SDCC 09 Preview: Camilla d’Errico, “Tanpopo”

ďOverwhelmingĒ is probably the most apt adjective to describe the San Diego Comic-Convention. (With ďstinkyĒ coming in a close second.) The convention is four-and-a-half day whirlwind of mind-melting pop-culture insanity. So,††be prepared to figure out how youíll juggle your time gawking at Hollywood stars and starlets in Hall H, taking pictures of cos-players, and hunting down con-exclusives.

But! Before you finalize your nerd-schedule for next week, make sure to set some time aside to give some love to the comic book-folk.†(It is†Comic-Con, after all.)†To kick off the big show, your trusty friends at†Pop Culture Zoo are pointing you in the right direction of some snappy comic book folks that you should check out.

Our guide to more cool comic-book-related cool stuff continues. Next up, is Camilla díErrico.

If you donít know the work of Camilla díErrico yet, †you will. It simply might be scientifically unavoidable to avoid the artistís distinctively haunting and trippy manga-infused work.†You can currently find it on clothing, Moleskines, iPod cases, her own stationary set, and in a video game. And when sheís not busy with all that, sheís building a rep in the pop-art scene and working on a crazy amount of comic book projects.

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Since busting onto the scene in 2007, sheís worked with Del Rey,†Slave Labor Graphics, Arcana, Dark Horse, and is currently working on a mini-series for Image Comics, and she even has a Grant Morrison-written Vertigo story in her future.

To top it all off is her work on “Tanpopo,” her self-published comic book that follows the titular heroine’s journey to experience the spectrum of human emotion for the first time, with a shape-changing Devil as her guide.

Tanpopo isnít just a comic, though. Like all of díErricoís work, the character has the potential to translate across all mediums.† So, if you arenít familiar with Camilla díErrico (yet), this yearís San Diego Comic-Con is a good place to start.

Holy crap, you’ve been busy over the last few years. How do you find enough time and energy to create so much?

Great question! The answer is: I donít sleep! Just kidding. I honestly donít sleep much though, especially when Iím working on a comic or graphic novel. I start drawing and it energizes me and before I know it the clock says 5 or 6 am. Art gives me energy, itís part of my DNA and I couldnít live without it.

I have been doing tons of different projects lately and Iíve decided to scale back a bit. Iíll be working on bigger projects that require more attention, so naturally I will have to be very picky with what I do.† Having said that, a lot of what I do is done in collaboration, especially with other companies when it comes to merchandise. This is the beauty of working with people who are specialized in their field; like toy companies or clothing companies. I am also lucky to have my sister, AdaPia, who helps me with the business and admin part of things Ė contracts, etc. Ė all the stuff that would take away a lot of time.

So, how many different things are you working on right now?

Well Ö Iím working on the Sky Pirates of Neo Terra [based on the Nintendo DS game – ed.] comic book series, and Iím working on Issue 2 as we speak. Iím finishing up paintings for a September gallery show in LA at Thinkspace Gallery, and Iím planning my stand at the Singapore Toy & Comic convention in August. Iím also working on a graphic novel project for a client, and weíre in the planning and organizing phases of that one.† On the 18th of July Iím having a new Tanpopo clothing release party in Vancouver, so Iíve been working with the gallery on the clothing designs, and some of the organization (Iím a maniac for seeing everything that is being done and giving my approval).

Aside from comics, you’ve also made a name for yourself in the pop-art scene and youíre starting to branch out in to fashion — not to mention helping designing a video game. Youíre not going to abandon all of the comic-book world for bigger and better, are you?

No Way Ė NEVER.† Actually, comic books is where I belong. I will never abandon them because it has been my dream career since I was a teen. I like to have my art all over the place, and doing creative collaborations in fashion and merchandise are a lot of fun. The videogame came at a time when I wasnít doing big comic work, so that worked out really well. Now Iím working on the comic book of the videogame, so that is pretty cool.† Truly though, with a Grant Morrison comic coming up soon I wouldnít give this up for anything. And besides, Iíve got my Helmetgirls [one of her unique series of portraits, featuring girls with, well, helmets – ed.] to crank out as a graphic novel. For now Iím working on branding it, along with Tanpopo, my other self-published story, which is now a series.

Youíve cited Faust as a story influence †on ‘Tanpopo’ and a there’s a reference to The Rime of The Ancient Mariner for volume 2. †How does the story use with these influences? And are you planning on incorporating any other classic literature?

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Basically, the story mirrors Faust in the sense that Tanpopo, like Faust, wants to FEEL, wants to LIVE life and she agrees to the Devilís somewhat cryptic Ďdealí of getting to experience life in exchange for her soul. Faust was epic, it was a huge story divided into two books, so what Iíve done is taken the essence of it to set the story, then I take it in a different direction because the emphasis with Tanpopo is the emotions, whereas with Faust it was life experience. And in my story, there is also going to be a love connection, but completely different from Faustís!

