By Jarrod Jones. Let’s consider the melting pot of ideas that is Ulises Fariñas’ MOTRO. Stark winterscapes populated by garishly armored brigands, talking pieces of machinery, and a boy who would be king. It’s like DoomRocket contributing writer Brad Sun said in his November 2016 review of MOTRO #1: “There’s something strangely familiar about the fanciful world of ‘MOTRO’.”

Only don’t try too hard to make sense out of all of this stunning mayhem, at least not with the familiar archetypes found in the more comfortable places of myth. They don’t apply to MOTRO. Even when your eyes tell you there’s a bit of Hayao Miyazaki and Katsuhiro Otomo flowing through Fariñas’ pen, or when your heart is thumping in time with Robert E. Howard or George Miller during MOTRO‘s many moments of stylized violence. We’re coming around to the idea that MOTRO is something else. Something far more intimate.

You get the feeling that, when you label MOTRO as a fantasy, you’re kind of painting it into a corner. Ulises Fariñas will even tell you that this series, co-written by Erick Freitas and published by Oni Press, isn’t something that can be constrained by typical designations. “I don’t really think of fantasy as a genre that has hard rules for what you can and can’t do,” he says. “I like dragons, I like motorcycles, I like frogs and wizards, so I just mix it all together and see what comes out.” So if you’re looking to get to the root of what the artist is trying to say with this series, well. Look at the pages. It’s all there.

Ulises Fariñas took time out of his schedule to answer my questions about MOTRO and the future of his Buño imprint with Magnetic Press.

Cover to ‘MOTRO’ Volume One. Art by Ulises Fariñas and Ryan Hill/Oni Press

1. In ‘MOTRO’, we follow the exploits of a lone wanderer and his clicking and whirring motorcycle companion in a hellish winter landscape. These are fantasy tropes, and yet you seem beleaguered by fantasy as a genre. When you construct the world of ‘MOTRO’, do you approach fantasy with an adult mind (knowing what you want to avoid or rehash), or do you reach back to the sensibilities and instincts you had as a child?

Ulises Fariñas: I think neither? I don’t really think of fantasy as a genre that has hard rules for what you can and can’t do. I like dragons, I like motorcycles, I like frogs and wizards, so I just mix it all together and see what comes out. My childhood never ended just because my adulthood began.

2. When we first meet him in this Oni Press edition, we see Motro weeping silently in his sleep, and here comes this tiny motorcycle, telling him it’s time to eat. Do these characters simply share a fraternal, “Frodo and Samwise” friendship? Because I picked up on a more of a”Ittō and Daigorō” vibe in this circumstance.

UF: Wheelie Beast is the pet you had as a little kid. It’s the pet, the animal that was the perfect companion, the one whose death signals the end of innocent ignorance.

3. I look at your work and I see a prevailing motif of widescreen vistas, crammed so full of people that the architecture that surrounds them — which looks like it hasn’t been taken care of in some time — appears as though it’s about to be trampled into the dust. Is your work a window into your feelings about our hyper-populated world? 

UF: I would love to have all of the world’s population be crammed into a megacity, and outside is an untouched natural world. But that doesn’t really factor in to how I write MOTRO. It’s more about discarded memories and ruins and disconnection from your past.

4. What kind of societal fears are you looking to face in ‘MOTRO’?

UF: That I’ve become permanently altered by traumas I’ve undergone as a child. That whole generations have become deformed by traumas.

5. Last summer, you announced Buño with Magnetic Press. With Rob Cham’s ‘Light’ nearly selling out upon its release, this imprint is certainly off to a killer start. What’s the current status of Buño?

UF: We are putting together an awesome line up for 2017/2018. Buño is taking its time to grow up, as I’m constantly juggling writing for IDW, writing/drawing for Oni Press, drawing for other major licenses, and now editing books and communicating with creators.

6. You’ve been very outspoken about single issues, or “floppies”, as an entity, mostly because quite a few people wait for a book to be collected in trade. Did you and Erick [Freitas, co-writer of ‘MOTRO’] ever consider just putting ‘MOTRO’ together as a hardcover through Oni?

UF: Nah. I think the entire industry should move away from single issues, but the way MOTRO is being released is fairly unique. We are doing 4 issue runs at a time, rather than a constant monthly schedule. I really appreciate the flexibility that Oni has allowed for us to make this book.

7. You’ve said in the past that you don’t believe in free will, and when you refer to ‘MOTRO’ you often refer to yourself as “The Creator,” watching the events in this world unfold from a distance, that you are the face in the Moon. When you’re working on the book with Erick and a sequence becomes this violent thing, are you compelled at all from keeping this boy from harm? Is there a paternal worry as Motro’s creator?

UF: All the time. The relationship I have with Motro is one that is predetermined, but it makes me think about what a god is like in a deterministic universe. Rather than an all-powerful entity, it is simply a clockwork mechanism that can reflect on itself. But since so much of MOTRO is a reflection of my own feelings on violence, it’s also a meta-narrative that I’m continuing the violence by inflicting it on a fictional character. I think that’s a better outlet than inflicting it on actual people.

8. Is destiny the prevailing theme of ‘MOTRO’? Do you and Erick consider his fate as King preordained, or will his decisions determine that trajectory, creating divergences in the narrative?

UF: Destiny isn’t a major theme, but Motro has no choices in his narrative that he can think outside of. In the same way as we have to keep hoping our one path in life is the correct one.

9. The fantasies that have challenged you as a reader, please.

UF:  I don’t read fantasy or enjoy much fantasy media; I’ve had my fill of “medieval European parables” to last a lifetime.

10. ‘MOTRO’ is a book that you will, in your own words, “Work on for [your] entire life.” What kind of changes do you think time will bring to ‘MOTRO’ as you grow older? Will the story change as you change, or will you yield to it in the years to come?

UF: I think the story and the art will change. When I first began MOTRO, it was just about a petulant child wanting to do things his way, wanting to be an artist. At the same time, I was having difficulty paying for rent in NYC, and dropping out of college, and arguing with my parents with how they spent money on addictions but though college was a waste. I wanted to escape that.

As I keep writing, Motro has to wrestle with what he’s become, for good or bad, and I think about how my path as a creator, I’ve had to wrestle with being outspoken, critical and at times, even aggressive towards others in my industry. For good or bad, I have to live with those choices.

‘MOTRO’ #4 will be in stores February 22.

Before: 10 things concerning Ted Anderson, Andy Price, and 50 issues of ‘Friendship is Magic’