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Matteo Gualandris’s Cat Just Died, So Please Be Nice To Him

He's an illustrator who draws mountains and monsters.
November 2, 2008, 12:00am

INTERVIEW BY SERENA PEZZATO

Vice: Hi Matteo. The first digits of your phone number sound familiar. Do you live close to the Milan airport?

Matteo Gualandris:

Yeah, I live in Robecchetto con Induno, a small town on the border between Lombardy and Piedmont.

Is that Induno Olona?

No, no. Robecchetto—space—con—space—Induno.

All right, sorry! I thought you lived close to the industrial shithole I grew up in, Busto Arsizio.

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Well, it’s not far from Busto. I live too far from Milan to enjoy the city, but I live too close to actually “move” there.

I hate Busto. It’s a boring place filled with terrible people. Do you think you were drawn inward and toward creative stuff because the place where you grew up offered so little?

I wouldn’t say so. I don’t draw because I’m bored. I draw because I like to draw.

Touché. Who are your favorite illustrators?

First off: Quentin Blake. Roald Dahl’s stories were my favorite when I was a kid.

The Twits

and

The BFG

and

Danny the Champion of the World

. Blake is immediate and quick but at the same time he’s rich and sharp. When you see one of his drawings it’s clear that you don’t need anything more or anything less. He can sum up an entire story with two scribbles and a touch of watercolor: He’s a genius. For a while I thought that Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake were one and the same, that it was just one guy who’d tricked us. That’s how well the stories and the illustrations fit together.

What’s your favorite subject to draw?

In general, I like monsters. Also mountains. Occasionally I read a book or watch a movie that really inspires me.

Who are your favorite monsters?

I never tried to draw her, but I have a thing for the alien from

Alien

. I like the way she’s put together. I like the shape of her head and her body structure. I think she’s a very elegant monster. Also she’s one of the few coherent monsters around. She’s real. She eats people because she’s hungry. She’s not evil. It’s just her nature as a monster.

What about your favorite animals?

I loved my cat, but she died two Fridays ago. They had to put her down because she was suffering too much. It was so sad.

Oh, poor thing.

But yeah, I like cats. I like either leopards or cheetahs. I can’t remember which one—you know, the fast one.