Posted January 8, 2022 by Ica Hontiveros-Cheng in Comics

LET’S TALK COMICS: Start 2022 with BOLERO’s Wyatt Kennedy & Luana Vecchio

The first issue of Bolero blew us away! And we couldn’t wait to get to know the dynamic duo behind it. Despite the difference in time zones, we were able to pick into the creative minds of writer Wyatt Kennedy and artist Luana Vecchio. We talked about their history of working together, their past projects, what it was like working during the pandemic, and all about BOLERO!


FlipGeeks: From our research of this upcoming comic, BOLERO is not the first time you both collaborated. How did you guys meet initially? Who did say, “We should work together.”?

Wyatt Kennedy:  So it actually took me two years to find the right illustrator for BOLERO, and it was a daunting ordeal. I’d say I sent out around 60 emails to various artists both established and up-and-comers that I’d discovered via Twitter/Tumblr/Instagram/etc and thanks to the wonderful people I knew working in Image (Comics)’s production side of things I was recommended some artists who things ultimately didn’t pan out with. Funny enough I’d been recommended Caspar Wijingaard of the stellar book Homesick Pilots, but by that point, that series was taking off to become the hit that it is and I couldn’t figure he’d be interested in totally unproven talent from an outsider like me. So I decided to see who HE followed on Instagram, ha! From there I saw Luana’s work and was just immediately taken. The same night I discovered her, I emailed her with a brief pitch and the script and if I’m not mistaken, she said yes to developing the pitch the next day.
Luana Vecchio: Wyatt was the first one that emailed me around October-November 2020, he explained that he wanted to involve me as an illustrator for his book BOLERO and his goal was to submit it to Image Comics. At that time, I was about to finish all the projects I had been working on for months and BOLERO seemed the perfect project to start over again! I remember that we immediately started discussing how we would have liked to develop the project, the aesthetics, etc… So our first project together was the pitch for BOLERO, one month later we developed the short story “Something for Your M.I.N.D.” that was featured in Heavy Metal Magazine #308.

Something for Your M.I.N.D. was your first work together. Wyatt, how did you decide that you would like to work with Luana? What was it? Personality? Art skills?

Wyatt: You know, I think it’s like with any potential collaborator it’s like a series of first dates almost or interviews and you’re like talking and getting to know each other and saying “Oh I really love this _____ and I think _____ is so cool” and you’ve either got that chemistry or you don’t, and Luana is immensely talented and I think in a lot of ways she represents the future of where I’d like to see contemporary mainstream comic art go. You can feel she’s someone who has a bevy of influences but she’s not beholden to them and her style is uniquely hers in this beautifully flexible way that allows her I think to do countless genres. To me she’s not just “a great comic artist”, she’s a great artist, period. She has this immaculate respect for her craft and the craft of others and is always willing to discuss and break down new methods of conveying emotion and character while respecting the intent of the script. I didn’t ever want our projects to feel like “a gig” if that makes sense. I wanted BOLERO and Something for Your M.I.N.D to be her books as much as it is my own and I wanted her to feel like she could do whatever she wanted or bring whatever she wanted to the book because it’s an expansive project. I like writing for my artists’ interests as much as my own and when I thought about SFYM, especially with her LOVESICK work, I knew she’d be a perfect fit and I was absolutely right.


“And go read Rain Like Hammers, his book he released
last year. Genuinely one of the best comics of last year, and
I consider it a masterpiece by him.”

-Wyatt Kennedy


Luana, you have Lovesick. You’ve worked in Millarworld New Talent Annual 2017 and A Knight in Kansas City, what made you decide to work with Wyatt?

