Carlos Trillo’s and Enrique Breccia’s Alvar Mayor with Epicenter Comics

The cover of Alvar Mayor book 2.

Epicenter Comics is literally the Epicenter of English-translated editions of the great Italian comic company Sergio Bonelli Editore.  Epicenter Comics features the stories of Zagor, Tex, Mr. No, and others in high-quality formats.

Recently, Epicenter Comics started doing something different by translating Alvar Mayor by the incredible Carlos Trillo and Enrique Breccia!

Epicenter, of course, will continue to publish English versions of Sergio Bonelli Editore. In fact, in the interview, we will find out how important it was to Epicenter to publish the Argentine Alvar Mayor as well as Sergio Bonelli Editores.

 

JOESEPH SIMON
Alvar Mayor has it all.  An incredible series with both, an incredible writer in Carlos Trillo, and an artist in Enrique Breccia. I’m a fan of Alvar Mayor from way back in the 80s.  It was super exciting to read that you are translating and publishing this classic.

It’s funny because I have only read the sole slim and incomplete volume that Tim Truman’s 4Winds released in the 80s.  I can say it’s the kind of series that sticks with you in a good way. Given that I’ve seen only a small portion of the series, tell the readers where it’s from and what Alvar Mayor is about.

The cover of Alvar Mayor Book 3.

IGOR MARICIC
Yes, it is truly an incredible comic book series, and I am honored to be able to publish it. I am not the only one to call it one of the absolute best comics ever created! It is stunning that this masterpiece hasn’t been released completely in the English language before.

Alvar Mayor was created by two Argentinian comic book giants, Carlos Trillo, and Enrique Breccia. It is a story situated in Peru after conquistadors conquered South America, and it follows Alvar Mayor, who has the reputation of being the best treasure guide.

 

JOESEPH
Your editions are going to be really nicely produced.  What can we look forward?

IGOR
Yes! The goal is to finish the complete Alvar Mayor series in 4 volumes, by the end of next year (2023) in Kickstarter campaigns. Each book will be available in our web store, in comic book stores, and on Amazon a few months after each campaign. As you said, the books are nicely produced, oversized (9” x 12”), hardcover editions, printed on heavy 157 gsm paper, and still be affordable. The first book in our campaign is $20 ($4 off the list price), which I believe is a good deal for such a book of 180 pages. That is my idea, to do justice to such a comic book jewel, but still not break people’s wallet or be elitist in any way. I want people to discover this beautiful, timeless work, and also see it in the great light, so to speak.

The cover of Alvar Mayor Book 1

JOESEPH
(NOTE: Readers can buy Alvar Mayor volume 1 right now! Readers can also pledge to Epicenters November 2022 Kickstarter to get volumes 2 and 3 together for $40. That’s 360 pages of Alvar Mayor! They can even add volume 1 to the Kickstarter pledge!)

Carlos Trillo’s American-specific work is very limited.  His translated work is much larger but not complete. For those unfamiliar with Carlos, who was he and why is he an important writer for our industry?

Page 1 of Alvar Mayor in Mirrors

IGOR
Carlos Trillo is an incredible writer! I remember reading for the first time the Spaghetti Brothers graphic novel series he did with artist Domingo Mandafrina. The complete series has not been published in English, but I have the Croatian edition (by Fibra). I remember reading the first of six volumes and there was a scene that really struck me and I realized that I’d never run into such a comic book writer before.

The way Trillo understood the medium he was working in, was just crazy. Basically, he clearly knew what is the advantage of the medium he was working in, what he could get away with because it’s a comic book, and not a movie because in the movie he wouldn’t be able to pull it off.

To explain exactly what I mean, in this particular scene or chapter of only eight pages, Trillo stirs up different emotions in the reader, first anger, then laughter, and finally sympathy, all three directed at the same comic book character!

The reason I say this kind of quick change of emotions couldn’t be done in a movie is that the spectator couldn’t get over the anger so quickly, in a matter of few seconds, as those emotion-shifting events happen in the comic book on just 3-4 pages. Additionally, the whole 8-page chapter contains no words, except one text bubble in the last picture, on the last, eight-page! It is simply extraordinary. And then we have his Alvar Mayor series, which is a completely different type of work, with a more metaphysical feel, walking the thin line between dream and reality, plus adventure.

 

Page 2 of Alvar Mayor in Mirrors

JOESEPH
Likewise, Enrique Breccia? Readers may recognize his art from his great run on Swamp Thing.  He did a lot more than Swamp Thing, though.

IGOR
Oh, Enrique Breccia. What can be said?! One of my favorite comic book artists of all time. His style is just incredible. I mean, in Alvar Mayor, just the way he draws the sun, there is a certain magic to it. It may be something genetic because his father Alberto Breccia is one of the most respected comic book artists ever. I actually, prefer Enrique. I would really like to publish more of his works in the future for sure!

