Bruno Machado, we ‘Millennials’ from Canton Piccino

«I started as a child and I still haven’t finished. I’ve read some Mickey Mouse, some Marvel, but I’ve always loved Japanese manga. Among all, ‘Dr. Slump’, one of the first comics written and drawn by Akira Toriyama, the creator of ‘Dragon Ball’. But also ‘One piece’, which has been around for twenty years». One day, Bruno Machado’s girlfriend says to Bruno Machado: “It’s me or them.” “In the sense that the house was invaded by an unsustainable number of comics,” says he, who today reads comics online. «I gave them to someone who will have read them all and who, probably, sooner or later will get rid of them like I did».

Passionate about comics before being a cartoonist, Bruno Machado is a graphic designer and illustrator active in Ticino. In 2019 he participated in the Fantoche Festival; in 2021 he was one of the selected to represent the One Hundred Years of Swiss Animation, which merged the following year into the most important animation festival in the world, that of Annecy in France. Machado is also the author of ‘Millennial’, his “child”, which today animates the last page of this newspaper, more briefly called ‘The Last’. He will animate it every Friday, starting today.

If you were born between 1981 and 1997 you are a millennial and Machado’s comic is (also) for you. “I want to tell how the millennials spend it down here in the West – wrote the author presenting the work – in a peculiar little corner surrounded by mountains but which is not so different from the other little corners around the world”. The corner is the Canton Piccino, fictitious only in name, because it is Ticino. It’s Piccino because ‘Millennial’ doesn’t respect the laws of physics, mythological creatures are less mythological than usual and animals speak. Like Gabi, the “inhuman seagull”, one of the main characters who have grabbed the front page in recent days. Like Cloud, the author’s alter ego; Kwimchi-Chan, an English girl who moved to Switzerland; Luz, Cloud’s professional counterpart; Miulia, inside her stone armor; il Pozzo, the hermit who hates humans; Bane, who every Friday at 18 turns into a werewolf (therefore also tonight); Paolo, the single millennial, and Franco, with a double identity.

The birth of ‘Millennial’ can ideally be traced back to 2012, to the site (no longer active) called ‘swisshidemountains’, a place of production of experimental comics opened by Machado, who will later illustrate the covers of Ticino7, publishing graphic novels, the experience pilot that leads to ‘laRegione’. Which leads to today.

Bruno Machado: Shall we start from the ‘swisshidemountains’ comics?

It was a bit underground but very important for me, because thanks to that site I began to understand the medium of expression and the many opportunities it offers when we want to better tell our everyday lives. Comics are images and text, two elements that I love as a graphic designer and illustrator. This choice also includes the fact that I’ve read comics since I was a child.

What is the strength of comics?

It is that given by a medium that grants licences, much more generously than other means of expression. Some say a picture is worth a thousand words, others say a word is worth a thousand pictures. With the comic we have two thousand. Another of its strengths, another of the things that interest me most in this genre, are the various levels of reading: there can be a dichotomy between what you read and what you draw, comics don’t necessarily have to be descriptive, the levels of expression, or of interpretation, are always multiple.

Why in a newspaper? Why on ‘laRegione’?

Because I had a cartoon in my head that reflected everyday events. ‘Millennial’ speaks to that generation, I immediately thought that the best way to be able to reflect on it was the presence in a newspaper. I have been inspired by many examples from the past, such as ‘Peanuts’, or my favorite, ‘The far side’, ironic and unexpected. Reflecting, I recognized the strength of a newspaper, which puts the author in a more intimate and direct connection with the reader and allows the former to respond to the demands that come from current events. The newspaper is for me the ideal medium in which to publish.

What will be the effect of ‘Millennial’? The same as children’s films from which adults mostly learn?

I don’t want to put myself in the position of wanting to teach anything with this comic. My intention is to use my sensitivity to express all the good and not only of my generation. This could ensure that previous and future generations can learn something from each other. I would like to generate discussions, because talking about everything is more important than ever.

How many of your millennial friends are among the characters?

There are several. Wanting to talk about my generation, I wanted to maintain a certain adherence to reality. I took inspiration from people I know, I chose those who, at least in my opinion, could be representative of different personalities, who can embody the millennial typology. But I only took a few character traits, nothing more. The rest is fiction, even when it comes to the sufferings of individuals.

So no one will get angry…

I talked about it with everyone, well in advance. I ‘remixed’ the contents of each of them.

Except with Cloud, by profession, look what, graphic designer and illustrator. “Curious, with a lot of passion, always late”, one who – as he is presented – “gets lost in his head, has arguments with his own brain and, often, is not even here. But in the clouds”…

Yes, in the case of Cloud I can be very intimate. Maybe I’ll look in the mirror and take offense at myself (laughs, ed).

What will be the language of ‘Millennial’?

With comics you can afford to treat certain themes in a different way. On TV, for example, you can’t use a certain type of language. Every medium has its conventions, and comics seem freer to me, even by tradition.

Canton Piccino exists and even has a map. There’s Lock, where they hold the Film Festival, there’s Lazzona, the capital, there’s Tremano, by the lake…

The map helps put the stories into context, but it also helped me create them. When the idea for this comic was born, I thought of creating an imaginary place that wasn’t the Springfield of the Simpsons, because that is the parody of the small American town and I didn’t have that intention. At the same time, I didn’t want to use the real names of the cities, just to underline that this is a work of fiction. I wanted to give myself maximum expressive freedom by re-imagining the canton, with names that allude to the locations. There is also a desert, in Canton Piccino…

Bruno Machado, we ‘Millennials’ from Canton Piccino