Today Black Ship Books brings our final MEGABOOK 4 feature with artist and author, Anthony Acri! Acri is the author of Ratman, a comic which parodies several superheroes, particularly from the DC universe, and Ancient Romance, a novel about a romanticized history of the Roman culture. Raised in his Italian heritage, educated in catholic school, and inspired by classical and satirical arts in Pittsburgh, Pa., Acri has been hard at work to establish himself in the indie comic industry.
Acri said that he became a contributor for M4 after discovering the open call for submissions while perusing sites such as Digital Webbing, Reddit, and Craig’s List. After getting in contact with M4 editor Mike Rickaby, Acri says that he appreciated Mike’s courteous and liberal attitude with contributors, allowing them to write what they wanted, compared to other publishers that tend to censor and edit most of the creator’s original content.
“Like artists I am finding an affinity for, like the great and glorious Fletcher Hanks and other comic artists who were dangerously close to art, I place things here and there, and always try to keep a thread through all the work, gag comics, strips, booklets and comics, even short stories. They all come back to one place I call the ‘Tony-verse’. Ratman was an early [creation] of mine, as [I started earlier] on as a satirist in all ways,” said Acri when asked about Ratman.
In his own satirical way, Acri reimagined the rich-playboy-billionaire-turned-legendary-detective-and-vigilante as a homeless man who takes on the alias of Ratman to fight crime alongside heroes Captain Magnus and Miss Mary Amazon, obvious parodies of Superman and Wonder Woman. The Pittsburgh native said that even though he has worked on several projects throughout the year, Ratman was the only one he created as both writer and artist.
In addition to Ratman, Acri has also published Ancient Romance, a book he started writing almost 10 years ago that was released in 2011. Following Cornelius Sabsonius, a former prince of the royal house of Tuscany, the book explores Acri’s own version of history with humor, romance and bits of mythology. He said that he was inspired to research Roman history after hearing a local radio show host talk about a blonde demon depicted in Roman paintings.
“…there was an enchanting old [civilization] in Italy called the Etruscans, and one of their gods was in fact a Mercury sort more than a demon. Their Satan was [called] Orcus, but he was a prince of thieves, and he fell head over heels with a [beautiful] brunette goddess who was the nymph of the moon named Turan. So I wrote it out, enjoying it all.” Acri said that he envisioned a past where the indigenous people were far more civilized than the invaders who eventually colonized the countries we know today, referencing Christopher Columbus as well. “The Romans were the criminals in this book, the villains and the evil menace.”
As advised by his mentors from his youth, Acri devotes himself to his craft, but he says that outside of developing the Tony-verse, he has found time to also become an “inadvertent television watcher”, mostly indulging in reruns of shows such as Gilmore Girls and Archer. “And I am still always on the [lookout] for that perfect woman I draw and write about, that Playboy After Dark 1978 Playmate of the Year Candy Loving- or Jo Collins-lookalike,” he jokes.
And to fans of his work and other aspiring creators out there, Mr. Acri says “Buy my stuff! I spend more time on it to make it entertaining than hacks ever do. And to any artists and writers out there, say what you will, what you want, what you need to say. Every line, every doodle, every image, every scene, every cartoon is something in a world of censors and bundlers and bagmen and vicious weirdos. Say something, anything. Don’t try to always be the next Jim Lee or, God help us, Stan Lee, or worse yet, “Jack the Hack”.
“Every line I make is a line in some sand, as I make it that way. To those hacks and scumbags who like berating people, and by people I mean me, as a bigot, shit, bras, I recall the faggy Jesuits I felt badly for when you were all selling your souls for Wall Street cash, and I am the one who as told by a Marvel art director at an AIP gathering that all my brunette heroines all looked colored. ‘Wow’, a cute Italian girl I knew from a different class said. I am the one trying to give a voice like in my Wonder Woman, to the brunette lovelies that never existed in the Marvel creepy universe drawn by giants like Romita. As a boy, it all goes back there, I saw Sylvester Stallone had been dismissed out of hand as Superman, and such was all I had to hear, making a Roman Superman who appears in the last pages of the finished, legally [written] up Ratman. I think of what my poet and my author Gore Vidal said, ‘Every act of love, like every work of art is a small, ephemeral ‘yes’ in the midst of an all-encompassing, staggering, yawning ‘no’.”
For fans of Anthony Acri, the novel Ancient Romance can be found here at http://www.amazon.ca/Ancient-Romance-Anthony-Acri/dp/1614348693 and you can see Ratman in the pages of MEGABOOK 4.