Sergio Cariello: Inspired from Above

A comics interview article by: Bill Janzen

Since the mid-90's, Sergio Cariello has embarked on a journeyman career as a comics artist, having a chance to draw many of the highest profile characters for both Marvel and DC, including Daredevil, Wonder Woman, Batman and Captain America. Recently, Cariello has worked on the acclaimed Lone Ranger for Dynamite Entertainment as well as The Action Bible New Testament, a comic adaptation of a certain famous book you may be familiar with. CB's Bill Janzen caught up with Cariello about that latest project, as well as to chat about how Cariello's faith has motivated him not only on that project, but on everything he's done throughout his career.

Bill Janzen for Comics Bulletin: Other than the Action Bible, what do you think of as the highlight of your comic book career?

Sergio Cariello: I would have to say the 25 issues of the Lone Ranger series with writer Brett Mathews, published by Dynamite comics. It brought me great joy to draw the Western iconic hero, and it also got me an Eisner Award nomination for Best New Series in 2007.

Sergio Cariello Interview - Action Bible New TestamentCB: Having drawn characters like Batman and Captain America who are usually leaping and doing such dramatic movements, what was it like drawing the less gymnastic, more static Bible characters? How did you go about adding in dynamic elements and action into the Action Bible artwork?

Cariello: It all has to do with arranging the elements within the page dynamically as needed. Sometimes you don't want them to pop out but rather tell the story clearly and convincingly. And whenever appropriate, pull the reader in with the right angles and camera moves, for we comic book artists are indeed the actors, the camera man, the art director, the costume designer and all those titles we see at the end of every movie's credits.

CB: How different was it working from a standard comic script compared to working from a script based on the Bible?

Cariello: At times, the Bible script touches the soul in a way that the regular, non-sacred script does not. You can allow any story to touch your emotions, of course, but I'm talking about a supernatural phenomenon [like the one] experienced by the actor Robert Powell who played  Jesus in [Franco] Zeffirelli's movie [Jesus of Nazareth]. He shared how the script seared into his mind. He was hearing his own voice echoing off the mountains during the Sermon on the Mount and actually listening to the words. [He said], "There was me, the extras and crew in a flood of tears, rapt at what is, I am convinced, the most profound piece of writing in history."

CB: Did you feel any extra pressure in trying to stay true and reverent to the Biblical text?

Cariello: As in any work and subject that I love and respect, I will allow myself to be creatively free while keeping the essence true to its source. But I understand that the former statement can be very subjective and perceived differently from each beholder of the text and his own personal convictions.    

CB: With characters like Captain America, I assume there's some character model aspects that are obvious, like a strong jaw line, for example. What attributes did you find it important to include when drawing Jesus? Were there any specific visuals from other artwork or movies about the Bible that you particularly drew on for inspiration?

Cariello: We know biblically that Jesus was not a handsome man but rather a regular looking Jew just like any other of his time. "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him"(Isaiah 53). I chose to draw him as I did because to me he is all about beauty and majesty and desirability and the one true hero, blameless, strong in every way. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things. So, although I did not draw him with blue eyes or a cute nose, I drew him manly, ready to do any hard work as a carpenter, ready and well prepared to walk many miles and even carry our cross on his shoulders.

Sergio Cariello Interview - Action Bible New Testament

CB: How much have your beliefs affected your work on other comic books?

Cariello: My convictions are so deep that they do affect all my work and my life in general, because my beliefs are intertwined with my whole being and I constantly see [Jesus Christ] involved in my decisions, my ins and outs and every trivial activity I'm engaged in. Having said that, I am honest to draw the way I draw, doing it as if doing it for and by the same force which drives me to draw biblical material. When I have doubts I ask my Lord: please help meet my deadline, help me solve this page's problems, etc. I must remind you that while I was drawing the Action Bible, I was simultaneously drawing The Lone Ranger and other gigs for other companies, and every job that I do, I do it with the best of my ability and effort and dedication. Bur I would not be able to accomplish all those monthly pages without the help of a certain carpenter who paid my debt on a tree!

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