the real world as much as possible. Of course you can’t believe what’s happening to these people, but the story feels credible. And it’s always with a very dark mantle over it.
What are some of the challenges of drawing a character like Abe in the real world? Is it tough to find a balance between reality and the supernatural?
SF: It’s a big challenge to draw Abe but also one of the most enjoyable things of the series as an artist. This is the new Abe; his change is very recent. You’ve seen glimpses of him on B.P.R.D. but there is a lot to explore yet on his new look. We are parting from a design Mike did of this Abe. It’s tricky because you don’t know where Mike’s style finishes and where Abe’s new anatomy begins. It needs to feel real but he has almost lost all his “humanity”. Every time I draw Abe I struggle; but again, the experience transforms into a very enjoyable thing. You discover his new look while you’re giving it shape.