O.M.G! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s, it’s wait, it’s beyond your standard mainstream artist! It’s Mario Gully, except the O.M.G here does not stand for “Oh my God,” but “Original Mario Gully,” which could not be a better description! Mario gully has broken down doors and paved the way for other creators in comic industry since he first entered the comic world! But nothing was handed to him! Nothing came easy! “When I lost my mind, I found my mind! I’m O.M.G.!” He states emphatically! Meaning, Mario Gully is a survivor! But in what way and where does the method behind that madness begin? Some might think that it was spawned in the tight confines of an incarceration system(and they would partly be correct), or within the doggy dog world of the big two, but, upon interviewing him it seems that it was an inevitable bee-line towards Mario’s own destiny, resulting in the creation of one of the most indelible career in independent history with his creation of the hit comic, “The Ant”, that, upon it’s resurgence is guaranteed to (forgive me but I think Mario would like the colloquialism here) knock them on their asses!
Mario Gully was born in Anderson, Indiana, which is about thirty miles from Indianapolis. Most people had heard of Indianapolis, but slightly unfamiliar with its hometown neighborhood! In fact, most people are not aware of this small town’s history. Anderson, interestingly enough, is a town of invention, making it almost a city foreshadowing Mario Gully’s road to success.
Here are two things Anderson is noteworthy for. Anderson is responsible for 17 different types of automobiles and three types of firearms, the M3. M391 submachine gun and the liberator pistol made for the allied forces by the Lambert Family during WWII. How does those this tie into Mario Gully’s story! Well, in small town, a lot but the greater picture is the idea of invention, the spawning of new ideas. Tranquility, not necessity becomes the mother of invention here, and in that, an underlined spirit of a young mans imagined realities.
“I had a pretty good childhood, I suppose. My father, Tes Gully put 32 years in at General Motors and I have two sisters and two brothers. I’m the youngest of the litter. I didn’t get in much trouble as a child. You could usually find me watching Speed Racer or playing with some toys my parents brought me or I made myself. I got in trouble one time kissing the girl next door. I stared early.”
But what constitutes early(although I don’t think the “started early was relating to art, lol, but you have to admit, it’s a cool seg-way toward the next question. Thanks Mario)? According to Mario Gully, It seems that his artistic eye could go as far back as his child hood, a childhood coupled with loss, but also change and then triumph.
“They say I began drawing when I was about 4 years old. I didn’t get really serious until I was in my early teens. Then when I was 19 I worked at Checkers and met a dude that liked comics and wanted to write for Marvel. He inspired me to try to break in the biz. I was tired of odd jobs and shit. Plus I dropped out of school. I wanted to do something with my talent…”
“…I was a very creative child. Too creative honestly. I was always drawing of adventure or doing some shit that had to do with me dressing up as a hero under my school cloths. I was a bit of shy kid. Later down the road, I got into Kung Fu movies and that took hold of me pretty hard. When we left Anderson when, I was 8 yrs old, I think and headed to Florida. My parents broke up the night we just come back from seeing Return of the Jedi. One of those best and worst days in my life.”
But his family’s split did not quite the creative force that drove his art. Mario further expanded on this point.
I was born an Artist! I drew because it was fun. My eldest brother, Derrick was the best artist I ever seen. One day I asked him to draw Bruce Lee for me and half was through I remember saying “that don’t look like Bruce!” He got mad and said, “You draw him then!” and walked off. I’ve been drawing ever since.”
But Mario did make it clear to MAS that raw talent is only part of it.
“Being a skilled and talent artist is much like drawing a great page, it is a detailed patchwork of growth and strength contrived with shapes and lines that form the type of creator the artist becomes.” Mario’s own journey continuously illustrates this point while, he remaining humble in the process.
“Well. I don’t consider myself a great artist so when I get there I ask me then. I do know this. A ton of people have natural talent. You know, born with the ability. But talent only gets you so far. You have to mold your talent until it’s a skill. That takes practice…patience…persistence…dedication and hard work. I know a lot of talented artist. But they struggle when either discipline or drawing something out of there comfort zone fucks them up. Skill is needed to when games. Talent will get you off the bench.”
