SBCF 2023 Interview: Nero Villagallos O’Reilly

Throughout the month of October, the Cartoonist Cooperative will be sharing interviews with members of the Co-op who have a new comic available at the ShortBox Comics Fair 2023

NOTE: The Cartoonist Cooperative is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way formally connected with ShortBox.

Cartoonist Cooperative: We’d love it if you could introduce yourself and tell us about your background in comics.

Nero Villagallos O’Reilly: I’m an adult cartoonist and illustrator currently based in the Seattle area. I’ve been drawing comics and putting them online since at least 2005, and started focusing on erotic content in 2012. Independent publishing will always be the first thing I turn to, but Slipshine, Filthy Figments, Iron Circus, and The Nib have all published my work.

CC: Tell us more about your new comic!

NVO: ‘Phobiaphilia’ is a gay comic about a hunter, his dogs, and his prey. It’s about the difficulties of engaging with something that you desperately want that you know can hurt you irreparably. The sexualization of danger and the worst parts of masculinity.

CC: Tell us about your creative process; how did you develop this comic and what are the steps you took to bring it to the final stage?

NVO: I keep a big document of comic ideas- interesting hooks, one off thoughts, etc. “Pup play horror comic” has been sitting in there for ages and ages! Once I figured out the ending, I worked backwards pretty quickly from there.

CC: What were some challenges you faced with this comic and how did you overcome them?

NVO: This wasn’t my first idea for the fair, actually! I had an entire other idea mostly scripted but I really couldn’t bring myself to work on it. It just wasn’t coming together in a way that didn’t feel pretentious, which is something I struggle with.

I ended up throwing the entire thing out and going back to the drawing board about a month before everything was due- not the smartest idea in hindsight, but the comic I made is one I’m super proud of! I’d personally rather have to crunch for something I really, really like rather than waste time on something I don’t. It feels very obvious (to me, anyway) when an author didn’t enjoy what they were working on!

CC: Do you have any creative rituals or routines to prepare yourself to make comics?

NVO: I can work pretty much anywhere in any environment (‘Phobiaphilia’ was mostly inked in a hotel room in Vegas during a Star Trek convention during a 114°F heatwave), but I always need something on in the background, even if I’m not fully paying attention to it. Music, streams, whatever is available.

CC: Can you talk about your visual style? How did you develop it?

NVO: This comic is a little looser than my regular work- usually I pencil overtop thumbnails, then ink those, but this I went right from thumbnails to inks. Primarily a time saving measure, but I also just wanted to see if I could do it. It probably wasn’t smart to challenge myself like that while already on a time crunch, but it is what it is.

CC: What other work are your comics in conversation with? Could be any medium, inspirational or bad work that you’re kind of responding to. 

NVO: One of my favorite pieces of short fiction over the past year is Ian Muneshwar’s Dick Pig– a man staying in his late aunt’s secluded home has a disquieting Grindr conversation. It really made me think about the more unique ways horror can be incorporated into gay fiction that wouldn’t work in straight or even lesbian fiction. 

CC: Talk a little about your creative philosophy. What keeps you making comics?

NVO: Comics can tell any kind of story and they can be made entirely by yourself- nothing’s better than that. The most accessible, flexible, and unique medium, bar none. Comics are the best.

CC: What kind of themes do you find yourself having to fight against or have a natural draw towards in your work?

NVO: My characters often end up being nicer than I want them to be. It’s something to work on in 2024, I think.

CC: Can you tell us about your newest projects/projects you have in development? Feel free to plug anything here as well eg. socials, website, etc.

My art and socials will always be on! I have a blog and a newsletter linked there as well, if you want to keep up with what I do via RSS or email.

As for projects- my webcomic Ultraviolents lives over at . If you like Phobiaphilia, Ultraviolents will definitely appeal to you.

Additionally: the angel-themed erotica artbook that I co-edited and did the cover for, Paradise Lust, just launched on Backerkit! See it over at