Carlos Giffoni is a relatively new writer in comic, while he's made pitches and wrote a few stories her and there, STRAYED is his first published book.
Set to come out later this month, STRAYED is an interesting and unique book that is unlike anything else out there. It stars a cat, yes I said cat, named Lou that can astral project across the universe. If that doesn't pique your interest, I don't know what will.
Having read an advanced copy, I could talk all day about how much I enjoyed the book. But I'll let Carlos tell you all about it.
COMIC LOUNGE: First off can you talk about how you first got into comics?
CARLOS GIFFONI: When I was 8, I bought my first comic book off a newsstand in Venezuela, a Superman issue. I was impressed by how it was very different from my understanding of Superheroes, which had come mostly from watching Superfriends re-runs. Aside from Superman, Batman, and a few newspaper strips, there weren't a lot of comics coming into Venezuela. You couldn't even find Marvel comics, let alone anything cool/independent. I fell out of comics and got into music and video games, which were more easily accessible. It was many years later after I was living in the US when I discovered Vertigo and comics like Y THE LAST MAN and WE3 through friends. At that point, I had a high-stress day job, was running a music label and a festival, and trying to tour and put out music and didn't have time to dig in. It wasn't until five years ago that I could really start digging deep into comics, and shortly after, I couldn't get enough. Particularly anything from Vertigo/Image/Dark Horse, the weirder, the better. And now I have a sizeable nerd-certifiable collection of graphic novels and single issues.
If I have to call out a moment that made me want to write comics, it had to be the first time I read FEAR AGENT. There was just something so personal and human in it. I love Sci-Fi, so the setting was very appealing to me, but it was the heart Rick Remender put into that story that made it all click for me. I wept like a baby at the end of it, and I was ready to start telling my own stories.
COMIC LOUNGE: Who were some creators/writers that inspired you growing up?
GIFFONI: Growing up? Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, William Burroughs, Franz Kafka, Edgar Allan Poe, Philip K Dick. When it came to reading, comics weren't an option where I grew up. However, there were plenty of translations of exciting books that I could get into, so those were the authors/creators that raised my creative mind.
As far as comic creators that have been truly inspiring in my adult life: Moebius, Jack Kirby, Katsuhiro Otomo, Kentaro Miura, the Hernandez brothers, Warren Ellis, The Clamp creative team, Jeff Lemire, Rick Remender, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Brian K Vaughan, Brian M. Bendis, Junji Ito, Juan Doe, Sanford Greene, Fiona Staples, Spike Troutman, Vita Ayala, Magdalene Visaggio, Toby Cypress... And the list keeps growing.
COMIC LOUNGE: Is this your first published book?
GIFFONI: Yes STRAYED is my first published comic book, issue 1 comes out August 21, published by Dark Horse. Before STRAYED, I did a few other pitches and short stories, but nothing that has been officially released.
COMIC LOUNGE: Your new book coming out this month, STRAYED, is one hell of a book. Can you talk a little about the premise of the book?
GIFFONI: Thank you. I am glad that is working for you, I can't wait until everyone out there gets to read it.
STRAYED is a Sci-Fi book about an Astral traveling cat named Lou and his owner, a genius scientist named Kiara. Kiara notices there is something different with Lou, and she makes a device that can translate his brain waves into speech. This is all happening hundreds of years into the future, where a military government organization in charge of humanity. This organization is holding them hostage and using them to scout for new planets to colonize. Lou and Kiara initially don't know this is what they are doing with the worlds they find, but eventually, they'll find out.
COMIC LOUNGE: Why did you decide to use a cat as one of the main characters of the book?
GIFFONI: I have two cats that I love. The way I thought about it was more like I was writing about a close friend, the species didn't matter.
COMIC LOUNGE: The idea of using a cat to astral project across the universe is insane. Where did the inspiration for this idea come from?
GIFFONI: I have two answers to this:
First, that it was inspired by the remote viewing program the CIA ran until 1994, in which they were trying to create astral traveling spies to keep an eye on enemy countries. The CIA canceled that program as it never worked out. I was reading about it and looking at one of my cats staring into space, and the idea hit me.
Second, a strange spotted cat visited me during a dream.
COMIC LOUNGE: Why a cat, over any other animal?
GIFFONI: I have lived with cats for years, so I am very familiar with their behaviors. Also, they are the superior species, above humans too.
COMIC LOUNGE: I know this is only a limited series, but do you have any other projects coming up after this?
GIFFONI: I am writing the new volume of SPACE RIDERS for Black Mask, titled Vortex of Darkness. Very excited about that one because I get to work with Alexis Ziritt, who is a good friend and one of my favorite artists. I believe issue 1 should be out sometime in the fall, but I don't have a confirmed date yet from Black Mask. That one is a four-issue series. I am also working on a short story for a Top Cow Sci-Fi anthology with artist Andrea Mutti. Other than that, I have three other projects in development that I can't talk about yet. But yeah, expect more to come after STRAYED. I'd also love to continue STRAYED. I am hoping the first arc gets enough reader support that we can twist Dark Horse's arm into publishing more of it. I am hopeful it will happen based on initial results from pre-orders, but we'll see.
COMIC LOUNGE: Now that you're in comics, are there any dream projects that you would like to work on?
GIFFONI: Being able to work with Juan Doe on STRAYED and with Alexis Ziritt on SPACE RIDERS is already a dream come true. I am mostly interested in telling my own stories, but I would love to write something in the Alien or Terminator universes (or why not both? uncle Dark Horse make it happen.) I also have an idea for Star Wars that I am dying to pitch. Star Wars editor if you are out there, hit me up. Outside of that, what about a short story about Superman saving a nation in South America from an evil dictator?