Master comics craftsman Ulderico Fioretti brings his beautiful renderings to American Comics. After coming to Heroic Publisher to work on their flagship title League of Champions he is branching out to Jay-Na: Numbelan. Ulderico stopped by First Comics News to let our readers know about his career and all things Jay-Na.
First Comics News: Your art is beautiful, where did you study art?
Ulderico Fioretti: Thanks so much for your compliments. I started drawing as a child, almost always cartoon characters and comics, then I studied at the Art Institute of Pescara (Italy) and atelier of local painters. Later, I continued to study as self-taught, refining the various drawing techniques and starting to work in the field of publishing and clothing as an illustrator, but I never left the comics, in fact, I started to collaborate with several independent publishers up to collaborate with Heroic Publishing.
1st: What attracted you to sequential storytelling?
Ulderico: I was immediately attracted to this particular way of narrating since childhood. For me it was great to read and see the characters at the same time, imagining their voice and the sounds of onomatopoeias while interacting with the story, imagining what happened between one action and another.
As a child I read comics for that age, then, thanks to a friend of mine, I started reading Marvel Comics comics and I met the X-Men by Chris Claremont: a superior level compared to the rest. The theme of the inequality and the struggle to overcome it have always been part of my life and I have always believed in this, the X-Men was exactly the comic for me and I loved it right away, especially characters like Wolverine, Storm and Rogue, but the moment that heightened my love for comics was reading “Wounded Wolf” (Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 205) by Chris Claremont & Barry Windsor-Smith, published in Italy by Star Comics in 1990 (or 1991. .. I don’t remember well). For me, it was the first contact with the comics of the highest level. A quality in the dialogues and drawings that changed my perception of this beautiful art, recognizing the very high artistic value it can express. After a few months, I read for the first time at a friend’s house “El Mercenario” by Vicente Segrelles, and, again, I was delighted to see the high quality of painted pages and storytelling.
From that moment it was a succession of beautiful comic book readings: Wolverine: Weapon X, Druuna, Conan The Barbarian, L’Incal, La Caste des Méta-Barons, Watchmen, Valentina, Akira, Batman: The Dark Knight, Arzach, Devilman, Adastra in Africa and more…
1st: What is the comic market like in Italy?
Ulderico: It is dominated by Bonelli Editore, but there are exceptions for great contemporary authors like Frezzato, Gipi, Ausonia. Other publishers reprint the comics of the great international authors of the past, then there are many fans of American comics, especially Marvel, manga and French and Belgian comics. This is roughly the case.
1st: How did you break into comics in Italy?
Ulderico: If I remember correctly, my first professional comic artwork was the book “BANDIDO ESCORPION: Zero Killed” for Scorpion Bay, released in 2009, then I was contacted to publish a story on X Comics 100 (Coniglio Editore) and I decided to start my ZUNA in those pages. I also made the cover with my Zuna in all her pride.
1st: What was Bandido Escorpion?
Ulderico: El Bandido Escorpion is a character in the Scorpion Bay world that was used only to create themed graphics for clothes. We liked him a lot, so we decided to create a story about him and his origins, reflecting what were the themes of the clothing brand: Scorpio, Ecology, Surf, South California, Mexico, Spanglish and Baja legends. From all, this came out El Bandido Escorpion, the protector of the Baja of Scorpion Bay.
We also had to do the second volume, but then nothing was done.
1st: How did this lead to X Comics?
Ulderico: As I wrote previously, I was contacted by the Coniglio Editore to attend in X Comics 100 entirely dedicated to beginners cartoonists. The publishing house had noticed my work on my blog art and had already written an article about me in X Comics 96, then they asked me to participate. Previously I was already thinking about writing and drawing my Zuna and it was the right occasion to make her debut. I remember what they wrote in the editorial: “Then there is the erotic fantasy of Ulderico Fioretti, which offers us an adventure between Druuna and Conan the Barbarian, introducing his heroine ZUNA.” I asked to also draw the cover and they accommodated me.
Subsequently, Zuna also appeared on X Comics 119 and there was an agreement to get her out in six numbers a year, but I could not continue because after a while the Coniglio Editore closed. For Zuna, maybe it’s better this way because after that period I started writing her saga and I took eight years to complete it. I don’t know when I will start to draw this maxi saga, but I’m sure it will be at least ten comic books. Zuna is one of the first characters I created, I should still have a drawing of her dated 1996. I’m very fond of her.
