Talking Comics with Tim | Toni Fejzula on ‘Veil’
It’s a cause for celebration any time Greg Rucka launches a new series, as he does Wednesday with Veil, the story of a girl who awakens with amnesia in an abandoned subway station. Teaming with Rucka on this new Dark Horse ongoing is artist Toni Fejzula. I challenge you not to read Veil once you see the eyes of the lead character as drawn by Fejzula — that and so much more about his art instantly caught my attention to the series. With this interview, I aimed to gain insight into Fejzula’s passion and approach for this new collaborative project. It’s an added bonus to learn he might be listening to Rock Lobster while drawing Veil …
Tim O’Shea: What made you want to work with Greg Rucka on Veil?
Toni Fejzula: When Scott Allie offered me the chance to work with a great, great script writer like Greg Rucka I didn’t really hesitate too much. It’s incredible, I mean, who doesn’t want to work with such an excellent and experienced writer ? Besides, the Veil project seemed very attractive to me from the very beginning, and Greg ‘s story is getting better in every issue.
Are you also the colorist on this project? Did you favor certain colors to set a tone for the story?
Yes, I am. Scott and Greg asked me to do the colors by my own. I know that’s not very usual in the American industry, so I felt honored for that. I guess they liked those colors I did on some sample pages they saw that made them decide to offer me this job. Anyway, I changed a lot my palette for Veil. These new colors are a bit brighter, more contrasted then those I normally use because we thought they would fit better with this story. We’re doing a horror story that, because of its colors and its general appearance, I’m not sure it’s suitable into the standard horror genre…
Are you a fan of the horror genre? Are there certain horror storytellers that you think influence you?
Yes, I am. I grew up reading Italian comics, like the Dylan Dog horror series from Bonelli, with the classical “fumetto” format. Dylan Dog had (and still have) great writers and drawers like Roi, Stano, D’Allagnol, Tacconi, Milazzo, etc. I’m crazy about Dino Battaglia and Sergio Toppi, who did incredible adaptations of classical horror stories. French albums came later, with authors who were able to create weird, terrifying atmospheres like Moebius, Hermann and De Crécy, but I didn’t really discover great horror stories there. I ‘m afraid I was never a reader of classic American magazines like Creepy or Eerie … I do love lots of actual artists who work in the U.S. and are able to draw insane atmospheres, like R.M. Guéra, Mignola, Corben and James Harren.
In a recent CBR interview, Rucka said of Veil: “We are really playing with the subjective versus the objective camera that you can do in a comic. A lot of the panels that Toni is drawing are very calculated pieces. We’re working very hard to determine at what point we’re seeing a subjective view versus an objective view of what’s going on and of how we look at characters — how we see them. All of that feeds back into the word. What are you seeing through? How much of your vision is clear versus obstructed? And why is it obstructed?” Based on what Rucka said, my question to you is, How challenging was it to draw these calculated pieces?
Yes, it’s very challenging, but it’s also very fun, which makes me take that challenge with pleasure. Working on Veil is a very interactive process where we discuss a lot, where we comment each step to take. They always give me their suggestions on what I draw and the result is always the result of an agreement. I always feel like we’re building something together and that’s the best of all, because I enjoy working in a team.
In that same interview, Rucka described this series as an experimental storytelling experience in a sense. Does it feel like an experimental opportunity for you as well?
Oh, yes, of course. I never talked with Greg about this, but I think Veil has a character-built plot. I mean, I guess we all know who is she, before even knowing what will go on with her during the story. Sometimes, that makes me even feel that Greg gets inspired on what I draw to decide where the story will go on. (Am I right, Greg?) That’s very challenging and makes me feel obliged to work harder and harder. I love that.
What’s been the most enjoyable aspect of the collaboration so far?
That interactivity I already described. I’m working with people who know exactly what they want and how they want it to look like, but they always invite me to explore my possibilities and improve their ideas as much as I can.
Are you learning any storytelling lessons from a veteran writer like Rucka?
Oh, sure ! Lots of them, I’m afraid there’s not enough space here to describe them all ! Anyway, I can tell you three key words: measure, serenity, clearness. I’m learning a lot, sure!
While you work in the studio all those long hours do you listen to music or audio books to keep you company? Or do you find that too distracting?
I always listen to something because I find that I work better (more relaxed) when I’m partially distracted with something else. I love radio and I listen to a lot of audio documentaries about history. Music is essential, too, with bands ranging from Talking Heads, B52’s, Black Keys to Nine Inch Nails (or How to Destroy Angels). When I want to get into a “creepy” mood I love Dead Can Dance, Black Angels or Nick Cave …