Ape chats with Hero Within artist Aurelio Mazzara
With the upcoming release of our newest superhero comic book Hero Within, we chatted with artist Aurelio Mazzara, who did the penciling for the book.
In our back and forth, Mazzara shares his love of comics, where he gets his inspiration and his thoughts on digital comics. The Italian artist has also worked on Ape's Kung Fu Panda comics. Don't forget to pickup Hero Within #1, on racks in July.
APE: Hero Within #1 is steep in superhero motifs, how did you create that atmosphere without making generic superhero pages?
Mazzara: I felt my heart and I used from what I read, seen and loved, and tried to mix it all together.
APE: The series takes readers through comic's Golden Age, Silver Age and Modern Age, and your art reflects those shifts. How would you describe the art for each age, and which is your favorite to draw?
Mazzara: I concentrate on details that characterize every age, from dresses to hair, costumes. For the rest I more or less kept the same style along all the comic, both in the present and past scenes.
About my opinion on "every age of art" I can say that I fully lived the coming of the 1990s. Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee's era, all were authors I read at that time.
But I can surely say that I strongly love all Jack Kirby's and Steve Ditko's works, and in Hero Within I always try to pay tribute to these immortal myths, or at least I try.
APE: What artistic elements would you say define strong art in a superhero comic, and what elements did you make sure to include when drawing Hero Within?
Mazzara: Basically I tried to characterize the movements and expressions of the characters, trying to find the highest naturalness and dynamism, imagining how I would react in certain situations lived by the main characters and keeping in my mind that this is a group of teens who become superheroes. I enjoyed giving Heroic/Jordan (the protagonist of the series), attitudes and expressions typical of teenagers. In addition, I have much fun adding small tributes inside the panels and covers, inserting elements from movies, comics and cartoons.
APE: In Hero Within #1 the teenage characters say that they read all of the Heroic comics from 1937 to present day on their smart phones. How are you reading comics?
Mazzara: Honestly, I still prefer the paper comic, but I often read digital ones. I think it's a medium full of potential, especially for the younger generations, who, according to characters of the series, can read unforgettable stories if they are sold out, or if they are too expensive and hard to find.
APE: The characters in the book are big superhero fans, what kind of comic reader are you?
Mazzara: I've been reading comics since I was 5. I have to thank my dad who gave me my first Spider-Man book (a character I still read and love.) This was the start to my career as a "greedy comic reader."
I love reading about everything, especially superheroes, but also horror series like Hellblazer.
APE: What would you say are your art influences?
Mazzara: Usually, I try to draw on several authors: I love Erik Larsen, an author I read since my first experiences as an artist. I love his Spider-Man especially for his panel layout. I think that, apart from Larsen, the authors who best influenced my style are Stuart Immonen, Jim Lee, Ryan Ottley, Cory Walker, Todd McFarlane, Todd Nauck, Humberto Ramos, Ryan Stegman, Stefano Caselli, Giuseppe Camuncoli... I'm surely forgetting someone. Ehehe.
APE: This is Ape Entertainment's first comic book with a hero in tights in awhile, what's it been like working with Ape?
Mazzara: I still remember the email I received from [Ape Entertainment CEO] David Hedgecock, in which he asked me to take part in the project. I better remember my big emotion when I knew it was the first Ape superheroes project. I love working with them, we speak a lot and we enjoyed so much creating some characters.
APE: Can you tell us what future projects readers can expect to see you working on?
Mazzara: Unfortunately at the moment I can't say anything. I hope to announce some news ASAP.
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