But how much of Mario is on the page and how much of his work hearken back to the artist of the industries, past, presence and future. Well, the answer is as clear as the O in his tag, “O.M.G! Answer: Mario’s art is completely him.! His vision, his message, his style and personality reigns through as true as a modern day scripture! There is wisdom in his pieces, a raw insight which pulls any reader into the page! Big industry names do not faze him! He is his greatest teacher and his toughest critic, one of many traits which keep him at the top of his game!
“I’m not really influenced by artist in the biz anymore. I used to…but I think I out grew that once I met some of them artist and shit like that.
…Now. I’m influenced by those people in my life who doubts me and hate to see me have shit. I’m just being real. I’m influenced by my drive to be successful and create a nice atmosphere for my kids and myself.”
For one moment, though, I must back track a bit, for the record, being that one of Mario’s greatest creative testaments happens in the most unlikely of places. In jail, (Yes, he had spent some time in jail). But Mas brings this up not to highlight such obstacles that had lied in his path! No! The moral of this story is redemption! Mario’s story does not lie in the cement walls that were surrounding him at the time, but in the limitless space of his imagination, setting up the indelible mark he would make from within those walls. Through his art, the concrete walls around him instantly dissolved and a new reality surfaced! In MAS’S eyes, it is not the choices, itself we make that defines us, but rather, what we make of those choices which cements the character of the man we become!” Sometimes, it is in the darkness that one finds himself! This is where the independent comic book phenomenon “The Ant” took form!
This is where the direction shifts in Mario’s life truly began!
“I was 19 or so. I got arrested for armed robbery. Checkers wasn’t doing it for me. Then one day a tiny Ant came in from the window. That’s how I felt. Small and useless and wanted to trade my life for that tiny insects life if I could. So my cell mate loved comics too and said something like..draw a comic book about something to pass your time. So I drew Ant. Seemed to make me feel better.”
The Ant comic was originally published by the small independent company Arcana Studio in March 2004.
Vol. 1 (Arcana Studios)”Days like These”, debut the character also published by Arcana Studios! The book, as well as the character was an instant hit, selling out in just 9 days, (Ant-Comics, Wikipedia). The book later appeared on eBay going for as much as $100 for a good condition issue #1, (Ant-Comics, Wikipedia). The first volume ran for 4 issues, before moving to Image Comics.
This story introduces us to the original Arcana mini-series following 8-year-old Hannah Washington, a lonely young girl continually tormented and bullied at school. Her father, apparently an accountant — and later on, a blue-collar employee — by profession, is made a suspect in an armed robbery and is taken into custody. To escape the harsh realities of her life, she writes in her diary stories of an alter-ego: an adult version of herself who is a superhero known as “Ant.”
This becomes a laundry list of achievement built Mario’s name and legacy, a legacy that would later lead right Marvels front door(remember, at this point “The Ant” was still being distributed by Arcana Comics!!
“My first submission…hum. I was in jail and Marvel sent me one of those “keep trying” letters with Spiderman on the letter head. Marvel’s legs didn’t open until I was already known for Ant and I knew I had what it took to draw a Marvel title. Well I just cold called the talent guy Chris Allo at the time and was persistent. He asked for some samples. I drew a spidey page in 3 hours and emailed him back. Later they gave me some work. That was one of my “good experiences” in this crazy biz.”
And that’s just the beginning!
Mario’s artistic resume reads like a precise data sheet, a career now spanning just less than 10 years! His work includes Marvel Illustrated: Treasure Island (pencils, with writer Roy Thomas, 6-issue limited series, Marvel Comics, August 2007 – January 2008). Marvel Adventures: Hulk #6 (pencils, with writer Paul Benjamin, Marvel Comics, February 2008), “World Tour” (pencils, with Mike Raicht, in Exiles: Days of Then and Now, Marvel Comics, March 2008), Marvel Illustrated: Kidnapped (pencils, with writer Roy Thomas, 5-issue limited series, Marvel Comics, January–May 2009) and Army of Darkness #24 (art, with writer Mike Raicht, Dynamite Entertainment, July 2009!
But it was not until Image picked up “the Ant” that it went mainstream!”
