Written by John Worsey
From one island to another, writer Angelo Tirotto’s journey from Guernsey to Portsmouth fulfilled an age-old narrative: he liked a girl who lived here. Born to parents of Italian and Spanish descent, Angelo never quite felt at home on Guernsey.
“You can cycle round it in an hour. Everyone knows everyone. I was always ‘Giovanni’s son’, never Angelo. I was trapped and felt I had to get out.”
As a child, his only means of escape were comic books. He devoured them. “Before I could read, I looked at the pictures and then later I would get into the stories. At school, I was one of those classic ‘clever but could try harder’ kids, because I spent all my time in lessons drawing comic characters. It was kind of my destiny to be involved in comics, which is why I opened a comic store in Portsmouth.”
Angelo’s first venture in his new home city fell victim to the 2008 financial crisis. But with a business partner, Angelo fought back with a new shop – Room 237, which can today be found on Albert Road. Around the time 237 opened, a new door swung open for the aspiring writer. It was one that he’d been dreaming of his whole life.
He and artist Richard Jordan submitted an outline for a new series to Image Comics in America, publishers of The Walking Dead. No Place Like Home was to be a bold modern take on The Wizard Of Oz. The publisher said yes.
Angelo recalls the thrill of walking into one of London’s biggest comic stores and seeing his book on the shelves next to Alan Moore’s Watchmen. “Alan Moore is my favourite comic book creator. The way he told the story of Watchmen was revolutionary.”
But the dream of having his own series soon led to sleep-deprived nights. Both he and Jordan had full time jobs, with Angelo corunning 237. They would wake at 7am, work on the book for a couple of hours, go to work, come home, work on the book til 4am, grab three hours sleep and then get up at 7 to do it all over again. “We did that for a year and we were just exhausted, constantly battling deadlines.”
So Angelo made a bold decision. One year into living his dream, he stopped the book. This led to death threats from ardent fans who wanted to know how it ended. But he had to find a healthy way to make his ambition sustainable.
He handed Room 237 over to his business partner and has spent the past four years working on a new vision: self-publishing. Rather than a monthly series, he’ll focus on producing two or three high quality, hardcover graphic novels every year. Each will tell a complete story.
“The first, Manwolfs, is about skateboarding. If it does well, I’ll produce my next volume, which is about witchcraft. It’s taken years to realise that I prefer to work on different, interesting stuff.”
Since childhood, Angelo has pursued one vision for his career. But along the way, he has adapted to overcome all kinds of unexpected challenges. He has learned a lesson fit for anyone with aspirations. “Never give up. You can be rejected 20 times, because it only needs to go right once.”
You can follow the next chapter of Angelo’s career at his website, noonemournsthewicked.com.