Continuing Monkeybrain's trend of diverse releases through ComiXology each month, co-writers Ulises Farinas (Judge Dredd: Mega City Two) and Erick Freitas (GAMMA) are curating worlds within worlds at the publisher with Amazing Forest, an anthology series illustrated by their hand-picked artists. Debuting last month for $0.99 with a special 32-page #1 issue featuring stories by Farinas and Freitas, and artists Julien Dufour, Melody Often, Matt Rota and Yumi Sakugawa, the series continues on December 18th with Amazing Forest #2, which contains 20-pages of stories illustrated by Angelica Blevins and Caitlin Rose Boyle. ComicsAlliance got in touch with Farinas and Freitas for insights into how the pair juggle assembling short stories each month with their other comics-making obligations -- and more importantly -- to uncover their most shameful secrets and deepest regrets.

Amazing Forest #1 "Wolf Mother"

ComicsAlliance: Listen guys, I don't want to tell you how to do your jobs, but I've read the first two issues of this book and I have yet to see a proper forest. What's up with that?

Erick Freitas: You don't see the forest?

Ulises Farinas: "Wolfmother" has a bloody forest, and blood is amazing. It gives us life. And when it leaks out of you, it takes the life with it.

CA: The two of you are frequent collaborators and longtime friends. With a relationship like that, you have definitely gotten into some terrible fights. Tell me about the worst one. Who won? How bitter has the loser of that particular fight remained to this day?

EF: It is all one big blur to me. Maybe Ulises has one that specifically stands out, but I'm sort of numb to it. They all kind of happen the same way. He has an idea. I have an idea. We both don't LOVE each other's idea. We explain why. We cordially put up with each other's answers. Then we kick, stomp, and shred our concepts apart until we have an idea we are both satisfied with. It is just the process of being collaborative. Being bitter afterwards would be unprofessional and counter-productive.

UF: Recently, i got so mad with Erick while we were figuring out a story, that I threatened to find a better collaborator. I said, real casual-like, "I'll just see if someone else wants to do this." He was ready to hit me. BUT I HATED HIM for not UNDERSTANDING MY GIBBERISH. But no, I wouldn't write comics with someone else, so its an empty threat. But you can still fill empty threats with venom and hate.

Amazing Forest #1 "Ronnie The Robot"

CA: Speaking of fights Ulises, you have a cool first name with ties to mythology. Surely you got picked on for it as a kid or have had some English major get punny with you at a bar over the years. How do you cope with having a famous first name?

UF: I was called Useless by this overweight, acne-faced kid named Juan. I thought "One day he'll regret this." He did when I made very insensitive and funnier jokes about his weight later on in life. I now understand that I was a cruel and vindictive boy. I am now a slightly less cruel and vindictive man. Most of the time though, my name's good for an introduction and a few lines at a bar.

CA: Ulises, you recently relocated to Portland after living your entire life in the New York City area. After your first few months here, how have you handled the culture shock? Are you fearful that you are losing your New York edge in a far more chill setting?

UF: I hope by 'chill setting', you're referring to the fact that nobody puts their heat on in this damn city. I gotta draw with hobo-gloves on, and I go to a restaurant to eat a burger, and I gotta keep my coat on. Everyone just says i'm being a wimp, but I lived a life of damn luxury in NYC. Warm, well fed, and I don't have to wait 20 minutes to get sat down at Denny's. Everyone's all slow and shit. I saw a dude placing pepperoni's on a pizza, ONE PEPPERONI at a time. That was ridiculous.

Its alright. NYC has a bunch of dudes who are so proud that they live in NYC like they've just graduated with Hip Hop Honors, cause they are keepin' it soooo real. Rent's cheap here, and that's all the realness I need. So overall, quick city review - Portland has some good eats, cheap seats, pretty people who hairier. NYC has more diverse eats, higher rent, and pretty people who won't go on dates with me, but it won't make you have 15 min. of faux-polite conversation just to get directions.

