When Frew Publications released their 100-page "Femme Fatale" issue earlier this month, we were introduced to a brand new artist that many phans wouldn’t have heard of before: Camillo Di Pietrantonio. Camillo created the back cover for the newsagent release of that issue, #1813.
Chronicle Chamber: Thanks for joining us Camillo! Can you tell us a little about yourself... How old are you, and where are you based?
Camillo Di Pietrantonio: I'm 29 years old and based out of Western Sydney.
CC: Did you study art at school, or would you say you are self taught?
CDP: Nah, I didn't study at school. I didn't even choose Art as an elective in high school. I studied industrial design at university which helped a tiny bit because there was a lot of concept sketching involved.
CC: Very interesting! And so what sort of experience do you have in the comic industry… What comic work have you done that we might be familiar with?
CDP: Apart from the Phantom, I've done a wrap around cover for the Killeroo comic, which is a pretty popular Australian comic.
CC: How would you describe your style?
CDP: I think my style is still in development. I see changes in my art all the time. But I like to think it's modern with a slightly more animated feel.
CC: Did you read the Phantom or other comics as a younger man or boy? Do you still read it these days?
CDP: I read it briefly as a young boy. I used to read the comic strip in the newspaper and the comics I'd get from showbags. I also remember being excited over the Phantom movie as a kid. As of more recently, I've started picking up the Phantom again since Jamie Johnson, who's a mate, has been getting on the covers. And I'll definitely be checking out the new trades Frew has coming out.
CC: So how did you get the opportunity to do the Frew back cover? When we met at Supanova you told me that it was a two-year journey?
CDP: Yeah, I bumped into Antonio Lemos one day about two years ago, and we got talking about the Phantom and about art. He’s such a nice guy and he was the first to show my work to Glenn Ford. I did Glenn a trial piece just to show him i could draw the Phantom. But it never got the green light. My art wasn’t up to scratch.
Then I bumped into Glenn at Free Comic Book Day this year and showed him my latest portfolio. He was impressed with my improvement and asked me to have a go at fixing the Phantom piece I did two years ago. I just re-did the entire thing and next thing I knew it was on the back cover.
CC: We see that you have already sold the original art for that back cover. You must have been happy that an enthusiastic phan snapped it up so quickly?
CDP: Yeah I was very pleased. I also sold the piece I did two years back that wasn't approved. It felt really good that someone wanted to buy it. Along with all the sketch cover commissions I got, I'm very thankful to the Phantom community for that.
CC: And is there any other possible work for Frew in the future?
CDP: I think so. I'm a bit superstitious so I don't want to say for certain. But I'm pretty sure I'll have something else coming out soon.
CC: What is your process of creating your art? Do you use the traditional paper and ink or is it always newer school with the computer? We certainly enjoyed watching you colouring digitally in your presentation at Supanova, opposite the Frew Booth on Friday.
CDP: That was a fun presentation. I always start my work on paper. I start with pencils, and then ink my pencil work. I only use computers for colouring my work digitally. There's just some effects you can't achieve when it comes to colour without a computer. I do colour traditionally also. But if it's something that's going to be printed those traditional forms of colouring never scan and translate perfectly to print. So I tend to use digital colours for that reason.
CC: There seems to be a growing trend of younger up-and-coming Frew artists with yourself, Jamie, Daniel Piccioto, Jeremy Macpherson and Paul Mason all getting a go. Is this important for the Australian comic scene?
CDP: I think it is. The Phantom has a great fan base here who are really supportive of the artists. Ultimately I think it's all of our dreams to be able to do art exclusively and full time. And being such a competitive industry it's so good that Frew give local talent a go. I think it's better for us and also better for the fans to have Australian artists on the book. It can attract new readers and also help artists build a career.
CC: We could not agree more! Now, the important question: Do you accept commissions?
CDP: I do accept commissions. I have a few backed up from Supanova but they should be done soon.
CC: On that, how did you find Sydney Supanova this year? Did you get to meet many Phantom Phans? If so, were we well behaved?
CDP: This was my second Supanova as an exhibitor and it was great. The Phantom phans made it that extra bit special. It was really good to meet so many of them and get feedback on my art. And yes they were all very well behaved. Super nice people.
CC: Good to hear! So where can phans check out your other art?
CC: Excellent - thanks so much for your time Camillo and all the best for the future. We look forward to seeing more of your work in a Frew comic again very soon.