KILLER GRAPHICS #6: Interview With ‘The Long Knives’ Illustrator Ana Ludeshka Manicchio!

After a short little hiatus Killer-Graphics is back: with a vengeance! This week we are ‘killing two birds with one stone’ if you will and bringing you all a very special installment in the series as we bring you my interview with “THE LONG KNIVES” illustrator, Ana Ludeshka Manicchio, as part of our month long spotlight on Halo-8 Entertainment! Ana is a very talented new artist who has been thrust into the spotlight as she looks to make her debut illustrating the giallo inspired project, and if you haven’t checked out her amazing art style yet then do yourself a favor and make the jump. Read on for the skinny!

THEoDEAD:”First of all thank you for taking the time to do this with Bloody-Disgusting.com, Ana. Before we jump right into it why don t you go ahead and introduce yourself to our readers who might not be familiar with your work yet?”

Ana:”Hello everyone! Nice to meet you! If you had to know only one thing about me you should know I live for stories! Telling stories and being told stories. I enjoy reading, playing RPGs and watching movies just as much as I enjoy painting, writing and drawing comics. Before being involved in The Long Knives, I illustrated a horror book for children, I’ve self published zines, and I’ve drawn a web-comic. Sometimes I paint on canvas.

You can say I’m a busy person or you can say I have no life. Both are true!”

THEoDEAD:”So you’ re now working with Matt and the Halo-8 crew on “THE LONG KNIVES” , how did you get yourself associated with that project?”

Ana:”Well, you see, I am a fan of Muckcracker`s work. I’ve followed her deviantart account for quite some time. When she first got involved in Godkiller I loved the artwork she did for it (so edgy, and rockstarish!) and I really liked the story Matt Pizzolo was telling, but I was also very impressed by the concept of illustrated films themselves. Halo-8 is doing really classy work with that format. I thought it would be really awesome to be involved on the making of such a film. So I wrote to the Halo-8 staff…and they wrote me back saying they liked my work!”


THEoDEAD:”So it was as easy as just e-mailing Matt? How was it working with him, by the way? How was it to suddenly be thrown headlong into such a crazy project with an experienced filmmaker like Matt?”

Ana:”Yes. Sometimes the stars do align!
Now here I am, part of Halo-8 ‘s crazy filmmaking magic. It’s exhilarating. I mean, this people do movies. They really do. And now I am working on an illustrated film. I will see my drawings move around, and speak, and, wow! Is this really happening? Has the world gone crazy or something?

Matt himself, and Maddy Dawson, the people from Halo-8 I’ve been in contact with, have been incredibly warm and supporting with me, and patient whenever I had questions. They’re really nice.
I’m experiencing some serious stage-fright, though.

This interview itself is a little intimidating for me.”

THEoDEAD:”Haha Don’t be nervous, I’m not one of those crazy sparkly guys, I won’t bite. Your style is obviously very defined, and I can definitely see the influences you’ve mentioned in your work. You mentioned that you worked on a children’s book before this. How much different is doing an “illustrated film” compared to say illustrating a children’s book? Is it difficult to go from illustrating to doing this odd form of what is almost like cartooning?”

Ana:”It’s not difficult, but it is different.
There are things you can do in illustration that you can’t do in sequential art, and vice-versa. Like, an illustration requires lots of time and attention to detail, but sequential art requires you to work a lot more.

I love sequential art, so I don’t find it uncomfortable at all. I want to give Matt and the team something solid to work on, so I sometimes break up the action in a lot of panels, and they have had to tell me “Thirteen panels are too many for a single sequential!”

And, forgive me for insisting, but subject matter definitely counts. Perhaps for other artists it’s the same depicting love or hate, but since I’m …sensitive/sentimental/emo or whatever you may call it, I certainly don’t think it’s the same to draw children who are going to live happily ever after than drawing children who are going to be strapped to a table and disemboweled. Just saying.”


THEoDEAD:”I know that we have talked a lot about your art style, and it is very stylized and very different. Almost like a Tim Burton style of imagination. What are your inspirations as far as art? How did you develop such a unique style?”

Ana:”My inspirations are many! Thing is, I don’t know how apparent they are in my work. I mean, you see Tim Burton, who sure, I consider an influence, but I am also a huge fan of Yoshitaka Amano, George Kamitani, and Jacques Tardi…but as much as I like them, does it come across in my work? I don’t know! I look at pretty things and I think “Pretty!” or “I hope I can eventually be as good as this artist!” I’m not a very analytical person so I can’t give a meditated, intellectual kind of answer regarding “style”.

I like the feelings I get from different artists. I hope my work can instill feelings as well.”

THEoDEAD:”What attracted you to the story of “THE LONG KNIVES”? What about the story made you say “You know what…this is my type of story”?”

Ana:”I was very shocked when I first read the Long Knives script. And not only because of the blood and the gore. There’s no mercy on this story. It’s burns like cold things burn.

So I liked the Long Knives because it ISN’T my type of story.

I am constantly challenged to draw things I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve stared at a couple of pages when they were finished and thought “Whoa. This is uncomfortable. This disturbs me.”

I giddily tell my friends things like “Oh, this week I get to draw a boy getting his hand blown off!” and then I start laughing, and they stare at me.

