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Brazzil - Culture - June 2003

Pow! Wow! The Spirit of Brazil.

Brazilian Spirit of the Amazon is very similar to modern American
comics. Its content, however, is highly charged with political
substance, which gives it a dimension that is unique. Also,
the book offers readers a chance to be immediately involved
in real-life social action by helping S.O.S. Amazônia.

Michael Dobran


"Let the Green War begin!" announces Vinicius Tavares, VP of New Business for NW Studios of USA. Tavares is an Art Warrior: he's using the pages of a politically-bent comic book Spirit of the Amazon to fight the good fight against corporate greed and the reckless destruction of Brazil's Amazon Rainforest. Spirit of the Amazon was originally launched in Brazil in 1998 and it was a phenomenal success; it was only outsold nationwide by the X-Men—not bad, for an independent comic being sold primarily by word of mouth because it was so amazing and original.

In May of this year, Spirit of the Amazon hit the comic book stands here in the USA and has received loads of positive reaction in the media. This version of the original Brazilian title is not simply a reprint with English slapped into the pages as text—the entire comic book has been re-worked, expanded and polished for the past four years, Tavares said.

Another interesting aspect is that each issue is increased from 22 pages of art up to 28 pages, "these past four years have been dedicated to giving this American version our most extensive creative efforts… we want Brazilian comics to have a place in the American market, because it is the largest, most influential and diverse in the world," he said.

Apparently, this effort is already paying off. Spirit of the Amazon is about six extra-terrestrials in the guise of "spirits" who are on a secret mission to protect planet earth's fragile eco-system from the evil greed and corruption of our planet's most cruel and destructively reckless corporations. The natives of Brazil's Amazon call on these spirits in time of distress, thinking of them as the "Spirits" of the forest, not knowing that they are from other worlds.

In terms of artistic style, it is very similar to modern American comics. It easily fits in with Marvel Comics Ultimates and the work of Michael Turner, for example. However, the content of this comic book is highly charged with political content, which gives it a dimension that is unique. Also, the book offers readers a chance to be immediately involved in real-life social action since a portion of the book's sales goes directly to S.O.S. Amazônia, a Brazilian organization dedicated to saving the Amazon Rainforest, which is one of the planet's most vital concerns, in particular.

This comic details an impending "Green War" and it mirrors a fight that goes on nowhere in the world more dramatically as in Brazil—where the Amazon Rain forest is being systematically devastated by tycoons, landowners, greedy corporations, and even the natives themselves who are sometimes compelled to make "deals with the devil"—pacts that sell of their land in order to receive desperately needed money, at the cost of seeing their entire villages annihilated in the name of mining, logging, and other corporate uses.

Spirit of the Amazon is written by Orlando Paes Filho. Rodrigo Pereira does the pencils with assistance from Roger Cruz. Orlando developed the idea for Spirit of the Amazon when he was 16 years old. "He was terrified by man's violent actions toward nature and wrote a fictional story called "Blue Planet" (Planeta Azul) which was the inspiration for Spirit of the Amazon," Tavares said.

Spirit of the Amazon is no longer published in Brazil. After only four issues it was forced to halt publication. "Production and distribution of comics in Brazil are controlled by one company, who after seeing the enormous success of Spirit of the Amazon made an offer to acquire the property." When their offer was refused, the distributor refused to distribute the comic in Brazil. As a result, NW Studios was forced to stop production, Tavares said. This major distributor was, of course, Editora Abril. Now, it is four years later, and NW Studios has a brand-new USA division and Tavares is pleased to be "sending this trouble-maker title into the US market."

Why the US? "Because our objective is to contribute to the variety and depth of the US comic market," he said.

NW Studios in Brazil is a creative agency that creates and develops characters for imaging. In the past nine years they have worked for companies like Warner Bros. and Disney, creating characters for Nestle and McDonald's, visuals for Hopi Hari (Brazil's largest theme park) and for Latin America's beverage king AMBEV. Now, NW Studios USA, located in Miami, is expanding to the US market.

Spirit of the Amazon is available at local comic book shops on sale each month at $2.95. "Spirit of the Amazon is just the first shot of many to come!" Tavares said. He said that NW Studios USA is already in development stages of several new projects including an American version of the currently best-selling Brazilian comic Jungle Kids, which is being distributed as a special promotional item through McDonald's of Brazil.

Jungle Kids has already sold more than 8 million copies in Brazil. Also in the planning stages are the futuristic Human Resources, and GutiGutz, which is about two young girls who are bounty hunters, who also have a weakness: they are compulsive shoppers! There is also a three-part graphic novel entitled Angus, which has a story line about a family that has the responsibility thrust on them to protect the world from dark forces. All of these projects, including Spirit of the Amazon, are receiving intense interest from various Hollywood film studios.

Spirit of the Amazon will also be released in England and the rest of Europe in the coming months. "It is time for the US market to see more of the Brazilian comic book scene, and Brazil has as much passion and potential for this art form as our counterparts to the North in the US," Tavares added.


Michael Dobran lives in Milwaukee, WI, and works for a local literacy campaign. He is also a freelance journalist and is pursuing a graduate degree. He has lived previously in Brazil for two years and is "functionally" fluent in Portuguese. You may contact him in either English or Portuguese at moonshade4@hotmail.com — however, please make mention to Brazzil in the subject line. This article appears also in Milwaukee's Spanish/English newspaper El Conquistador





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