Luana: When Wyatt contacted me for the first time, he explained that he wanted to submit the project to Image Comics, he seemed so motivated, his plan was clear and it was obvious that he knew how to move on the jungle that is the comic publishers! Often some writers ask you to do some sample pages but they have no idea how to propose their project to them, while Wyatt had a plan and it was what I needed at that time, so I thought “Yeah let’s do it! The worst thing that could happen is that they’ll refuse our project, but that’s fine, it’s not a tragedy!”, also I wanted to work on something totally different from my previous projects and BOLERO was just what I was looking for, I had a feeling that I would really enjoy working on it… And I was totally right! Moreover, Wyatt has always provided me with guidelines without imposing his vision, and this is very important for me when I work with someone new… You have to trust the artist’s skills and taste and remember that when you involve someone in your project it’s no longer YOURS but becomes OURS. So yes, it wasn’t just the script that convinced me, but the approach and the trust he showed to me. Collaborating in comics with someone is like a relationship, if you feel that person does not respect you, just run! You’re going to find someone better next time!

As English is like a second language and not your mother tongue, and living in long-distance, how difficult is it to work together? What are the challenges?

Luana:  To be honest it’s so frustrating for me not to be a native English speaker, but after 4 years of working with American writers and clients I have learned how to communicate with them in the easiest way and be less judgmental with myself. Wyatt lives in Portland and has had the chance to meet Eric Stephenson of Image Comics often to show him our progress with BOLERO and I always feel so frustrated not being there with him during these meetings! But between me and Wyatt working together is so easy, we email each other every day and we share anything that can help us develop our projects and keep us inspired! We’re also very honest and we do not approve of anything until we both agree with that thing. We are always full of new ideas and in a year of collaboration together we have worked on 3 different projects!



Tell us how you guys made Something for Your M.I.N.D.. How difficult was it to have it published in Heavy Metal Magazine (#308)? Do you have tips for creatives on how to get their work published in this magazine?

Wyatt: So it was kind of those funny, right place/right time, things. I’d had the idea for SFYM for a few years and just kind of always had it tucked away. I’d had friends who’ve done work for Heavy Metal in the past, and I’d been a vocal fan of the magazine for a long time and my friends told me they’re always looking for new talent and material for their issues and I mean, “sexy cyborg lady who owns a brothel” is kind of peak Heavy Metal material. Luana and I actually developed it at the exact same time as we were developing BOLERO’s pitch for Image. By the time we were done since it’s a brief story and you can find it on Luana’s art website, it really became a “hurry up and wait” situation to see it in print because it was accepted almost immediately, it was just a matter of what issue it would be placed into that would fit the general aesthetic of it. Really my only advice would be to create something that’s a smaller piece of a larger world. Get experimental and weird, because that’s who Heavy Metal is. Think of it as a testing ground for concepts you’d want others to see, and as long as you’re putting your best into it, I think places like HM or other magazines will clearly see it.

Luana: I think the first step to being published is to know what kind of story the magazine featured, the smartest thing is to make short stories (8-10 pages) that sometimes are inserted when there is some extra space in the magazine, but as for any other publishers I think that first of all we must ask to ourselves if our work it looks professional, starting from the storytelling to the lettering, you should (because) they would believe that you do comics for years! I think this was what helped us to be published in the magazine! We tried to show our skills at the best. But otherwise, I think the first step is to have fun and not immediately think about being published by someone. We made SFYM after we sent BOLERO pitch to Image Comics, so in January 2021 and it was featured in the magazine in July 2021, so you need to have a lot of patience!

During and after the work in Heavy Metal, what did you learn from one another? How important were they and how did you two improve both of your works for Bolero?

Wyatt: Honestly, I’m more curious to hear Luana’s answer since the way SFYM was created was a little more different from BOLERO, in that I basically sent her the pages of visual direction for the panels and then I wrote the internal monologue around it because I’d had dialogue in some earlier versions that I just didn’t care for. I needed to see what this world would really look like and that would inspire me to properly write for it and our lead character we’d nicknamed “Sasha”. I liked keeping the direction as broad as possible, but not skeletal, as to allow Luana to get as creative as possible. When I was finally able to see it, and I started writing the proper dialogue and Luana loved it. I think it was less a test of our ability to work well together, and more of a showcase for just how easy and enjoyable it is. It mainly solidified to me what I’d already hoped, which is that Luana and I will continue to work together in the future for hopefully years.

