LYSAD INTERVIEW: Humming the Zuda Melody with Ilias Kyriazis

Leave Your Spandex @t the Door returns after a monthly hiatus, with issue 121, and a fitting 1-to-1 / Greek-on-Greek interview with Ilias Kyriazis, the writer-artist behind Melody, the leading contestant in April’s Zuda voting. Zuda, of course, being DC’s webcomic imprint, where 10 hopeful new creators compete each month for a chance to earn a Zuda contract and have their comic featured weekly on the website, with the fans deciding the winner.

Check out the first pages of Ilias’ Melody comic on the Zuda contest page and vote for your favourite comic in the running.

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You can check out Ilias’ past comics work and art on his Deviant Art website.

Manolis: Hello Ilia! Before we get going, let’s play ‘say the Greek name’ with our readers. How do you pronounce your name with the funky greeklish spelling?

Ilias Kyriazis: Oh… it’s easy : ee-LEE-as kee-ree-ah-ZEEs

1.jpgM: We should have attached an audio file. You’re taking part in this month’s Zudacomics voting. How did you decide to enter the competition?

IK: I first heard about Zuda when attending SDCC (San Diego Comics Con). At the time I was looking for ways to break into American comics and it seemed like a great opportunity.
Even if I lost tons of people would see my work, the online thing seemed a very interesting chalenge and come on… it’s DC!

M: Your comic for Zuda is titled ‘Melody’. What is it about?

IK: Robby Caldon, a washed out songwriter makes a deal with supernatural sources for the “Greatest Song In The World”…
A tune so wonderful that everyone will love…

M: But something goes wrong?

IK: Yup, Mel, his assistant, accidentally interrupts the spell and a magical storm erupts. He dies and Mel ends up with half the song… only the music, no lyrics. She must figure out what to do with it… and protect it from those who are after it.

M: Who is that?

IK: People want to attach their own lyrics to the song and use it to carry their message. The clergy want to use it as a hymn… advertisers as a jingle… politicians as a campaign song… etc

M: That is clearly Greek Orthodox priests that we see in the illustrations. Is the story set in Greece?

IK: Actually the story is set in the U.S (at first). It’s just that people all over the world are interested in the song. I opted to use orthodox priests to give a more “exotic” note to the story (lol) and cause using the Vatican seem too obvious. In the course of the story we will see more priests of different faiths though…

M: How do they all catch wind of the song so early on?

IK: The “magical storm” is visible from afar. There were rumors and prophecies about the existance of such a sing so the right (or the wrong) people had their eyes open.

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M: Does the melody come with strings attached?

IK: Caldon the composer pays the ultimate price for it. As for Mel… it’s the whole “power and responsibility” thing. She feels a moral obligation to do the right thing (whatever that is) and find a correct use for the song.

M: I loved the screen where Mel first discovers the melody and interprets it as the idyllic paradise locale around her. What does the melody sound like in your head?

IK: Thanks! Well that’s why this works as comic… everyone gets to imagine the “perfect melody”. I really shouldn’t answer but in my mind it’s something between Magentic Fields 100.000 fireflies and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

M: Can you tease about what’s coming up in the next chapters of the story?

IK: Mel, trying to find out people to help her decide what to do with the song, will seek Antony Veras, songwriter and longtime collaborator of Robby Caldon… Which will prove to be a very bad move. After that we have difficult moral dilemmas, sex, love and death… in that order.

M: How far ahead have you plotted?

IK: Well, in order to submit a comic to Zuda you have submit a synopsis for the whole story. So yes, it’s plotted until the end. It’s a 52 screen story with an definite ending.

M: Have you already written or drawn any of the following chapters?

IK: Not really… I’m too superstitious to be that presumptuous

2.jpgM: Was it challenging adapting your storytelling to a screen/landscape format?

IK: Actually once i got the hang of it it’s quite easy and interesting! I love to do more comics this way, not necessarily for online publications.

M: How do you feel about the Zuda initiative? Do you see more publishers and creators adapting to the ‘Zuda page format’ in the future? Is the future of comics electronic?

IK: Hm… I’m a traditional at heart. Zuda is great because it gives new artists a big opportunity. Also the “Zuda format” is the best for online comics. But I do like my tpbs… what can i say?

M: You’ve been consistently number one in the rankings since the voting started. Nervous now that we’re close to the finish line?

IK: Of course I am… Zuda doesn’t let us know about the total of votes so as far as know I may be first by only a vote. I try not to think about it too much though… It’s not that I can do anything about it. The comic is finished, it is online… I just hope that people like it enough to vote for it.

M: This isn’t your first online comics work for a major U.S. publisher, though.

IK: Nope! My American comics virginity was lost to Dark Horse. Specifically my short story “JARED” was published in issue #7 of Myspace Dark Horse Presents. You can check it online for free. Comics-wise the net is being nice to me!

M: How was the reception on that work?

IK: People seemed to like it… It’ll definitely help to get more jobs. We’ll see… I hope soon i’ll be announcing more projects

M: Have you heard from any other editors?

IK: I only spoke with Scott Allie and Sierra Hahn. I’ve heard nothing but good things from both.
I’ll take this opportunity to thank them both, it was a joy working for them!

4.jpgM: And what’s different after Melody went online?

IK: Ok, it’s only been two weeks. I’ve heard some good stuff. We’ll see when I finally pitch some stuff I’m working on.

M: No fan-mail from excitable teenage girls then?

IK: uhm…

M: Silence of guilt 😉 . Before bursting onto the american comics scene you had made quite a name for yourself in Greece. What were your popular comics projects there?

IK: Thank you. I mainly worked on a Greek comics magazine called “9”. My most popular work was the comic “MANIFESTO“. Volume 1 is out on tpb and I expect volume 2 by fall.

M: That work is more personal in tone, correct?

IK: Yup. It’s a semi-autobio / slice-of-life comic. I was very important to me and lot to do (at times) but after 5 years it’s time to move on.

I also did “BLOOD OPERA” (zombie slaugter comic), “BLOCKBUSTER” (more or less superhero) and collaborated with other greek artists on many comics published by “Giganto Books” ( “BLAST COMICS” etc)

M: You have gathered a healthy collection of fan-awards from your home country (Comicdom Awards) the past years, as well. Do you ever hesitate going from being a big fish in a small pond, to small fry in the ocean that is American comics?

IK: A friend has called it “going from hero to zero”…lol. I see it more as starting the next level in a FPS… you start again from scratch, without all the cool weapons and bonuses you have accumulated but still… it’s the NEXT LEVEL.

M: Good luck with the last week of voting, Ilia!

If you enjoyed the preview panels here, make sure you check out the full 8-page first installment of Melody on the Zuda website and vote for your favourite comic to see how the story continues.

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That’s a wrap for this week. If you’re looking for the regular LYSAD features check out the daily LEAVE YOUR SPANDEX AT THE DOOR blog.