 

JOESEPH
What is interesting is the 4Winds volume really presented the more low-key stories of the series. From what I could research, there’s so much more to the series. I Iiken it to a pseudo-historical comic with dark fantasy elements plus a captivating Corto Maltese kind of feel.

Page 3 of Alvar Mayor in Mirrors

IGOR
That is an excellent description. It does have some parallels to Corto Maltese, except I prefer Breccia’s artwork by far, there is a certain magic to it as I said. There are chapters in this series that have etched themselves into my mind. Just memorable, the way the artwork follows the script, without too much explanation, and just speaks to our mind and our heart is incredible.

 

JOESEPH
It’s been a while since Tim Truman released his slim collection. How did you first discover Alvar Mayor and what led you to publish the series?

 

IGOR
I first read the great Croatian edition of Alvar Mayor by Fibra, back in 2008. The publisher, Marko is my friend. When I formed Epicenter Comics I hoped to publish it one day in English. It took some time, as Carlos Trillo passed away (2011), but here we are now.

 

Page 4 of Alvar Mayor in Mirrors

JOESEPH
Epicenter Comics usually releases English-translated editions of the great Italian company Sergio Bonelli Editore. Releasing the non-Bonelli Alvar Mayor had to have been important to you to explore new territory.

Given the importance of both translating Bonelli and Alvar Mayor, how does it feel to be at this kind of intersection in comics and comic history?

IGOR
I have always called it an honor. I remember the feeling when I published my first Zagor book (which is the first Zagor book published in English.) Zagor has been my favorite hero since childhood (since I was 6 years old), and now to be able to publish Alvar Mayor which is a classic masterpiece in English. It’s an honor.

 

JOESEPH
Considering the important work your doing by bringing these stories to American readers, I’m sure you have an interesting story about how you went from a comic book reader to a publisher.

Where were you living when you first started reading comics?  How old were you and what comics were you reading? Maybe I should also ask what comics were you not reading.

IGOR
I first started reading comics when I was 5 years old, living back in Croatia, what was then Yugoslavia. Those were Tom and Jerry comics that my mom got for me so I would learn to read and also keep reading. It worked! The next year, I got my first Bonelli comics, Tex, Zagor, Commandant Mark, Little Ranger, and some others, as well as Tarzan, Martin Mystere (then a few years later Dylan Dog). That was it! I was hooked immediately on these comics! It was truly love at first reading, and I not only loved reading them, but I started collecting them, talking about them, and dreaming about the adventures I haven’t read before. Also, I have learned a lot from them. Not only were they filled with great adventures, and great values, but I learned about history, the world, and customs. Actually, my son has this saying, “everything Dad has learned is either from comics or music,” as I often in the conversations would quote some facts from either a comic book or a lyric of a song. As a kid, I never read Marvel or DC comics, although growing up in the 80’s I did love those Superman and Batman movies.

Alvar Mayor page from book 1

JOESEPH
When did it occur to you that you could become a publisher? How did Epicenter Comics start?  It’s such an interesting angle, translating great comics into English!

IGOR
It was first of all a process of learning about myself, who I am, what I truly love, and what I may regret if I don’t try to do in this life. The publishing idea came by observing what my friend Marko accomplished (with the above-mentioned publishing house Fibra in Croatia). Like him, I also had a different profession than publishing comics and was also very passionate about them. I knew it would be quite a sacrifice to start a publishing house and hold a full-time job in science, along with family and everything else, but I wanted to give it a try.

 

JOESEPH
Epicenter is, no doubt, publishing important comic book work. What is interesting is you’re not a slick, golden wall street backed publisher.  It’s more about passion.  How has the path that Epicenters took been?  What lessons can you relate to readers and fellow creators?

IGOR
Oh, it’s all about passion, 100%, actually, if you ask people around me, they would say, my madness. Haha! I tell people, you literally have to be crazy to have enough motivation, drive, and energy to try to do this, along with a full-time job as a scientist, and family responsibilities. My drive, in publishing, has always been my love for the comics that I publish, and my belief in them, their writers, and their artists. I believe my greatest personal strength when it comes to publishing has been, an eye for talent. I wish that my company was more financially successful, as then I would be able to search for new talent and publish their works. I am happy that I have been able to publish some works from some obviously great European artists that were not known in the US before, such as Frisenda, Rubini, Andreucci… And one of the new artists that I’ve discovered, Well-Bee, landed a job with big American publishers (Marvel, Image…), as a direct result of one of his original graphic novels that we have published, Entropy Vol. 1 and 2. To be able to help incredible artists be discovered is the greatest feeling for me, I feel like a dad in that case.

