Richard: What do you think of the creative changes that have been made throughout ANT's existance as a comic?
Mario: I think the changes were appropriate when I did them. I would say, looking back that the different writers I had on the book gave Ant a different voice and feel. Though, I realize that Ant's true voice can really only come from my head. Because her story and the heart of the book is really my story. I think that's a big reason for the book's success. If something is working you should keep it going. Fans tell me they like my story, my writing and my art. It's time to give'em what they want.
I do have regrets about the different aspects of Ant and the different publishers I went to. I plan to give continuity and a steady foundation for the series in 2009 and forward.
Richard: Who will be the publisher when ANT returns in 2009?
Mario: I Can't disclose that at this time. The publisher wants to make an formal announcement and we are really focusing of taking our time and doing this new Ant series justice. She's going back to her roots. That's the only hint I can give at this point.
Richard: Will you be doing double duty as both artist and writer when ANT returns?
Mario: Yes. I think Ant needs a boost and a solid relaunch. I think the best guy to do the art and writing is myself. I also miss doing her and I'm real juiced up about her being out again. Plus it's really easy to yell at the artist and the writer if things get's messed up.
Richard: Where will this new "ANT" series take place continuity wise in comparison to the other series?
Mario: It's "Days like these" part two. It takes place 8 years after Ant Vol.1 ended from the Arcana version.
But, this series is designed to stand alone. You won't need to read any of the previous volumes to get this series. But, there will be goodies in this one for the true Ant fans. Keep in mind I'm doing this new book to relaunch Ant and to move forward. This will set the tone for the series into the future.
Richard: Have you ever met a woman who has some of the qualities of Hanna (ANT)
Mario: I think most women have qualities that Hannah does. She's a young lady that won't be defined by her appearance, gender or ethnicity. She's a person that has had a calling in her life and she is trying to live up to that calling. Most of the times are tough and her life is surrounded by turmoil. She does't have enormous resources. But, she has the hope that she can change the world even though nobody believes in her or supports her. Not only does this applies to women, I think it applies to most people that have hope in better days to come that have worked hard to stand on their two feet.
Richard: What has been keeping you busy the past year?
Mario: I've been penciling for Marvel basically the whole year and the end of last year. I wrote and produced Ant Unleashed. Penciled Ant Unleashed issue 3. I drew variant covers for all the Big City titles for a month. At Marvel, I penciled 6 issues of Marvel Illustrated: Treasure Island, Marvel Adventures Hulk issue 6. Drew a few pages in an Exiles one shot. I penciled and inked The Marvel Triple A baseball special and I just finished up 5 issues of Kidnapped. Toss in spending time with the kids and my darling wife it sounds like a lot but, I needed and wanted more work to do.Time is short!
Richard: Are you a fan of the literary classics?
Mario: I've learned to respect the Literary classics. All the classics are just amazing and one only can hope people will remember the work creators do in a year or so. These books and literary bodies of work have been around for a very long time. Some for centuries. To have had a small part in making that material available and new for the comic book medium Is a nice thing.
Richard: How did you feel about getting onboard at Marvel as the artist on "Treasure Island" and "Kidnapped"?
Mario: It was something I pursued, so it was really cool to be apart of those projects. I've learned a lot and I worked many different muscles that I haven't worked before. I got to team up with the extraordinary talented Roy Thomas and it was one of the nicest experiences I've had the pleasure to be apart of.
Richard: Did you enjoy drawing historical scenes and all the bygone era stuff?
Mario: Sure! In the beginning when I was asked to draw samples of Treasure Island material was way out of my comfort zone. It was a nice experience and I learned a lot about myself. It's nice for an artist to diversify and show that he can draw modern era superhero art and pull off 17th century pirate art convincingly. I built muscles I didn't really know I had and I'm a better artist and draftsman because of the Chance I had to work on Treasure Island and Kidnapped.
Richard: Was drawing these comics a big change from ANT?
Mario: At first it was. But you know, as time goes on you adapt and it becomes drawing nice pages just like everything else. A good artist can take any material and hopefully make the work look like he has been doing it for years.
I had to rely on tons of facial expressions and strong story telling in the Marvel Illustrated comics. Sure, as a penciler you are story tellers first and foremost but I had to invent ways to present the art in an exciting way when I could. I couldn't necessary do the splashy pages that is ripping with Ant fighting bank robbers or tossing trucks. I instead had to focus on nice camera angles and make the way David Balfour approached a old spooky mansion exciting.
Richard: Will you be doing more work for Marvel?
Mario: I think so. I've done a bunch of stuff over there and they seem to like what I do.
Richard: Whats your first love writing or drawing and why?
Mario: Drawing because I'm a artist that can write not a writer that can draw. Picking up a pencil was my first love.
Richard: Would you like to see a world where super powers were real?
Mario: Well, knowing how the world has dealt with religion and people of different beliefs, cultures, ethnic backgrounds and social statuses I think it would be chaos. I don't think we are ready yet. Ask me in 50 years.
Richard: How important is family in your life?
Mario: Next to breathing. It's most important to me. My wife and kids are my driving force. I've chosen this daunting task of being a comic book creator and it's a hard life. It's feast or famine in this biz and you never know what you are going to get a particular month. The feast or the famine. I drag my family through this with me and they love me regardless if I draw a wonderful page or not.
Richard: How can someone contact you?
Richard: And words for fans of your work?
Mario: Thanks for hanging around and I hope to put out more material you guys and gals are happy with. I do appreciate everyone of you. With out you, I couldn't do what I do and I will never forget that or take that for granted.