Laura Iorio was born in Frosinone and immediately understood she loved drawing. In 2009, after having attended the International Comics School in Rome, she publishes her first comic album: «June Christy» together with Roberto Ricci. Their collaboration continues with « Le Coeur de l'Ombre », co-written with Marco D’Amico. She talks about the project and much more in this interesting interview.

Let us start from a recent and illustrous experience. How was it like to receive a Manga Award and face the Japanese reality?

It was an incredible experience! A real shock to the system. Sometimes I find myself still thinking about it and doubting it really happened! Japan, its folkloristic tradition and its culture, have always fascinated me deeply. Receiving such a prestigious award from a country like that, where comics are tanken into high consideration and respect, is something impossible to describe and forget. Furthermore, as I grew up reading manga and robot books and have been dreaming about visiting Japan since I was 8, there couldn’t be a more welcome reward!

Talking about manga, what fascinated you the most about discovering them and how did they influence your way of perceiving comic books?

Even if manga is defined by a peculiar language and a narrative style that we cannot find in western comics and we might not understand thoroughly, I started drawing inspired by my favourite mangakas’ works, trying to emulate their tract and their narrative style. This is because I approached comics thanks to them. Gradually though, my stylistic and narrative imprint has become more and more western and my style got quite nearer bd (French comics) rather than manga. Anyway, I’m still an avid manga reader and I love to think this is still visible in my drawings. I’m fully fascinated by the sensitivity of Japanese authors. With few traits and a slow and perfect narration they can move me like nothing else. Even if I don’t draw mangas, my admiration for this visual language is constantly growing and my favourite authors are mostly mangakas.

What can you tell us about your collaboration with Roberto Ricci?

My collaboration with Roberto started in 2007 when we worked together at my first comic book : « June Christy » (storytelling by Giancarlo di Maggio). Immeditely afterwards, we started with « Le Cœur de l’Ombre » . At the beginning it was like a game, but we have been collaborating for years now. It hasn’t always been easy but it enriched me immensely. I have learnt a lot while working side by side and I’m glad I’ve had this opportunity. At the moment I’m working on my personal projects, but I always ask him for advice as I know his sharp eye and his fierce honesty, they have become indispensable for my professional growth.

Do you think there are many major differences between Italy and foreign countries as far as comics are concerned?

Each market has its own peculiarity, the Italian market is different from the French, American or Japanese ones. I’ve always liked the idea of working for the French market so I’ve always moved in that direction. The French market is the one I know better and I can easily say it pays attention to varieties and the originality of published albums. Seriality isn’t particularly developed (apart from historical titles), a series counts 3/5 albums on average. They are generally very careful when creating the book and this is not always positive as, sometimes, aesthetic is more important than content. Honestly, when I strted out as a comic writer, I didn’t particularly know Italian authors and the little I knew didn’t really suit me as an author. I don’t think that a project like « Le Cœur de l’Ombre » would have found its place in Italian comic bookshops. Nowadays, things have changed, I think the Italian market is more lively and open. Comics are getting more and more popular with young people and many interesting foreing titles are being translated. New editorial realities are publishing a more substaintial variety of published titles. I thinks it’s a good moment for comics in Italy.

You have just published a majestic new work : « Le Cœur de l’Ombre ». Can you tell us more about the whole process?

« Le Cœur de l’Ombre »was born 9 years ago. The initial idea for the storyline was Roberto’s. This is Luc’s story, an Italian-French boy scared of everything and brought up by an hyper protective mother, who wins all his imaginary battles agains the boogie man (a fantastic creature which populates his dreams). It is strongly influences by Burton and Miyazaki, an adventure full of encounters where being different scares the adults but is accepted lightheartedly by children. In many cases fears are generated by the unknown. Everything that is not familiar to us scares us: a child is frightened by monsters and monsters are frightened by him. Though, we always discover that good and evil coexist. The story takes us around the world, but physical places aren’t as important as the internal voyage unconsciously carried out by Luc and the boogie man, culminating with Luc getting rid of his fears, from the influences of family and society, through the encounter with the imaginary and the unknown. On a practical point of view, the collaboration with Roberto e Marco was very lively and stimulating. Roberto talked about his idea and Marco made it his own with the storyline. Afterwards, Roberto completed it and I finally joined in with my drawings. As colouring the gouaches is a very slow process, Roberto and I decided to realise all colours together in order to give more value to the process. During the process and under the guidance and advice of our editor, I have rewritten part of the story and all the dialogues. It was a long and uneasy process, but today I’m convinced it was worth it.