“I create imperfect worlds,” he tells me. “Dystopia, technology in excess, industrial horror, nightmares real and abstract.”
But his nightmares aren’t dark or gloomy. They’re bright with color, and bold in style and composition. They’re comic book panels in a disturbed future—part Las Vegas glitz, part RoboCop grime. They’re the technological utopia that was promised during the Golden Age of science fiction after having fallen to the dire warnings of cyberpunk and the New Wave.
“The characters I draw represent strong people in a world where society is collapsing from technology and massive corporate control,” João explains.
The closest thing to the defeat of a human being (at least when considering only the images included in this art feature) is the man depicted in Anxiety Storm. But even he still stands a fighting chance and is determined to make the most of it (or so it appears). Meanwhile, the destruction of the giant machine man in Dare is a human triumph. The upright posture and crossed arms of the much smaller human astronaut say so with proud defiance.
Much like the characters he imagines, João’s creations are born from traditional methods and enhanced with technology. But unlike the system that governs his characters, João is determined to practice restraint.
“My sketches are photographed, and I continue the work digitally. However, even in the digital medium, I avoid using effects and techniques that are not possible to reproduce in a traditional way, such as using special brushes or overlays.”
And he rebels against any shortcuts.
“In 2016, I created Neon Station 7,” he says, speaking of the project he hopes to work on next. “It’s an animated short and comic book of my own. There are several scenes ready, but I’ve learned so much in the last few years, so I must start over. It will be fun.”
Art copyright © 2023 João Antunes Jr.