My previous published work was a book for little children. How’s THAT for contrast?”

THEoDEAD:”I actually had the good fortune to see Matt and interview him at C2E2 in Chicago a few weeks back, and you are right, he is about the nicest guy you’ll ever hope to meet in the industry. (It’s the cool hair) What has it been like doing “THE LONG KNIVES” with him, and Maddy, and all the others at Halo-8? Do you feel like they’ve kind of guided you through this process?

Ana:”So far it’s been amazing! They give me a lot of freedom, and they never say anything like “Um, why is everything red now?” they’re more like “Yes, we like the red! Splash some more!” which makes me happy.

I’m an absolute newbie in the illustrated films format, so sometimes they have to nudge me in the right direction, when I’m doing too many close-ups, or forgetting the wide in widescreen and doing too many narrow panels. Technical things like that.

Before I do a page that threatens to look too surreal I always ask permission, and so far, they’ve always granted it. That makes me happy too.

Of course, maybe Matt, Maddy and the rest are demonic overlords from another dimension, but hey, they’re very nice demonic overlords, and I don’t mind being their witless minion.”


THEoDEAD:“THE LONG KNIVES”, being a departure for you, being thrown into this giallo like title, have you ever been a horror fan yourself? Do you see “THE LONG KNIVES” as a horror story or more of a dark revenge drama with a lot of violence?

Ana:”As you can probably guess by the rest of my answers, I’m quite a softy compared to most of you battle-hardened veterans of the horror scene.

I enjoy reading scary books though. I like Lovecraft, Poe, Stephen King…when it comes to reading, I’m not very picky, I read everything that comes my way.

I am very picky when it comes to games! My favorite scary games are the Clock Tower games, the original SNES one and the Playstation sequels, but I’ll shut up before I get too geeky.

So, The Long Knives! It certainly is a very violent tale of revenge. But horror? Yes. Absolutely.

I think a story is a lot scarier when one could see it happen. I mean, you know the odds of the Cloverfield monster storming your office right this second are kind of low. But one of your coworkers could wake up on the wrong side of the bed and decide he’d like to skin you alive. It’s not likely, but it is possible.

Stories about people doing very bad things to people are horror stories for me.

The Long Knives is about greed, hate and ruthlessness. Those are very real. And scary.”

THEoDEAD:“Haha I don’t know about battle-hardened, maybe desensitized beyond repair, but I digress. So when do you think readers can hopefully start seeing some stuff from you guys (and gals) on “THE LONG KNIVES”? Any idea on voice actors yet?”

Ana:”The voice acting thing is so top secret that they don’t tell me anything about it. I’d be quite thrilled if some of the actors that worked on other halo-8 projects showed up for the Long Knives. But I really don’t know anything about it.

I do know about a tentative release date for the comics, because the responsibility’s mine! I am drawing the last scene of the third issue as we speak (Well, not literally). I really don’t think it will be more than three weeks before I wrap everything up. “



THEoDEAD:“In the end what do you hope that people take away from not just “THE LONG KNIVES” itself, but also your art? Is there anything that you’d like to say to all those new fans you’ve just made from doing this interview? (I’ll bill you for those later. Haha)”

Ana:”What I wish people would take away from my art…?

I hope I can trick them into caring about the characters. Whether this fictional peeps live to see a happy ending or not, I’d really like it if I could make people care about them. The stories I’ve been most impressed with as a reader were the ones that, even when they were over, I would still care about the characters and the world they lived in. I hope I can be that kind of storyteller.

And as for people who might have gotten interested in me and my artwork…?
Well, I really, really expect you to read The Long Knives! (That goes for you too, Theo!)

If you want, you can check out www.ludeshka.deviantart.com to see more of my art. I update often and I like talking to everyone there.”

THEoDEAD:“So now that you are getting your feet wet in the genre, would you want to do something horror oriented again in the future? Do you have any other projects coming up?”

Ana:”Sure I would!
Something like those Japanese horror flicks a la The Eye would be lots of fun. Or something like Stephen King’s It, about childhood, horror, clowns, and trauma. I could totally see myself drawing something like that.

My little pet project right now is Hierofanía (because The Long Knives is a HUGE MONSTER PROJECT).

When it’s done, it will be my first Visual Novel (a weird choose-your-own-adventure videogame kind of format, with original music composed by A. Rothaus) and I will be very happy, and you will be hopefully very sad because most endings are very depressing.”

THEoDEAD:“Last question. This past weekend the remake of Wes Craven’s “A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET” was released, and we ask everyone this question in this column, but Freddy VS Jason: Who Wins?”

Ana:”Freddy, hands down. The Nightmare on Elm Street series were the first horror movies I saw as a kid. And they scared me a whole lot because the kids like me, the ones who played videogames and read comic books always got killed. So I vote Freddy. Masochistic much?”

I would like to sincerely thank Ana for her time doing this interview and being such a good sport. For those of you who would like to keep up with “THE LONG KNIVES” or Ana simply head on over to Halo-8.com or Ana’s deviantart page. Also, be sure to keep it locked here at Bloody-Disgusting.com’s Graphic Content section as we continue to bring you more exclusives from Halo-8 all month!