We met Michael Bracco at the 2010 ArtStar Craft Bazaar in Philly, where he had a booth set up for his imprint, Spaghetti Kiss. Initially, I was taken in by his t-shirts, which were printed with things like skull-octopi, and robotic unicorns fighting narwhals. But, he had comics, too, and they are just as beautiful and imaginative.
Bracco’s work is truly great stuff that should be seen (and worn! and purchased!), which is why I asked him to contribute to our anniversary prize packs - you need some spaghetti kissin’ in your life.
Here, we talk about his comics, Novo and Adam Wreck, making Spaghetti Kiss stand out among the crowd, and which t-shirt he’d wear to the zombie apocalypse.
Michael Bracco: Novo has been the passion project I’ve been working on since 2005 and I actually just finished the 6th and final book in the series. It revolves around an alien boy who is the hybrid son of two extinct species who devastated each other’s populations with prideful wars. The story follows him as the last survivor of the entire planet searching through their ruins and literature to learn from their mistakes. He eventually finds a way to leave and pass on what he learns to other cultures.
I came up the idea when I was a bit younger. I was a twenty four year old man trying to make sense of the world around me and we were going through a war. I found myself questioning why we do the things we do and wanted to explore it through a story. Novo was my way of making sense of the world around me and finding an understanding of the horrible things we all do in the name of pride and greed.
Adam Wreck is my all-ages science fiction book. The story revolves around a 12 year-old boy, Adam and his genius, space-exploring parents Albert and Betty. After exploring the empty void of space that’s beyond our solar system for two years, the Wreck family hasn’t found much of anything and Adam is bored out of his skull. One day, while Adam is complaining to his parents for the hundredth time, they come upon a giant spaceship. Instead of friendly alien life forms, however, the ship is run by an evil band of space pirates who attack the Wreck’s ship, capture the parents and maroon young Adam on a deserted planet. The rest of the book follows Adam as he finds a way to escape the planet he’s been shipwrecked on and save his parents.
I have taught middle school art for the last ten years and after writing something so dark and heavy like Novo, I really wanted to create something that I could share with my kids who are such a huge part of my life. Adam Wreck became something that I could show my kids as I made it and get their feedback. It was such a fun book to create because I had built up such a wealth of knowledge of how 12 year olds think, speak and act and felt like I could write something fun and adventurous without it seeming like a ‘fake’ representation of a young person.
PRG: Are you planning further installments of Novo and Adam Wreck?
MB: Novo is done. I set out to write a complete story and finish it and I finally did it! It’s a strange thing to reach a goal that for so long has felt impossible to reach. When I drew the final pages of the Novo story I got very emotional and kind of mourned it a bit when I finished. That story took over most of my adult life as it took me eight solid years and I learned so much over that time. As a creator, it’s where I cut my teeth and learned to hone my sequential skills and my writing skills. As a person, it’s where I asked questions about the world around me and found answers through the stories that unfolded.
As for Adam Wreck, I always meant for that to be a trilogy and am actually about half way done with the second installment. I’m hoping to have it out by fall of 2012.
PRG: I really love your Spaghetti Kiss apparel designs. How do you determine which designs get the go ahead for printing?
MB: The books are massively time consuming and sometimes I need a break. During my ‘breaks’, I love to draw all the stuff that I don’t get to do in the books. At the end of a year I go through my sketchbooks and pick out a few drawings that will make good shirt designs and start printing. I’d say about one out of forty drawings turns into a shirt and only about a third that make it to shirts lasts (depending on how they sell)
PRG: Comics and indie apparel seems to be a rough market with so many individuals and small companies making a go of it. How do you make Spaghetti Kiss stand out among the competition?
MB: I try very hard to stay true to myself in everything that I do. I make sure that anything I try to sell is something that I would want to buy. If I don’t enjoy making it or if I don’t want to read it or wear it than it’s not worth trying to sell to others. I also make sure that I’m always trying to one up myself. If the stuff that I put out this season doesn’t make last season’s line seam mediocre than I’m not pushing myself hard enough. Finally I just work hard to get my stuff out there. Between book signings, craft shows and conventions I do around 50 shows a year. I find that the best way t make a living off of your passion is quite simply to make your passion your living.
PRG: There’s a zombie uprising and you only have time to save one shirt. Which shirt do you grab?
MB: I can’t answer that. I have so many damn tee shirts that I have a ‘memory storage box’ for those that I love but don’t wear anymore. It’s a mix of my own and a ton of other designer’s shirts that I’ve collected over the years. I think the answer to this is that I would get left behind and eaten while trying to pick the shirt I was going to wear.
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