Have you ever imagined your childhood as a comic book story, with you as the main character, the absolute star? Yes, many of us did.
Well, there are some who took this one step further and actually turned imagination into reality. One of the most interesting projects I’ve found about recently comes from Daniel, a Romanian artist currently living and working as a game designer in Barcelona. He is the author of a comic book in the making, called The Kid’s Citadel and inspired from his own childhood spent during communist Romania in the mid-80s. It is a very touching and inspiring project, which once again proves that childhood has a very special lens that is able to turn even the grayest reality into a colorful canvas.
What can you tell us about yourself as an artist and what inspires you?
I’ve graduated from an art high-school, and then I studied Architecture at the University. I hated it and realized it was not for me, and eventually ended up working as an artist in the video games industry.
My (more or less) secret hobby was to draw comics. Unfortunately, I was living in Romania at that time, and publishing a comic book was something unheard of, with almost no audience. Later, all sorts of things happened and I had to give up my secret dream. Inspiration-wise, when I was a teenager, I was mostly influenced by manga, and later on by the style of European comics; now I am trying to combine both of them.
What is the story behind your story? How did you decide to start this project and what does it mean to you?
The idea of creating an autobiographical comic book about my childhood in communist Bucharest of the ‘80s took shape gradually. It was a longtime hidden wish of mine, which clearly surfaced when my grandparents died. They were a very important part of my childhood and my life, and basically laid the foundations of what I am today. When they passed away, they left a huge emptiness inside me, and I am writing and drawing about them as an attempt to fill this emptiness.
What reaction do you expect from an audience that might not be very accustomed to what childhood looked like in a South-Eastern communist country?
I am expecting two kinds of reactions: curiosity on one hand, and indifference on the other.
There are many friends in your generation that can relate to this project, since they come from the same cultural space of the 80s, but this does not apply to a broader audience from other countries. Are you afraid that they might see your work as one made exclusively for children and eventually lose interest?
Since the very beginning, my intention was to mix biography, the daily life of a child, with the depiction of an era, the communist period of the ‘80s. Surely, a part of the readers will resonate with the kid in the comic book and will relive their own childhood along with him; as for the other readers, I hope they will be curious to find out more about the atmosphere of those years.
This is not your first comics. What makes it different from your other works?
Before starting working on The Kid’s Citadel, I had drawn two other comics. One of them was a manga heavily inspired from Dragon Ball. It told the adventures of a little boy who discovered he was the last descendant of the Atlants. The comic combined adventure and action, and included all the clichés and characters that young audiences very much enjoyed at that time. The other comic was a drama focused on a hired assassin that fell in love with his victim. I drew the first comics in high-school, and the second one when I was a University student, and their main themes actually mirrored my taste from the respective periods. Now that I’m much older, 37 years old, I guess I’m stricken by childhood nostalgia.
How long do you expect it will take you to finish The Kid’s Citadel and how will it be available to potential readers?
I don’t really know that. Since I have a fulltime job and I’m drawing the comics in my spare time, most probably it will take a while. Anyways, I don’t want to set deadlines. I’m drawing the comic because this is what I want, and I don’t wish to turn it into a stressful thing. So far I’m satisfied with the pace – 70 pages/year. I haven’t decided on the publishing format yet. Publishing houses, self-publishing or publishing on specialized websites – I take all possibilities into account.
Is there a particular message you want to convey through your comic book?
Yes. The message is a simple one: enjoy every moment, because the time and the dear ones you lose will never return.