AFAR: An Anthology of Distance
We just launched a brand new project, and it's called: AFAR.
To celebrate our artists on this project, we're doing a short interview series on our artists participating in AFAR.
Today, we're starting with Rado R.! Just a bit about him, he's an artist from Madagascar, and he draws the comic Handrava.
Tell us about yourself.
My name’s Rakotondrainitomaho Rado and I’m a 23 year-old self-taught artist from Madagascar. We’re all self-taught here though, hehe.
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. For the longest time, I thought making cool-looking things was enough but now I realize good art creates connection.
When was the first time you thought ‘I want to make comics’?
I used to be much more interested in animation. Young and silly me thought it was the naturally superior medium.
Back in high school, a bunch of friends and I drew an action fantasy story starring self-insert emoji characters (couldn’t draw bodies yet). Back then, I didn’t really think I was making comics but it was loads of fun.
A few years later, I started joining OCTs on Deviantart with, this time, a bunch of online friends. Which was also super fun and something I highly recommend.
It’s inside the OCT circle that I got to discover a number of amazing webcomic artists. Following their work, week after week and year after year was so inspiring. By then, I’d finally started gaining a greater appreciation for the art of comics so eventually, I went « hey, I could do this, too »
What’s the comics scene like in Madagascar?
The 80s were the golden age of malagasy comics : there were near a dozen publishing houses and a hundred of monthly titles, which was unheard of in all of Africa.
In 1991, there’s an economic crisis and the consumers’ purchasing power crumbles. People start renting their comic books and that ultimately leads to end of the industry.
Nowadays, a couple of associations try their best to revive the love for the comics and a few independent authors are working with a Réunionese publisher. They even get to go to the Angoulême Festival, which I think is just dope.
I’m starting to see a new generation of incredibly promising digital artists. I don’t know how many of them are interested in making comics but I’ll definitely be there to cheer them on if they do.
Any favorite works you’d recommend to other people?
I’m all about webcomics so here are three of my favorite ones :
Pola Kowalewska’s Set It On Random : it’s weird, witty, wacky, occasionally unsettling and most importantly damn funny! What’s more, Pola has a knack for creating attaching characters and beautiful colors. Must read!
Neon Jawbone’s Paradise : a color-fueled buddy cop story with incredibly energetic and expressive art. NJ’s influences are clear but he also got himself a defined and unique style and I love it.
Amber Houston (BITEGHOST)’s BACKLASH : Following Amber’s journey’s been one of the most heartening things for me. I think one of things that define our generation are character-driven stories and Amber LOVES her characters. It’s infectious.
BACKLASH is a work full of love, passion, big strong dudes, jokes, snapchat stories and star stuff. Check it out!
How did you get started on Handrava?
I first got the idea for Handrava while thinking of ideas for a short comic contest held by one of those associations I was talking about. It was supposed to be a 2-page story about a malagasy superhero but while exploring the concept, I realized it had a lot of potential and started developing a whole story out of it.
I’d originally planned to start drawing after my school thesis but a friend of mine, who had a full-time job, started hers right at the start of year and I thought « screw it » I’ll do the same!
Webcomics are things you can just start and share whenever you want. And I love it!
How did you approach the theme of ‘distance’ in your comic for AFAR?
I studied abroad for five years and got to experience multiple long distance friendships. But the main inspiration for my story was my relationship with my best friend from just before I left the island. We were pretty tight and they even said so themselves a number of times but we still ended up drifting apart.
I think I still had some unresolved feelings when I got the idea but by the time I had finished the comic, I had finally made my peace with it.
What’s your comic in AFAR exactly about?
My AFAR story is a fiction set in space where two friends are about to go their separate ways. One of them thinks of a way to motivate themselves to regularly stay in touch : get a plant and only take care of it during their calls. It works for a time but eventually, one of the friends loses interest and the plant « dies ».
Ideas on future themes you’d like to pursue?
Children-parent relationships or support among artist friends.
What is the one thing that you want to accomplish before this year’s over?
I’m going to try applying to an animation school next year and I need to finish the bulk of my portfolio by December. I had given up any hope of getting in but a student from the school hit up on Twitter and encouraged me try. They’re being super helpful and supportive so I got to give it my best shot.
If you can't wait to see Rado's work in AFAR, go check it out and back the project on our Kickstarter!