The story will develop out over 10 issues, and each one is based on another classic literature (poem, play, story, etc.) and always from public domain. The plan is to release each issue individually, then release collected volumes of 3s, and the final volume will be a huge, 1 book ending and I promise will be dramatic and alas, tragic.† Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the second setting, where Kuro actually tries to get her to feel sadness and remorse and where Kuroís boy character is introduced. Itís so cool!

You mentioned that you like to get final approval on all your projects, is that where the decision to self-publish ĎTanpopoí and ‘Helmetgirls’ came from? Do you have an idea how long the ‘Tanpopo’ story will be?

Actually, Helmetgirls isnít going to be self-published. Iím working on the concept and plan really well because Iíd like it published by a well known publisher. Thatís why it is taking me so long to actually get it out there. But yes, I like final approval, and thatís why I will be very careful who Helmetgirls goes with because I want a high degree of control over my own creation.† For now, Iíll release the artbook at the end of the summer, and that is mostly a collection of images, like the origins of Helmetgirls.

Tanpopo was something that kind of developed the way it has. I first published it in 2007 and printed only 100 copies. There was no plan for a series at all. But then people loved it so much that with some good brainstorming with my sister and input from other friends, including my friend Stephen who is helping me plot the story arc, it is now a series and weíre all really excited about it.

I donít know how long the story will actually be, even though I plan on making it 10 books. There isnít a specific page count, and there is already a 15 page difference between story 1 and story 2! I let the underlying literature guide the story creation process, and I was actually surprised when book 2 was so long, considering that the Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a short story.† So this will be an interesting adventure for me too, since I donít know where the story will take me.)

How close are you to figuring out the timeline for the book with Grant Morrison and the release of Helmetgirls? Is Joshua Dysart stil attached as a co-writer for the project?

I need to speak to Grant at SDCC to get more information on that. Grant is almost like God, so I have to go with his schedule. I know heís doing movies and lots of cool projects, so I wait patiently. Iím excited to see him again because we had such a good pow-wow last year at San Diego!

Joshua is for sure still attached to Helmetgirls. I really want to take my time and do it right. And at the moment, my career has other things on my plate that are actually helping me become a better artist. Also, with launching Tanpopo as not only a book, but a brand, Iím getting invaluable experience, contacts and understandings that will help me make Helmetgirls the world-overtaking-phenomenon that I have in mind. Ha ha, no ego there!!

Ashley Wood is releasing your first art-book, as part of his awesome Sparrow series. How did this come about? (Is there a release date set?)

Ashley is my hero, I idolize him. He actually Ė get this Ė offered ME!! to do the book.† I still canít believe it.† It all started a few years ago when I met him, and he knew my work. Then he had my art in Swallow 5 and weíve been working on Sparrow now.† Release date Ė July 27th. BUT Ė Iíll have pre-release books at SDCC!

How much original material will be included in the book?

There are a few unseen paintings in there, but it is mostly a collection of some of my earlier works.

I understand your first time in San Diego for the Comic-Con was pretty pivotal [from your website]. What was it about the con that inspired you to want to succeed as an artist?

There was an energy in there that I canít quite describe, all those people were so excited and enthusiastic about the comics; they meant so much to the fans. I get a rush every time I go to Comic-Con or any other con. It is that feeling that pushed me, and continues to push me. I go to conventions to remind myself why I am in comics because I need that hit; that rush; that energy Ė it recharges my batteries.

What do you have planned for your booth at this year’s Con?

I will have the advance copies of Sparrow, but Iím even more excited about Tanpopo 2! It is the second issue of Tanpopo, and I put so much work into it. I canít wait for everyone to see it! Iíve got advance copies of that at SDCC as well. Iíve reprinted issue 6 of BURN, which apparently is impossible to find anywhere, so people can pick that up to finish their collection or pick up the whole set from me. Iíll also have my new plush Ė Kuro. He is the devil dog from Tanpopo 1.† And Iíll be promoting Sky Pirates of Neo Terra Ė both the DS game and the comic book.

Will you have time to get away from the booth to explore the con? Is there anything youíre looking forward to checking out this year?

For me SDCC was always about mingling and wandering around the

Convention but of course this year will be different for me because Iíll have the booth; itís going to be a completely different experience. So what Iím most excited about is having a home base where people can come and find me, and I can show them what Iíve been doing over this past year!

I will be forced to leave my booth a few times though. Iíve got signings at the Arcana booth, and at the CBLDF booth, where Iím signing 100 copies of the Neil Gaiman print that came out in June.

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Camilla will be at N11 in the Small Press area, but sheíll also be keeping busy at the Image booth, daily at 4 pm, at the Hi-Fructose booth at 3pm on Thursday, as well as taking part in a panel, drawing singer Amanda Palmer alongside Terry Moore and David Mack for the CBLDF, Friday from 1-2pm.


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