A Comic Book Chat with Michael Bracco

This is part of a series of interviews that are being conducted with creators from the Alterna Comics line of creator owned titles.
Let’s start simple… Tell everyone who you are, what you do, and some of your projects?

My name is Michael Bracco and I am a Baltimore based artist and writer.  I have been making and publishing comics since 2007 and have been drawing crazy robots and monsters and screen printing them onto tee shirts since then too.
What is your first memory of comic books?
I had a cousin who I looked up to who was really into comics.  When I was six and he was fifteen he tried to teach me everything he knew about X-Men and the Punisher.  My mom lost her mind and forbade me from most comics but let me read Archie.  It was a bad move on her part though as forbidding darker, more adult comics just made me want to read them even more.
How old were you when you started getting into comics?
As young as I can remember, really but I gave them up when I went into High School.  There was quite a stigma in the early 90’s about people who read comics.  Geek culture was still gestating and you were socially shunned if you like anything geeky.  I think I was a little bit more interested in dating than comics when I was 14 and the two were hard to mix at the time.
What were some of the books/characters you were a fan of when you started reading comics?
As a kid I loved Spider-Man and Iron Man as well as some early image stuff like Savage Dragon and Spawn.  When I was older and rediscovered comics it was stuff like Dark Night Returns and Heavy Metal that really grabbed my attention.
When did you realize you wanted to make comics?
I was studying to illustrate children’s books in college and kept getting told that my work would scar little kids because of it’s scary nature.  Eventually that just fed into me turning to comics and telling slightly more adult stories.  I never looked back.Describe your style.It’s a hard thing to describe one’s own style…I guess I love monsters and robots and the types of detail that you get to draw with them.  My work is inky and dark with lots of strange creatures I guess.There are many avenues you could take in your comic creating. There are plenty of goals that creators set for themselves. What are some of your goals in comics? Like anyone in comics, I want to tell a story that people want to read.  I write to question the world around me and I hope that what I do gets someone to ask questions about their world.Have your goals changed from when you started to now?I think when you’re young you want to be rich and famous…y’know, the easy route.  As an adult I want to be good at what I do.  I want to make something that is lasting and important and I want to enjoy every part of it.02-09What are you currently working on that you would like to share with everyone? Tell us everything you want people to know about what you’re working on. 

Right now I am working on a book called The Creators.  It is a modern-day science fiction that focuses on young people who can bring their imaginations to life with their drawings and explores what happens when their creations go horribly wrong.  On one level, it is a way for me to explore an intense social experiment through comics…on another it’s a great excuse to draw crazy kaiju monsters destroying the world under the control of teenagers.

How did the ideas for NOVO and THE CREATORS come to you? When did you decide you were going to pursue the ideas? 

All of my ideas come from me asking what I consider the big question: What if?  Novo is the story of an immortal alien boy who is constantly being killed and brought back in different scenarios.  He skips around watching different civilizations being tarnished by conflict, greed and hatred.  It was really just me asking what if we could change how we deal with conflict.  The creators explores the ‘what if’ scenario of how the world would deal with its children if they became the most powerful force in the world.

Both stories use escapism fantasy to explore real issues which is how I deal with the real world most of the time anyway.  I find it’s where my best ideas come from

What is your approach to creating? Walk us through your process…

It starts with an idea that I usually get in the car while commuting to work.  I’ll turn on the dictation app in my phone and then start talking like a maniac.  Once I sit down and make sense of all of the rambling and auto corrected nonsense, I’ll start outlining a story and doing character sketches.  Then I will lock myself in a room away from all distraction and write a script.  From their I will do thumbnails and draw the book page by page in my sketchbook. That way I can keep the work portage and work on it anywhere at the drop of a hat.  The hand-inked and lettered pages then get scanned and if the book is colored, that is done in photoshop.  From there it gets posted on-line or sent to a printer!

What separates your project/s from the countless amount of projects out there?

I hope there is a lot that sets me apart from the pack but if I had to point out one thing in particular I think that my books, which usually are about young people, are not written to connect to a particular age group.  I think they speak to the different aspects of the young person in all of us; the one who was sad, lonely, passionate, full of hope and ambition.

What form are you publishing in? Who is the publisher? How did you come to that decision?

I’ve published or have had my work published in many forms.  Novo was published through Alterna comics and The Creators has had some parts of it self-published and all of it put on the web for free.  Some of the decisions were based off of the opportunities put in front of me and some were made for other, more intentional reasons.  When it comes down to it though, I really just wanted to get my work out there to as many eyes as possible.

As a creator, how do you want readers to remember your stories?

My favorite books, movies, comics, etc., have always been the ones that were a solid mix of fun and social potency and I really hope I can create books that people genuinely enjoy that make them think.

04-28Who are the creators that inspire you?

If we’re talking comics then the 2 people who have inspired me most are Ronin and DKR era Frank Miller and Brian K Vaughan.  Their work gave me something to passionately read and something to reach for.  That said, comics aren’t really what makes me want to tell stories.  I am a movie person through and through and it’s the Sci-fi stuff that I have obsessively taken in since childhood that makes me want to build worlds, create species and weave crazy yarns.

What is on your current “must read” list?

I know everyone is saying it but SAGA is so damn good.

Do you have advice for other creators or people looking to become creators?
1.  The best way to learn how to make comics is to make comics.  practice and integrity in your craft are the only way you will ever create something worth creating.
2.  The comics world is a community.  Your fellow comic creators are your family…NOT your competition, love them, learn from them and take an interest in what they do and they will return the favor.

CREATORS: Creatorscomic.com  (The Creators is also available at Tapastic: http://tapastic.com/series/The-Creators)
NOVO:  The best place to find Novo is at Spaghettikiss.com or Alternacomics.com
Social Media:  I can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook under SPAGHETTIKISS
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