An interview with Leila Leiz, comics artist and author of “Alters” that will be released on 13 April for saldaPress and presented as a preview at Romics. For many years Leiz has collaborated with several publisher such as 451 Editor, Soleil Editeur and Sergio Bonelli Editore. With Alters, the new series by Paul Jenkins, she achieved her dream: debuting in the world of American comics.
Charlie is a shy and insecure boy, then he turns to Chalice and become a strong woman, how did you express in your illustrations these different attitudes?
I had little time to create the book: I would have liked to work much more on characters. Charlie and Chalice are a man and a woman. They are different and they must be different. I did a lot of researches on films and documentaries to represent a transgender with a certain degree of plausibility.
As an autodidact, how did you star drawing? Which authors have influenced you the most?
My father was an illustrator, but he was not able to continue his work as he had to maintain his family. Watching him, gave me the idea to draw , but I did not precisely know what to do. A day I went into a bookstore and for the first time I saw the Marvel super heroes and I realized: this is what I want to do.
You have worked in Italy, France and America; how did you relate to these different contexts of comics ?
These are different worlds. In Italy I learnt to see the black and white, a good experience that taught me to see the lines. In America I learnt the speed and the capacity of withstand the pressure of delivery times: you do not have enough time and you have to leave your work. There is no more time for corrections , you have to quickly accept the fact that the work does not belong to you anymore.
The super hero is a ‘’different’’ character, Chalice doubles this diversity, to such a point that he is more concerned by revealing himself to his family as Alter than as a trans; do you think that comics can overcome obstacles such as the fear of diversity and otherness?
Many transgenders wrote to me by mail because they were waiting the book, a story that told something about them. Being accepted by your family is the most delicate problem, even if parents who belong to current generations are more used to those issues than the ones of the previous generations.
The world of comics only recently opened its doors to women illustrators, according to you how did it change the world of comics?
A great deal has changed. The first time I went to ChicagoI was 18, I was the only woman and they did not take me seriously: women could not illustrate super heroes in America. Also in France women illustrators could only tell female or kids stories. Web helped women so much to be emancipated with the result that there are no genre discriminations. What matters is if an illustration likes or not to web, if it gets many likes publishers are convinced.