“Well, all in all it took ten years for me to get published by a comic book publishing house. I tried the direct route first. Submissions, conventions all that. I got a few free pin ups and some trading cards that’s about it. I met a ton of hopefuls that wanted me to draw for them but none ever got off the ground. I’ve was scammed a few times also. More than a few. Well later I tried Ant. After being turned down a hundred times Sean O’Reilly at Arcana Studios contacted me. He understood what I was trying to do. He published Ant and it went from there.”
So how did image get into the mix! Mario gave us the exclusive scoop!
“I was after Image for a long time. I was rejected by them like 5 or so times. Jim Valentino was the publisher at the time and told me he didn’t see any retailer buying a book like Ant and why I draw her like that. Later Erik Larsen became publisher and I bothered him until he gave in. Funny how things work.”
So here it is! The Ant is a huge hit! Mario Gully has not only reached mainstream acclaimed but did it with his own title while retaining ownership and continually making his mark in the comic world, so one might think that’s he’s home free from here(no more walls to climb or hurdles to overcome), but anyone will tell you that this couldn’t be further from the truth! Creativity can be scarce when any profitable gain is involved, and that can include the dig three!! And in the structured creative “playground” of Marvel, individual, free thinking ideas are almost unheard of! The proverbial artistic line, in a sense, is truly never crossed, making a “Mario Gully” type of creator a maverick, that, thank the heavens, many believe that is sorely needed!
“When it comes to comics though, I’m old fashioned. I like picking up the book and flipping through it. I would prefer it that way for myself also. I haven’t brought one digital comic as of yet though. I guess that’s where I’m at. Then, when guys draw digitally there is no original art. That sucks.”
So, MAS wondered, just how your break through with new ideas do! Mario gives his view of the state of comics among the main stream median and, in classic Mario style, he doesn’t hold back!
“Shit. The greatest challenge is dealing with people and publishers that don’t understand comic books. Or at least how I draw them. I know what’s best for my craft. I know what looks good to me and so many people want to make you something else. I hate that. That’s like me telling a car about its tires. Who is better suited for that criticism? Me or the car that has those damn tires on it? I wish this biz was much bigger than a lot of folk’s eyes would be open. This industry isn’t about so much talent…and that’s a shame. I know a whole bunch of artist that draw lazy and can’t keep a deadline to save their life. If they worked at Taco bell they would be fired. But names go a long way and that’s not right to me. If I have any hate-ter-ism in my heart, it’s for guys I know I can draw circles around they get hot books or fan love.”
So what is O.M.G(Original Mario Gully)! A title he prefers over his actual name!) It’s, in a sense his own trademark, a tag to it which pronounces loud and true, “This is my work! This is me, my vision! This is the truth, whether you like it or not!” It is a decree for those looking for a fresh look on an age old ideal, a stamp which says, “I will give you, not the stories they think you should read but a new, fresh take on the stories you’ve been wanting to read; stories for the fan that wants something different, dynamic, truthful and new!” ( Me, I’d put my money on that bet, folks!
O.M.G means Original Mario Gully. Simply put. It has a much deeper meaning for me then that though. For one, most of my adult life I played by someone else’s rules and lived safe and played the game. I allowed people to use me and hurt me just to be in a better living..religious..financial. …publishing situation. Well, eventually, I cracked and O.M.G said enough of that shit! Play by your rules! You control your own life and your mind. Nobody can be you and the only real knowledge in this life is “self-knowledge”.
“…I’ll give you an example. If 2×2 is 5 to me. Nobody can tell me different. That’s what I choose it to be. Everybody says the answer is 4 and they want me to believe it’s 4. They will argue and kill you so you believe it. Mario would say its 4. Mario would even probably give his life for it because some dude somewhere told him it was 4. O.M.G is unplugged. It’s the original idea of the idea. When your mind isn’t inhibited by convention or propaganda. Buddhist call it ” enlightened or Satori.” It’s just being your true self. No lien. No bullshit.“...When I lost my mind I found my mind. I’m O.M.G.”
Like all creators, there is always the other side of themselves, the everyday life side, the father, the man, basically the regular e Joe! And Mario is just that.
