Talking With Erica D’Urso About Kickstarter Hit ‘Inferno Girl Red’
by Olly MacNamee
Inferno Girl Red is already a success having smashed its initial goal of £23,383 (sorry, it wouldn’t covert to US dollars, but you get the idea). At the start of the campaign we tracked down writer and co-creator Mat Groom and interviewed him about this new graphic novel, his love for Japanese tokusatsu heroes like the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and more.
Not wanting to play favourites, we got the chance, early this week, to catch up with new up-and-coming Italian based artist, Erica D’Urso, who’s smashing it with her slick art style and cool, contemporary character designs on this crowdfunded. We discussed this breakout graphic novel, her influences – I was surprised she was taught by Sara Pichelli in Rome – and so much more.
Olly MacNamee: First off, congratulations on the success of Inferno Girl Red. How does it feel to have a stone-cold success on your hands? How does that feel as your first co-created comic book?
Erica D’Urso: Hello Olly! Thank you so much! I’m astonished — I didn’t imagine this huge success, but I’m glad that people are so interested in a story that me and Mat love so much. I also feel the pressure now, I don’t want to disappoint all these people who supported us!
OM: You’re a relatively new name in comics, aren’t you? How did Matt Groom find you out?
ED: Well, yes, even though I started to draw professionally in 2018, I still feel very naive and sometimes I underestimate myself a lot. Mat has been a great rock to me and helps me to not undervalue myself. I know that Mat and Kyle (Higgins) were searching for an artist for this project for some time already and when they started working on Ultraman for Marvel, they asked the main artist of the series, Francesco Manna, if he knew someone. He suggested me and not too much later, they reached me out!
OM: And, judging from your Instagram page, your art has most certainly got a very contemporary feel about it. A style seen on Marvel books from the likes of RB Silva, Mahmud Asrar and Sara Pichelli. But, who exactly are your artistic influences?
ED: My influences story is pretty funny. When I first thought of doing comics, I was inclined to the French market and my style was completely in clear lines, I was almost afraid of adding black ink, haha! Growing up I started to understand better what it means to do comics, the perpetual research and experimenting with new ways of express yourself. I should also thank my teachers David Messina and Sara Pichelli. When I attended the school where they teach in Rome, I started to really fall in love with comics (as opposed to just drawing) and I began to be influenced by one artist after another, starting with Sara Pichelli as you noticed, Stuart Immonen, Becky Cloonan and more. It’s hard to say who are my artistic influences, because every artist I love has something unique I yearn for. But if I had to say which artists are never missing from my desk, I’d say Pepe Larraz, Mahmud Asrar, Simone di Meo and Sara Pichelli. (And I have a secret love for Daniel Warren Johnson and his frantic sign; it’s completely opposite to my style but I really admire the way he makes the pictures move).
OM: Groom mentions your passion for this project. So, how much input on the design of Inferno Girl Red and the cast of characters supporting her?
ED: Working for hire means that most of the time I can’t fully design characters and settings, because they already exist. I don’t say it’s not fun, but sometimes you feel restricted, you know? So, working on a project that’s half mine helps me to share all my ideas, even the craziest ones. In particular with Inferno Girl Red I really felt free from all the boundaries that I usually put around me when I create something. I enjoyed so much that my ideas exceeded Mat’s demand, thinking about unnecessary infos, clues, mechanisms and so on. I tried my best to create people and settings that feel new and original but still realistic.
OM: Were you a fan of Japanese tokusatsu heroes and comics, or did you have to do tons of research by reading the relevant comics and history to get the look of Inferno Girl Red right?
ED: Half and half, I wasn’t a huge fan of the genre and my knowledge about it was poor, but I didn’t want to slow down the project, so I tried to follow the basics to create something that fits well in the tokusatsu style, but is new and fresh at the same time. Of course it’s a genre that I want to study more as the project goes on.
OM: No doubt a project like Inferno Girl Red can help raise any artists profile. Especially one like you, that seems fully developed already. So, I suppose what I’m try to ask is whether or not this has led to any further work where fans might be able to catch you? Or, are you more interested in further co-creator projects where you’re more in control?
ED: I already accepted and worked on some new Marvel’s titles coming out this year and more smaller comics I have the pleasure to work on. My problem is that it’s hard to say no, because I want to explore many different genres, ideas and stories, but the time is what it is and I had to decline some really good opportunities.
If I have to choose, of course working on co-creator projects is much more satisfying, but I’d be glad to work on ongoing series with characters I read about or love the design of. For now, I’m happy to be part of Inferno Girl Red!
OM: And with the success of Inferno Girl Red already proven, are there talks yet of a sequel?
ED: Well, I hope yes! But I can’t confirm anything yet; as mindfulness teaches, it’s better to focus on the present and I have to say that this is a really good and blazing one.
OM: Many thanks, Erica, and again, congrats on the success of your first co-creator owned title. There’ll be no stopping you know, I bet!
ED: Thanks to you, it was a pleasure!
You can back Inferno Girl Red here and read our interview with co-creator and writer Mat Groom here.