With the release of All Talk, Black Panel Press founder Andrew Benteau sat down with author Bartosz Sztybor to discuss his inspiration for the book:
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m working on another The Witcher miniseries. It’s out right now. It’s with Miki Montllo, an amazing artist from Spain, and the first issue was published, I think, in December by Dark Horse. So that’s one thing, and another thing is another mini-series of The Witcher. I really love the world. Geralt and The Witcher universe is really exciting because it looks like a normal fantasy, but it’s not simple. It’s always about characters. It’s also about drama– about choosing the lesser evil, and for me, that’s always important. Even if you’re creating a noir story, the psychology and the drama behind the character and his or her choices are always the most important thing, so that’s why I like The Witcher.
How did you come to collaborate with Akeussel?
It started because I found his art on Instagram and I saw that he has amazing style, so we started talking, and I asked him if he would like to work with me on something– on a comic book. He said, “no, I don’t have time right now; I don’t want to work in comic books right now. I’m doing some other stuff.” And then we started talking about movies, comic books, books and
I think we were talking for a week or even two weeks about The Wire, which we both love, and I told him, “man, I think that your style is perfect for a story similar to The Wire that takes place in Berlin.” I was living in Berlin; I think it has a great atmosphere, and he would be perfect for it. And then Akeussel told me, “okay, if you want to write something like The Wire for me, then let’s do it,” and that’s how it happened.
What motivates you to write stories like All Talk?
Always complex characters and some philosophical questions, that’s what I like. That’s why even when I’m going into genre I’m looking for something else, something mortal about my characters or, like in All Talk, to have, as I said, maybe one philosophical question I would like to answer or just ask without an answer, and in All Talk it’s “what’s true–is it what you think about yourself or the things that people are saying about you and thinking about you? What becomes the truth about the character? These kinds of questions or problems are the things that interest me the most and, of course, character-driven stories.
How does this theme relate to your characters?
That’s Rahim’s problem, and that’s the problem of many characters from this book: “How can you live your own life if someone creates a story about your life that’s different than the reality, so what should you do then? Should you tell the truth, but there’s a chance that no one will believe you? And what’s really the truth, the things that you think about yourself or the things that people think about you?
What is All Talk about at its core?
All Talk is, for me personally, a book about how lies become truth and how difficult for a lot of people that can be. That’s what I wanted to write about that’s that’s one of my biggest fears.