Happy Pride to all the LGBTQIA+ comic book and pop-culture nerds and geeks! For this installment of the Queer Creator Spotlight I got to catch up with Geeks OUT alum, Luciano Vecchio about his creator owned-book, “Sereno,” being published by CEX Publishing.
While I would find it hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t be familiar with Luciano’s work, he’s worked on books for both Marvel and DC. He’s drawn such titles as Ironheart and Iceman for Marvel as well as Teen Justice and Beware the Batman for DC. He’s done so many covers there would be too many to list here, but he’s worked on the X-Men, Hulkling and Wiccan, Spider-Man, Spinstress, Power Pack and Wonder Woman to name drop a few.
Luciano has recently added writing to his resume with both Marvel and DC Pride issue and the online Marvel Infinity Comics Iceman. This month saw the launch of his creator owned book written and drawn by Luciano himself, Sereno. I caught up with Luciano to talk about the importance of representation and how crucial it is for queer creators to tell their own stories.
Chris: Luciano, can you tell us a little bit about the origins of Sereno and how it manifested into the book we have now?
Luciano: It’s been a ride! It started as a weekly webcomic in Spanish, as part of an Argentinian collective doing creator-owned superheroes. As a creative exercise it pushed me to examine what the Superhero archetype meant for me, what could I say through it that I felt wasn’t said before, and in turn it made me find my voice as author and refine the way I approached the genre, my job and storytelling in general.
Sereno is a little bit Doctor Strange a little bit Wonder Woman. An interesting mash-up. Why did you go with his power set and characteristics?
Thinking of Superheroes as aspirational power fantasies, I wanted Sereno to represent the kind of powers I’d like to have, or that I’d like others to be inspired by. Complex three-eyed vision to perceive multiple dimensions of things, healing and empathic abilities, active but anti-patriarchal conflict solving. He’s a Magic Boy invoking his spiritual powers from the Moon, claiming for himself the traditionally gendered traits that we were taught to reject. His strength isn’t in being tough but in being soft and fluid. The kind of hero that tames the Dragon rather than killing it.
And it’s a power set that can be used in all kind of stories. He can have a Sci-Fi adventure and then a Vertigo-esque one and it’s all organic to his story.
For the book you chose a very specific color design. It’s quite stunning visually! Any specific reason behind the coloring style?
A few years before Sereno I worked on Cruel Thing, a series of goth graphic novels in Spain, which was all in black, white and red, and I found the potential of the one color limitation super inspiring and full of possibilities. So in Sereno I took it farther and experimented with picking one or two colors per episode to see what happens. It is an expressionist and poetic use of color accents in a world of lights and shadows, setting the mood of each episode and villain. And once the book was completed, it represented the focused decomposition of Sereno’s white light into one color at a time.
In terms of being a queer creator(writer and artist) what were the elements you absolutely wanted to incorporate into the story that the queer community could definitely relate to and why?
One of my obsessions growing up as male-assigned and identifying, was hacking the cultural notion of what “male” is supposed to be or associated with, so creating a powerful and assertive yet sensitive and soft male figure was a need. I don’t know if that is inherently queer, but I am and so is Sereno. So, on one hand I wanted that queer lead representation for me, for the boy I was and those who would relate to my sensibility, but I also fantasized about him being accessible and inspirational to anyone.
The villians in the story are avatars for very real emotions that we all have. Obviously, fear, obsession, paranoia are all relevant in the world-you angled them to the LGBTQIA+ community. Can you speak to that a little bit?
Sereno’s Rogues Gallery is as important to the story as he is, this is a series of villain-of-the-week duels. So each villain is in a way, an anti-Sereno. And in the same way Sereno represents an aspirational power fantasy, his villains represent the battles we fight in life and for which we’d like access to Sereno’s powers.
It wasn’t so much an effort to think of issues of the LGBTQIA+ community, but instead working from my own personal experience and that of the people around me and being honest with the work so that it would organically resonate with kindred spirits. Which is the way I think queer rep in stories work best.
Can you tell us a little bit about the journey to get this book published? Why now? Why CEX?
It seems the time is now! I wanted this for so long, and at some point I had almost given up and was ready to be content with the local Spanish edition. Then during the pandemic quarantine and industry crisis that left me with a lot of unexpected free time, I redirected my energy to refine the English translation and get a limited digital release. That led to an agent (you) Chris Allo of Magnus Arts taking interest in the book and making the bridge with CEX Publishing, to finally manifest it physically. Meanwhile it also led to some writer/artist work at Marvel and giving me time to grow my visibility and audience, so in the end this is one of those cases where the road wasn’t what I wanted, but what I needed. Now’s the right time.
Besides creator owned, you’ve worked for DC and more prominently, Marvel. Can you tell us what you’ve been working on recently?
I’m web-slinging a lot this year! Between Web-Weaver and Spinstress in the Spider-Verse, and I just finished Spider-Man 11, an extra-sized issue featuring Spider-Boy. I’m also part of the artists roster in this year’s X-Men Hellfire Gala, doing a lot of cover work and about to start a series we’ll announce soon.
I was also lucky to work with my main interest of queer representation in mainstream superhero comics in the last few years, like in DC Pride, Teen Justice, and as writer/artist in Marvel Voices Pride and my favorite, Infinite Comics Iceman.
Any advice for our queer creators looking to publish through Zoop or crowdfunding in general?
I admit I’m terrible at giving advice, and I recognize I was terrified of running a crowdfunding campaign for the hardcover collection, with no previous experience. But with the assistance and company of CEX and Zoop, and the audience support, it turned out to be much easier or less stressful than I anticipated. I’m still experiencing it, but I’m very happy with how it’s going so far.
How are you celebrating Pride this year in Argentina?
I live between two worlds, living in Argentina half of my attention is in the global north, experiencing international Pride Month and all the attraction, celebration and visualization of our fights through social media and my work. While here in Buenos Aires Pride March (one of the best in the world I’ll say) is in November, our spring time and usually close to my birthday, so it’s the best time ever.
Any plans for a follow up to Sereno?
This is a book that works as a self-contained story, and I like that aspect. But it’s always open to new explorations, like the extra episode titled Sereno and Rufián Pride Special. It’s mostly up to how the book does, but my main interest right now is for this to be a satisfying read that holds on its own.
Hey Luciano, thanks for taking the time to talk with me and we look forward to reading Sereno in the deluxe Hardcover Edition! Have a Happy Pride! Stay safe and have fun!
You can get your copy of the Sereno here by going to the Zoop website, link below!