Dial H #7,
NOT PonticelliItalian artist Alberto Ponticelli appears to be a hot commodity these days at DC Entertainment, as he moves from the New 52 titles Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. to the new critical darling Dial H.
Part of Ponticelli's appeal has been the accolades he won for his artwork on the recent Vertigo series Unknown Soldier. As he depicted the title's East African setting, Ponticelli worked in contrasty pencils and layers of watercolor textures that thrilled critics and echoed the film noir-inspired writing of Josh Dysart.
But Ponticelli's appeal to the publisher also lies in his speed, which is becoming an important consideration in a comics' age that demands a monthly schedule and early digital deadlines.
Last week, DC announced that Ponticelli, who's been drawing Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. since it launched last year, would be taking over art for Dial H beginning in December while still finishing up his current series with issue #15. (Edited by Vertigo's head honcho Karen Berger, Dial H is the series launched in May by novelist China Miéville.)This IS Ponticelli Born in Milan, Ponticelli won a contest for new comic book artists in 1994, landing him his first published work. He worked in a team with some of his friends on Italian independent comics under the "Shok Studio" label, where he drew comics like Egon and Dead or Alive: A Cyberpunk Western, published by Dark Horse. He later drew Sam and Twitch when Brian Bendis was writing the series, and did work on Marvel Knights.
But it was his work on Unknown Soldier that earned him a regular gig at DC Entertainment, and led to his current role as artist for Dial H. And fans who raved about his creative work on Unknown Soldier are glad to know he's joined a book where his design capabilities and creativity will be challenged as he creates the grotesque world that Miéville has been developing in Dial H.
Despite a bit of a language difference, Newsarama reached out to the acclaimed artist to find out more about his history, as well as his upcoming work.
Newsarama: Alberto, looking at your work — particularly the difference between the looks of Unknown Soldier and Frankenstein — it seems that you can match your style to the subject of the stories you illustrate. Do you think that's important to do?
this too! Alberto Ponticelli: I think the art should follow the mood of the story, so it's important to have a great feeling with the "world" you are drawing, and trying to give it a solid context. Drawings and script should be a unique third language. They need each other to exist and be strong. So i think about the story, and then I try to draw it as if I am living that world in my mind.
Nrama: What artists have influenced you as you've developed your talent?
Ponticelli: So many! Comic artists like Simon Bisley, Mike Mignola, Bill Sienkiewicz, Kent Williams, Jae Lee, but also Toppi, Battaglia, etc. Too many, definitely!
Nrama: Having drawn Unknown Soldier, and now drawing different locations and characters in Dial H, do you do a lot of research for your subjects? Do you use references?
Ponticelli: I use references if necessary — a specific car, building, etcetera — but I prefer to draw what I have in [my] mind. I personally prefer to interpret the reality in a believable and personal way, instead that drawing something hyper-realistic. I think it's the best way to create a better mood for the story.
Nrama: What did you like about taking this job on Dial H? What appealed to you as an artist?
Ponticelli: The story is totally crazy and grotesque, but very clever at the same time. And I love to draw that kind of stuff.
I really like the sense of responsibility about being special, like trying to understand our consciousness. China is a great writer. I am definitely lucky with writers: Joshua Dysart, Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt and then China Miéville. Pretty awesome!
Nrama: Have you gotten to talk with China Miéville? Or are you familiar with his work?
Ponticelli: Unfortunately, I didn't talk to him yet. He is a brilliant novelist. I'm discovering him these days reading his books, and Dial H of course, and I feel very close to his imagination. I hope I can talk to him soon.
Nrama: As we discussed, you're able to really mold your style to the story. Have you started working enough on Dial H to be able to describe what you're doing for the book? Is it closer to Unknown Soldier, or the look you had for Frankenstein?
Ponticelli: I'm [still] trying to "understand" the whole world of Dial H, [but] I feel like I'd like to mix the style from Unknown Soldier and the one from Frankenstein. I'll keep you posted, anyway!
Nrama: As you start on Dial H, what is the biggest challenge?
Ponticelli: The biggest challenge is always to enter a new world. The first pages are always like "hello, nice to meet you," and then you try to get to know that new person. You know what I mean?
Nrama: Sure, but you must have seen what's been done on the book so far. What do you think you'll enjoy the most about drawing Dial H?
Ponticelli: Well, it's full of craziness, weird people, monsters, superheroes — everything is set in the middle of a smoking, dark place. It's a kind of nightmare. I love all of that! I'm fascinated by the "grotesque" side of this world. Everything is mixed in a totally original way, and I love comics that surprise me.
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