Unnatural is one of the most striking comic books of 2018. It’s beautifully drawn and tells a topical story about Leslie, a pig girl who lives in a world where relationships between species are not allowed by the government. Creator Mirka Andolfo wrote and illustrated the series. Despite her busy schedule and workload, Andolfo found time to talk with AiPT! about her upcoming book.
AiPT!: Unnatural is a unique and interesting premise. A person could accurately call it a sensual George Orwell story. How would you describe it?
Mirka Andolfo: I must confess that I’m not so good in explaining my stories. I think they’re better than me in showing what I have in mind and what I want to say and express. But, yes, I totally agree on how you call that. I wanted to mix some Orwellian situations with a bit of romance, sex and mystery.
AiPT!: What was the inspiration behind Unnatural?
M.A: There are a lot of different inspirations because when I work on personal projects I put inside a lot of things I love, not only from comics, but also from movies, books, video games. From a graphic point of view, my main influences can be found in “Euromangas” and in some American comics and artists. As for the story, before (and while) working on Unnatural, I did read (again) Orwell’s books, and as for comic books, I did read a lot of comics (like Saga), but I can’t say what really inspired me. Everything, probably. Then, I often have the chance to work with many talented writers, and I try to always learn something new while I draw their scripts
As for visual inspiration, I started thinking about blue hair for Leslie when I was playing Life is Strange.
AiPT!: Your art is beautiful. It is vivid with a cartoony look yet the world of Unnatural is a dark one. Despite this contrast, the art and story mesh together perfectly. How do you manage to handle this?
M.A: Thank you, first of all. I have always loved contrasts, so in my mind I usually know that if I draw in a cartoonish style, with bright colors, that’s because the theme and the story are probably very dark. And I try to make gloomy scenes very dark, also with the colors. To be honest, it is not so difficult to me, maybe because it comes in a quite natural way. I think (and I hope) that the dichotomy will let the reader say “Wow!” and enjoy.
AiPT!: Who has influenced your art? What about your writing?
M.A: In general, speaking about comics, many creators and artists have greatly influenced me with their work (which I love!). The main are Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa, but also artists like J. Scott Campbell, Joe Madureira, Matteo Scalera, and writers as Greg Rucka and Rick Remender. And colors! I grew up loving Barbara Canepa’s colors.
AiPT!: Literature and cinema are filled with anthropomorphic characters. Who is your favorite?
M.A: Too hard to say. I think one of the most important for me as a reader is Blacksad, and of course a lot of animated movies. Well, when Zootopia was released, I was already working on Unnatural: I decided not to see that before ending my writing work on my book, (to) not to be influenced. Then I enjoyed a lot, this movie. But to be honest, for me it’s not important if the protagonists of the story are anthropomorphic characters, human beings or whatever…
AiPT!: Unnatural touches on many subjects: social media, segregation, personal freedoms. How are you able to cram so much into one story?
M.A: I think that’s because I never plan before what I want to say. When I started thinking about Unnatural, it was very different. At the beginning, it was supposed to be an erotic book with a fantasy side. I wrote a chapter, but I wasn’t sure about that. So I left it aside for some months, and then I started again from zero. And probably I was accidentally influenced from what happens around me. But when I write, I never plan before the message I want to deliver. When I start, I’m not sure there will be a message, I just want to enjoy and let the reader enjoy.
AiPT!: Sadly, nowadays when someone creates something with a social message, a segment of comic book readers will attack them. In Unnatural you cleverly tackle serious issues. Are you worried about possible backlash?
M.A: To be honest: I’m a little bit worried, yes. I know that sometimes it happens. So far I had some comments on Twitter, but all of them were very polite. A guy told that he doesn’t agree with my vision of the world, but he will buy because he loves my art.
So far, I was lucky with very polite reactions. Hope it will continue in that way…
AiPT!: You wrote, illustrated, and colored Unnatural. How long did you work on the entire series?
M.A: It is impossible to say, because I (almost) never worked only on Unnatural. When I started my creator owned projects, I decided I would have brought them forward, but always in parallel with my art on other writers’ scripts. So, it took me (I’m finishing the last few pages in these days) about three years and a half, but if I consider how many hours I worked on that, probably I’d say less than one year.
AiPT!: Leslie has an obvious love of sushi. Is this your favorite food also?
M.A: I applaud your perspicacity, and I confess it: yes! And I’d love to eat that in Japan, in the future.
AiPT!: What upcoming projects do you have?
M.A: Too many! I’m working at DC on Harley Quinn and on another unannounced project. In France, I had the chance to work with a writer I adore for an unannounced project (that will be published in France, Italy, and-I think-(the) United States, too, and I’m thinking about my next project as creator.