As the Christmas season approaches, it's easy to get wrapped up in the bright colors of presents, trees and shopping malls.But for two comic book artists, the color of Christmas is something completely different. And this kind of Christmas color benefits people around the world through the charity World Vision.
With the new graphic novella A Child is Born, writer/artist Billy Tucci and colorist Paul Mounts are portraying the birth of Jesus Christ, making sure to incorporate Tucci's painstaking research about the clothing, colors and settings of the Bible. Based on the Gospel of Matthew and Luke, the book tells the story of Mary's pregnancy, Christ's birth and a visit by three Magi.
As we detailed in our interview with the renowned artist when the book was first announced, Tucci was moved by his Christian belief to create A Child is Born after his wife's battle with breast cancer. "It all comes down to faith," Tucci said. "I am a Christian and know in my heart that I am the one to do this, and that my love for A Child Is Born will show on every page. "
To complete the highly detailed project, Tucci enlisted the help of Mounts, with whom he'd collaborated in the past. The two recently revealed stunning colored images from the book.
This week, Tucci also announced his intention to work with the charitable organization World Vision as he markets the 32-page book. World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.As a follow-up to our interview with Tucci, Newsarama talked with Mounts about how he approached the task of coloring a story about Jesus Christ, and why he wanted to get involved in the project.
Newsarama: Paul, how did you get involved with this book? And what did you think of the idea when you heard about it?
Paul Mounts: Billy approached me at a con earlier this year with the idea. When Billy wants something to happen, it happens, so I couldn't help but be sucked into his vortex of passion for this project. And I was surprised that even though many Biblical comics had been done, a simple, straightforward birth-of-Jesus comic hadn't. At least not in recent memory, and not of this quality.
Nrama: How did you approach the color palette for this book? What were your thoughts behind how you would contribute to the tone of the art?Mounts: Billy and I had several discussions about this. He wanted a sort of organic, glazed look to the colors, ala Gustav Klimt or Maxfield Parrish. The other concern was for accuracy in the costuming and environments. Even some of the most minor characters had been thoroughly researched.
Nrama: Did this project seem daunting at all as you worked on it? After all, so many people have invested their faith in this story.
Mounts: Daunting is an understatement. Everyone has in their mind how this story, these iconic figures should look. There's no way we're going to please everybody — if your perception of Mary or Joseph includes blond hair or blue eyes, this probably won't be the book for you.
I think people will be impressed with the amount of research that Billy and his partners have done. From the position of Jupiter and other heavenly bodies in the sky, to the environments and costuming, to the timeframe of the events, no stone was left unturned to try to make this the most accurate depiction of this story possible.Nrama: Billy, what did you think when you saw Paul's colors?
Tucci: I’ve worked with Paul before on many of our Shi prints and of course, Jonah Hex, and I just knew in my heart that he was the one person to paint this book, but to say I was blown away by the results of his amazing work would be a great disservice to his talent. I must be honest in saying that his pages almost brought me to tears as he has brought my artwork to levels I never dreamed possible.
Nrama: We announced this title a few weeks ago, Billy, and you've since visited New York Comic Con. What response have you seen from people?
Tucci: It’s been incredible! This small book of ours seems to be gathering more and more steam as we move closer to Christmas. People who’ve never stepped foot in a comic shop are emailing me on how to get copies. I’ve showed it to some local churches and they were incredibly surprised by the whole package. It’s amazing many people are continually astonished by the quality and power of today’s comics and I delight in telling them that “these ain’t your parents funny books!”
Nrama: Paul, were there any people in the story that you particularly enjoyed working on as you worked to give a more accurate look to them?Mounts: Mary, first and foremost. I liked the challenge of making her a young Middle Eastern woman who has to serenely accept the awesome responsibility that has been placed upon her.
Nrama: What part of this project did you enjoy most?
Mounts: Working with Billy. His pencilled art on this book is probably the best thing he's ever done, and that's saying a lot. Plus the enthusiasm and dedication that everyone involved brought to the book, which doesn't always happen.
Nrama: OK, then conversely, what part of this project was the biggest challenge?
Mounts: Working with Billy! His pencils were so fine and detailed that the color had to be almost lightly glazed/washed on, in a digital sense, so as not to destroy the delicacy of the line art.
Nrama: Billy, what can you tell people about this charity, World Vision?Tucci: We’re honored in supporting World Vision’s mission to transform the lives of the world's poorest children and families in nearly 100 countries, including the United States. Apostle Arts[, the publishing company Tucci created to market A Child Is Born,] has joined a family of over 3 million fellow donors and supporters worldwide serving close to 100 million people including earthquake and hurricane victims, abandoned and exploited children, survivors of famine, civil war, refugees, and children and families in communities devastated by AIDS.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Billy, is there anything else you want to tell people about the graphic novella?
Tucci: Just that I poured my heart and soul into A Child Is Born. It has been my dream project for over a decade now, and within a few weeks, it’ll be offered to the world. I believe A Child Is Born is my Magnum Opus and will make a wonderful Christmas present for years and years to come.
Billy Tucci’s A Child Is Born will arrive in comic shops on Nov. 23. To purchase copies, call 1-888-COMIC-BOOK to locate a comic book store near you or go to www.comicshoplocater.com or www.achildisbornbook.com.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!