1st: What made you decide to make the transition to American comics?
Ulderico: Actually I wanted to draw American comics since I was a kid, in particular, I wanted to draw Wolverine (my favorite). Over time, I noticed a certain involution of Marvel and I had no more desire to do it, but I always wanted to draw superheroes comics. I had this opportunity thanks to Heroic Publishing and its publisher Dennis Mallonee.
1st: How did you get started at Heroic Publishing?
Ulderico: One person who knew Dennis one day told me: “You have to draw the superheroes. Would you like to collaborate with Heroic Publishing?” and I replied:”Sure!”. We wrote to Dennis Mallonee, but at that time he had nothing for me.
After a week, Dennis writes to me that did not have anyone to draw for the League of Champions # 15 interlude, and since that time I have six years to collaborate with the Heroic Publishing and it’s a great pleasure for me.
1st: What made Heroic Publishing the right home for Jay-Na?
Ulderico: Dennis Mallonee and I created this character together, so Heroic Publishing is her home.
1st: Heroic Publishing typically publishes a PG (no nudity) comic, while Jay-Na is PG-13 (frontal nudity) how did you and Heroic decide that Jay-Na should feature frontal nudity?
Ulderico: Heroic Publishing is famous for the comics of sexy superheroines, and if history requires it, nudity is present. Maybe can think it’s just a whim and it’s not like that, but even if it were, I don’t see what the problem is. In the United States of America you have a huge problem with nudity and read all the classifications of censorship that you adopt, for me it is absurd. The naked body is natural and Jay-Na is nature, so she is naked.
Ulderico: Jay-Na is the daughter of Dennis Mallonee and Ulderico Fioretti. To find out more, you must read JAY-NA: NUMBELAN.
1st: Jay-Na has previously appeared in League of Champions, how is she different in this series?
Ulderico: In League of Champions # 15 she appears in a very particular way and she joins the supergroup because she occupies the body of Nemesis Girl (“The Lords of Chaos” saga on League of Champions # 13 – 14 – 15 – 16 ), instead in the graphic novel JAY-NA: NUMBELAN I tell the origins of the character and the fall of Numbelan. I took inspiration from this legendary animal kingdom by Senegalese legends, setting the story in Africa and inserting characters created especially by me like Zoraya, Basu and The Hunter.
1st: What makes her Queen of the jungle?
Ulderico: I’m sorry, but I can’t say this. You must read JAY-NA: NUMBELAN.
1st: Who is Gayde?
Ulderico: Gayde is the lion king of Senegalese legends and is the king of Numbelan. Those who have read League of Champions # 15 could recognize him. I strongly wanted to include Gayde in the story also to pay homage to Osamu Tezuka and his Kimba, one of the cartoons I’m most fond of.
Ulderico: Even humans are part of Numbelan, as it should be since we are also an animal species. I created Zoraya to be the reference point for humans, by paying homage to the African matriarchal societies of antiquity. She is a shaman, so is a healer and mentor.
1st: Who is Basu?
Ulderico: Basu is the disciple of Zoraya and has already appeared in League of Champions # 15 and # 16. He is an allegorical representation of blind loyalty.
1st: Who is the Hunter?
Ulderico: The Hunter is the slayer.
1st: What does he want?
Ulderico: He wants power and he will not stop until he has it.
1st: Is the hunter a metaphor for human encroachment and urban sprawl all over the planet?
Ulderico: Absolutely yes. The Hunter is the representation of the disaster that man makes every day against the planet, animals, and men themselves. JAY-NA: NUMBELAN is a strongly ecologic story.
1st: What is the Oblivion Door?
Ulderico: It is the door to the suspension of the memory and abandonment of the sentiment from which the story of Jay-Na came out.
Ulderico: The Hunter opens it by shedding the blood of Numbelan’s magical animals. By doing this, he has unleashed terrible events and the King of Chaos has risen.
1st: Who is King of Chaos?
Ulderico: You’ll find out by reading JAY-NA: NUMBELAN #2.
1st: What chaos does he bring to Numbelan?
Ulderico: You’ll find out by reading JAY-NA: NUMBELAN #2.
1st: Where can fans find you on the web?