Interview: Sergio Cariello, illustrator  

29 March 2018

Imagery attracts and clarifies the message of the Bible. Readers say they suddenly understood it more clearly than before

I grew up in a Christian family, and went to Sunday school and Christian camp. I dreamed of being a cartoonist since I was five, and I had my first comic strip published in 1975 when I was 11. I dedicated my life to Christ in 1979, and attended the Word of Life Bible Institute in Recife, Brazil, in 1981.
 

I served in the Brazilian army when I was 18 and then moved to New Jersey, in the United States, in 1985, where I attended the Word of Life Bible Institute. Four years later, I attended a comic-book school and started working for Marvel Comics in 1992. The army was a great learning experience for me. I was part of the army police. We made patrol in the streets, checking on the regular army soldiers. I was in charge of driving the seven-ton truck to locations, as well as driving army officials to their destinations in an army Jeep.
 

I took advantage of my trips whenever we parked, to read many Christian books while I was waiting inside the vehicles, while my colleagues were doing their patrols. We never needed to go to war during my one-year term.

I met my wife in a Brazilian church where I was the worship leader. I worked for various comic book companies as a freelancer, and I also taught for seven consecutive years at the comic-book school I attended. We moved to Florida in 2003, and I’ve been the worship leader at our church ever since. Florida reminds me of my home town, tropical warm weather in Recife, Brazil. I loved the ocean back then, and I still do today.
 

In 2006, I was invited by David Cook to revamp the old Picture Bible of the 70s and the Action Bible was published in 2010.
 

Yes, I do enjoy actual paper books. I don’t read digital books. I’ve always loved the physical books since I was child: the smell of paper, the printed pages, the format. Digital books are probably becoming more popular in the English publishing world, but all my comic-book friends and peers prefer the actual-paper-books format.
 

I’ve enjoyed drawing my own comic strips a lot since I was 11. I loved drawing all the superheroes I grew up with for the publishers: Batman, Lone Ranger, Spider-Man, Hulk, Wonder Woman, the Flash, the Aveng­ers, Superman, and all of them.
 

I never had to draw in anyone’s styles but my own. Although I am fully capable of drawing in different styles, I never had to, because I never drew comic strips, beyond my own, Frederico the Detective. Comic strips, as I know, are the strips published in newspapers. All the monthly comic-book publications I drew were of well-known comic-book heroes such as Batman, Spider-Man, Hulk, Superman, Wonder-Woman, Green Lantern, Lone Ranger, Avengers, Thor. Those comic-book heroes are recognisable not by particular styles, but by their outfits. Each comic-book artist draws them in their own style.


No, I don’t think it’s unfair that comic-book illustrators and anima­tion artists are not well-known.
Animation is a collaborative work. It needs a lot more artists involved to get the job done; therefore, a model sheet must be established for continuity, and delivery of product has to be done in a timely manner. It’s part of the method for animation.


The characters in comics and anima­tion must be believable, engaging, and fun.
It doesn’t differ really from the art of drawing caricatures.
 

You have to translate strong action, movement, sound, vio­lence, and comedy into line and colour, so that parallel lines translates into calm, peaceful scenes and imagery. Diagonal lines, cross-hatched, and curved lines translate into action. Exaggeration and foreshort­ening suggest sounds into the reader’s mind. Enough contrast and variation of tones and colours adds mood and suspense to the scene.
 

When I had to approach the Bible in this way, I just applied what I learned in my comic-book professional work. It’s just stories — in a factual sense — con­veyed into a comic-book format. We did not cover every Bible story, just 212 of them. We gained interest from many [readers] whose interest was just in the Bible text.
 

Imagery attracts and clarifies the message more, in my opinion, and that’s what I’ve heard from readers. They suddenly understood the Bible more clearly than before.
 

I enjoyed working on Jesus’s stories most. It’s the fact that he related to sinners like me in such a loving way; so every story of his dealings with people fascinates me. I also enjoy reading and drawing how he deals with authority with nature, demons, and religious figures from his time.
 

For myself, I just gained more experience in drawing different loca­tions and characters. I already had a few years in Bible school and a devoted personal relationship with Christ and his Word since my childhood; so I don’t remember getting new spiritual insights from drawing what I already knew from the Bible. But it definitely fed my spirit while revisiting God’s truths, just like meat feeds my body. I know meat already, but I don’t stop eating it, in order to nourish my physical body. It keeps tasting good, and doing what it’s supposed to do as part of my nutrients intake. God’s word never returns empty: it always refreshes our souls and keeps us strong spiritually.
 

It’s impossible to draw without influence. We draw, inspired by those who came before us. Our imagination is fruit of the imagination of others, and finally the main source, God himself. Every book, movie — photos, life, and our own experience of experimenting and growing as an artist — affects the end result.
 

I’m working on a few things for different Christian publishers and individuals. They are biblically related, for the most part.
 

There may be a book I really long to illustrate, but I’ll know it once I get invited to draw it. I enjoy drawing so many different genres that it’s hard to pick one.
 

My favourite sound is a trumpet. I enjoy all kinds of music. But I have a special affinity with fully orchestrated pieces, where all musical instruments are playing in harmony, including the trumpets. I enjoy listening to movie scores while I’m drawing.
 

Jesus is the greatest influence on my life.
 

I like flying my drones when I’m not working. My drones are remote-controlled quadcopters — that means that they have four propellers — with cameras attached to them, made by DJI, the leading company on the market. I fly them for fun. I love tak­ing aerial shots — stills — and movies of nature, buildings, city­scapes, sunsets, and so on. It’s like looking at the world around us through a bird’s-eye view, or Superman’s-eye view. You can see many of my drone videos in my Vimeo and YouTube channels.


I pray most for health and harmony for my family.
 

Politics is what makes me angry: when there are lies, dishonesty, hypo­crisy; or when politicians act with an agenda behind their actions, not for the benefit of the people, but simply using power to benefit them­selves. I avoid political debates, because they never end well. Having said that, I hold myself subject to the governing authorities, because there is no authority except that which God has established. Romans 13 says that the authorities that exist have been established by God.

I’m happiest when I’m worshipping.
 

Yes, I have hope for the future, because of all the good works God prepared for me to do here on earth, and then life eternal with him.
 

If I was to find myself locked in a church with any companion I could choose, I’d want to be with Jesus in the flesh.
 

Sergio Cariello was talking to Terence Handley MacMath. The Action Storybook Bible by Catherine DeVries and Sergio Cariello is published by David C Cook at £9.99 (CT Bookshop £9).

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