Inspired by the the legend of the twin brothers Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué, Xibalbá follows Lucas, along with his friends Hector and Carlos, as they go camping in the middle of the Chiapas jungle. There, Lucas is drawn into the jungle by the strange sound of drums, what he does not know is that this will take him on an extraordinary journey through Xibalbá, the Mayan underworld. Drawn by Virus Visal and written by Adrian (Sin Acento), Xibalbá is a 90 page full color graphic novella.
For fans of Kyoko Okazaki, Lana Del Rey, John Boorman, The Magic Necklace is a new one-shot comic from veteran indie cartoonist, writer, artist and editor, Claire Napier that explores sexual danger, desire, relying on men, and bargains we make with ourselves and others. Ann-Rita’s acting differently since she came back, because she’s not afraid of men any more. Not her brother, not the fuzz, and not the guy who’s standing right behind her. Whatever he does… It just can’t threaten her.
Claire Napier: Hey Virus! You’re Kickstarting the comic that you’re drawing, Xibalbá, written by your co-creator Adrian. And you work in the art department at a wildlife conservation park! Did the latter help you out with the former at all? There’s a lot of jungle environment in the pages on the KS—are you drawing that from life?
Virus Viral: Hello Claire! Haha I hadn’t really thought about it but maybe it did help! Since I have to make illustrations of animals and plants for my job I guess that gave me enough practice to tackle a lot of the wild environments in Xibalbá, I actually got really interested in drawing Adrian’s story due to how fun the descriptions on his script seemed.
But tell me Claire, you yourself are also running an already successful campaign for The Magic Necklace, and you are the whole package! not only are you a writer and cartoonist but also a critic!! (wow!). I imagine as a critic you are very used to helping other people correct their work, but when it comes to your own work, how do you know when to stop fixing details or reaching for perfection?
CN: Oooh. Honestly being a critic has helped me enormously on this front! I used to be a terrible perfectionist, and that’s why I never finished anything—I never felt like I was doing “enough,” so whatever I did seemed not to exist at all. But honestly evaluating the work of others, asking myself what I get out of a comic, lots of comics, all different kinds of comics, made it very obvious that getting the point across is the most important part of visual narrative. So now I’m like, “Does this pretty much do the job? Is it evocative in the right direction? OK great!”
When you’re working from Adrian’s scripts, do you feel like you’re reaching for a perfection he’s imagined? How does collaborating that way affect what and how you draw?
VV: Before Xibablá Adrian and myself collaborated on a short 4 page horror story so that’s how I knew we could work very well together! He is very open to my suggestions on how to break some panels so the actions read better, and taking from what you said, working with other people does help improve your own work, or so I also feel like that on this project. Sometimes you need someone overseeing your work to notice what works and what doesn’t.
Back on The magic necklace! a horror romance thriller dealing with why women sometimes let the “bad guys” in, I love that in your campaign you say that (paraphrasing) if we cannot understand the pitfalls of these relationships, how could we escape from them? And that’s so true!!
But my question would be, how do you manage the fine line between writing something that can both be erotic but also that it’s meant for people to learn how to be careful in dangerous situations?
CN: I called it “The Magic Necklace!” Haha. I put magic in the story so that impossible things could happen; it’s overtly an “unreal” story. The reader can decide for themselves how much they would want to pull into reality, how much they wouldn’t, and how much they can understand people only wanting to do if it’s a constructed play. I often find that talking round the corner of things, as it were, is more intriguing and poetically thoughtful than being completely literal—and it also puts more of the responsibility onto the reader. Hahahohoho.
Similarly, in the pages of your book that are previewed on the KS page, I love how you make your protagonist Lucas seem like a real dick. Adrian’s description of him as “arrogant” immediately appealed to me—starting out with a nightmare person and seeing how you can apply pressure to them through a narrative is so fun. I can’t wait to find out how you show him evolving—if that’s what he does!