Hey mambo! Mambo Italiano…Italiano. the graphic novel, that is! A mix of profanity, amazing artwork, creative characters, and violence, this is definitely one that you don’t want to miss. With 5 days left for its Kickstarter campaign, Italiano is a mere $200 from its goal of $10,000! I pledged $20 to get my own copy, and once you see the perks, you’ll want to click that button too! If you’re not already scrolling down to find the link to pledge, then keep reading to learn more about this unique project – including my interview with the talented creator himself – Mike Bloom!
One of the first things about this project that caught my eye was this video! Check it out here:
So now that you’ve become acquainted with the concept, let’s take a look at the insanely entertaining story told within the 48 page novel. According to the campaign page, here is the story:
Italiano is the story of four very colorful crime families who are locked in a war for control of Capitol City. The series will take you on a journey through the inner working of all four of these twisted families, but our main focus is on Mario Italiano.
Mario is the head of the East Coast and the series covers his battles as he attempts to seize control of the city. He will wage wars, strike alliances, and bring his form of justice to the streets. But as he makes his play for power he is apposed by many…
The first book explores the events that started this power struggle in motion. Mayor Buscillini is gearing up to take on the four families. Dastardly events are unfolding that will lead the families to war. Murder, mayhem, and meatballs will set the stage for an explosive 48 page monster of a debut issue!!
I was so excited about Italiano, that I wanted to learn more! The creator, Mike Bloom, was kind enough to take the time out of his schedule for an interview with me. Learning more about Mike, and the passion he has for this project, makes me even more of a fan! Here are his answers to my questions:
Comics and Cashmere: Italiano is a cocktail of profanity, mobsters, and amazing artwork. What inspired you to create it?
Mike Bloom: I’m an 80’s baby, I was a kid during the prime of cartoons and action figures. Ninja turtles and Madballs, Dick Tracy and Tim Burton’s Batman. I witnessed the birth of Image Comics, grew up watching Beevis and Butthead, Liquid Television, Goodfellas and 12 Monkeys. Had a Nintendo, and went to the arcade. This has all taken it’s toll!
Italiano is a mix of all the things I love, rolled up into a sensory overload of awesomeness! I set out to do something different and to build something I thought was cool. I took all the rules and through them out the window. Why couldn’t I take the violence and profanity of the mobster theme, and mash it together with the exaggerated characters, bold art, and eye-scorching colors of the 80’s and 90’s toys and cartoons I loved?
I really think Italiano is so different and crazy because I was never thinking about if other people would like it, or if it was marketable to a publisher, I do it because I love it, and I make no exceptions along the way. It’s a piece of me.
CC: If you could become any classic Italian mobster character, who would you be?
MB: Well I don’t know if I’d want to be any of these guys, they all meet a terrible demise, but I would say Michael Corleone. Watching his transformation through the Godfather series, you really see a depth to his character. Tony Soprano would be a close second.
CC: I read that you create, write, ink, letter, color, stencil, and pencil this series by yourself. First of all, that’s incredible! How did you acquire all of those skills?
MB: I took a lot of great general art classes in high school, and that gave me a solid base. Other than that, I’m completely self taught. It’s just hard work and lots of practice. I guess I don’t think about it like that, I’m a creator, and I want to create this vision I have, so I just do it. For example, I needed to learn how to digital paint, so I bought the tools I needed, hit youtube and watched a ton of different videos, made some custom brushes, and then practiced like crazy until I was at a place I was happy with. If you love what you’re doing it, it comes easy.
CC: What do you do to get yourself in the right state of mind to work on this project? Any research?
MB: I actually never have to do this, I am always ready to create. It’s actually very hard to shut it off and take a break! One thing I do if I get stuck in a certain area of dev, is move on to another area. So if pencils are just not coming out right, I move on to inking, and when I can’t stand inking anymore, I color, etc.
CC: How did you decide on the characteristics and names of your main mobsters?
MB: When I first started building the world of Italiano, I had done a quick sketch of what would become Mario while on break at work. I really liked the drawing and thought he looked like a Mob guy, so Italiano was born. So I started with the classic Italian gangster. From here I just kept drawing characters and eventually came up with the other three family Bosses. I thought it would be cool to have these four crime families that all had a different territory they controlled, how fun would that be to work with. So I developed Beeno Biggs, ruler of North Point, a ruthless ex-soviet. Stinky Joe Elbo, the dirtiest hillbilly of the Dirty South. Jesse the Peach, real estate tycoon and Hollywood style gangster.
CC: You mentioned that you’ve been doing this since you were a kid. Aside from writing and creating, what else did you want to be when you grew up?
MB: Honestly, I drew my first full length comic, using my own characters, when I was 7. I can say without a doubt that I have wanted to draw comics and make action figures since I can remember. It just took a while to get to a place where I could actually do it.
CC: As an Italian, what is your go to choice of Italian food?
MB: Meatballs! I’ve been lucky enough to be around some of the best meatball makers in the world! Love them, I could eat them all day.
CC: What type of comics and graphic novels do you enjoy?
MB: I’m not your normal collector who follows their favorite characters and series. I follow artists, and I like the ones that do it different, that put a spin on it. So on occasion I’ll grab a Marvel book because an amazing artist is put on it for a while (ex. Chris Bachalo doing Dr Strange), but as soon as the artist is off the book, I’m done with the series. Because of this I tend to go the Indie or Creator owned route now. You can count on the same team for the whole series and they are always pouring their hearts into these book, and you can really feel it, it’s a magical thing. Supporting indies in pursuit of their dream is also something that is very important to me.
CC: So what are the next steps after the end of your kickstarter campaign? And what can we expect from Italiano in the future?
MB: I have a great story to tell here, so I will be working like mad on this series. I would like to produce 2-3, 40+ page issues per year and continue to release them via Kickstarter directly to fans. In the future I would love to make Italiano into an adult cartoon, like the stuff we used to watch on HBO. I also think Italiano is perfect for toys and that would be another dream come true for me.
It’s not everyday that you find a graphic novel that has been written, stenciled, created, and illustrated by one person. Mike Bloom has been working on creating this project for years, and it shows in the artwork, characters, and in every line. Check out some of the pages of Italiano:
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