Industrial Influx

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Many comic fans may have noticed an increased influx of non-U.S. artists and writers into the U.S. comics market over the last few years. Artists such as Ed Benes (Birds of Prey), Andrea Di Vito (Thor, Dragonlance), Ivan Reis (Captain Marvel, Lady Death) and many more have made rather large waves in the U.S. market recently, much to the delight of fans everywhere.

I recently began to wonder about this new influx and started snooping around. Was I ever glad I did! I encountered Joe Prado, artist extraordinaire and face man for Art & Comics International. A & C is based in Brazil, where they boast of an incredible talent pool containing over 40 young, hungry, talented artists who provide art for everything from animated series to comic books to video games.

The names of some of the more high profile artists speak for themselves, however, for those of you who are blissfully ignorant, I’ve done some legwork and with the gracious help of Mr. Prado, I’ve brought the scorecard to you. So sit back and get comfortable, leave the driving to us.

Ivan Reis
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1976, Reis was only fourteen when he sold stories to Histórias Reais de Drácula (“Dracula’s Real Stories”), a magazine from Bloch Editores, and drew caricatures for Fenix Editora. By 16, he was employed full-time as a professional artist.
Within three years, Reis managed to break into the U.S. comics market. Providing pencil work for Dark Horse (Ghost, The Mask, Time Cop and Xena), next up was an issue of The Invisibles for Vertigo. After that Reis gained the assignment that set him in the comic superstar firmament: CHAOS! Comics Lady Death. Within a short time, he also provided art for Marvel in their The Supernaturals mini-series, Iron-Man, The Order, Defenders, Avengers  Annual, She-Hulk and The Thing, and Avengers.
Most recently, Reis has drawn Crux and Brian Pulido’s: Lady Death for CrossGen before gaining the attention of DC editor Eddie Berganza, who gave him the penciling assignments for Superman & Batman: Secret Files.
This all led to his greatest assignment yet: The Man of Steel! Action Comics! Reis, Chuck Austen and his all-time favorite inker (and pal) Marc Campos will ensure this book will make a huge splash in this year’s revamp of the Superman titles.

Greg Tocchini
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1979, Tocchini found his soulmate, a great graphic designer in her own right, Vanessa Lima and soon married her. They have a “child” named Enzo, their dog.
Tocchini has been a senior teacher at Quanta Academy of Arts and illustrated for Dragão Brasil RPG magazine since 1994. He has also illustrated RPG books and cards for various Brazilian companies such as Trama Editora — Invasão (“Invasion”), Arkanun, Grimorium, Trevas e Tormenta (“Darkness and Storm”). In addition, his work appeared in Daemon Editora’s book, such as Vampiros Mitológicos (“Mythological Vampires”), Anjos: Cidade de Prata (“Angels: Silver City”), Demônios: A Divina Comédia e Trevas II (“Demons: the Divine Comedy and Darkness”-II), Inquisição (“Inquisition”), Templários (“Templars”).
He penciled the stories titled Dragonesa (“Dragoness”), Anjos Caídos (“Fallen Angels”), Temporada de Caça (“Hunting Season”) e Mofo (“Mold”).
Tocchini´s first assignment for U.S. comics was on CrossGen’s The First # 27, then Meridian# 32 and Route666# 10. These fill-ins led to a full time spot on DemonWars Vol. II – the adaptation of R.A. Salvatore’s bestseller of same name.
After that, Greg penciled a Star Wars short-story for Dark Horse Star Wars Tales.
All of these projects led Tocchini to his current assignment for Marvel’s Thor: Son of Asgard!

Ed Benes
Ed Benes was born in 1972, in Alto Santo, Ceará, Brazil. Best known for his amazing depictions of gorgeous women, Benes has built a reputation based on hard work, talent and motivation.
Benes began his career twelve years ago and built on his successes until he landed one of the industry’s most coveted prizes, an exclusive contract with DC comics. Working alongside fan-favorite writer Gail Simone, Benes delivers Birds of Prey every month to DC’s adoring fans.
Fans have delighted in Benes work from series such as Captain Marvel, Lady Death, Chastity, Captain America: Heroes Reborn, Iron Man: Heroes Reborn, Wild C.a.t.s., Uncanny X-Men, Gen13, Supergirl and now Birds of Prey.
One thing’s for sure, Benes is a force to be reckoned with and the U.S. comics’ scene is all the happier for having him.

