With The Avengers movie opening in theaters this weekend, I invited Sergio Cariello–a Marvel comics illustrator who worked on Avengers comics–to help whet our appetites. Sergio is one of the few creative types I’ve ever interviewed with his own Wikipedia page. If you want a taste of his work, though, skip that and go straight to his website, www.sergiocariello.com. Sergio has not only drawn comic books for Marvel and DC Comics, but he also happens to be a Christian who illustrated The Action Bible. (You can read my review of it here.) Today I ask Sergio about how he got started as a comic illustrator, what he did as a kid to prepare, and how he brings his faith in Christ to the work he does. Plus what your kids can do now if they want to be an illustrator.
Win THE ACTION BIBLE! (Shazam!)
I’m excited enough about his work, too, to giveaway a copy of The Action Bible this week. Leave us a comment below telling us who is your favorite Avenger? (If you want extra credit, tell us one way he/she is like Jesus?) We’ll pick a winner on Saturday! And now, to the interview!
1. You have had an “illustrious” career as a comic book illustrator. You’ve worked on characters that anyone would know–including Spiderman, Green Lantern, Marvel’s Avengers. Did you always know you wanted to draw comics?
Thanks, Emily.Very kind of you to say that. Did I always know? No. it took me a few years to decide. It was only after 4 years of thinking and discovering, that I knew, and told my parents, at the age of 5, I wanted to draw comics.
What prepared you for that career?
Well, 5 years of drawing on church bulletins and every surface I found worthy of my strokes prepared me to win first place in a contest in producing my first published comic strip: Frederico, the detective, to my local newspaper at the age of 11. A few more years of doodling prepared me to do political caricatures to same newspaper at the age of 14, to Paulo Craveiro( Brazilian journalist). Got side tracked a bit by life in general as a young boy Then 14 more years of drawing and filling up many sketch books( learned to be more professional at that time) launched me to the American comic Book market for Caliber Press, where I illustrated and lettered Dagon, published in 1992.
While doing that Dagon book I attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoons for a couple of years just before working for Marvel Bullpen as a letterer, where they saw I could also draw( not because of drawing homework but due to seeing me still working on a second issue of Dagon). I got so busy drawing for Marvel comics I had to drop out of my Marvel Bullpen lettering day job. One job led to another and every job prepared me better for the next one.( still true today for I never stop learning) I found some spare time to go back to the Kubert School, as a teacher, to prepare others to do what I do. Those 7 consecutive years of teaching taught me a great deal and prepared even more for more different types of jobs.
2. How has your faith influenced even your secular work?
Every job I took from 1979 on I’ve done as if working for God, once I learned that from the Word. That caused me to do the best I could do as a office-boy in a bank in Brazil in 82, pizza delivery guy in jersey in 88 and a car mechanic at Sears in 89, 90 in Jersey. My attitude always served me well, where my superiors put me in charge of something higher. From office boy to clerk and from mechanic to supervisor in a car shop. My faith has awarded me with doors uncommon to the average worker, allowing me to reach some of my life long dreams.
I took no different approach as far as dedication and zeal to the assignment at hand. I take great pleasure, and responsibility, in drawing Spider-Man as well as drawing my Lord( and my Supreme boss). Since Jesus has been my boos from 1979( where I heard His call from a Word Of Life camp in Recife, Brazil), He told me to do everything as if doing it for Him. Just like He had the appointed time for me to do Batman, there came a time He decided I was going to do the Action Bible. The way it happened was: While a teacher at the Kubert school, a fellow brother in Christ and also Teacher, Alec Stevens, asked me to draw for his magazine. I gladly accepted to draw Jesus carrying a Big Cross( ours) . That drawing ended up being published a few times and helped me won a christian award and later published in a book which the Art director at David C Cook at the tat time, 2006, saw the drawing by flipping through the book. They were looking for an artist to revamp the Picture Bible and once they spotted that Via Dolorosa scene I drew, they contacted me.
4. What are some of the characteristics of comics and graphic novels generally that Christians can admire? What should parents be wary of?
Art is admired by the eye of the beholder and his particular taste. Any drawing can be attractive or not, depending on who’s looking at it. If a drawing has enough detail, tones, angles, and believable over all settings, like a movie set and story, inviting the reader in, you sold your product to that particular individual. Well produced comics, paintings and single drawings do that.
Well..the only way to spot [unseemly stuff in comic books] is by examining the material first, before you show it to the kid, and of course, again, the eye of the beholder will see pure things or not, depending on his own perception and lust. God was never apologetic in His most popular book in the world–the Bible. Yet, if we unveiled its content to the fullest, no one would stay in the room. There are so much lust, violence, gore, nakedness and everything else in God’s word, that it is up to the publisher to decide what to pick and include in his publications. Usually, just by looking at the other books that particular publisher produces you’ll have an idea what to expect in the contents. There are also suggested age group in the cover of these books. One thing is for sure- you’ll never please everybody, no matter how careful you think you are, not only in image but written content.
5. What would you recommend to kids who might want to follow in your footsteps? How can they prepare even as kids for that kind of job?
I’d recommend for them to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Artist of All artists, who drew them, you and I, wrote them, you and i, even colored us and gave us special gifts to flourish and bring Glory to Himself while producing a good, well fitting task made especially for them, you and i, pleasing to each of His creatures.
So– the way and the truth will lead you to the life you want. Every well known, correct way can prepare us well..Schooling, practice, dedication, effort are the correct way to carve the success we desire. By being true to our calling, personal trait, burning “professional” desire, pleasurable impulse to draw many, many drawings. Being honest to yourself, doing it because you really enjoy it. And when you do it, you want to do it the way YOU see it at that time, willing to change and improve once you recognize that you need to do it better. Then you will be Ready for the right opportunities that will show up along the way, in the right time, with the right people, with the right project. If you prepared well, it will happen, according to the measure that you are in tune with the God of circumstances, and you are not lazy, but work hard as if it depends on you to get there, but once you make your move, you wait on Him for the results.
6. Who is your favorite Avenger? And do you see Christ as the ultimate superhero?
Captain America is my favorite. The uniform, His abilities. The shield. I drew him recently for Marvel too.
Jesus is the ultimate superhero!!! He can fly like superman, He can turn water into wine, He can multiply things, He can raise the dead, He can see through things, He can order a legion of Angels (sidekicks) to help him.He can walk on water, calm the sea, He could even die and come back to life, He can be 100% man and 100% God, He can be tempted just like us, He can erase all guilt, can stop you from crying, He can heal any disease , He can make you be born again into a new life, He can guide you into all truth, He can Create something from nothing, He can be in various places at the same time, He knows all things, He can do ALL things!!! Yeah, I’d say He is the Ultimate Super-Dooper Hero, wouldn’t you?
See To The Avengers…And Beyond for how to leverage the excitement of super-hero movies into substantive summer reading for your kids! Also see our interview with Art Ayris of Kingstone Comics for more comic fun. AND, don’t forget to tell us your favorite Avengers character to win a copy of The Action Bible!