Sorry for the long rant. I guess i'm still suffering culture shock.

Amazing Forest 2 Detective Dunk
Amazing Forest #2 "Detective Dunk"

CA: Amazing Forest is an anthology comic, meaning that on top of writing it, the two of you also recruit talent and juggle deadlines. What have you learned from your editorial roles and how have your editorial experiences been shaping your work as creators?

EF: Whether I like to admit it or not, I have always had a knack for organizing projects. I enjoy the responsibility of making sure things are happening when they are suppose to happen. In terms of learning lessons, it became incredibly clear to me that if something was bothering me during the development of story, no matter how small or minuscule, it needs to be addressed. Sometimes for the sake of convenience I would let things go, only for that small detail to stick out like a sore thumb later. I'm more aware of these things now and try to nip them in the bud.

UF: Before this project got going in full force, we hung out with Adam Staffaroni, who was an editor at Boom, and he really helped us with herding all the cats that are on this project. There's more than 24 stories, all with different artists, and I'd say at least a quarter of them have had artists drop out of sight and off the project midway through. Plain and simple, artists are sometimes their own worst enemies when it comes to working in comics. The main thing, as an artist myself, is I've learned that you gotta respect the schedule. Things will happen, life gets in the way, but if you respect the schedule, you respect who you're working with. I always give a heads up to any of my editors, to whatever might interfere with the deadline. Thankfully, Amazing Forest is amazing, cause the strong survive, and the weak only inherit their parent's basement.

CA: How do the two of you select Amazing Forest contributors?

EF: If I see someone's art I like. I tell Ulises. If he likes it too. We ask them. If they are into the project, they draw it. I wish there was more to it. Maybe we should start saying we spent years traveling the Earth accumulating artist's contacts from all walks of life. To create this master list of great artists that would come together like the avengers to create this amazing anthology. The truth is, most of it was done through facebook and other social media sites.

UF: Erick's lying. I go on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and I check out art all the time. I save them in a little bookmark. You know, Deviant Art? Stop using it. I hate that stupid site. Ugly design, ugly interface, ugly everything. If you have a Deviant Art as your main page, I respect your work less. But after Erick and I write the stories, I refer to that list or go looking for new work, and then I speak to them. But yeah, the rest is true.

Amazing Forest 2 Van Dark
Amazing Forest #2 "Van Dark"

CA: You recently announced plans to build a miniature city in your backyard akin to a tokusatsu film set. How does this project relate to what you're doing with Amazing Forest? Do you see yourself using it for a future story?

UF: Absolutely nothing. Just like my advice column,, and my comics reviews on Think Faest, I frequently just like to do something completely different than my usual drudgery. You can also find weird folk songs of mine on Myspace, and I've made a hip hop song that you can hear if you want on SoundCloud.

CA: How far have the two of you mapped out Amazing Forest?

EF: Every story has been written already. So, I think that is about 28 stories.

UF: To infinity and beyond.

CA: Are there any plans for an Amazing Forest print edition just yet?

EF: I'm thinking bigger. I'd like an Amazing Forest theme park. Or an Amazing Forest network TV station. Channel 4 or 6. I think we would be a good fit in either of those spots.

UF: We definitely wanna bring it to print, because books just look nice in your hand.

CA: It's almost the end of the year. What are your deepest and most painful personal regrets? How will you work to forge a better 2014 for yourself?

EF: I wish I stole more. Everywhere I go, I see things to steal. Not like people's ideas. Like actual things. Like candy. You know how many babies have passed me with candy? And I didn't take one piece? I'm hoping to work on that in 2014.

UF: I gave a comic a bad review, and had an argument with a friend about it, where I treated him like he was an idiot. Sorry Chris Hunt. He's a good artist, and I respect him. I'm usually a jerk to my friends, because I believe that they already know i'm a jerk to my friends. Nonetheless, its still shitty to do.

I guess i'll learn to apologize sooner.


Amazing Forest #1's "Tank" by Farinas, Freitas and Julien Dufour









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