Alvar Mayor page from book 1

JOESEPH
I am a big fan of Bonelli.  Other publishers have tried to do English editions of Sergio Bonelli Editore. from Dark Horse to SAF.

Epicenter is doing it right, in my opinion. You’re publishing high-quality translations with very nice pricing that is really engaging. You understand the characters, the titles, and the importance that they have in comics.

What is Sergio Bonelli Editore to you? What is Bonelli to the comic industry and why should readers have an interest in Bonelli and in Epicenter Comics?

IGOR
Thank you! As I said, I do have quite an insight into Bonelli comics, as I grew up with them and have been reading them for decades, they are truly in my blood. They have had an influence on generations of readers, for 80 years now! They are a huge publisher, one of the largest in the world with an amazing back catalog. With Epicenter Comics, I try to publish my personal favorites in English, books that have excellent stories and artwork.

JOESEPH
I have read a variety of international comics that are translated.  I’m a big fan of Jean-Marc Lofficier’s fantastic Hexagon Comics for their translations of really great French superhero comics.  Lots of other great European comics also come to mind.

My early memories, though, would include Studio Proteus (1986-2004). They worked with Viz, Eclipse, and Dark Horse, making it possible for those comics to do Manga.  I always wondered what went on at Studio Proteus to make these comics happen.  They created a kind of brand.  It wasn’t like the Marvel Bullpen, that’s for sure!

Releasing an Epicenter book is not as simple as just translating an already existing comic.  Go over what you typically have to do to bring one of your books to life from the Italian version to the English.

IGOR
First of all, I have to really, really like the book myself. If I really love it, I have to publish it. If I like it a lot, and also think people would love it, I will publish it. Next, I think about the best possible format, which means what kind of materials exist out there, is color, black and white, or both versions. Depending on what I think of the artwork, I will choose the format. If artwork absolutely floors me, it has to be in an oversized format, and usually black and white. Like I’ve explained earlier with the Alvar Mayor book, I also consider the final book list price, because I don’t want to make some elitist edition, where most people who have never heard of the book will not give it a chance, and also some fans can’t afford it. So I try to find the perfect balance of excellent quality, format, and affordable price for the fans. Additionally, I think of what kind of artwork I would like to see, any variant covers, and such things. At the same time, I talk to the printer and check the print price for the format I selected. Then I make the proposal for the Sergio Bonelli Editore. If they agree we get the contract sorted out and I receive the materials and we start the translation, which is then checked several times and that is sent out for lettering. After lettering, we check the lettering a few times and make any necessary corrections.

Alvar Mayor page from book 1

JOESEPH
From Bonelli to Mayor and being an English language publisher, you must be gifted in languages! How many languages do you speak and read?

IGOR
Actually, not too many. I speak English, Croatian/Serbian, and know some German. I usually have translations done by other people, and then I do some adjustments and editing.

 

JOESEPH
Has there been difficult parts to translate?

IGOR
Yes! There were a few times I ran into a poem, if it were in Zagor comic, it wasn’t too bad as it was always his sidekick Chico and he usually makes funny poems, so it was a matter of finding good matching rhymes that make sense, but in one of my favorite comic books ever, Dylan Dog: The Long Goodbye, there is this long poem in the middle of it, which doesn’t rhyme and has some Italian/European cultural references, so I specifically asked one of my Italian friends who is hard-core Dylan Dog fan to translate it for me. It was important to me to get it just right, as that story is very melancholic and philosophical.

Characters from Sergio Bonelli Editore

JOESEPH
Sergio Bonelli Editore has been around since 1940.  Have you had the chance to read the majority of their stories?

IGOR
I’ve read all of the Zagor, Magic Wind, and Ken Parker stories. I haven’t read all of the other heroes’ stories, but I have read several hundred Tex books. Probably half of the Mister No, Dylan Dog, and Martin Mystere books. I am also reading some Dampyr and Dragonero books. There is just so much out there, and it is produced monthly.

A few of the great comics from Epicenter.

JOESEPH
I’m sure there are a lot of exciting projects in the near future.
Any last words about Alvar Mayor?

IGOR
It is really a unique series, one that shouldn’t be missed by any comic book/graphic novel lovers.

 

JOESEPH
Thank you for talking and I hope we can have more talks in the future.

The Kickstarter for Alvar Mayor volumes 2 and 3 can be found here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/epicentercomics/alvar-mayor-books-2-and-3-graphic-novels

Readers can find more about Epicenter Comics and Alvar Mayor at facebook.com/epicentercomics, on Epicenter comics’ Instagram page, and on the official Epicenter Comics website, www.epicentercomics.com

 

Page 12 of Alvar Mayor in Mirrors

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