Below the Equator with Ivan Brandon

Lauded "24Seven" editor and "NYC Mech" co-creator Ivan Brandon hasn't been in New York City since December. He and his girlfriend, letterer Kristyn Ferretti, decided to take off to South America for four months to wait out New York's brutal winter season.

Currently living in an apartment in Rosario, Argentina while Brandon works with "Pride of Baghdad" artist Niko Henrichon on the Marvel title "Machine Man," the couple has been blogging about their extended journey. They spent three weeks in Brazil, where they visited Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo, Bombas, Bombinhas, Canto Grande and Florianopolis; and two weeks in Perú, where they saw Puno, Arequipa, Lima, Cusco, Puerto Maldonado and a portion of the Amazon jungle off the Tambopata river. The rest of their time has been in Rosario working on comic book projects and, said Brandon, "eating a hell of a lot of Argentine steak."

Approaching the final days of the trip, Brandon took some time out to speak with CBR News about his four-month adventure below the Equator.

In terms of comics, how have things changed while you've been traveling?

Well, I've certainly grown less attached to the physical tools I'd used in the past. My laptop was inadvertently smashed a couple months before I left, so here I've had to write scripts on notebooks and scraps of paper and into emails from random internet hubs in whatever city we've happened to be staying in. It's odd not having my stuff, so to speak; my art files and so on. It makes it tricky in that I like to build my own reference for the artists I'm working with -- even though Marvel, for example, has excellent resources for just about anything you'd want.

A lot of folks think I'm on vacation but I came here with a ton of work to get done and I've had more of it heaped on my plate every month since I've been here. I guess I should leave the country more often.

"NYC Mech," you've mentioned, is on something of a hiatus. Besides "Machine Man," what else are you working on?

It bears mentioning that last month we released the second "NYC Mech" collection, "Beta Love," which I think came out beautifully, design-wise. Artistically, it's a whole different animal than the first volume and we couldn't be more proud of the edition.

As to new works, beyond the "Machine Man" series with Niko Henrichon, there's not a whole lot that can be spoken about. Rafael Albuquerque and I have finished a western graphic novel that we'll eventually release, and I'm working on a book called "Viking," which… well, that it's called "Viking," is about all I can say about it, beyond that I think it's my best work.

You've written about visiting with "Cassanova" and "Umbrella Academy" artists Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, who are from Brazil, and "100 Bullets" artist Eduardo Risso, from Argentina. What's it been like hanging out with them? What differences have you observed with how South Americans develop their craft as opposed to North American artists?

Well, the term "South American" doesn't really suit the purpose here and it's not a term that people in either of the countries in question hold a lot of affection for. These countries have completely different landscapes, cultures and languages. Moon, Bá and Rafael Albuquerque in Brazil have very little in common with Risso, Carlos Meglia ["Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle"], and Marcelo Frusin ["Loveless"] in Argentina.

For the latter, I think their craft grew from a more European comics and fine-art vein, whereas a lot of the modern North American artists learned to draw comics by looking at other North American comics. In the states, there are fundamental lessons in storytelling that get lost along the way as the work focuses more on tight abs and shiny hair. For the Brazilians, the ones in question are younger and are, to my eye, traveling almost a hybrid path of the two, and absorbing all of it into their own visual language.

What have been the highlights of your trip so far?

Smoking cigarettes in a São Paolo club that was posing as an early 1990s-era NYC bar and making a go of it. Jumping waves on New Year's Eve in Canto Grande. Standing on precarious ground above Machu Picchu in the rain and watching mist form a beard around the infamous "face" in the mountains across from me. Fishing for piranhas and watching over 100 wild boars stampede past in the Amazon on the same day.

How did this trip come about? Was it something you and Kristyn have always wanted to do? Are you planning on further forays of four months spent in Europe, or elsewhere? What other places that you've traveled to that have left a mark on you?

I'm not much of a planner. Kristyn and I discussed the idea about a year before we left, and we picked a date and went. If we do it again elsewhere, it'll likely be as much of a surprise.

What are you missing most about life in the states?

Indian Food. Fresh Mozzarella. The final season of "The Wire."

On your last leg of the trip, where else are you guys headed?

Home. Also, this month, I get to drive and shoot a tank and see the world's largest waterfall on the shared frontiers of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.


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