Cancel Culture extends far beyond U.S. borders.
We’ve seen horror stories coming from Europe, including the recent attacks on British comedian Jimmy Carr for telling a bleak joke about the Holocaust. A recent ad campaign tried to erase British author J.K. Rowling from her greatest creation – the Harry Potter universe.
Luciano Cunha has his own Cancel Culture scars to share.
The Brazilian artist is known for his vigilante hero “O Doutrinador” (“The Awakener” in English). The masked avenger smites political corruption, sparking a movie of the same name.
The character is part of Cunha’s impressive array of heroes, but he’s the one who caused him the most cultural grief.
HiT reached out to Cunha to learn more about his career, the rise of his signature vigilante and how others can fight back when the woke mob comes for them.
HiT: Please share your origin story … how you first embraced art and how that passion evolved into comic book-style illustrations?
Luciano Cunha: I’ve been drawing since I was little kid, so it was a natural path in my life. At the age of 16 I started working with Ziraldo, one of the greatest graphic artists in Brazilian history. I did the comic book of Menino Maluquinho, a very famous character in Brazil. And I never stopped.
HiT: You’ve described your political leanings as conservative, but you weren’t always on the Right. Can you explain how becoming a father helped change how you saw the world, politically speaking?
Cunha: It was also a slow and natural process. There was a time when I worked in an advertising agency and did countless political campaigns, always for left-wing politicians. So, in very close contact with them, I, who was a left-wing voter, realized that they never cared about a more just and egalitarian society, they were just fanatics for power and control.
It revealed to me another worldview, an anti-revolutionary, a conservative view of my life. Being a father only reinforced this new vision.
HiT: Introduce us to The Awakener (O Doutrinador)… what inspired this character and when did you first realize he was becoming so popular?
Cunha: Brazil is one of the most corrupt countries on the planet, and its political class is probably the dirtiest in the world. It was simply my anger and indignation with our political elite that made me create The Awakener. This indignation is the same in the entire Brazilian population, so that explains the enormous identification that people have with my character.
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HIT: How do you think your work has grown/evolved over time? Do you see yourself as a more sophisticated artist today and can you share how you were able to mature as a storyteller?
Cunha: Wow. I can see my evolution so clearly that I’m ashamed of certain pages I made there at the beginning, more than 10 years ago. But this is normal, I believe that every artist feels like that.
Hard work makes you grow in any profession and Im a really hard worker. Always reading and keeping up with everything around you always makes me tell better stories and with this strong connection with people in the real world.
HiT: The Awakener once punched out a key Brazilian politician, a commentary on his corruption scandal. What happened next?
Cunha: What happened is I found out the hard way that there are certain politicians you can’t mess with, especially those who’ve kept the press on their payroll for decades. And so came my cancellation.
HiT: What tactics have been used against you and what advice can you share for others who may be creating art that goes against select narratives?
Cunha: The tactics were as low-key as possible, from spawning backstories that never existed to threatening my family, which is my most prized possession. Nothing you don’t already know, the tactics are the same all over the world. They try to destroy the way that feeds your family.
What I can say to get away from it is that you should always believe in your values, never apologize to anyone who wants your blood and find the right niche to keep working.
There are always people who think like you. In fact, we are more numerous, they just make more noise.
HiT: How are Cancel Culture-style attacks different in Brazil? Do you know of other artists who are similarly attacked, and why?
Cunha: They are no different. They are exactly the same! Totally the same. They call you fascist, racist, Nazi and all, labeling you so that the doors are closed to you in the mainstream media.
I know several other artists who suffer from the same problem and I try to help everyone with my experience.
HiT: Tell us about your publishing company … when you started it, how it’s grown over time and what you hope to create with it moving forward?
Cunha: It was also a natural movement. As the doors closed, I needed to build my own house. So I got together with the best artists possible, brave and talented enough to play the game with me. I made important partnerships in America and Eastern Europe. And the thing flowed, mainly because talent and work done with soul will always have a special place in people’s hearts.
HiT: What does the rest of 2022 look like for you? Any projects close to being released that you can tease here?
Cunha: I have three more graphic novels ready to launch in the Brazilian market, two from the USA and one from Poland. The audiovisual market has also started to heat up again and I have two proposals on the table to continue The Awakener, one as a series and the other as an animation. It will be wonderful to make it again!