Interview with Clandestino Creator and Young Terroists Penciler – Amancay Naheulpan

Next week sees the last issue of Clandestino from Black Mask Studios hit the shelf.  Being fans of the book we caught up with creator/writer/artist and letter Amancay Naheulpan to discuss the dream job, his work on Young Terrorists and look up the perfect Clandestino soundtrack:

CC: Hey Amancay, congratulations on a great mini series.  Let’s start at the top; how did you break into to comics

Amancay Nahuelpan: It’s been a long journey, I don’t even think I’ve 100% broken into comics yet, as I still feel there’s lots more to do to finally “have broken into comics”.

But as how I got to this point, it’s basically been years and years of pushing hard, leaving lots of things aside and focusing on trying to get somewhere in the comics business. I started publishing independent comics back in Chile, some creator owned stuff in 2006. Then when I returned to Vancouver, I met some people in the comic business and from there I started showing my stuff around, going to conventions, meeting with editors and writers. Social media was huge for me as I started showing my work through twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. I got to learn how things are done when I participated in the extinct ZUDA contests from DC Comics back in 2008, worked on some indie anthologies, etc.

I had been working on making comics since at least 2006, and always had jobs in between here and there to make money for rent. It wasn’t actually till 2015 that I had my first major comic published in the mainstream, it was 2 issues of ROBOCOP from BOOM!. Up to that date, I had been working in lots of other indie stuff and projects that hadn’t been published yet. After that I started getting more stuff out, I had a book with writer Himkar Tak published by IDW called Boy-1 and Clandestino and Young Terrorists from Black Mask.

CC: A couple of people have mentioned a “Tarantino” influence in Clandestino.  Would you say that is accurate?  Who are your inspirations for the book?

AN: Yeah, not completely, but a good part of it. I’m a big fan of Tarantino’s storytelling, and his visuals always inspired me. Tarantino is definitely an influence in my work, as well as the early movies of Robert Rodriguez. For Clandestino I’d say those 2 were very influential when I was creating the story, I remember pitching the book to Matt at Black Mask as “Crank meets Che Guevara”. The fast paced electric feeling of Crank with the visual storytelling of Tarantino and Rodriguez plus the aesthetic of the Latin and middle eastern revolutions is what gave Clandestino life.  Music was also important when creating this story, Santana, The rolling Stones and Beastie Boys (to mention some) were some of the tracks playing during the creative process. I actually made a specific soundtrack list for Clandestino.

CC: Sounds like a great idea. I am curious, what songs made the list?

AN: Feel free to check the list out. Its: –

CC: There are some great songs on that list. What comic books are you reading at the moment?

AN: I think my favourite right now is Kill or be Killed. I’ve always loved Sean Phillip’s art, but I think this is his best so far. Hands down my top Sean Phillips book is that Criminal 10th Anniversary that came out a while back, and Elizabeth’s Breitweiser colors… man, they’re so good! I’m also really digging Black Monday Murders, It’s also one of those “this is the best” Tomm Coker has done. He’s another of those artists whose work I enjoy seeing and this is definitely some of his best.

CC: Black Mask Studios are quietly going about their business, putting out quality books.  What’s it like working in the small press, rather than say working for a bigger company?

AN: The biggest differences are 2, the creative point of view and the distribution business. From a creator point of view working with Black Mask gave and continues to give a creative freedom I hadn’t had elsewhere. You can pretty much go as far as*moraly* possible. And you don’t necessarily have to reach that point to be satisfied with having the creative freedom, but knowing you have that “freedom” relieves the creative process.

Now, from the distribution point of view, that’s where things get a bit more complicated, Black Mask is pretty much a one-man show, and managing all the business and distribution stuff involved in this, is lots of work for one person. And that’s when things like delays happen of other inconveniences that have to be solved. Bigger publishers have more people working on different aspects of the business, but obviously, for indie publishers, that’s hard. Clandestino suffered many delays because of external stuff, not necessarily involved with the book itself. You get printers that fuck up, distribution gets messed up, or even when you work with overseas printers then you have to deal with customs… So it’s lots of work for one person. And that, no doubt must be the biggest difference between a bigger publisher and a smaller press publisher.

CC: This book see you triple up as writer/ artist/ letterer?  Which do you find the easiest?  What is the greatest challenge?  Do you actually staple the books as well?

AN: No doubt the easiest for me is doing the art. It all ended up happening this way because when I first started working on Clandestino, back in 2009, It started as “this” book I’d work on that I’d show around. So I wrote it and then had to draw it and color it and letter, so it would make sense. But then I got more serious about it and decided to make it as a full 6 issue mini. As I had already started issue one I decided to go ahead and be the one doing everything for the rest of the issues. In terms of the art duties, that’s how I wanted to have it done, so I’d have absolute control on the look of the book. The design aspect of it was really important for me because I wanted people to have the feeling of holding something unique from start to finish. But the lettering… man, I hate lettering! By issue 6 I didn’t want to letter anything again… ever! haha. I don’t know if I’d call it a challenge or straight forward a nightmare. But lettering is a pain in the ass. I really respect the work of all the letterers out there.

Luckily I didn’t have to staple the book! haha, but believe me, If I had a machine for that I’d probably do! haha

CC: We have recently seen your art in Young Terrorists, another great book from Black Mask.  Yount Terrosits seems to allow you to flex a level of sureality against the real life feel of Clandestino’s adventures. What are the differences with working YT and Clandestino? 

AN: The main difference is that I started working on CLANDESTINO years ago, so somehow you see and evolution (hopefully) in terms of the art from issue 1 to 6, and I’m also coloring, so sometimes I leave a final stage to the coloring process as I already have something in mind of what to do with that scene. With YT, on the other hand, I work with Jean Paul in colors, so I don’t have to think about how I’ll color that because he’ll do a wonderful job, which leaves me with more time to spend on the actual black and white art, and to have that freedom lets me play around a bit more with my style and experiment, trying to improve page after page my style. It’s also a bigger difference the fact that with Clandestino I’m also the writer so I had in mind already what I was going to draw. Which is with YT I’m the Artist and Matt the writer so I have to crack down what Matt’s boiling in his crazy head, hehe.

CC: Are you a football fan, if so, what did you think of the Superbowl?

AN: I’m a huge football fan, but not the one you guys are crazy about in the US, I’m actually a football\soccer fan haha, big fan of it. The only thing I watch every Super Bowl is the halftime show which I really enjoy. I’ve tried watching football games, but it has too many pauses for me, I like more fluid and fast paced games like hockey or soccer.

CC: If you could work on any character, in any book, who would be your dream ticket?

AN: Batman, no doubt, hehe. Followed by Punisher and Wolverine.

CC: Man, I can see you absolutely nailing any of those characters. Without giving away any spoilers, what’s next for the world of Clandestino? 

AN: For now, the world of Clandestino enters a hiatus. I feel that the story works well the way it is. I don’t have anything in mind in the near future, as with Issue 6 coming out I feel that I’m closing a long chapter in my life that started in 2009. So extending that universe is not in the plans at the moment.

CC: How about yourself, what’s next?

AN: Regarding myself, I’m currently working on a project with Himkar Tak, with whom I worked last year in BOY-1 from IDW, it’s a really nice story that takes place in India during the WWII period, different to everything I’ve done before. And there should be something announced by the end of February coming from Black Mask.

Well, I can’t wait to see more of your work.  Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule.

Fans of Clandestino needn’t wait too long with the final issue available from next week, wherever comic books are sold.


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