Art of The Shepherd: An Interview with Giuseppe Falco
Back in April of 2019, I was on the lookout for an artist for a project. A friend of mine, Marcello Bondi, provided me with a list of Italian artists he knew who he believed might be a good fit for the project. One of those artists was a gentleman by the name of Giuseppe Falco from Matera, Italy.
Giuseppe and I began a conversation at that time that continues to this day and has blossomed into a close friendship. At the start of our conversation in April 2019, Giuseppe and I discussed the artistic projects we were working on and the possibility of collaboration.
At that time, Giuseppe explained that he had a book, Sengi et Tembo, that had been recently (February 2019) published by the French publisher Clair de Lune (http://www.editionsclairdelune.fr/catalogue/sengi-et-tembo/). The book dealt with an elephant-nosed mouse and an aged elephant and took place on the African savannah. Giuseppe wanted to have it translated into English so as to be able to offer it to an American comic book company. The book had received a preliminary translation but desperately needed to have the translated smoothed out so as to make it a better read for an American audience.
When Giuseppe heard that I worked as an editor and that I had a substantial track record of working with Italian authors to help bring their books to an American audience, he asked me to help him. When I saw the amazing quality of his artwork and read his story, I fell in love with Sengi and Tembo and promised to do all I could to edit it and help present it to American publishers.
So we set to work smoothing out the wrinkles in the translation. The process involved no less than six editorial reviews of the entire text (120+ pages). Finally, in June 2019, we felt that the book was ready to submit to publishers. The book was submitted to Dark Horse, IDW, Scout Comics and Action Lab Entertainment. I am proud to say that both Dark Horse and IDW asked to see the entire manuscript. They eventually declined to offer a contract, but as any creator knows, just getting their attention was a great compliment! In the end, both Scout and Action Lab chose to offer contacts, and we ended up selecting Scout Comics, being assigned to their new children’s imprint, Scoot! The book is scheduled to have the first Issue released in January 2021, with the whole trade arriving at local comic book stores in April 2021.
With things squared away with Sengi and Tembo, I approach Giuseppe about doing a commission of The Shepherd and Legio. I knew that Giuseppe’s work would be special, especially since I was so familiar with his depictions of various animals. In March of 2020, Giuseppe agreed and produced the following piece of artwork (I will present it first in its original black and white and then in color):
ANDREA: What was your style inspiration for this piece of art? (In other words, when we look at this piece, it evokes thoughts of Hellboy and Scooby Doo. What are your influences?)
GIUSEPPE: Mignola is present everywhere in this illustration. He is one of the authors I love.
ANDREA: As we look at this piece, we notice that Legio, while having wolf-like features, is humanoid in appearance (e.g., his muscles are those of a man; the paws are more like hands; he is presented as standing upright on two legs). Usually, he is depicted as an animal, as a wolf—in fact, your second drawing of The Shepherd and Legio follows this norm. What was it that made you conceive of Legio like this?
GIUSEPPE: I liked the idea of giving it a more human, almost werewolf shape. The free illustrations also give us designers the opportunity to "see" the characters in a somewhat subjective way. I took advantage of it. :)
ANDREA: Your drawing depicts a monster (perhaps a demon) behind The Shepherd and Legio. What was your inspiration for this creature?
GIUSEPPE: I still believe this something left over from Mignola, but it is more likely that it is the unconscious result of a background in horror, accumulated over the years.
It was already like this in my head, I can't tell you exactly where it came from. I believe from so many things seen, read and imagined.
ANDREA: Your original version of this piece was intended to be black and white. Then you provided a colored version. As we compare the two versions, I am struck by the differences—Could you comment on what you believe are the differences caused by a black and white or colored approach to the same art?
GIUSEPPE: It’s no secret Andrea. The illustration was born to work in black and white, but I left the choice of coloring it as a second option. I wanted to see what would happen with a little color. In fact, the colors are essentially flat and simple. I confess that it is the type of coloring I prefer. I like the simple and essential design, as well as the coloring, I don't like too elaborate or hyper-realistic colors. I love simplicity and simplicity of the design and color.
If you would like to see more of Giuseppe’s artwork, visit his online blog at http://falcogiuseppe.blogspot.com/ and follow him on Instagram @falcogiuseppe_fumettiere.