Rael Lyra
A & C isn’t only known for great, existing artists. In fact, A & C is constantly on the look out for new, young talent. Rael Lyra is one of their newest discoveries and fans of Dabel Brothers Production’s adaptation of Dragonlance: The Legend of Huma get to experience his talent on a regular basis.  
The future is looking very bright for Lyra with several major projects being offered to him. Keep your eyes on this young man; great things are in his future, and yours. 
Renato Guedes
Guedes started his career doing illustrations and storyboards for religious books. He worked at Fábrica de Quadrinhos Studio. In 2000, he drew stories for “HQ” magazine.
After honing his skills, Guedes illustrated RPG books for Mongoose (U.K.) and created cover art for Batman Premium Ed. (Abril Editora) and for the Dungeons & Dragons magazine. Currently, he is a cover artist for Opera Graphica Editora.
Most U.S. fans will recognize Guedes for his acclaimed work on DC’s Smallville, as well as fill-ins for Adventures of Superman, Superman & Batman: Secret Files; Avatar Press’ Stargate; IDW Publishing’s CSI-Miami, and the upcoming 24!
Fans of Guedes make such bold statements regarding his work as “the most gorgeous art ever produced” as well as “simply incredible.” Check out his website and see for yourself.

Joe Bennett
Last but certainly not least is A & C Comics' most tenured visionary, Joe Bennett. Born in Brazil the great year of 1968, Bennett began drawing at the tender age of 5. He never looked back.
Bennett, an industry veteran of more than 15 years, has penciled an incredibly large number of titles. His work has appeared in the pages of every major player in the U.S. market: Marvel, DC, Vertigo, CrossGen, Image, Dark Horse, Devils Due, Chaos!, Now, Continuity...
His first major assignment was Ravage 2099 for Marvel in 1994, from that day forward Bennett has never ceased to work for Marvel and over the past decade has lent his skills to Spider-Man, The Avengers, The X-Men, Hulk, Wolverine, Thor and Elektra.
Fans may remember Bennett’s work from the pages of some of these books: Light Fantastic, Green Hornet, Ravage 2099, Conan, Buffy, Captain America (Heroes Reborn), Wolverine: Days of Future Past, Wolverine, Spider-Man Unlimited, Spectacular Spider-Man, Nova, X-51: Machine Man, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor, Elektra, Bast, Mark of Charon, The Crew, Birds of Prey: Secret Files 2002, Namor and Hawkeye.

After getting Prado to tell me all about these other exceptional artists A & C represented, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get more info on his career. It took a few days, but soon Prado unloaded a wonderful synopsis of his life so far.

Joe Prado: "I was born in São Paulo, Brazil in October of 1973. My ultimate passion has always been comics and the fantastic world that surrounds them. I graduated in Graphic Design and Visual Arts from FAAP (Armando Álvares Penteado Foundation). I gained a professional head start when I was 17 and since then have been involved in almost every area of the graphic arts, from design to advertising, from illustration to comics.
People (in Brazil) know me better for the UFO Team mini-series and for my illustration work in RPG books and magazines, such as Dragão Brasil, Tormenta, Dragon Magazine, Os Templários, Arkanum, Trevas, Clube de Caça and Invasão, just to name a few.
I've taught Comics (Sequential Art - Storytelling), Introduction to Cinematography, Anatomical Drawing and CGI, all at the college level, at Faculdades Integradas de Guarulhos. I’ve also instructed at Fábrica de Quadrinhos (Comics Factory) for over three years now.
Today I am the Project Coordinator at Art & Comics International and assistant editor of all the Marvel and DC regular titles published in Brazil by Panini Comics.
Recently I did some small assignments for American publishers: Thundercats: Dogs of War #3 & 5 (fill-ins) for Wildstorm; JLA-Z for DC; and more recently I worked on Dragonlance: Legend of Huma #3 for DBPro/Devils Due.
Besides that I’m working on a creator-owned project called “The Sorcerer” for an American publisher. My dear friend, the writer/artist O. J. Cariello and I created the whole concept. I hope the readers like the title, because we have a LOT more to tell yet! [laughs]
Besides my passion for comics, I have 2 more treasures in my life... Tatiana, my beloved and beautiful wife, and Gabriela, my baby-daughter... and both of them love comic books! Ah! And I can’t forget about our dog – Thor!"

Well, there you have it. Next time you’re looking at creator credits, keep an eye out for some of these gentlemen and the excellent work they produce. You never know, the next U.S. comics’ superstar may not come from the U.S.; he may come from Brazil, Rome or many other wonderful places adding to this industrial influx.

- Mike Bullock

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