TCAF 2018 Interviews: Nico Naranjo


May 9, 2018

This weekend Spanish creator Nico Naranjo will be joining Europe Comics at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival. We used this opportunity to ask Nico a few questions about himself, his work and his debut comic book, The Toucan Patrol (originally published in Spanish by Dibbuks).

How did you decide to become a comics creator? And if you hadn’t, what other career do you think you would have chosen?

As with everybody, I was nuts about drawing when I was little. I suppose I just never stopped drawing and comics quickly became the artform which I could use to tell any story I wanted. I was the scriptwriter, the director, the cameraman and all the actors at the same time! If I hadn’t chosen to become a comic artist I surely would have been a physicist, since I love physics. In fact, I even started down that road, before turning to comics!

What has influenced your work the most? Who would you name as your role model in comics?

I’ve been involved in the scouts ever since I was a child — which you can see by reading The Toucan Patrol! (Laughs.) I think that a big part of my life is influenced by that, and so is my career as a comic artist. My have a close relationship with childhood, and I’m always amazed by children’s capacity to reimagine the world around them. I admire the most Moebius, even if his work isn’t for children. He worked hard all his life, and he died before the release of the second album of his last series (Arzak) He never stopped doing what he really loved and became a worldwide influence (even in Japan!). Check him out!

Which scriptwriter or artist (dead or alive) would you have loved to collaborate with?

One of my daydreams is to have been able to work with Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim on their series Dungeon (NBM Publishing; Donjon in the original French, published by Delcourt). It’s a long series which I never got to read when I was little because you couldn’t easily find it in Spain, but from the moment I saw the cover of one of the albums, I fell in love. Now that I have read it, I can tell you it’s a major piece of artwork.

What are your thoughts on digital comics?

I cannot see the future, so I can’t say what the future of comics is, but what I’m sure of is that we are heading into an era where digital comics are a reality and we have to anticipate and understand that if we want to survive as an industry. It’s the moment to change, reinvent ourselves, adapt to this new status. Which may sound wise, but… I really don’t know how to do it! (Laughs.) Maybe what we need is, in fact, digital comics. Yes, they might be the answer to world domination… I mean, to a better understanding of the comic industry, yep.

Tell us a bit about The Toucan Patrol. What is the story behind the book? How did you come up with the idea and what was the process of creating it like?

The Toucan Patrol is a personal project I started making for myself, with no publisher around it. Through this book, I want to talk about our fears, and use Newb as an example in which every child can see himself (or herself!). Every chapter talks about one fear in particular, and at the end, we can see that Newb has gone through them all and become stronger, more mature. As I have said, I’ve been a member of a scout group since I was a little boy and, just like Newb, I used to pee in my sleeping bag (not on purpose!). I wanted to speak about how I dealt with that and every other obstacle that I, or every of us, could find on the hard road to becoming a young adult. And for the process, I think you can imagine… Creating a comic book is hard work! I mean it! Even if The Toucan Patrol is a small one, it was my first experience in making a full comic so I had to get used to a whole new level of commitment with my work. In any case, the result is definitely worth it.