David Opie chats with the creator of Man: Plus, André Lima Araújo…
Marvel artist André Lima Araújo has branched out from his usual superhero fare to create a new futuristic thriller that presents a unique take on the cyberpunk genre, drawing influences from both Eastern and Western landmarks, including Blade Runner and Ghost In The Shell. David Opie sits down with creator André Lima Araújo to discuss the fantastic debut issue of Man: Plus. Make sure you also check out our review of Man: Plus #1, which is available to read here.
David Opie: Man: Plus has gripped me from the very first issue and I can’t wait to read the next one. Can you tell us more about the world in which the story is set?
André Lima Araújo: Thanks, I’m glad the first issue left an impression. Man: Plus is a cyberpunk thriller, so that’s reflected in the setting. The classics of the genre (either from comics, books, movies or video games like Blade Runner, Akira, Ghost In The Shell, Neuromancer, Deus Ex) certainly left their influences on me, so you can expect a future filled with robots, androids, cyborgs and an ever blurrier division between man and machine. But I believe there are some fresh aspects that will make things interesting for the readers, like the fact that it takes place in Portugal, in a fictional city called Olissipo City and that the story is filtered through the writings of John McHale, Marshall McLuhan, William J. Mitchell and an architecture degree.
DO: Like you said, there’s a clear anime influence in the world of Man: Plus, evoking classics such as Akira and Ghost In The Shell. Are you a big fan of manga and anime? Could you tell us some of your favourite titles?
ALA: Yes I am. Akira and Ghost In The Shell are two of my favourite books, but many other manga books and anime shows influence me heavily: books like Blade Of The Immortal, 20th Century Boys, Dragon Ball or series like Rurouni Kenshin, Cowboy Bebop, Evangelion left a huge impression on me and fascinate me to this day.
DO: Olissipo City may bear a resemblance to futuristic Asian cityscapes, but the architectural designs also look like they’ve also been influenced in part by European style. Why did you choose to set this story in Portugal?
ALA: I didn’t want to set the story yet again in New York, Tokyo or London, since so many sic-fi stories have used those big cities. Also, as I am Portuguese, I’d like to have something set in my own country. At the same time, I designed a city with influences from the entire world because I wanted Olissipo City to feel international and eclectic.
DO: What comic books did you read growing up? Did any particular artists have a strong influence on your work?
ALA: I read all kinds of books. As a small kid, my favorites were Disney comics (in particular Donald Duck) and things like Asterix or Lucky Luke. Soon after came super heroes (Spider-Man, Batman). But it was things like Blueberry and science-fiction in particular that would grab my mind forever; Moebius and his creations, Valerian, drawn by Jean-Claude Mézières, Akira and Ghost In The Shell (both the books and the movies) and the rest of Otomo’s and Shirow’s work. This, of course, is but a small sample of the things I grew up with and that left a huge mark on me.
DO: Your stellar work on Avengers A.I. must have helped you develop the tech-obsessed society featured in Man: Plus. How did you first start working for Marvel?
ALA: I met C.B. Cebulski right after finishing my architecture degree and showed him some drawings. He showed some interest and we remained in touch, even though my work wasn’t good enough yet. I still worked for a year as an architect, but by that point, my main interest was, by far, comics, so I decided to become a full-time comics creator, coming up with my own characters and stories while trying to get some work-for-hire gigs. Eventually the back and forth between me and Marvel resulted in them being interested and they gave me my first professional paid gig in 2012. Apart from Man: Plus, I’ve been exclusively working with Marvel until now.
DO: You’ve worked on a number of Marvel titles, including Avengers A.I., Spider-Verse and The Inhumans. Which upcoming superhero movies are you most excited to see in the cinema?
ALA: Most definitely Guardians Of The Galaxy 2. Also Valerian, from Luc Besson.
DO: You primarily worked as an artist before Man: Plus. What new professional challenges did you face writing this project?
ALA: I’ve always written my own comics, Man: Plus is just the first one to get published. So in my case, I didn’t decide to write something all of sudden, it’s more of a natural result of my ambition to be an author ever since I started making comics. I felt very comfortable writing Man: Plus and I’ve kept writing many things. Hopefully, they’ll get their chance to be published as well. I interpret it all as different steps of a common goal, to create a story, and not so much as different processes.
DO: What projects do you have lined up next? Do you think there is a future for the series beyond this initial run?
ALA: I’m working on a Marvel series with one of my favourite characters and after that, I might do another creator-owned series. Man: Plus is a self-contained story, but there are definitely more to stories to tell. I have a strong idea and plot for a sequel and I hope to get to it sooner or later.
Thanks and I hope everyone enjoys Man: Plus!
Many thanks to Cara from Titan Comics and André Lima Araújo for taking the time out for this interview.
David Opie – follow him on Twitter, add him on Facebook or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.