At first glance, Felipe Massafera's covers have a very familiar look.
In many ways, that's a compliment, because that "familiarity" is based on comparisons to one of the most admired artists in comic books.
"I think anyone can tell my favorite [influence] is Alex Ross," Massafera told Newsarama. "In 1995, I saw the Marvels #0 issue for the fist time, and the way that artist I had never heard about before pictured the superheroes totally blew me away. It was not bodybuilders in spandex anymore. It was something new, and I really identified myself with his style, and I was only 10 years old."Felipe Massafera's artwork can be seen on upcoming covers for Superman: Last Family of Krypton, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors and the crossover JLA/The 99 covers.
A Brazilian artist, Massafera has been drawing since he was a small child, influenced to turn toward art by his family.But it was his brother-in-law who first introduced him to the world of comics. "[He showed] his huge comic book collection to me when I was eight," Massafera explained. "He teaches art and gave me so many important tips, but I do not have a specific or formal training. I have studied by myself, so I’m a self-taught artist."
Massafera's been working in the American comic book industry for the last four years, starting out with a job he admits was a little daunting, because he was drawing a story by legendary writer Alan Moore."It was an adaptation of an Alan Moore tale for Avatar Press in late 2006," Massafera said. "Joe Prado, my agent and a great artist too, called me and told me he had some work for me to do and it was the Alan Moore's Light of thy Countenance graphic novel. I could barely believe I would start my career with something related to the great master."
The artist describes his style as "non-photorealism made in traditional ways," which he accomplishes through watercolor and gouache. "But I am always trying new techniques and materials in my spare time," he added.
His most high-profile comics is the upcoming crossover, JLA/The 99, the six-issue comic from DC that unites the Islam-inspired heroes from Teshkeel Comics with the Justice League of America.
"It's pretty interesting," Massafera said. "I had never heard about this superhero team from Islam before. It is very important to be open to new stuff."
Massafera said he often uses references for the scenes he draws, but he needed a lot of information on The 99 characters, since he wasn't familiar with them.
"The editors sent me a lot of materials and references, plus I made my own researches on the Internet," he said. "The concept of young superheroes from all around the world was always my favorite thing about Claremont, Cockrum and Byrne's X-Men. It's a very good comic book with really nice characters."Maybe the most difficult part was the fact that the heroes are all too young and, because they are not that familiar to me, sometimes I make one or another look too old for their ages. And the costumes are pretty detailed," he said.