I recently dipped into the ComicAttack.net petty cash fund and flew to Greece to talk with Giannis Milonogiannis, writer and creator of the graphic novel, Old City Blues (shipping this June through Archaia)… OK, I lied. I didn’t fly to Greece, but as soon as Andy approves such expenditures, I’m going! Old City Blues, a crime/mystery story set in future Athens, was reviewed a few weeks back, so click here for a peek.
ComicAttack: Can you tell us about your inspiration for Old City Blues?
Giannis Milonogiannis: Old City Blues draws inspiration from pretty much anything and everything related to the cyberpunk-themed movies, books and comics from the 1980’s. I personally think of the book as a love letter to that movement, and the somewhat romantic feeling that characterizes a lot of the science fiction of that era.
CA: Why did you choose Greece-2048 as the setting?
GM: Setting the story in a post-apocalyptic version of my home country started out as a bit of a joke at first, but ended up working nicely for the kind of story I wanted to tell. In cyberpunk, we most usually get post-apocalyptic visions of metropolises like Tokyo, New York, or L.A., and I thought it would be interesting to see what could be done with a bit of a different setting for a cyberpunk mystery.
CA: Why go with a natural disaster, and the angle of a dystopian future to tell your story?
GM: I suppose that came about mostly because I felt like drawing dilapidated buildings and gritty cityscapes when first starting out to write the story! It allows for some interesting variation between drawing slick, futuristic cities and run-down alleys filled with crumbling architecture. It also gives an interesting backdrop to set a story in, and not having the disaster fully explained leaves some options open for future stories in the OCB universe.
CA: What is it about the crime/mystery/sci-fi genres that appeal to you in your work?
GM: After playing around with all kinds of genres and styles, the mystery/sci-fi combination seemed to be the most fun and comfortable for me to work in. I grew up watching and reading all kinds of movies and literature that utilized that combination, so to a certain extent, I felt like I had a bit of a handle on the usual tropes used in those works. I tried to channel all that in OCB, while also bringing something fresh to the genre.
CA: What is it about the black and white format that works so well with Old City Blues?
GM: Black and white is a very straightforward way to tell a story in comics form — and it probably works well for OCB because the story itself is so straightforward and always moving towards a certain goal. Drawing in black and white also allows the textures in the art to shine, which also works nicely for a gritty, dystopian story like this.
CA: The book vaguely reminded me of Blade Runner. Any thoughts on that?
GM: The book seems to make many readers think of Blade Runner, and I’m actually kind of glad it does, if only because it shows I managed to somewhat accurately portray the cyberpunk elements it helped cement. Blade Runner is probably the most well-known visual work set in a cyberpunk world, so it’s understandable that people would think of it upon reading OCB.
CA: Can you give us some insight on what volume 2 will contain, and where you plan on driving the story and characters in the future?
GM: Moving forward, I’d like to focus on shorter stories featuring the same cast as the first book. I’m hoping to explore some of the world of New Athens in a more detailed way, and doing more focused, short stories seems like the way to go to accomplish that. We’ll also get to know the characters a bit better, and find out a lot more about their past lives prior to the events of the first book.
CA: Give us some background about yourself, and your other published projects. Any more on the way you can tease us with?
GM: I’ve been doing this comics thing since about 2006, self-publishing some stuff up until the time I started Old City Blues in early 2010. After its run as a webcomic, OCB became my first actually published work, so there’s not much else to tease about yet!
CA: How do you feel the European comics market compares to that in the U.S.?
GM: I can’t pass any judgement on either the European or the U.S. comics scene yet, seeing how little experience I’ve got in either of them. As a reader, though, there does seem to be a lot of leeway when it comes to what is considered mainstream and successful in Europe, as opposed to the more superhero-oriented mainstream scene in the U.S. It’s all good, though.
CA: Any final words on Old City Blues, or comics in general?
GM: Even if readers are not fans of cyberpunk and sci-fi, I hope they’ll give OCB a chance and find something else about it they’ll like. And most of all, I’m hoping people will look forward to what’s coming up for the series!
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Giannis for taking time out of his hectic schedule to do this interview. Also, thanks to Archaia as well, for giving me the opportunity to review this book. If you want a story that is crime/action oriented, pick up Old City Blues in June!