First Comics News: How did you join Frew Publications?
Louis Manna: I drew two Phantom graphic novels for Moonstone way back in 2000 which is hard to believe but seventeen years ago. Anyway, after I finished them I decided to write and draw a new 72-page graphic novel for them, but they changed formats after and were doing smaller stories. So it lay around in my drawer for a while. In the meantime, I drew a phantom commission piece for Glenn Ford. And A calendar piece for him, as a thank you I sent him a copy of the unpublished phantom story after he became the publisher at Frew. he remembered the story and asked if they could publish it. Also, my friend and Phantom fan Erik Wonder, from Sweden was pushing for me to do more Phantom work so it all came together nicely. Since then I did another 2 parters for them and 2 more in hold for 2018.
1st: You both write and draw the Phantom do you prefer doing both jobs?
Louis: Yes I like to do both I enjoy telling a story and of course drawing it as well, I feel my strong suit is telling a story that is understandable and I like the process of being able to do both, I write visual so at times I may have an idea set up but as I work on it and draw it out sometimes things change mid stream and goes in a totally new direction, so I like that as well.
1st: How would you describe the Phantom’s character?
Louis: Mysterious, someone heroic someone who you would like to know or be. his character is so pure and simple, but he has this wonderful history where you can have him in almost any setting in time and it works, all he is lacking I feel is a strong super bad guy someone to play off of his goodness. Is this “Phantom: Full Circle” done as an older style comic?
Yes, since I am an old school artist I would say is is, and I like that about this character, he fits that old school look and his stories can reflect that as well.
1st: Who does the Phantom battle in “Phantom: Full Circle”?
Louis: This is a story that spans over 5 decades, his father fought a Nazi commander, and decades later his son fights the modern day phantom, a full circle story of fathers and sons.
1st: What is it about the Phantom that makes him so popular and why do you personally like him?
Louis: Again his heroic statue, his goodness, his action, and settings make for exotic locals to work on and his history, his cave m his eye blank his supporting characters all make him a wonderful character to work on.
1st: Which comic book or books would you like to work on that you have not?
Louis: Probably Batman although I did draw a mini series of him for a guy who was trying to break in the business, and I did draw a few pages of his in world’s finest for Rich Buckler way back when, but probably Batman I would say. maybe that is why I like working on the Phantom so much, he has many traits of Batman, and I know Bob Kane stole a lot of Batman from the Phantom. The cave, eyes, etc
1st: What comic that you worked on most stands out for you?
Louis: The Phantom for sure, but also Young All-Stars and Infinity Inc. for DC comics, it gave me a chance to work on golden age favorite characters of mine.
1st: You worked on the Phantom for Moonstone is there anything you did differently than from Frew?
Louis: I drew them back in 2000 so that was 17 years ago hopefully I am a better artist now that I was then, also getting the opportunity to write him now is a big thrill for me as well. Plus for the most part, they are printed in black and white overseas, (except for the fact Frew liked my art on their first new book and decided to do it in color).So that means I have to draw it a bit different than if I am working for color reproduction.
1st: How do you think comics of today compare to those from the 80’s to the 90’s?
Louis: Better artist and coloring and production but something is missing from the old days of comics, too many of the same characters, way too many X-Men, and Green Lanterns, stories, for the most part, are hard to read. Whenever the companies are in trouble all you have to do is go back to the original source material and there are your characters. A writer like Geoff Johns and Scott Synder get it and it shows in their work well-written stories but all working well with the source material but they update it in such a great way, there are others as well but few and far in between.
1st: Who are a few other comic’s professionals that you admire?
Louis: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Gary Frank, Alan Davis, Bryan Hitch Jim Lee, so many and before that Gil Kane, Neal Adams Steranko, Swan, Buscema, Kirby so many more great ones today Mark Schultz, I could go on and on.
1st: Besides working on comics how do you spend your time?
Louis: Up until a few years ago I was an avid softball player, playing 3 times a week, now I just spend time with my two grandson’s, Salvatore and Anthony, watching them play sports is fun for me.
1st: If you could have a super power what would it be and why?
Louis: The power to grant any wish.
1st: Any words for your fans?
Louis: Just to say thank you for being so supportive to me over the years and I know what it is like to try to get a foothold in this business, when I see new people trying to break in or show me their portfolio’s it takes me back to me being one of them and how hard it is to get into the business. I love the fans who love comics, and I was so lucky to be able to do something I loved and wanted to do since I was 8 years old, I am so blessed and happy to be able to make a living out of something I loved to do for over 35 years now and I thank them, I may not have been the world’s best artist but I am the most thankful one.