Lorenzo Palloni and Laura Guglielmo: we meet the authors of Emma Wrong

Lorenzo Palloni and Laura Guglielmo: we meet the authors of Emma Wrong

Lorenzo Palloni and Laura Guglielmo

Even spies can love, in the new graphic novel by Lorenzo Palloni and Laura Guglielmo to be released on April 22nd. Coming from saldaPress, a spy story that mixes yellow with pink: Emma Wrong, in which, against the backdrop of nuclear tests in the middle of the American desert, a "reverse" manhunt takes place. A thriller in which the protagonist for once is not death, but crazy and desperate love.

After reading Emma Wrong in preview, we chatted with the two authors to better understand a graphic novel so original and exciting: Lorenzo Palloni and Laura Guglielmo talked to us about the steps that led to the construction of their work, about teamwork, about how the history of the last century can influence contemporary comics. A meeting that we will tell you here.

Lorenzo Palloni and Laura Guglielmo: who they are

But first let's get to know the two authors. In fact, at the writing of Emma Wrong we find Lorenzo Palloni, born in 1987, born in Arezzo, who boasts a large production of comics both in terms of the script and the drawing. Founder and active member of the Mammaiuto collective of artists, Palloni is the author of works published for the Italian and French markets. For Italy, he signed La Lupa for saldaPress, which earned him a Boscarato Award and a Gran Guinigi, and Desolation Club, created in collaboration with Vittoria Macioci, as well as Mooned, Scary Allan Crow, Falene and Un Lungo Cammino. For France, we find Lorenzo Palloni writing The Corner and L'Ile. In addition to working on comics, Palloni also dedicates himself to teaching Screenwriting and Storytelling at the International School of Comics in Florence and Reggio Emilia.

To the drawings, we find Laura Guglielmo: illustrator and graphic designer who manages to juggle the most disparate fields of the visual arts; co-founder and editor of the independent label Attaccapanni Press, dedicated to the publication of thematic anthologies and monographic volumes, on which Guglielmo has published several of her works; cartoonist, as in the case of F *** ing Sakura, but also screenwriter of the same, as for example in Supergum !. An all-round artist whose passion for objects and vintage design in general we also learn, with a particular preference for clothes, of which she is also a tireless designer.

In addition to the background of Lorenzo Palloni and Laura Guglielmo, let's talk specifically about their work on Emma Wrong, a graphic novel published by saldaPress whose protagonist is Emma, ​​a woman in search of the love of her life for fifteen years: Michael, a man who has changed his face (and several countries) so as not to endanger Emma because of her job, which is that of a spy. However, the woman manages to follow Michael to Nevada, where the first nuclear test in the desert is about to take place, under the gaze of some spectators in a motel, among which Emma's love is hidden, but among ordinary people they have mixed also numerous other spies intent on discovering the moves of the United States in the nuclear arms race.

What is Emma Wrong: at the origins of the graphic novel

In this regard, Palloni tells from where Emma Wrong is born:

Emma was born from a great literary passion of mine: spy stories. I grew up reading Ian Fleming's books, I started reading them at the age of six, so the spy character stuck in me. A character torn between the duty to keep secrets and the need to externalize her emotions. Like Emma, ​​the ex of a spy, a sort of ex Bond girl, who spends fifteen years looking for his love because she does not accept the fact of living without him even at the cost of having death on her heels: she therefore becomes a spy. turn. In 1951, during the first nuclear experiment on American soil, numerous spies from all over the world gathered to watch the event, which became a real media event, and here Emma discovers Michael's presence. But she does not know what her face is, because Michael has resorted to surgery to change her features, so let's say that it is a "reverse yellow": Emma must not unmask a culprit, but the love of her of her life.

The author of Emma Wrong, however, also deepens the discourse around the protagonist, who is not simply a woman in search of her love, but a complex and three-dimensional character:

Through her events, Emma's limits are also explored: as a woman who lives in the 1950s, therefore with all the prejudices that this entails; but also as an Asian woman, forced to face the racial attitudes and preconceptions of others. To create such a delicate and at the same time fierce story, I needed a particular style that I found in Laura's trait. In 2016 I saw her drawings at a banquet where I saw her first self-published book, Crescent, and I thought: "I have to contact her!".

With regard to the meeting between the authors, Laura Guglielmo reveals the background that led to the creation of Emma Wrong:

Why Lorenzo contacted me later have seen Crescent? Because one of the protagonists of the book is an Asian woman! After proposing to me to draw other similar characters, I accepted and Lorenzo sent me the first drafts, studying together the figure of Emma and the characters who counterbalance her, very different but also complementary to the protagonist. It is something that excited me a lot, also because I had the prospect of being able to work for the first time on a rather long project that was not written by me, giving shape to an imagination that was not mine. During the work with Lorenzo then there was an evolution in our communication regarding the project, even if we have never lost sight of the desire to create a screenplay with a very cinematic cut, without ever losing the beauty of the comic language: the love for the sequence even in its breaks.

