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WonderCon 2016: Spotlight on Francesco Francavilla – Panel Coverage

He had hoped that his collaborator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, would have been able to join him, but, instead, Francesco Francavilla sat at the long table on his own, bringing new meaning to the “Spotlight on Francesco Francavilla” WonderCon panel. With a distinctive pulpy art style that punctuates the horror and noir stories he has worked on, it seems a strange marriage that his career would lead him to the All-American, boy-next-door comic, Afterlife with Archie, published by Archie Comics. Just looking at his covers evokes some of the early Abbott and Costello Meets [insert monster name] films or just about any of the 1940s-1950s horror B-movies that would eventually be featured on a Joe Bob Briggs or an Elvira show decades later. For 50 minutes, Francavilla entertained questions from the audience.

The artist began by explaining that he was not familiar with the licensed property, because it was not a series available in his native homeland of Italy; however, Francavilla said that Archie was straightforward; he felt he brought something fresh to the perpetual red-headed youth, although he did not realize that Archie was a “goofball.” An audience member asked what IP he would like to work on. Francavilla responded he would create a Punisher version of Goofy or something with Mickey Mouse. He also mentioned Hanna-Barbera would provide some great characters, yet it seemed that Looney Tunes’ Marvin the Martian was the character he most coveted for his artistic makeover.

With such a strong visionary style, the question of Francavilla’s inspiration would naturally come up. He stated that films have been a major influence on his style: old black/white Italian films, classic Universal movies, films by Dario Argento, as well as individual projects such as Ash vs. Evil Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th. Although he read Heavy Metal, Batman, and Spider-Man, he was more interested in the supernatural and occult. He added that he has been watching The X-Files and in the span of a show, he can create a digital piece, such as Silver Surfer. He added that when he is struck with inspiration, he must draw it right away.

Those who follow Francavilla on his Twitter account are regularly treated to themed art, and a person from the audience asked if he would make available prints of any of his Black History Month images. He said he took his time with these images, because he wanted to honor each person featured. He added that he picked some of the people as did his wife. He wanted to raise awareness for individuals not as well known. Francavilla said he learned a lot by doing the project.

Was Francavilla planning to do an art book in the future? He explained he created a sketchbook when he first started in 2006. He printed up 500 copies of the book, and now 10 years on, he would like to put together an anniversary edition. He’s not sure if he would do a solo effort or include contributors. He figured he could crowdfund the project or perhaps a publisher would be interested.

For those who remember his series, The Black Beetle, it comes as no surprise that Francavilla is a fan of The Green Hornet, Dashiell Hammett, and others. He has been a fan of the genre for a long time. Dark Horse’s Mike Richardson approached Francavilla to publish the noir series that he wrote and illustrated. He revealed that the series title came from his picking a color that he then matched up with an animal; hence the title’s name.

Due to his good internet presence, Mondo contacted Francavilla to create a Creature of the Black Lagoon poster. He does have more posters coming, including posters for Hammer films. In addition, he likes to make posters of made-up films – often, people think they are real films. And, with his obvious interest in horror, Francavilla was asked what Halloween like at his house. He said he picks up animal skulls and he has been offered a human skull. Francavilla revealed that all of his creepy stuff is relegated to his office. One of his prized possessions is from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre film.

Francavilla has a certain way with color, but he didn’t start out doing colors. It wasn’t until his Zorro (2008, Dynamite) series that he started doing his own colors. He said he didn’t want to use literal colors, but rather colors that would evoke a particular mood he was looking to express. He revealed that he picks what looks good to him.

Francavilla has worked with a number of publishers, so he was asked what his dream project would be. He reminisced working on DC Comics’ Swamp Thing with Scott Snyder and a favorite project he would like to revisit. Then, he said he would actually like to do an official poster for a movie. As a follow-up question, he was asked about his work on licensed properties in general. Francavilla explained that sometimes he runs into issues with licensing of characters. For example, he did not have a license for Coombs’ likeness nor the green color of the serum in the syringe for Re-animator.

As the hour came to a close, Francavilla was asked if he had or would like to work a video game project. He expressed interest, maybe for a Vikings type of game. He said he hasn’t been approached, but it would be an opportunity to keep his art fresh.

Michele Brittany, Fanbase Press Contributor



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