Luana: Working on it was so easy, SFYM somehow reminded me of my previous miniseries LOVESICK so I felt immediately in tune with the atmosphere and the characters! I always thought that Wyatt proposed that script to me because he knows that I like working on projects for an adult audience, and honestly I’ve really appreciated it a lot. Also, he trusted my skills, and that helped make our relationship stronger, don’t mention the fact that Wyatt and I like pretty much the same things! Spider-Man, TV series like Atlanta and Utopia, Japanese animation like Evangelion and (Hayao) Miyazaki’ movies… That helps us a lot! Also, we’re almost the same age and as any person who grew up in the 90s, anime and manga have had a big impact on our growth, and it was precisely this that influenced many stylistic choices for BOLERO when you like the same things, everything is easier!



What’s your elevator pitch for this story? Wyatt, having a music journalism background, how confident were you in creating comic book stories?

Wyatt:  It’s about a heartbroken girl who runs away into the multiverse to get over or in some cases, get back with her ex, but with massive consequences. I’ve been reading comics since I was a kid, mostly superhero stuff, but I really just liked writing. When I was a kid I wanted to be a director, then I said I want something more “attainable” like screenwriting. I love film, video games, music, and all that jazz. Good writing is good writing, and I’m a character-driven writer. This idea started as a short film, and I’m glad I never had the resources to see it become a reality because it should have always been a comic. It might sound cliche, but it’s a visual medium and should be a showcase for that. As someone who’s read a lot of comics and books in his life, you’re burdened with choice and I wanted this book to be something that any person would flip through quickly in a store and some element would hook them because I know what that feels like.

The first issue is a heavy 40-plus page comic book story. If both of you could make a playlist together dedicated for the first issue and only have a choice of 5 tracks each, what songs would that be in the playlist?

Wyatt: It’s very funny you ask this question because a playlist (multiple actually) is hidden someplace in issue one. I guess for mine though, I’d say:

“Feel Away” by Slowthai
“Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes” by The Korgi’s
“Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast
“Someone Great” by LCD Soundsystem
“Phone Call” by Washed Out

Luana:  Mmm I’d say:

“Lost in a Moment” by Sad Lovers & Giants
“Runaway Runaway” by Mars Argo
“I’m going tell my therapist about you” by Pink Shift
“The End of the World” by Skeeter Davis
“Nancy boy” by Placebo

Luana, your work is light yet sensual and erotic, how did you tame your imagination, creativity, and storytelling to Bolero?

Luana: For me, the whole process is so spontaneous! I have been drawing comics since I was 5 years old, I always try to keep myself motivated and have fun by adding elements that I like, so for the characters of BOLERO I had a lot of fun making them because I played a lot with the designs of the outfits, the hairstyle, and makeup, since I’m obsessed with these things since I saw the tv series Euphoria! Every time I start a new project I wonder what I would like to experiment with this time and with this project I wanted to make everything so colorful and play with the atmosphere. I think mainly that to create art you have to feed on art, and this is what helps me to put ideas in order, I have already mentioned Japanese animation, but also artists like Jordie Lafebre, Guillem March, Maria Llovet, in this last year have inspired me and help me to figure out what I wanted to improve on this time… I have often heard of artists and colorists who do not read many comics, for me, this would not work.



As Bolero is set in Los Angeles, was it a conscious effort from your end to make your characters as diverse yet real and relatable as possible? Are they based on real people?