A project, that of Emma Wrong, which was initially conceived in a slightly different way from the final result:

At first we thought of doing it all in black and white. Then one day I proposed to Lorenzo the use of limited palettes, contrasts between hot and cold, light and dark, and at that point I really started having fun creating the comic, referring to the vintage advertising style of the 1950s. The vintage mood was one of our priorities here, we wanted to try to truly set the story in those years, also through the aesthetic context of the 1950s.

Contemporary history, love and vintage furniture

Behind the construction of Emma Wrong, therefore, there is a considerable work of artistic design, but not only. In order to be able to describe the events narrated in a plausible way, the authors made a real journey through history through the books dedicated to the contextualized period:

From the point of view of history, I documented myself by reading several books that deal with of contemporary history and from them I "isolated" the years that interested me, that is, those in which Emma makes her hunt, and the socio-political context of the time. The latter in particular was my focus, to understand above all the psychology of all the characters found within the graphic novel: it is an almost choral comic, in which we discover the details of each in a functional way to the investigation of Emma to find out who Michael really is. Obviously, I also re-read the spy fiction of authors such as Ian Fleming, John Le Carré and James Ellroy.

A study conducted by Laura Guglielmo in the design of the time, which was not without surprises:

I was very keen that the illustrations were consistent with the period that we were dealing with, especially as regards clothing, so I made a real archive of Vogue magazines of the time. For the furniture, on the other hand, I did a search on motel postcards and I must admit that I saw some crazy and horrifying things! So I created an archive on Pinterest which, in addition to these references, also contained images corresponding to the search "ugly furniture at the end of the 40s".

We then asked the two authors to also talk about the genesis of the title, Emma Wrong, to understand what is the "wrong" part in this spy story:

The title recalls the name by assonance of the protagonist, Emma Wong, but the whole graphic novel plays a lot on the theme of error. The fact that she is constantly wrong and always finds men who are not Michael, also a metaphor for the unrealistic expectations with which we often charge our loved one; but also the fact that Emma often asks herself “What am I doing wrong?”. She is probably hunting for a mistake, however she does not care because she is chasing her love for her: it is also a book about bad choices and the dangers of those choices, which in this case also becomes a danger of death.

A spy who loves… to die for

Inside Emma Wrong the pages are sometimes full of fighting, action and suspense, however it is undeniable what the key theme of the narrative is: l love, without compromise and without limits, so crazy as to push the protagonist from one end of the world to the other. Lorenzo Palloni explains to us his relationship with a narration of this type, from his point of view:

I have never thought about the fact that a woman can feel love in a different way from a man or vice versa. It will be a "lazy" idea, but I have no preconceptions about how a woman should feel love for a man. I simply imagine that individuals can relate to others in different ways also based on the historical period and the society in which they live. As far as I'm concerned, the person Emma is looking for in every corner of the world could also be a woman, but what really interested me was to overturn that classic topos that sees the James Bond on duty doing a mission, having premium sex at the end for then leave the woman.

A thought shared by Laura Guglielmo, who has her say in this regard:

In reality we have never focused on purely feminine lines of thought regarding Emma: as I see it, she is simply a fool who lives love in an equally insane way, she is looking for the love of her life beyond all boundaries and by any means. We did not ask ourselves the problem of "feminine" or "masculine" love and how the two could be reconciled.

On Emma's long and bumpy journey, the two authors talk about their narrative intent, but without taking into consideration any prequels to the story:

The most important aspect for me is the story , not how you get to that particular point in history. Emma also lived fully the period of the Second World War, so she went through some moments probably even worse than the present ones, however in my opinion it is more important to show how Emma is now and how she deals with obstacles, thanks also to a baggage of vicissitudes that somehow made her "expert" in this world of spies. I was more interested in showing how she now stands towards the current story and together with Laura I have never considered the idea of ​​a prequel, because the story ends at the end of this graphic novel. Emma is this and this is her story of the path of perception of her love, in which she realizes that perhaps love is not as she has seen it in these last fifteen years of hunting and she is no longer the one. person of fifteen years earlier.

Laura Guglielmo deepens the discourse, providing an all-round vision of Emma Wong's character:

We have probably never thought of a prequel because telling the facts prior to this graphic novel (although can be full of action and fighting and therefore exciting) would deprive the character of the aura of mystery which permeates him. In fact, we do not know what Emma has had to do in recent years to reach a level such as to be able to follow and finally find a legendary spy such as Michael Olderson. Emma has probably kidnapped and tortured several people, but her past is part of what the reader may be able to imagine and leads him to fantasize about the path this character took to get here.

At the end of this interesting meeting, we therefore await the publication of the graphic novel Emma Wrong, which will arrive in bookstores and online stores starting from April 22.

If you don't want to wait any longer, it's You can pre-order the volume Emma Wrong by simply clicking on this link.

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