Brazil has a rich Phantom history with one of the first Phantom comics ever published being from Brazil back in 1937. This is before countries like Australia, Italy, Sweden, Norway and USA.
The Phantom was at his most popular in Brazil between the 1950's and 1980's with the regular RGE series publishing over 350 comics in the series including their own locally created stories.
In 2001 Opera Graphica a local Brazillian publishing company tried to reproduce the magic by releasing several digest style comics reprinting new and older newspaper stories and Moonstone stories.
While having moderate success these comics have still been popular for starved local phans up until recently the Mythos Editora who is currently publishing new comics that have been very well received.
Today, we interview Mozart Couto a Brazilian artist who worked on several covers for Opera Graphica, one for Mythos Editora and also a card in the recent Frew Gallery Trading Card Series.
Chronicle Chamber: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What country and region are you from?
Mozart Couto: I was born and live in Brazil, in the city of Juiz de Fora, in the state of Minas Gerais.
I always loved drawing and had a dream of being a comics designer. My father was a musician and also drew. With a lot of technical drawing knowledge, he was my teacher. After 17 years old, I continued studying alone. I'm self-taught artist.
Since 1979 I have been working with comics and illustrations for publishers in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro from here, from my home office.
I have also been published in Europe and the USA during the late 1980s and until the mid 1990s. After then I started to dedicate myself more to illustrating textbooks and, sporadically I do comics, some of them independently.
I am married and have two daughters, one is an architect and the other is a Designer. Despite living close to the turbulent center of the city, I live a calm life, next to the family and my two cats.
CC: Did you have any form of official study as an artist through out the years or even at school?
MC: No, totally a self taught artist.
CC: Is there anyone in particular who has inspired you and influenced your work?
MC: Many artists have inspired me at different times and they were artists of very different styles.
I believe Frank Frazetta has been a strong influence for a long time, but others, like Moebius, Massamune Shirow, Paolo Serpieri, Harold Foster are the main artists on the long list.
CC: Frank Frazetta and Harold Foster are two names that most would know off. What particular made you want to be an artist?
MC: Since I was a child (around 4 years old), I drew almost every day, however like most other kids, I never stopped. Another thing that also stimulated me a lot was the passion of comics. It was very magical and I wanted to be a part of it.
CC: Did you like working on the Phantom cover for Opera Graphica? Did you know of the Phantom before you started on the covers? Did you ever read the character prior or as a child?
MC: Yes, I liked it because it reminded me of the comics I had as a child. I read Phantom comics and many others however I could not get into the Marvel and DC Superheroes. However when I was around 14 I discovered the mature European comics.
Many years later, I was drawing and painting Phantom covers! What a surprise.
CC: How did you get the role of the Phantom for Opera Graphica back in the early 2000’s?
MC: Through a publisher I worked with for many years who was now working at Opera Graphica asked me if I wanted to do some covers for a Phantom series that they had the license for at the time. I made some sketches that were approved quickly and started to produce the images. The rest is history.
CC: You have worked on several covers for Opera Graphica. Do you have a specific favourite that you look back on with pride?
MC: It is hard to remember after all these years but one I always liked and still stands out to me was the one that featured a unicorn and the Phantom was near a tree, looking at the unicorn. The scene was taken place at night.
CC: We have included that cover with the article to the right. The atmosphere and the way the tree portraits the Phantom and unicorn is well done.
MC: Thank you.
CC: Recently in Australia they released a Frew Gallery trading card series which features a drawing of yours. Can you tell us the story behind that drawing?
MC: No special story behind the image sorry. The people at Frew contacted me via email and asked for a scene with Phantom for the card collection. They gave me the freedom to create what I wanted. It was really fun to draw The Phantom again after all these year!
I saw other images from other artists who participated in the same collection and I thought it was excellent! Frew did a great job with that series and I am honoured I was able to be a part of it.
CC: Do you prefer drawing covers or the interior comics pages and is there a difference in the way you work with a cover and interior story?
MC: Currently I prefer to make cover illustrations. I did full length comics and interior pages for many decades. After a while it can be pretty tiring. I can still do it, but it depends on several factors that I have to decide on case by case when the opportunity arises.
CC: Do you work traditionally using pencils, inks on paper or do you prefer working on the computer?
MC: It depends a lot on the job. I usually mix between traditional and digital mediums but it does depend a lot on the situation, the job and the time frame.
If the art required is very detailed I prefer to start on paper and then scan the artwork and touch up on the computer. My paintings are all digital.
CC: What are you working on now?
MC: I do illustrations for several ongoing clients including a religious artistic and cultural center.
When I get time I also work, very slowly, on a series called: "Brakan" that I created and developed myself which I publish independently. It is a story of barbarians and a little magic.
CC: Do you accept commissions and how can they contact you?
MC: Yes I am more than happy to accept commissions for the Phantom or other characters. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you would like.
CC: Thank you, do you also have a place where phans can see more of your work? We have included a gallery below of all your Phantom covers.
CC: We thank you Mozart for your time and allowing us to ask you some questions.
MC: Thank you guys. It was a pleasure to talk about the Phantom again.
CC: We have included a gallery of the covers Mozart has worked on Opera Graphica and Mythos Editora.