Published on October 12th, 2003 | by Richard Boom0
Who is ANT and who is Mario Gully?
Mario Gully is the artist of the upcoming comic called ANT and is about a little 8-year-old girl called Hanna who eases the stress of her life (estranged mother, schoolmates pickon her) by writing in her journal and scribbling down ‘her’ adventures as the adult superheroine called “ANT”. The comic is due out in fall 2003 (EDIT: actually…this date changed to January 2004) and I had the chance to interview this promising artist.
A: I started drawing when I was little. They say around 4 yrs old. I got into reading comics when I was about 13yrs old with my best friend that lived across the street. We would read Secret Wars and play with the action figures. Boy, them was some good times! Then as I got older I always enjoyed creating my own characters. I never liked to draw say, Marvel or D.C Characters. Don’t ask me why. That habit kinda stayed with me and as I grew older. Later I got the resources to do my own comic and the rest is pretty much history.
Q: do you read comics yourself? If yes, which titles? If not, why NOT 🙂
A: Hummm… I’m an artist first so that is the first thing that gets my attention on any comicbook. I look at various artist to see how to improve my art. So Usually if an artist I like jump off a book , I will jump off with him or her. Silly I know, But that’s what I do. It may be months before I actually read the damn book. The book I pick-up now is Batman Hush. Anything else that looks good I’ll pick up but they vary from month to month.
Q: What kind of comics did you read when you were a child? Did you have any favorites or major influences? Furthermore, did your parents encourage you or did buying comics involve a lot of begging, crying and promising to do the dishes?
A:I remember reading Secret Wars when I was little. That’s one of my first comicbooks that I actually went out and bought. I read Superman and SheHulk also because of John Byrne. He was my major influence back then. I used to try to collect any book he was drawing. My parents always encouraged me to do whatever talent I wanted to dip in. Drawing, Martial arts or whatever. They were always supportive of me. If I wanted comics, I got comics. That wasn’t a problem. We was not rich or anything but If they had money to give me I got it. If they didn’t have it, I went without.
Q: what are your influences artwise or otherwise?
A: My biggest influence is Greg Capullo artwise. I think that is pretty evident in my work. He also has a good work ethic. I admire that Also. That’s kinda rare in the comic world for some reason. Also Martial arts has a major influence in my life. Being a 3rd generation Jeet Kune Do guy. Sifu Lee’s (Bruce Lee) philosophy and guidance “pointing me towards truth” has had an influence in my life that is second to none.
Q: Can you elaborate on this Jeet Kune Do? I have never heared of this form of Martial Arts. I do know a bit of Bruce Lee ofcourse since he is an icon.
A: Jun FanJeet Kune Do is the training methods and practices in the martial arts that Bruce Lee incorprated in his life time. Jeet Kune Do means The way of the intercepting fist. The art is primarly made up of Wing Chun Gung fu, Western boxing, Fencing, grappeling and kali( stick fighting). JKD is being called the art of the formless form or styless style because JKD has no style or form. In essence we wish to achieve a level of emptyness so we can flow with any style or system as simply as water flows from a cup to an ashtray.
Q: if there was one established comiccharacter you would be able to draw, who would it be and why?
A: I would hafta say Spawn. My comrads tell me all the time”You should be drawing Spawn”! I know it’s because of my style. Plus Mc Farlane Productions called me up one day. That was my first contact with a comic company. I couldn’t sleep! I was very young, And looking back alot of my stuff back then it was immature. But I worked very hard. And they helped me grow to no end. Nothing marteralized, but it was a great esperience. I would to like to have some closer to that part of my life. Coming full circle you know. Tell Tody I’m looking for him.
Q: You’ve mentioned that you have been approached by Todd McFarlane Productions. How exactly did that come about? Had you been sending around your portfolio and did you luck out or was it the result of some active lobbying?
A: No, I didn’t do any lobbying at that point. I had never been to a convention or anything like that. I didn’t even have a portfolio! Sad I know. TMP had a talent search posted in a Spawn comic. I was on the city bus coming home from the comic shop when I saw it. I made up my mind instantly that I will send them samples until they call me and tell me to stop. I was very determined. I had a plan to send four pages aweek. I drew up four pages and sent them out. About three days later (while working on my next bath for the week after) I got home and my girlfriend (now my wife) said “Image” called! I went through the roof! I didn’t sleep for a week after that.
