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Ant in Heaven

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August sees the release of Mario Gully's new Ant series... only this time, the Arcana logo no longer graces the cover. It has been replaced by a big "I" as the character's creator has taken the book over to Image.

For a creator like Gully, who always wanted to break in at Image, he's extremely happy to find himself in creator-owned heaven. 

BROKEN FRONTIER: Let’s start with the most obvious question: why did you decide to leave Arcana, especially since Ant was already off to a pretty good start over there?

MARIO GULLY: I wasn’t satisfied with my career in the comic biz at that point. I wanted more for myself and for my creation. Yeah, Ant did great for a small press company, but I’m the type of guy that is always reaching higher and setting new goals for myself. The only logical thing was to go to the very best publishing house for creator-owned properties.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy. I’ve been knocking on Image’s door for years. But I was eventually going to move on one way or another. Not to sound cocky, but I felt that I had maxed out Ant at Arcana. The book was great and I was the best talent. It’s hard to grow that way. You must move on. My goal is to be one of the best. Will I ever reach that goal? Who knows… you can only die trying.

BF: Have you made any changes to the book after moving it over to Image? Not to the basic concept of course, but more in terms of how you’ll be telling the story?

MG: Yes, the new Ant series takes place where Ant volume 1 left off. Now, Hanna is a young lady and she really has become this hero she always wanted to be. It’s not your traditional superhero story, but it is a superhero story nonetheless. I did the fantasy thing.

Now I want to tell a superhero story that is on a different level. The difference is that I started from ground zero with this character. You know her history and the things she went through as a young child. Now the time has come to take off the gloves and see what this Ant is all about.

BF: How will the plot move on from where Ant: Days Like These ended?

MG: Hanna woke up in a mental hospital. Her reality was the result of the power fantasy she created for herself. The trip is that she can’t remember growing up and having a life outside of what you read in “Days Like These”. She doesn’t remember how she went crazy, she doesn’t remember how she became the person she is today, and most importantly, she doesn’t remember becoming Ant. Hanna is going to find out the hard way that being “The greatest hero this world has ever known” is very  big shoes to fill. 

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BF: Are there any new characters set to be introduced?

MG: Yes, there are a lot of heroes and villains that will play an important role in the new series. I don’t want to give away too much information though. Ant will face off with Jessica Mime in the first issue. Jessica Mime is a bad wannabe villain that possesses these power bands that create holographic weapons she mimes out. Is that too much info?

BF: Speaking of character appearances, will we see any tie-ins to the Image universe down the line?

MG: Savage Dragon will appear in issue #2 and Spawn will appear in issue #3. How’s that?

BF: Now that you’ve brought up Spawn, I find your art style to be reminiscent of Spawn artist Greg Capullo, especially his earlier work. Has he been a big inspiration when developing your art style?

MG: Yes he has. Actually a long time ago, Todd McFarlane Productions was the very first Studio to contact me about doing some work. Over the course of time that influence (Capullo and McFarlane) has stuck with me. I’m happy drawing the way I do, in a style that is just natural to me. I do want to say that I think my new stuff is light years better than my old stuff. I still have a lot to learn though. I’ve only did four comic books, but I think the new series is going to blow heads off!

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BF: How would you describe your style yourself?

MG: I think my style is evolving in a very positive way. I’m getting influenced by all kinds of stuff now. I’m studying more. Erik Larsen is helping me out and you can see a lot of his influences in my work.

It’s hard to describe. I just know that people are saying “Wow! Your new stuff is fantastic!” It’s hard to pin-point how you take your art to the next level—a little bit of this... less of that, heavy on something else. I just know I’m heading in the right direction.

BF: Over at Arcana, Ant frequently featured variant covers by people like J. Scott Campbell. Can we except more variant covers, this time by Image creators perhaps? And if so, by whom?

MG: There will be no more variant covers; I think the industry is getting enough of variants without me adding fuel to the fire. I want to give folks a one of a kind item with no tricks or gimmicks involved. I’m keeping it real this time around.

Click to enlargeBF: Will Ant’s new adventures be told as separate mini series or as an ongoing monthly title?

MG: As an ongoing series. I’m here to stay as long as people will welcome me.

BF: Ant basically is a story about the power of one’s imagination. How important is imagination in your life?

MG: I would be dead if it wasn’t for my imagination. I feed on it. It wakes me up in the morning and it is there when I sleep. I don’t know about any one else, but to me, life is hard. And if you don’t have the will to be the best you can be in whatever it is that you do, then what’s the point in living?

The imagination is the fuel to one’s reality. Pretty much everything I’ve accomplished in this comic industry, well, people told me it could never be done. I’m serious. People like that have no imagination. I pity people like that.

BF: Do you ever see yourself working on other properties or projects, or do you think Ant will always remain your number one priority?

MG: I would work on other properties if the conditions are right. But Ant is my heart and soul. Ant has gotten me through a lot of hard times when all hope seemed lost. I’m not talking about a comic book, I’m talking about when you’re locked up and the judge wants to give you ten years and the only thing you can do to keep your sanity is draw with the hope of better days.

Nothing can replace Ant for me. Ant was there before I was a comic creator. Ant was there before any of that jazz. I owe it to her to give her my best.

- Frederik Hautain

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