Welcome to the Wonderful World of Camillo
Do monsters really exist? Are monsters born or created? Can even a superhero be a monster? These are some of the questions raised in a brand new creator owned anthology comic that premiered at the recent Supanova Sydney with a small first printing, and has just gone to second print with a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Camillos Wonderverse is the first comic from talented Sydney artist Camillo Di Pietrantonio. Camillo has created some fantastic cover art for other artists and publishers in Australia and overseas, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW), The Phantom (Frew), Cult of Dracula (Source Point), Canceled (Scout), Killeroo (OzComics), The Apparition (Halftone Productions) and In Purgatory (Halftone Productions). However, Camillos Wonderverse is Camillo's first 22 page sequential art creator owned comic. Camillo’s goal with Camillo’s Wonderverse is to demonstrate a range of different themes he can draw (and write), including an action packed sci-fi story, a noir horror story with blood gore, and a classic looking superhero story.
The Story and Writing of Camillos Wonderverse
Camillo's Wonderverse is an anthology that includes three stories set in the same shared universe.
The first title introduced in the anthology is PROJECT AXL. The story is titled ‘Escape’ and introduces us to the organization called B.O.M (Bureau of Monsters), with a team of scientists carrying out a controversial experiment involving hybrids, with the aim to create a deadly super soldier. But as is the way with Frankenstein stories, their creation, a giant blood-thirsty mutant axolotl escapes and goes on a rampage through their laboratory. The introductory story takes us through the creation of a new mutant species that is created as a deadly weapon, but is that all it is, especially if someone sees the good in the so-called monster and decides to help it be free. The story is a great action packed romp and introduces a character we can care for as we follow his journey to escape those who created him.
If Joe Hallenbeck in The Last Boy Scout Film is to be believed, then BOM means f@#k you in Polish. Thankfully that is not true, and in the new world created in Camillos Wonderverse BOM has a brand new meaning. The second title of Camillos Wonderverse anthology is called B.O.M (BUREAU OF MONSTERS). In this first story titled 'The Asset' two B.O.M agents, Pamela Sabatini and Dominic Esber, are sent to investigate a mystery monster terrorizing the local bushlands of the Blue Mountains. Interviewing the sole survivor of a massacre, the agents are told that a Bigfoot type creature attacked the campers and disappeared. But are the agents there to protect the survivor and find the monster, or protect knowledge of its existence from the world at any cost? This story deals with the cover up of the existence of monsters by a covert Government agency called the Bureau of Monsters, and the lengths the agency will go to maintain the secret. It is a great concept and could lead to a lot of storylines looking at various Australian creatures.
The final story we are introduced to in the anthology is CAPTAIN AWESOME. In a story titled ‘The Prince’ we find the city’s most powerful superhero, who puts his life on the line every day, is suffering from insecurities and imposter syndrome. Can he overcome his darker impulses before he is lost to the void for good? The final story looks at a superhero known to the world as Captain Awesome, who after thousands of years defending humanity, suddenly finds himself weakening and dealing with doubt until he learns that the only way to feel again is by inflicting pain and terror. The story is developed through Captain Awesome’s discussion with a Psychologist to try and understand his new found need for fear, and whether that changes him as a hero. It will be great to see how this story plays out and whether Captain Awesome can overcome his issues, or give in to his needs and become a monster himself.
Camillo is the first to acknowledge that there were some issues with writing and editing of the first print of Camillos Wonderverse, which he has remedied for the second print Kickstarter. That being said, all three stories have been well written, holding your attention and drawing you into Camillo's new universe. Whilst the three stories are meant to be set in the same universe, it only really identified in the first two stories with both referencing the Bureau of Monsters, with no mention of the B.O.M in the Captain Awesome story. I am glad to see that Camillo's new universe has been set in Australia, with B.O.M referencing the Blue Mountains, so hopefully we will find out that the Bigfoot it is described as in the story is in fact a Yowie.
My only criticism, and it is a minor personal thing, is with the name Captain Awesome. Both Project AXL and B.O.M (Bureau of Monsters) are great comic book titles, but Captain Awesome doesn’t have the same gravitas, and belies the depth of its story subject matter. As a WWE fan I just can't get The Miz out of my mind with his catchphrase 'I'm Awesome' whenever I read the name, but on the other hand The Miz would make a great Captain Awesome. But I still look forward to seeing where it goes.
The Art of Camillos Wonderverse
Whilst this is Camillo's first book of sequential art, he has been refining his art working on projects for others for years, which can be seen by the quality of his work throughout the book. Even though all the stories contained in the anthology have been drawn by Camillo, he has used several different styles to differentiate each of them. The artwork on Project Axl and Captain Awesome is clean with great line work, and well coloured by Wilson Anthony. On B.O.M however, Camillo has used more of a sketch style with ink washed tones to set the mood, only punctuated by splashes of red to heighten the visceral nature of the story. The character design throughout the book is fantastic with the cute but deadly Axl to the detailed Bigfoot monster in B.O.M, a lot of work has gone into their design. Of course it can’t not be mentioned that there is a homage to Weapon X in the look of Axl whilst in the lab, especially with the helmet on in the tank, and his ultimate escape to cause havoc.
Even though Camillo’s work until now has mainly been restricted to covers and prints, his page layouts do not show this. There is a great mix of layouts throughout the book, from splash pages, to dynamic panels, the artwork flows on the page leading you through the story without being repetitive.
Having worked on many covers for other books, Camillo has taken a simpler approach to the cover of Camillos Wonderverse, with his cover for the first and second prints just featuring the three main characters from the first issue (with the second print identified by a green hue). Being just a character image it does make the characters stand out, and gives you an idea about the book without confusion over what's happening. The negative space also makes a great place for an autograph or remarque in the future. Camillo however has also called on some friends to produce four variant covers for the Kickstarter, with covers from fellow Australian artist Rui Macarico, along with Chris Vance, Daniel Lansdown, and Steven King (the artist not the author).
Should You Read and Support Camillos Wonderverse?
Should you read Camillos Wonderverse, yes you should. The first issue has laid the groundwork for three compelling tales, leaving you wanting more. All three titles could easily stand alone, and hopefully will do so in the future.
The recent Camillos Wonderverse Kickstarter was for the second print run of the book (the cover will have a green hue), with the first print of 50 copies now sold out. Camillo has done a fantastic job on his Kickstarter campaign, with everything I'm looking for when backing a project, including some great reward and add on options, a range of variant covers, and some stretch goals to achieve (although the first stretch goal was quickly achieved in the first few days).
So check it out and support Camillo’s journey through his creator owned universe. Whilst the Kickstarter campaign for Camillos Wonderverse has come to an end I’m certain that there will be other opportunities to purchase a copy of issue 1 in the future. If you do get a chance, make sure you take it and enjoy the ride. In the meantime you can checkout some of Camillo’s other fantastic work on his website https://www.camilloart.com/
Check out https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1742860348/camillos-wonderverse-issue-1 for more details.
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