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Interview with Brazillian comic creator Luciano Cunha, the author of The Awakener and Hammer of Freedom

Luciano Cunha is a 48 year old Brazillian comic artist, founder and CEO of comic book publishing house Super Prumo. He started drawing comics when he was 6 years old and got his first job working for famous Brazillian comic creator Ziraldo at age 16. Humanist by education, he studied Arts and Communications. He came to the attention of the public after the breakout of his two comic book heroes and showed that right-wing heroes who fight evil and corruption can succeed. Not only that, the public wants more stories like this. In 2018, a film was made based on The Awakener and in 2019 it was selected to screen at the 2019 Jackie Chan Action Movie Week. A web series based on Hammer of Freedom is currently in the works.

 Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How would you describe your views on politics?

I was born in Rio de Janeiro, I´m 48 years old, I´m married and have a couple of children. I´m an old school nerd, who loves my family, my country, soccer and my friends. I’m a conservative citizen.

Who are your intellectual heroes?

There are so many … but, in no order of preference, I would say Thomas Sowell, Roger Scruton, Raymond Aron, Eric Voegelin, David Horowitz. And my Brazilian friend, Roberto Motta.

Were you always anti-Communist?

This is an interesting question. No, I used to be very, very leftist. One of those wearing a Che Guevara shirt. In Brazil, as in most parts of the world, the left has taken over the universities and I studied arts, so you can get an idea of the brainwashing that exists inside these classrooms. But, at a time in my life, the maturity that being a father brought me changed everything … and then I read, for the first time, Raymond Aron. ‘The Opium of Intellectuals’ changed my life. Forever.

What happened?

Like I said, I just matured. And you cannot be a mature man and be a communist at the same time. You cannot believe in a murderous utopia that only wants power at any cost.

I’ll be sure to read it. But tell me, what was so special about Aron’s Opium of the Intellectuals?

Basically, it opened my eyes to reality. I always walked with intellectuals here in Brazil and I couldn’t see how ordinary people follow the totally distorted worldview of intellectuals and artists. This book was a punch in the stomach and from there I saw how wrong I was and how a fog covered my vision for so long.

These days you are most famous for The Awakener and Hammer of Freedom. Can you tell us a bit about those comic books? What was the inspiration?

At the beginning of The Awakener there was only a total revolt against the Brazilian political system, probably the most corrupt on the planet. You, citizens of other countries, don´t imagine the level of corruption that exists in Brazil. So I need to create something to express my indignation.

Hammer of Freedom is a step forward. The character is almost a cousin-brother of the first one. His fury is against a new enemy, a bigger enemy: the Marxist digital dictatorship of political correctness and globalism.

What is it like to be a right-wing comic creator in Brazil? Have you experienced, and if so how do you deal with cancel-culture?

Well, it’s not easy. Yes, I was very, very persecuted, you can’t imagine how much. Lefties play very low, you know. I was canceled, reviled, campaigned against me on social media, even threatened my family. They needed to do this because I was a famous author, you know? I had done something important for pop culture in my country, The Awakener was the first adult comic book character to become a live action movie and TV series. But there is a saying that you should not apologize to a crowd that wants your blood. So, I held on to my beliefs and values and doubled the bet, creating my own publisher house to independently continue to create. And I launched The Hammer of Freedom right after that, making it a huge success. I couldn’t have done it better.

I read in one of the interviews with you that before there was success, The Awakener went through a series of rejections with various publishers. What were they afraid of? Was there a reason to be afraid of a comic book character?

Simply because, as a vigilante who hunts corrupt politicians, publishers were afraid of being prosecuted by some politicians. There were several characters in the material that were based on famous politicians. So lawyers always advised publishers not to publish. So, for the first time, I published independently, with my own money. And it was a success! And I got to the cinema because of that.

Could it be that easy? You strike out on your own, your comic blows up in popularity, and then they make a film based on it? What is your secret?

No, it is not so easy. Nothing is easy in Brazil in terms of cultural production. But it was the sum of two factors: I had a good product, which already had a fan base and the producers were looking for a Brazilian project that could ride the wave of masked heroes from Marvel and DC. It was a little bit of luck, of being in the right place at the right time.

You have a publishing company, but you still crowdfund the new projects. Why is that?

My company is still very small and printing prices in Brazil simply went up in height with the pandemic. I need the support of the fans to move forward and the crowdfunding works as a pre-sale.

Who is the target audience of your comics? How is the feedback?

The target is always indignant people like me, but who, in the end, just want a good story to read. The feedback, on the part of my readers, is always as affectionate and warm as possible. There are many haters too, but I just don’t care about them, I make jokes with them all the time, which makes them even more angry. I love to piss them off.

What about younger generations? Do they like your comics, or is the leftist indoctrination through the school system too strong?

Still hard to say. I have some fans between 16 and 24 years old, but they are only 20%. I would like them to be more, but there are other variables in these data and one of them, very important, is that our young people read very little. The last 30 years of Brazilian education have been a catastrophe, just look at our place in the world education ranking.

Both The Awakener and Hammer of Freedom could be described as vigilantes, but rumor has it, your next project will have to do with more classic superheroes. Can you tell us something about that? What brought the change?

In fact, it’s not a change. They´re just homages. A project called The Gray Claw, is a very important hero for us in Brazil, it was created in 1937 and was a huge success, so much that it was published in Belgium, France and Mexico at that time. I’m doing a rereading of it, because it’s a cult hit.

The other, Lieutenant Bravo, is a historic rescue of Brazilian participation in World War II, when we defended positions of the Allies in the mountains of Italy and we were very brave and we were successful against the Germans. They are stories of heroism that need to be told to new generations.

The Awakener and Hammer of Freedom are currently being published in weekly episodes on a new English comic digital platform called Arktoons. According to the latest data, Hammer of Freedom is indisputable number one. What do you think of that?

Without modesty, I was sure that I would be successful with American readers because it’s a universal story and that it has a lot of what is happening to them now, especially after the fraud that was the last election. Hammer is a story of David against Goliath, where a lonely man faces the Big Tech giants. This is a global story, anyone who defends freedom against Big Tech totalitarianism will identify with it.

What is your take on the culture war currently taking place in the West? Is it the same in Brazil?

Totally the same. It’s an asymmetric war. In Brazil, we have almost 60 years of Marxist domination in universities. So, in the last few decades, we have trained artists, teachers, journalists and even judges who defend more state and less freedom. Which could only end in misery and injustice. The election of a man as our current president was an accident, but it was an answer because the people are tired. The left has already reorganized and is attacking from all sides, especially with an absolutely corrupt and dirty press.

But it’s in the culture where there is a way out … and we are reacting, even with all the difficulties. My work is a reflection of that.

I have a couple of quick questions for you from the fans on Infogalactic social media if you don’t mind.

Sure, go ahead.

How much can you bench?

I have no idea, I haven’t done this in years. The only weight I lift is my 7-year-old daughter, who weighs about 30 kilos. Ahahahahah.

Do you practice jiu jitsu and why is your comic so dope?

No, I never been into martial arts. Ironically, I started boxing a couple of weeks ago.

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

I would like to invite them to know my work through the Arkhaven website, (www.arkhaven.com) and I ask them to share with friends who think like us and I have a sincere dream of publishing Hammer of Freedom in Eastern European countries because for sure they would love the character, because you know what it’s like to live under a totalitarian boot.

Take care and good luck!

 

Ivan Šokić

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