Towards the end of 2017, Noir Caesar Entertainment LLC announced it's very first Hype Contest.
The NSZR staff spent the entirety of December feverishly reading through well over one-hundred submissions from some of the most talented of our subscribers.
On January 1st, 2018, NSZR announced the winner: Berkeley, California resident and artist, Morris Callegari, with his incredible creation, Parker and Mabel.
Morris was awesome enough to allow an in-depth interview with him as he discusses his history as a creator, what inspired him to submit to NSZR, and his upcoming series, Parker and Mabel:
NSZR: "Thanks again for your time. Let's start off with who are you are, where you're from, and how you originally got into anime, manga, and so forth?"
MC: My name is Morris Callegari and after moving around a lot growing up, Berkeley, CA feels the most like home. Currently, I’m a Production Coordinator at Tippett Studio working on visual effects for movies and commercials. My gateway into anime was the same as many others:
From there, I became obsessed and couldn’t stop drawing Trunks and Spike. In terms of manga, I was in elementary school at the time and hated reading, but I soon came across the manga for Neon Genesis Evangelion at a random thrift store, and it was my first experience with being unable to put a book down.
NSZR: "Which series over the course of your life inspired you?"
MC: Some of the usual suspects I grew up with include Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, DBZ, and Death Note. However, Nausicaa and I Kill Giants are personal favorites. They taught me the value of putting reality, nature, and personal struggles into my work to help influence my imagination.
NSZR: "What inspired you to pursue creating manga?"
MC: Easy! I love stories; comics and manga have had a big effect on me throughout my life. Also, writing and drawing are the main things I’m decent with, so I always try to double down on my strengths.
Thankfully, it’s been working out.
NSZR: "How long have you been drawing and writing for?"
MC: I’m pretty competitive-- I say that because I started drawing when I met a kid that drew really well in kindergarten and we became friends.
I started writing in my last year of college; to be honest, I never thought I would enjoy doing it this much.
Getting the chance to mix these skills together is a dream come true.
NSZR: "Which famous creators inspired your work?"
However, in terms of inspiring me to pursue something greater, Dwayne McDuffie is my guy. I didn’t realize how much Static Shock affected my life until I was an adult. I even grew out locks when I was younger so I could be more like Virgil.
Reading further into McDuffie’s history and how much work he put into improving DC’s animated programming is extremely inspiring. I hope to have at least a fraction of his greatness.
NSZR: "Without giving too much of the plot away, please tell us more about Parker and Mabel".
MC: I asked myself a question; "How would we as humans survive if we had to live in wetlands without the technology and or/weapons that have made us the dominant species"?
I tried to created a world with this in mind, and utilize the main character, Janelle, to emphasize how we learn to survive no matter what environment we’re in.
NSZR: "What inspired your series?"
MC: Mostly life experiences. I’ve had a lot of support and mentors throughout my life so I wanted to build a story around growth and pushing others to do better.
MSZR: "What drove you to submit to Noir Caesar?"
MC: I’ve been a fan of Noir for a while due to the manga (of course) but also I love seeing independent businesses that treat artists well. So when I saw the contest I jumped at the opportunity.
NSZR: "How did it feel to win?"
MC: I’m still in shock. I don’t think it'll go away until the first chapter is released. I put a lot of work into developing this world, so I was happy that I could make an idea that I was proud of and be able to present it. I never thought for a moment I would place in the top ten, much less actually win!
NSZR: "How do you feel, knowing that you're having your work published?"
Amazing. There’s still a lot of work to do in order for it all to come to fruition, but I feel validated that all of the hours I put into into writing and drawing throughout my life hasn’t gone to waste.
NSZR: "What do you hope for your series?"
MC: I hope I can execute the series well enough for people to connect with it and help Noir’s audience grow even more.
NSZR: "What do you as a POC creator hope for the future of anime, manga, etc?"
MC: I hope we as POC try to create more and push ourselves into the anime and manga mainstream. We need more LeSean Thomas, Ashley A Woods, Ron Wimberly, and NSZR’s in this world pushing to normalize POC within the medium.
NSZR: "What would you tell younger creators of color who want to be where you are now?"
MC: Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about what you want to do. It’s not a normal path, so expect pushback (even from your loved ones).
Draw, read, meet new people, push yourself to experience new things consistently, be patient, and then, put all of that into your stories:
I’ve gone to college to study art and creative writing while on work study, spent five months in Asia with almost no money and was able to stay there through cleaning hostels and couch surfing, worked with kids in after school care, did a bunch of freelance illustration, was a receptionist, drove for Lyft, and still have a ton of other experiences on top of that.
Barely any of those things have to do with comics, but somehow, I was stubborn enough to still get to this goal.
All of these experiences are going into be in print in one way or another, so my biggest piece of advice would be to live your life, be stubborn about your goals, and know that no path is straightforward.
NSZR: Lastly, where can people find you on social media and learn more about what it is you do?
MC: Website: morriscallegari.com