by Sherif Awad
-I’m born in Livorno, Toscana, Italy in 1984 I’m the last of 4 brothers: Elena, Davide, Enrico and me Arjuna, My parents had a moment of their life where have discovered meditation and Indian mythology so they give me this name, Arjuna, that is one of the most important characters of Mahabaratha an Indian Epic Poem.
I’ve started with comics when I was very young I remember things that I did at 5 years (The Flyman adventures, the man that not flies), I followed Davide my big brother ,that he is a very good comics artist too, and at that time he drew the adventures of his character Dick Loson.
When I was a child I was in love with Japanese cartoons and comics, Saint Saya, Ken Shiro, Dragon Ball, Onepiece, when I grew a little I pass also to American comics, around when I was a teenager: Sin City, Hellboy, Doom Patrol, I really loved Myazaky all the works of the Studio Ghibli, but I loved so much also Kurosawa, Bergman (for the expressionist of him photography) Tarantino .But also Italian artist like Andrea Pazienza and Tanino Liberatore very important artists in Italy, like Moebius , Enki Bilal , Will Eisner well there are too much to make a list, but these are been all very important in my imprinting.
I did also a theater route in my city, where I studied recitation and the theatrical illumination, very dramatic, how to use your body to communicate through your silhouette, and all these things I learned I’m tryng to translate them in my comics works.
It’s was very hard way after high school of art and then at the university Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze where I studied painting and in contemporary the scuola internazionale di Comics always in Florence, until 2009 , but it’s after the studies that comes the real hard time ,when you try to transform your passion in the work that will be able to pay your bills and make you independent, I took around 7-8 years to being completely independent.
After I was graduate in 2009 , I started with self-production with friends and my brother Davide, then in 2011 the Italian publisher Edizioni BD accept a project of mine and of the writer Alessio D’Uva: Bullet Ballad, it was the first time I had to draw a complete book of 96 pages.
Then after I tried with French publishers without much success I started to work for the publisher Graphic India, in 2 series, Mistry P.I. (writer Ashwin Pande) for the art and colors, and Shikari Force Hunters for art and colors too (writer Chaddar Swadda) untill the 2015 after that I met Paul Tobin that proposed me to make the art for Made Men with Oni Press , In the while I did also the illustrations for the boardgame Posthuman with the Maltese publisher MightyBox.
For Made Men we did 5 issues, after that Oni preferred to closed the series, After this experience in the USA I returned in Italy with Sergio Bonelli Editore on a graphic novel called LEONE in 2017 .
Since 2018 is started a very intense collaboration with American’s writers and editors ,in 2018 I did for Aftershock The Replacer with Zack Thompson ,I’ve collaborated with Cullen Bunn and AE Stuart for a story of the anthological book “A Passage in Black” published by a kickstarter and it went very well ,then in 2019 I started a new series with Paul Tobin for the publisher Vault Comics, series that I’m closing in these days , and I’m working also to another project with Matt Garvey an independent work. And in added I started to teach at the Internazionale Scuola di Fumetto di Firenze where I was graduate in 2009.
-Well the Italian market is enough dynamic, there are a lot of publishers that product themself their books but also intense activity of import from others country, there are a great interest for Manga, USA comics and French bandes dessinées.
A lot of Italian artists work for these countries, like me, that because these three nations are the epicenter of the world of comics but in last years I seen growing up quickly a lot of new realities , little independent publishers that work distributing his products all over in the world ,using sites and social media
So talking properly of markets demarcated within National borders isn’t the real picture of the moment , it’s changing very quickly.
As teacher in a comics school I talk to much of this at my students, I try to give tips how to have good attitudes, the first thing is working hard, find projects also with others people, talking with writers and other artists , because together it’s possible to make self productions and take part to the conventions. Make self productions is very important to have an experience with a deadlines big numbers of pages to draw a definite time .Take part the competitions , have a comparison with the more artists you can , just to know how many excellent artists there are in the world , so using the social network productively and make a great portfolio to submit to editor. Another good thing is to listen editors not have afraid of critics and sometimes try to send down your pride. Also frequent a school is a good thing , you may meet professionals that can really help you. Have awareness that definitely is an hard work.
Well At this moment I ended this series for Vault Comics; Heist or how to steal a planet, and I’ll start with two new projects with American writers that for the moment I cannot talk too much…