When in Rome: Italian Artist Sara Pichelli on X-MEN: PIXIE

Sara Pichelli

In 2008, Marvel editor C.B. Cebulski crossed the globe looking for new talent, hoping to find a hidden treasure among hopeful comic book artists.

One of the treasures he found is featured in this week's X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back, a new mini-series by writer Kathryn Immonen and artist Sara Pichelli.

A resident of Rome, Italy, Pichelli began working immediately after Cebulski discovered her work, first on NYX, then on comics like Eternals, X-Men Manifest Destiny: Dazzler, and with Immonen on Runaways. While the latter gig was short-lived for both creators, the folks at Marvel decided to pair them again for X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back.

Focusing on Megan Gwynn, or "Pixie," one of the youngest and most upbeat characters from Uncanny X-Men, Pixie Strikes Back shows how the character handles a "girls night out gone wrong" in a way only an X-team member can.

As Pichelli's first issue of Pixie is released this week, we interviewed the artist and got through the differences in language to find out more about her work on X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back.

Newsarama: Sara, first, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get interested in art? And when did you decide to pursue comic books?

Pichelli: I think I've always been interested in art. My uncle and my mom are painters, and my other uncle is a musician. Well, my dad is a pharmacist, so I guess I've chosen the artistic side of my family. I'm sure my dad doesn't mind it!

I was working in the animation business until 2008. Being a character designer was great, but what I really was missing was to tell stories. And thanks to my boyfriend David Messina, who's a comic book artist, I started reading comic books, and it was love at first sight.

I come from a small town on the east coast of Italy where it's not that easy to find comic books. So when I was 19 and I moved to Rome, I found an actual "new world." Here there are a ton of comic book shops everywhere! Jeez, I felt like a little girl in a cake shop.

Nrama: What was it like winning the Chesterquest contest? Were you surprised when you won?

Pichelli: I sent my stuff to the Chesterquest email address, and honestly, I was sure nothing was going to happen, seeing that my experience in the comic book business was very little. I took the chance with that contest just for fun, since all my friends were participating, and I couldn't resist the challenge. Well, when I won I was like, "You know, guys, C.B. wrote me back. He said I won. I think he's wrong. Let's wait for another email that says it was for another guy!" And when the results were sure, my reaction was very calm and placid -- lies!!! I started jumping with dumbest smile I've ever had on my face!

Nrama: What's it been like working with Marvel Comics since then, and what have been some of your favorite projects?

Pichelli: My favorite projects were NYX, even if I drew just a few pages each book, and Runaways. But I really enjoy working for Marvel, no matter what the project is that I'm working on, because the guys are very kind to me, and they always give me the chance to draw without any limits. And that's terrific!

Nrama: What did you think of Pixie when you first started drawing her?

Pichelli: Honestly, I didn't know so much about that character, so it took a bit more time for me to get in contact with her personality. But, you know, pink hair, pointed ears and wings? I'm a girl I couldn't deny I was excited to draw her.

Nrama: What other characters are you getting to draw?

Pichelli: In Pixie Strikes Back, we'll find a lot of other characters, most of them girls: X-23, Armor, Blindfold, Mercury. In the book, in each panel, we can find three or four of them talking and interacting, so my priority was to draw them recognizable for the reader, to avoid any confusion during the dialogue.

Nrama: What kind of things are you getting to draw in this comic? And what are some of the favorite things you've done for the Pixie story?

Pichelli: In this comic, I drew so many different things! For instance, just think of something. Done? Yes, I've drawn that one too! [laughs] All jokes aside, I don't want to tell the readers too much, but the most funny things I drew were demons and monsters. It felt soooo good!

Nrama: You've worked with Kathryn Immonen on two projects now. How is it working with her?

Pichelli: Working with her is great! She likes what I draw and I like what she writes. The perfect relationship. I would ask her to marry me but she's already engaged... damn! [laughs] Joking, but I'm serious when I say that I really appreciate Kathryn's work, and her dialogues are so funny!

Nrama: Are you approaching this comic differently than you did Runaways

?

Pichelli: This Pixie's book will be slightly different than the Runaways stuff, because I'm exploring something new. I'm totally restless about art. I hope the readers won't be destabilized or scared of my visual research.

Nrama: How is it different?

Pichelli: The Runaways art was inked digitally. I used the Cintiq tablet. In Pixie's story, I'm mixing the techniques. I'm using mostly the actual brush for inking, but I'm still exploring. We'll see the evolution on the last issue of the book.

Nrama: Do you know yet what your plans are after this mini-series?

Pichelli: Honestly? I have no idea what's next after Pixie. I swear I'm guessing...The Incredible Hulk? Oh no! Jeez, I'm kidding. Seriously, I don't know. We'll see.

Click here for a lettered preview of X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back #1

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