Written by: Gary M. Kenny, CC2K Comics Editor
Two Brothers, a new graphic novel by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá came out this week at the New York Comic Convention (2015). It’s an immensely fascinating story about a dysfunctional family from Manaus, Brazil. The artwork by Gabriel Bá is one of the most beautiful comics I’ve ever seen. The Brazilian Wonder Twins (Moon & Bá) transport you to Brazil in the 1950s. I have never experienced a comic so captivating as Two Brothers. It’s dark, it’s red hot, you can feel the music and the colors (the book is drawn in black & white by the way), and you will love/hate every character. It’s a gripping soap opera of a tale. It’s chaotic, it’s fierce, and i thought what better place to interview the Wonder Twins about it then the New York Comic Con.
CC2K: Gentlemen, thank you so much for your time today. I know you don’t have much time in New York, so I’ll get right into it. Two Brothers by Milton Hatoum is a very dark novel but your adaptation keeps up with the darkness and the artwork turns the tale into a very beautiful book. How did this project come to life?
MOON: We were in a literary Festival in Brazil and Milton was also one of the guests. We were talking to him one night and an editor of a Brazilian publisher saw the three of us talking and he said “Hey why don’t you do this book that he (Milton) did about twin brothers; you two being twin brothers.” The initial idea was just this crazy idea from the editor. We initially didn’t think too much about it because I had read the book before and I knew it was a very complex narrative. It would take forever to adapt it; it would be so difficult, so hard. But when rereading the book and then having (Gabriel) Bá read it, we realized it had everything that we wanted to do in comics. It had so many things that we thought hadn’t been in comics before. Things that we could do and that we could explore.
CC2K: It’s a period piece from the 1940-50s…
MOON: It spreads through 50 years of this family’s life. You don’t see that many family dramas so spread out, that we can follow these characters, we see their rise and fall and grow with them and care with them. We root for them and we be despaired when things go wrong. There was so much possibility with this book. Which is exactly the type of stories we like to tell. Talking about a part of Brazil that we don’t usually write about. A different part of Brazil even for people who live in Brazil. Manaus, which is in the heart of the Amazon Jungle is such a different city, such a different world. It was just a pile of challenges that were inspiring and we really couldn’t say no after we fell in love with this story.
CC2K: Your words and your beautiful artwork transported me. I fell in love with a world that did exist at one point but I’ll never see it. Especially for someone like me, growing up in New York. This adaptation had me emotionally flushed especially with the final page. The look Omar gives us was very eerie. How were the two of you able to express so much personality into someone else’s story? You definitely made it your own.
Bá: I don’t know, I think it was one of the benefits of taking so long within a project like this.
CC2K: How long did it take?
Bá: Four years. We really got to know the story a lot better. We looked at it in a different perspective.It started with us being just the reader who loved the story. Then we had to analyze it, see what we’re telling in every moment (of the tale) and how we could tell it in a comic book format. That demanded this kind of involvement from us. And only because we took this long we could achieve that result. If we wrote this book in half the time or if we made it in one year, we couldn’t put so much heart into it. It’s the good side of talking so long in a project.
CC2K: There is really nothing like Two Brothers out at the moment. All of your work, from the Umbrella Academy to Daytripper, whether it be artwork or story, both of your talents are very unique. It’s different, it’s refreshing and I always look forward to checking it out. Do you think with the success of this book that a movie feature adaptation could be in the future?
Bá: Since this is an adaptation we don’t have to worry about that. It would have to be adapted from the novel and we do not have the rights to that. But in Brazil they are doing a TV series based off the novel. They have been working on that for years. One of the things that haunted us was “We need to finish this book before the TV series comes out.” Otherwise people will think we only did the book because of the TV series. Soon there will be another version of this story (Two Brothers) staring actors and it will be completely different from our version.
CC2K: Since you are brothers and your both obviously close, what was the process like in creating this book? Did you work separately or as a very closely together?
MOON: It worked in pieces but the script was much more collaborative. We like to divide the drawings but we don’t really like or need to divide the writing. We basically write by speaking out loud the story and try making decisions…
Bá: Making decisions, breaking apart the scenes, choosing angles, and thinking how the story will go about. Especially with the adaptation part, we had to discuss a lot of what to choose. What goes in and what does not go in within this story. Afterwards, we had to choose who was going to draw it. So that it would just have one look throughout the entire story. On Two Brothers we actually knew i was going to draw beforehand. Picturing what we could do. Sometimes we know who’s going to draw and that helps our decisions within the script and style of the project. Other times we get the story and then choose who will draw it.
CC2K: In Two Brothers, the Twins hate each other and sabotage each other when they work together. My questions to the “Brazilian Wonder Twins” is: Is it easier to work with family or is it harder?
MOON: For us it’s easier. The professionalism that you have when you work with other people – you have to be polite and choose your words carefully- with us, we have this brutal honesty. If something doesn’t work we can say “it sucks, we can do better.” We know each other so well, we communicate so well, we share so much of the same influences and what we really want is to be able to tell the best story that we can. If we see and know something can be better then we just say it. We don’t care if it’s going to hurt somebody’s feelings because our feelings don’t matter in the end.
Bá: It’s the story that matters. We have worked with other people so we know that it is different. What we have is very hard to replicate.
I would like to thank both Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá for their time, patience, and courtesy. Dark Horse comic’s for letting me read such an amazing piece of work and Aub Driver / Steve Sunu for making the interview possible.
TWO BROTHERS comes out in comic stores 10/14/2015 & everywhere else on 10/27/2015. Please pick up a copy and experience a different side of the comic book world.
Gary is a husband, father, fireman, comic reader, gamer, body builder, and rocker. He also is a co-owner of a bakery in upstate NY. He likes to tell everyone his favorite band is the Beatles, when his actual favorite band is the Alkaline Trio.