Q: What kind of plans did Todd McFarlane Productions have in mind for you? Perhaps you could elaborate about the ins and outs of this whole process while also explaining why, in the end, nothing materialized on that front.
A: I don’t know what plans if any that they had for me. Todd was expanding his books at the time. I was told out of hundreds of submissions that I was the only one contacted at that point. Later I was sent a three page script and I drew it up in a day I think it was. For what I understand Todd liked my stuff but was saying “not yet.” I sent samples to them for about three months. I don’t know why nothing materialized, But I was told that Todd said that he didn’t have anything to put me on. I guess I was too late. He also said to keep an eye on me because I was going to be the next somebody. All the hard work was worth it. I grew alot. And in the end, it did help me get a foot in at Image Central a year later.
Q: You are the artist of ANT…in such you are both writer as the guy at the drawing board…how does this work out for you? Do you have someone to fall back on for tips or feedback?
A: Well, working on Ant is stressful. Only because I take full responsibility for the book. Yes I am the writer and the artist. It’s stressful because I take all the risk. If it’s a bad book, It’s my fault nobody else. That makes me also super critical about my stuff. I loose sleep If I don’t get a panel right. because I want this book to be the best I can make it. And I’m new to comics as a whole. Ant #1 was my first 33 page that I ever done. And in issue 2 I took on the chore as Inker as well. That alone makes me nervious. But as far as writing is concerned, it gets crazy only because I have so many ways to tell a story. I can write a situation ten different ways and also draw it ten different ways. Alot of time it’s hard for me to be content with a route I chose to go in on scripting or laying out a page. I’m sure it would be much easer working from a script that I couldn’t say,” hey, lets do this and this”! “Oh, that would be cool, lets put that in there”!
Q: On your website, it is stated that you are the sole writer and artist of your very first comic book series Ant, yet a few months ago, the name of Matt Nixon was mentioned at the ComiXtreme forum as your co-plotter and scripter. Did that plan somehow fall through or is Matt still involved in Ant and if so, how does that collaboration work?
A: Matt and I worked out the plot for issue One. Matt was co-plotter and scripter. But after situations arose that was out of our control we were unable to make the team-up happen. Matt Nixon is a wonderful writer and I plan to work with him on future issues of Ant if our schedules allow it.
Q: Mario, I have read somewhere that you developped this comic in prison. Could you tell something more about that experience of developping ANT?
A: Woah! I was never in PRISON! I’m not that kinda hardass! No really, I was in county jail. I went down in 95 for atacking a tourist with a non deadly weapon. I was young and stupid. But in jail I found focus and made the decision to come out with a better mentality than I went in with. Drawing was a outlet for frustration and entertainment. I used to draw colorful envelopes and hot chicks for my fellow inmates for commissary. One day while I was looking out the bared window feeling depressed I saw one ant coming in from the outside. I thought to myself ” If I was an Ant I could crawl right out of this place. Well that could’t happen. But I could make a home made comic about it. And that’s what I did. It’s not even close to what Ant is today. Everything is different for the exception to Ant’s costume. I still have the first original sketch and the twenty two pager that I did. I’ll show them one day when I’m famous!
A: Yes Hanna well develop into a teen and then a woman. I think it would be interesting for comic fans to see a charater actually grow up in front of there eyes.
Q: Ant is about the little girl Hanna Washington and her overly active imagination. Inspired (consciously or not) by Bill Watterson’s classic Calvin and Hobbes? While you are at it, tell us a little more about the rest of the book’s cast.
A: Well, there is Danny Washington, Hanna’s father. He’s a Nobel character that repented from his street life to be a single parent and raise Hanna. Betty White, Hanna’s mother. She’s the unruly parent that had Hanna at a young age and regrets not Having a life. She usually pops on the scene when she needs something. Mrs. Joyce, Hanna’s principle. The voice of reason, She’s aware that Hanna is picked on at school and tries to help Hanna fit in with the rest of the children. Stephen Richard The boy down the block. He finds Hanna interesting and gets pulled in by Hanna’s unrelenting zeal to become this hero when she grow up. He’s Hanna’s one and only fan. Carrie Wolfe the “Third Grade Terror”! Carrie is the bully of the third grade. Carrie and her henchmen has focused on making Hanna’s life miserable. They have adopted the name “Buggirl” for Hanna to make fun of her fantasy and her love for insects. In Hanna’s fantasy world her arch enemy is Cockroach and the Dwellers. The Dwellers are tiny roaches that craw in peoples ears and take over their minds to do the Cockroach’s will. Cockroach is a giant killing machine with only one purpose, destroying Ant! No joking, No taunting, He just wants her life..period.
