The latest in Frew's growing stable of artistic talent is Wendall Cavalcanti, an extremely talented artist from Brazil.
This interview comes to us courtesy of Professor Gláucio Cardoso, a dear friend of ChronicleChamber and himself a published Frew author, with one of his short prose stories published in Frew's 80th Phantom Anniversary special. Gláucio is also author of the Fantasma Brasil Blog & TV Channel.
This interview originally appeared on his blog; Gláucio has graciously allowed us to translate and re-publish here.
Gláucio Cardoso: Tell us a little about your growth as an illustrator. How did it begin? At what age? Which artists serve as your reference?
Wendell Cavalcanti: I draw drawing since I was a kid, just like everyone else. Many stop drawing as a child, I just kept on, because I loved the act of scratching the paper and seeing something that was in my imagination appearing there at the tip of the pencil. I started around 1997/98, but only became serious in a professional and continuous way from 2005 onwards .
I'm a voracious reader of comics as well as an artist, so the list is immense. Like all professionals I've been influenced by many artists over the years. We're learning a little bit with each other on this walk, right? But I could say the ones on my shelf (a shelf right in front of my drawing board) and that I currently use frequently for studies (from time to time this list changes): Alex Toth, Sean Gordon Murphy, Pia Guerra, Mozart Couto, Greg Tochinni, Mastantuono, Marco Mateu-Mestre and others ... Maybe someday I'll learn to draw with all those talents gathered on this shelf.
GC: And you're also a long-time fan of the Ghost Who Walks, are you not? Who are your favorite artists who have already worked with the character?
WC: Yes, yes, I've been a fan since I was a kid. My father introduced me to the Phantom. And right away I liked the character (and Batman too). The jungle mix, uniformed hero and action widened my eyes. It was the beginning of the 80s, I understood myself by people and getting interested in TV and cinema (where my father also took me). It was a time of discovery. Comic books were a much nicer trip than TV. I collected Phantom from there.
As for the artists, there are not many, but I'm attracted to Ray Moore. Although at the time I did not know what a noir climate was, that was what attracted me. The dark setting, the slim and mysterious hero ... He has always been on my list for so long. Sy Barry, for that classic trait. I really like Paul Ryan and Graham Nolan too.
GC: How did the invitation to draw the Phantom for Frew come about?
WC: Some time ago, after finishing my work in the Image series called BLACKACRE, I continued working with independent authors (a lot of my material is independent), and an Australian writer called Tor Dollhouse contacted me, ordering some illustrations. Over time, keeping in touch, we became friends. I knew about the longevity of the Phantom in Australia, but I knew nothing of the market there. And we talked a lot about it, until we came up with the idea of sending a pitch to the publisher. Tor wrote five script pages and one synopsis and I was to five pages. But I had another job taking me time and Tor was eager to send the pitch to Frew. It turned out we sent the script and only two pages I had complete.
A few weeks passed without reply, but one day Tor was invited to go to the publishing house. The publisher, Glenn Ford, had liked the two pages I had made and was particularly interested in one of the Phantoms I drew on those pages. Glenn made a video call to me (it was 6 in the morning here) to say that Tor and I would be part of the creative team. Since that day we are Team Phantom! Tor is developing ideas for a new script, but the editor sent me another script by a Swedish scriptwriter Pidde Andersson and I've already started working.
GC: The Phantom is one of the most iconic characters in comics. How is it for you, as a fan and also as a professional, to now be working with the character of Lee Falk? Is there a great sense of responsibility?
WC: Man, I read the script, which is here in front of me and I still can not believe it. I never imagined that one day I would draw the Phantom. Although when I was a kid and for a good part of my teenage years I spent my free time drawing several Phantoms in my school notebook, it was not something I thought I would accomplish. Even when I started as a comic book artist, I still did not think it would happen. Well, we know the life of a comic book professional, and in my view I had a very loooooong road to go through before thinking about such an iconic character.
I feel the responsibility, yes. It's big. Although in Brazil there is no longer an interest to publish the Phantom, in Australia the character has its legion of fans and has been published continuously for almost seventy years. Every artist who takes a title hopes to be able to do a job that pleases the fans. I feel the cold in the belly, but here we are. I'll face it and do my best. After all, there are incredible artists who did the work before me and that intimidates. I still have a lot to learn. And I'm learning in practice, with a character I admire.
GC: A friend and fan of the Phantom, Celso Nunes, asked me to ask you if you think of putting "brazucas" marks on your art, as Eduardo Ferigato did while working on The Last Phantom (Dynamite)? Can we see some kind of homage to Walmir Amaral, who designed the Phantom for the longed-for RGE?
WC: I usually make jokes with close friends, inserting them into stories as supporting characters or just extras. In the pages I've submitted as a proposal, there is a discreet reference to the Phantom of the 1943 series, with Tom Tyler, for example - I hope one day these pages can be published. LOL
I bought some time ago, that edition of Opera Graphica, with the biography of the Phantom and I was amazed to know that other Brazilian artists, besides Walmir, had worked with the Phantom. Gutemberg Monteiro, for example. I knew there were Brazilian artists, but I did not know who.
If there's any opening on the scripts so I can do something, yes, I will.
GC: What kind of stories will we see in this phase of Frew? What are your expectations for this job?
WC: Frew wants to bring in new readers, with new stories and a little more modern, but, of course, keeping the essence of the Phantom.
The expectations? Jesus, expectations ... I expect to feel the cold in the belly and heavy anxiety. Maybe a little nausea.
We do not want to reinvent the wheel, make a super-spectacular reboot or something. We want to tell good stories, trying to modernize without mis-characterising. Perhaps even more adventurous stories, perhaps with a hint of the unknown - that gripped the imagination of Phantom fans before ...
We are discussing ideas and Glenn, the editor, is quite excited about the new concepts.
There are other projects being considered, but unfortunately nothing I can talk about now.
The team and I will try to tell exciting stories, have fun, make readers look back at the Phantom and see him as a relevant character.
GC: Thank you very much for your attention and, on behalf of the Fantasma Brasil Team, we wish you much success in this endeavor. This space is free for you to send your message to all fans of the Ghost Who Walks.
WC: Thanks for the kind words.
To the fans, I hope you like what's coming. I speak on behalf of the (immense) team: We will give our best. Thank you and a big hug to everyone.