A Kiss of Bulgaria
From the Republic of Bulgaria, two brothers emerge to bring you a rich storytelling experience influenced by the ancient lore and fantasy of their homeland. The works of this two-man powerhouse have been well received around the world and now they’re promoting their newest story: Samodiva’s Kiss. We sit down with the 26-year-old Emiliyan Valev, and 29-year-old Stanimir Valev, to find out what makes this duo so dynamic.
IM: So, it’s not every day you see two brothers embarking on this path of storytelling. How did you two come to the point as a duo?
EV: Since we were kids, we’ve been sharing common interests. Growing up with classic fairy tales, cartoons, comics, and movies, we were creating new stories using our favorite characters or ones of our own.
SV: My brother was always by my side. Combining our ideas and visions was an amazing experience! We were telling unique, exciting, and compelling stories, thanks to this synergy. Writing and drawing have been the best ways of expression for us both. Creating comics is the art form that gives us the freedom we need in our work.
IM: Do you both write and draw, or do you stick to certain roles?
EV: We’re both involved in the creation of every aspect of our work.
SV: Yes indeed. Writing, concepts, illustration, lettering, design, etc.
IM: How would you say you two work together as a team? What are the dynamics at play here?
SV: It unravels beautifully before our eyes and we share it with our readers.
IM: You guys have published quite a few works to date. Can you tell us what-all you have released so far? Did you self-publish any of these works?
EV: Our work is well received internationally. Our works have been published in the US. Our comic Dreamroad (Seqapunch Quarterly #5, 2013); Epiphany (Unfashioned Creatures; A Frankenstein Anthology, 2013); Rise of the Forsaken (Grayhaven’s Limitless Steampunk Anthology, 2013); In the Mood and Mysterious Ways (Indie Comics Quarterly #1, 2014), which are nominated for Spectare Creative’s Independent Comic Award, and Arrow of Time (Dois-Indie Comics Quarterly #2, 2014), which was also nominated for Spectare Creative’s Independent Comic Award.
SV: Our works have been presented in international publications, showcasing indy artists and comics creators, like Parabellum (Republika Srpska, 2011, 2013), COMICS (Romania ,2012, 2013), Pocketfulmag (Turkey, 2013), Co-mixer (Bulgaria, 2013), METROPIA (Argentina, 2013, 2014), Postapokalypse (Sweden, 2014).
The Bulgarian audience is familiar with our works from: Царете на България/Bulgarian Kings (2008); Слава/Fame (2009); BG Art Class (2011); Public-Republic (2012); Аз съм Българче/I Am Bulgarian (2014); Hi Drive (2014); Автокласика и Мотоциклети/Autoclassic and Motorcycles (2014); Български Ловецъ/Bulgarian Hunter (2014–2015), STORY (2015).
We’re the creators of the first Bulgarian digital graphic novella Under My Skin (2011). It’s been presented at festivals and exhibitions in Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, and Macedonia. You can check out its trailer here (Translation from Bulgarian to English follows below):
Emiliyan Valev and Stanimir Valev Present
How much do you want to fit in?
How many masks do you put in your life?
With your family? With your friends?
When are you truly yourself?
Can you put all these masks down?
And before who?
Are you ready to reveal yourself?
The Graphic Novella Under My Skin
Introducing Samson/Fated; Introducing Varkolak
Our graphic novel Samson was showcased in the literary and arts magazine СТРАНИЦА/Page (2014). This is the first publication of a Bulgarian comic strip in a Bulgarian literary magazine.
IM: I see your series and works being featured in quite a few different publications and you have won awards as well. Can you tell us about your well-received success?
EV: We’re happy and honored to share our works with so many people in different countries. We’re proud of our achievements, but the greatest award for a creator is the audience’s warm reception.
IM: What is Samodiva’s Kiss about?
EV: Samodiva’s Kiss is a series inspired by the richness of Bulgarian folklore, history, and beliefs. A young hunter’s quest for love in the world of fairy tales and the supernatural, as he becomes part of it.
SV: This is an epic adventure story. Yovo is a young hunter who accidently disturbs the guardian of the forest, Vida Samodiva. Blinded by her hatred for humans, she takes his life. When she looks at his lifeless body, she remembers seeing him before. He’s always been good and respectful to the creatures from her domain. She brings him back to life through Samodiva’s magic. A strong connection is formed between them. Yovo falls in love with Vida, but they can’t be together. They’re too different. Vida goes to the Samodivas’ home, End-World. The changed and resurrected Yovo will fight to the very end for his love. His amazing journey begins. He wants to go to End-World and be with Vida Samodiva. He meets creatures from Bulgarian tales and legends on his way.
IM: How did you two find your inspiration in writing it?
EV: Bulgarian folklore is incredibly rich, unique, very beautiful, and ancient.
SV: It’s a great pleasure, and quite a challenge, to work with such marvelous source material!
IM: Can you tell us a little about the characters?
EV: Yovo is brave and goodhearted. His feelings make him impatient and impulsive. He has too many questions, but no answers. The creatures from the mystic world hold their secrets. Sometimes they help him, but sometimes they use him for their own hidden agendas. Vida is a Samodiva—an entity in Bulgarian folklore gifted with unimaginable beauty and astonishing strength. The Samodivas are protectors of nature and often depicted as cruel and violent with its trespassers. Vida is confused by her feelings for Yovo.
SV: Yovo crosses paths with werewolves, vampires, and legendary creatures like rusaliya, marok, and zmey. His best friend and most faithful companion is Sabotnik. He is born on Saturday and, according to local beliefs, he’s gifted with seeing the world of the supernatural. A blessing and a curse, his power defines his life. Another recurring character is Bendida—a Slavic goddess of hunting. She’s trying to prepare Yovo for what is about to come.
IM: What’s next for you two brothers?
EV: We’re always working on new and diverse projects.
SV: We invite everyone who wants to find out more about us, our work, and what’s next, to visit our blog.
IM: Where can readers find your published works and more about you two?
EV: We invite you to our blog: http://eandspresent.blogspot.com/
We have another blog at amilova.com—an international site and online community devoted to comics, manga and video games with more than 600 authors and 80,000 members: http://www.amilova.com/en/members/42691/eandspresent/. There, you can find links to publications, news, and detailed info about our work.
SV: We invite you to check out our entry in the most formidable online comic encyclopedia, Lambiek Comiclopedia— an illustrated compendium of over 11,000 international comics authors: http://www.lambiek.net/artists/v/valev_emiliyan_stanimir.htm
IM: If you had to relay one of the most valued lessons that you have taken away from this journey, what would it be?
EV: Never give up!
SV: Love what you do, and do what you love!