Wyatt: I wouldn’t call it a conscious effort, no. I think it’s just indicative of reality, and I think the moment you make it a “conscious effort”, it’s just like filling slots of “Oh we need a black person here, or an Asian person here” because nothing in this story is dependent on their races. I’ve heard some people ask me why Devyn’s Korean dialogue isn’t translated and it’s because I want it to be up to the audience to decide if it’s for them or not, and that requires a level of engagement to go and translate it. I didn’t want to give the English language the only power in this book, because it’s not about anything other than how these characters are feeling and thinking. As far as who they’re based on, it’s a loose blend of some people I know, some actors I admire, but once again, I really wanted Luana to have as much free rein, and I genuinely like being surprised. The moment I saw the character designs I said “Yup, that’s them”.

How did you guys get Brandon Graham as your letterer for Bolero?

Wyatt: So, everything in my career thus far, I owe to Brandon Graham. He’s my best friend, and I genuinely think he’s one of the best working American comic creators today. We met nearly 5 years ago at a party, I was working at a cafe then but still writing, and he hit it off talking about comics and stories and we kept in touch since, and on a particularly rough day, he suggested I think about comics as a new storytelling outlet. He’s shepherded me since, and he’s a creative consultant on all my work. When doing the pitch pages for Image, Brandon volunteered to letter them and his style is so distinct that when the pitch was approved, Eric Stephenson the publisher, requested Brandon stay as the letterer. We’re very close when it comes to this stuff, so he teaches me a lot and he deals with my questions and revisions, but it’s because he cares about this as much as we do. He’s genuinely an amazing friend I owe so much of my life to, and I couldn’t be happier to have him involved. And go read Rain Like Hammers, his book he released last year. Genuinely one of the best comics of last year, and I consider it a masterpiece by him.


“I think the first step is to have fun and not immediately think about being published by someone.”

-Luana Vecchio


Luana: I consider Brandon not only our letterer but to me, he’s like an editor, during the development of the cover of issue one  I’ve made tons of sketches but no one seemed to work for us, so Brandon gave us a hand and he made some sketches, and from those, I created the cover that we all know, I’m really happy to have him in our small team! Also, he did a fantastic variant cover for issue #2!!!

With how the COVID pandemic affects the comic book industry in creatives and publishing, how did it affect both of you?

Wyatt: Honestly, I’m lucky in that it just gave me time to work. I’d moved to Portland in August of 2020 thanks to Brandon, and he helped me get situated and be in the same area as comic creators and he helped get me inspired. From that point on, Brandon just instructed me to work hone my craft and I think treating it like a 9-5, waking up every day and working, even if what I’d produced that day wasn’t very good, was incredibly helpful.

Luana: Luckily, since the global pandemic began I have worked a lot and tried to focus on the positive things… Here in Italy, many people lost their jobs, so I feel lucky and grateful, I wrote a lot, I drew and I improved my coloring digital skills, I signed a contract for Image Comics… and all of this happened because I’m lucky enough to do a job that allows me not to leave home.


Bolero defines as a type of quick, lively Spanish dance. It’s also a short jacket worn mainly by women. You could dance a bolero in a bolero because this word refers to both clothes and music. How would you want people/readers to react to Bolero #1?

Wyatt: Ultimately, I hope it elicits a personal response. The story is initially centered on a romantic relationship, but as it evolves I hope audiences will see what I’m really talking about, and regardless of whether they agree with me or not, I hope it generates a discussion as much as it immerses people in what I hope would become one of their favorite comics one day.

Luana: I hope they can find in BOLERO what they were looking for in a comic book for a long time and feel the love and dedication we have tried to instill in this project. We have worked a year of our life on this series and I personally believed in it from the first moment I read the first script. I’m a big comic book enthusiast and I know that readers are demanding people and this is the reason why we tried our best and we gave everything we could give.


Bolero #1 comes out January 19, 2022.


This interview was done by Ica Cheng-Hontiveros & Norby Ela

Ica Hontiveros-Cheng

Geek mom to a little Jedi. Freelance writer. Writes and vlogs thoughts, and reviews on movies, series and pop culture.