Q: With Hanna’s adult superhero alter ego Ant being a figment of her imagination, aren’t you afraid you are going to be limiting yourself in terms of the scope your stories can have? After all, the fictitious Ant cannot directly interact with and have impact on the outside world. Or is there a gray area and will the lines between reality and fiction blur?
A: I think the contrary. Because Ant is fictitious the book has no limits. Every character that is created is also created with a world around them. Batman will always be Batman and Superman will always be Superman, etc. So they have to Act the part because the are supposed to be “real.” If they act out of character, then they cease to be Batman or Superman. Ant is a story within a story. She’s not real in the first place so she has no “character” to play. No boundaries or limits to her abilities. Ant is created by Hanna’s mind. Hanna really believes that she will become Ant when she grows up. She needs Ant to help her solve her problems. The more Problems that arise in her life, the greater will be her need to become Ant to solve them. So the solution is the problem. So Ant will affect Hanna’s outsideworld on many levels. Either This is an incredible ideal or I’m a nut. I guess we will have to wait and see.
Q: Seeing your pictures I can’t help but notice a resemblance with Greg Capullo (Spawn, Creech)…since I think Greg’s art is awesome this is only meant as a compliment. How do you see this yourself?
A: Yes, like I said earlier Greg is one of my influences. I hope to develope into a more “Gully” style as I progress. I am working on that. I would hate to be labeled as a Greg Capullo or somebody’s clone. I do make different decisions than Greg does art wise. But I am a beginner. My book is not even out yet. It’s a great compliment to me if anybody uses my name and Capullo in the same sentence. It’s like a kid going out for an audition and everybody is telling him “Man I see alot of Denzel Washington in him” What a compliment! I think if people are comparing me to a guy like Greg now, in a couple of years my art should be explosive! I should be leading a new generation of up and comers!
Q: What will the format of the series be limited (a mini or maxiseries) or handled via story-arcs?
A: The first three issues of Ant is the first story-arc. After that we will begin an ongoing series monthly.
Q: Can you give more info on where you want to go with ANT?
A:Boy that’s a hard question. Ant repersents the possibilities of the imagination. It’s a book about the struggles and pain in life. As well as the victories. Ant is about me. A guy that had nothing and a looser that changed his life and became somebody that you want to interview. Ant is about the Greatest hero this world has ever known. Why, Because in Hanna’s mind she is the best at what she does. And in my mind I am the best at what I do. Why do I say that? Because if you compare any pros first book to mine. I would probably will blow them out of the water. And If I had the chances they had in the time that they got them. I will be on top of my game. Where I want Ant to go? I want Ant to be a voice for the little guy. I want Ant to breakthrough the vast aray of failed independant comics so everyone will know my story. And when that geek at the con thinks about giving up on his dreams. He will be reminded of ANT. he will be reminded of me. He will be reminded to never give up. If that bum Mario made it from the dirt. than I damn sure can.
Q: What are your plans for the future? If Joe Quesada or Jim Valentino were to call you next month, would you jump at the chance to do work for a big publisher or do you recognize yourself more in the attitude Paul Pope is known to have had, which involved doing his own thing first and then, but only then, maybe expanding your horizons?
A: If I were to get such a call I would take them up on it. Because I need to work as hard as possible to reach these goals of mine to be a well respected comicbook artist. I think working with a big company will only inhance my carrier and help Ant. The more experience I get the better. I’m very young in this field. I think I have a lot of growing to do. I love doing my own book and calling my own shots, Ant will always be available. I just work double hard. That’s all. I used to that.
Q: What do you want to tell the people out there about your project and why should they check it out?
A: There is nothing like Ant out there. Period. I can’t promise you the best writing you have ever seen. I’m working on that too. But the Artwork is the best this guy can do. And I’m getting better. I think comicbook fans are looking for something new and original. Something fresh. I know what’s bugging the comicfans of the world. That something is ANT!
Peace out Dawg.
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