I must admit, MAS was surprised how humble and down to earth Mario was when first speaking to him. I mean, this is the artist who created “The Ant!,” Trust me, to achieve was Mario has achieved is no small feat! In the comic world, to have created such a great character, go mainstream, sell out in 9 days flat and retain rights to your property in the mist of the big three is a big deal, to say the least!! In fact, shit, it’s a long shot and a half(trust me on this)! Yet, for Mario, it’s just another day in his life story, (with a upgrade of course. lol). And what he keeps is his and his alone.
“I don’t collect anything but bad experiences. I store them up because one day I will live inside that world I’m chasing. I want health, wealth and prosperity. The chase will be over once I get that the way I’ve always dreamed about it…”
“…As for my prize possessions, they are my kids. Mercedes. Lee-Quan Jay-Von and Aaliyah. If I ever feel differently then I hope I drop dead.”
“Any three? First, would be my mother Betty Gully. She died when I was 14 of Colon cancer. The scenario? Me showing her my kids and buying her a great big house and a new Mercedes Benz. Then I would show her all the tings on this planet she think is beautiful.
…Second, I would chill with my soul mate. Whomever she may be. I don’t care what we would do. At that point it wouldn’t matter.
…Last. Hum…I guess it would be my ex.Nikki. The scenario…we would go to our planet and be Gods. We would make the universe beautiful by showing it how we felt about each other.”
So here MAS is, down two and Mario has been hitting each pitch out the ball park. Now Mas was going to stump this cool, collective cat if it killed us so we would up, pulled back and threw a smoker right in home plat! I tell ya, game over! We never had a chance(Thanks Mario. lol)
If you can have any superpower, what would it be? His fit his personality like a glove.
“Heal the sick. Free the mind. I would also probably have the superpower to feel like a person feels on their favorite drug all the time with no side effects and get healthier as I breathe!”
So would Mario Gully change anything! MAS’s Guess was “probably not” and interestingly enough, our guess was right!
That’s difficult because I chant “everything happens to me for a reason” to quote one of my favorite books, The Alchemist “The universe conspires for you to live your personal destiny”. So hopefully I will believe that enough to not want to change anything. That would be something.”
But don’t be alarmed! Mario is not finished yet! He is fixing to make, yet another edible dent in the comic world by releasing not one but five, that’s right, five new tiles! And MAS was fortunate enough to get the exclusive scoop(for those who might have missed it, just look on the cover of the MAS Mag! That’s right, you just saw the exclusive cover there first! It’s insane. But that’s not all. We dedicated a full page to all his projects with insane cover visuals and a host of story summaries seen here first! These projects promise to be huge hits upon their release!
So, what has the incomparable Mario Gully left us with? Other than great images, a fast paced, fun editorial answers, and the inside scoop on his upcoming projects(as if that isn’t enough), he also left behind a promise, the give great , truthful work, entertain, and test boundary’s by breaking them, an anthem which the comic fan has been listening for and is long overdue.
“My biggest advice would be to find out how pros draw and draw like that. It’s so funny how people try crayons…drawing without construction lines…drawing on the wrong paper etc. That drives me nuts. Use the same paper…pencils…inks…format that most comic book artist use and master that. Or try to get close. I don’t understand why people just don’t Google that stuff and do it.”
As for the person, well he left us a lesson well learnt, that even in the tightest space and the darkest recesses of ourselves, one can create and make history, and therefore, change. Congrats on everything from the MAS crew, Mario and to the fan, keep an eye out for the resurgence of Mario Gully, but wait, he never went anywhere! And something tells, me(and the comic world is luck and better for it)he never will!!
UPDATE: Mario Gully’s (OMG Aka THE ORIGINAL MARIO GULLY) has just had his character, ”THE ANT,” appear, not only in the recent Spawn Issue # 265, but also in Savage Dragon # 216, both kiss A** issues. I ran out and bought both. hopefully this is merely a foreshadowing of things to come, but i expect to see this character as one of the tree main one on the roster for many years to come! Congrats Mario! You are making history!
And if you want to check out the Exclusive art Mario did for MAS’, IAM(Independent Artist Comic Movement) Magazine, just click here. It was done exclusively for MAS, and is only seen in a few select interviews! just click the link and you are there!
Well, my Job here is done, MAS fans and faithful Independent Comic Readers, MAS Comic readers and mainstream comic readers as well!