Saturday, June 26, 2010

Profile Antics: Chuck Dixon & Sergio Cariello and "Geneva of the Jungle"

Today the Catacombs is pleased to present the first part of a dual interview with writer Chuck Dixon (pictured; left) and artist Sergio Cariello. We are going to discuss two projects that these fine and talented gentlemen are currently shopping around to publishers.

Chuck Dixon broke into comics in the mid-1980’s, writing Evangline for Comico before moving on to Marvel Comics where he scripted titles such as The Savage Sword of Conan, Alien Legion and Marc Spector: Moon Knight. It was while Dixon was working on the monthly The Punisher War Journal, that he caught the attention of DC Comics editor Denny O'Neil, who asked him to produce a Robin mini-series. That project proved so successful that Chuck became DC's most prolific Batman-writer during the 1990s, posting long runs on Detective Comics, Robin, Nightwing and Batgirl, as well as creating Birds of Prey.

In 1992, Sergio Cariello worked on his first comic book, "Dagon, the Worlds of HP Lovecraft," while still attending the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. During his second year at the school, he was hired as a letterer for Marvel Comics and he subsequently received pencilling assignments on Daredevil and Marvel Comics Presents: Spellbound. When Pat Garrahay moved to DC, he offered Cariello pencilling duties on Deathstroke. At DC Sergio also worked on Guy Gardner, Steel, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash,Young Heroes in Love, Blue Beetle, Batman and Azrael, among others. When work slowed down, he began teaching at the Kubert School and taught several courses over seven years. Currently, Cariello is pencilling and inking The Lone Ranger for Dynamite Entertainment.


Q) Chuck, since the mid-1980’s you’ve worked for a wide variety of publishers including DC, Dark Horse, Crossgen, Eclipse, Marvel, Moonstone and Wildstorm. Which of these companies’s was the most comfortable “fit” for you personally as a writer?

Dixon: I find that the individual editors are more relevant to me than the companies themselves. It used to be that the editor had a fiefdom and a core collection of talent he relied on. I was the go-to guy for a lot of editors. Archie Goodwin, Denny O’Neil, Scott Peterson, Jordan Gorfinkel, Don Daley and others. A creator’s career rises and falls with the amount of faith his editor has in him. For all practical purposes I was “over” at Marvel and DC as soon as my editors either resigned or were fired. I think the editorial feudal system is still in place at Marvel. At DC it’s been replaced with micro-management from the top down.

Q) You’ve produced long runs on various Batman series over the years, but since I’m curious about two of your behind-the-scenes “works in progress” that pair you up with artist Sergio Cariello, tell me when the two of you first crossed paths?

Dixon: I ran into Sergio years ago at a San Diego con. He was a Kubert School graduate and knew my buddy Graham Nolan. Sergio and I like the same kinds of comics and it’s impossible not to like Sergio. There’s not a more upbeat, eager guy in comics. And he makes me laugh even when he doesn’t mean to. Especially when he doesn’t mean to.

Q) Sergio, where do you think you are at in terms of your current comics career and what are your future goals in the industry?

Cariello: Where exactly I am in my career I don't know, but I'm thankful to have been in it for so long, having the chance to draw so many different genres and so many characters. I am still drawing comics now and making a living with it and I enjoy doing it. I hope the Good Lord will keep me healthy, creative and able to keep at it for as long as live.

Q) What kind of art tools do you use to produce your work?

Cariello: 2B Pencil, sable brush, pen nibs, black India ink, 2 ply Bristol board and Photoshop.

Q) Okay, Geneva of the Jungle looks like it could be a really fun book to read. Based on the sample pages that Sergio has produced, “Geneva” appears to blend pulp-oriented adventure with classic jungle girl elements. Is that accurate?

Dixon: It doesn’t move far from the jungle adventure sub-genre of comics. But Geneva is more capable and cynical than Sheena or Jann or Lorna or that bunch. She’s not a man-hater but she’s not about to let a guy tell her what to do or trust in his judgment to save the day. She’s also less grave and more of a smartass than your typical mistress of the wild. Above all, she’s a survivor.The story is of the “lost valley” variety with all the attendant primordial dangers. But there’s much more to it than that as the mystery unfolds. We also have a raft of bad guys from the scheming intellectual to the thuggish brute. And, of course, all the dangers and rising threats that the Amazonian jungle can produce.

Q) Sergio, give me your version of what “Geneva of the Jungle” is all about?

Cariello: I did not get too far into it to have a complete profile of the character but she seems like a female Indiana Jones to me.Very smart and sure of herself, pretty but unafraid and determined to achieve her goals .

Q) Is “Geneva” intended as an ongoing title, a mini-series or a one-shot? What’s the current likelihood that we might see this book make it into the shops?

Dixon: We need a publisher. Selling a creator-owned deal is harder in this market than it was a few years ago. But there’s also more ways to get this kind of thing financed. We’re looking into all of that. Of course, if there’s any Dixon and Cariello fans who are recent lottery winners reading this [hint] … and I see it as a series of mini-series.

Q) Sergio was both a student and an instructor at the Kubert School, and he definitely brings that sensibility to his work. What about his “art-style” resonates with you?

Dixon: That he’s willing to draw anything. That’s a taller order than it would seem to be. There’s fewer and fewer artists around who are willing, or capable, of drawing convincing animals or natural background. Being a devotee of Joe [Kubert], Sergio’s work is organic and raw. He can tackle the big scale, grandiose stuff which makes him perfect for this kind of story.

Q) Sergio, do you have a personal favorite among these two projects (Geneva of the Jungle & Akota: Wargod of the Lost) that you and Chuck are currently collaborating on?

Cariello: Both are favorites to me but if had to choose one...probably Akota. Animals, Indians and nature in general are fun to draw.

Q) You've worked on The Lone Ranger, Deathstroke & Crossgen stuff like (Sojourn, Scion, Lady Death, The Path & Crux), but did you like those properties or were they just jobs?

Cariello: Loved doing them all!! Some of them were more fun than others but each gave me pleasure to draw. Certainly none of them were just jobs.

(Part II of this interview, covering Akota: Wargod of the Lost, will be posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2010). Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

Mykal Banta said...

Great interview, Chuck. I wish Mrs. Dixon and Cariello luck on the Geneva and Wargod projects (I'd really like to see anything titled Wargod of the Lost. I wish I was a lottery winner. I'd see that project done, by god.

I love Mr. Dixon's obsrvation that so few artists have either the skill or desire to draw confincing animimals or great backgorunds. So damn true. The lack of good backgrounds makes today's comics look thin and poor. Maybe it's a speed issue.

great post! And thanks to Chuck and Sergio as well!