When you hear the William Tell Overture, there’s likely one image that comes to mind: a masked crusader for justice, riding a white horse, and protecting the old west with the coolness of Steve McQueen, but with the manners your mom tried to impart to you. There’s something timeless about that hero, the Lone Ranger, who represents the American ideal, and the notion that we can truly achieve some measure of justice in the world. With his Native American partner Tonto, the Lone Ranger has captivated the imaginations of people young and old across the world for decades, as audiences have thrilled to the Ranger’s attempts to bring law & order to the wild west. As announced earlier on CBR News, Dynamite Entertainment will be launching a “Lone Ranger” series this fall and will feature the art team of John Cassaday (on covers) and Sergio Cariello (interiors), both of whom spoke to CBR about the series and their love for the character.
“I’ve been interested in the character almost my whole life, but have rarely seen it reach its greater potential,” said Cassaday of his love for the Lone Ranger. “I see it as a challenge for us and have my fingers crossed. You’re in for some surprises. And more than a few moments of, ‘Oh, that’s why he does that/wears that/rides that.’ This is his origin. There will be mysteries and just enough answers to keep you coming back.”
Cariello feels the same way about “Lone Ranger” and explained that he’s always been interested in that genre of tales. “I really enjoy Westerns,” he said. “I’m talking easy paced, long shot westerns: The landscape, the horses, cowboy gear, the shoot outs. I also like the dirt. Very fitting for the organic style I’m using for the book. This is not just a fun read but it is a serious, realistic take on the character. I like that. If I understand it correctly, Brett intends to show the dark side of Reid as well as him coming to grips with his original moral upbringing. I also share the Lone Ranger’s classic creed that all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world. That a man should make the most of what equipment he has, being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.”
It’s no secret that Cassaday is one of the hottest artists in demand right now, so it’s almost a no-brainer to get him involved with “Lone Ranger,” but the talented Cariello got involved with the book in his own unique way. “My friend Keith Champagne (writer/inker) contacted me about it on behalf of Dynamite Entertainment. He passed on some very rough sketches done on the character that I later discovered were from Cassaday. Although I was told to look at Cassaday and Steve Epting as a guide to get the gig, I decided to do my own take on the Lone Ranger tryout. I strongly believe in doing my own gut feeling stroke in any project I get involved with so I didn’t try to draw like anybody else. Hey, I thought, if they want me that’s who they are going to get. They liked it and then they asked me to do a four-page tryout based on Brett’s script. I did them with same approach: I just had fun with it, without over thinking it but giving it the reverence it deserves, and still doing my thing in it.”
Don’t expect Cassaday and Cariello to be switching duties any time soon. “I’d love to, but I’m just too booked up,” admitted Cassaday. “And Sergio’s doing a stellar job.”
The popular “Astonishing X-Men” artist also explained that it’s been easy to visualize the artwork for “Lone Ranger,” because the inspiration comes to mind very quickly. “Clayton Moore is who most think of, but I’m more a fan of the serials, radio shows and a great newspaper comic strip in the early 1980s by Russ Heath and Cary Bates,” says Cassaday of inspirations for his art. “And just a fan of the story in general. It’s a great revenge tale. There’s an edge to it that most are unaware of.”
For the versatile Cariello, he’s been finding some inspiration in Hollywood, though he promises he won’t simply be copying the looks of real people. “There was a time we were looking at Wes Bentley, ‘American Beauty’ meets ‘Batman Year One’ (before he’s Batman), inexperienced, and learning. After a few email exchanges with ‘the boys’ – Brett and John – and some input from Dynamite, we turned in what we were looking to do. I asked what movies and actors could play the other characters as well and we set the mood for the book. ‘Deadwood,’ ‘Unforgiven’ and other movies were mentioned along with some familiar faces to help me get the idea for the rest of the crew. I’ve learned in my career to be careful not to make anyone in comics really resemble any celebrity in particular, unless you’re doing a parody. So what you get in this book is fresh and original as it can be but influenced by existing reference.”
Speaking of influences, Cariello has a wide array of inspirations that helped to form his current style of artwork. Like many artists today, the Brazilian penciller found comics and animation to be muses at a very young age, explaining, “Fred Flintstone, Mickey Mouse and other TV cartoons were my first inspirations to draw. Then comics came later. Spider Man, Batman, Tarzan and Will Eisner’s the Spirit were my favorite American comics. ‘Asterix’ and ‘Tintin’ were my favorite European comics. but I enjoyed many of them and I created my own comics and stapled them just like a comic book when still a kid. I knew I wanted to do that when I grew up. I kept drawing and evolving, as I grew older. One day I saw an ad for the Kubert School in an American Batman comic. I knew I wanted to go there. One of the things that I improved while attending there was my lettering. I went to work for Marvel as a letterer during my second year in Joe’s school while working on ‘HP Lovecracft’s Dagon’ for Caliber Press as letterer and penciler/inker as well. Soon after that I went to DC and other publishers as penciler/inker. My inspirations include Will Eisner, Milton Caniff, Joe Kubert, Alex Toth, John Romita Sr, Jim Aparo, Gil Kane, Mort Drucker, Moebius, Uderzo, Jesus Blasco, Giorgio Cavazzano and many, many more.”
While Cariello may not be a household name, he’s made his name on a lot of big superheroes and feels excited about future prospects. “I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to be able to draw my dream projects of various genres and styles: Batman, Spider man, Wonder woman, Avengers, Superman, and so many super-heroes I grew up with,” he says. “And I love to be involved just as much in other cartoony projects that leans more towards Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, Giorgio Cavazzano and Uderzo styles.
“So I’m really content. I’ve enjoyed every project that has come my way. Although I had my share of low times in comics, I’ve been quite busy too and I must admit that every job I ever held and still have in my career as an artist were all offered to me. With the exception of trying to get work as a letterer at Marvel and getting it, every other job I initially tried to get myself ended up in a dead end street. So, I’ve learned to do the best I can in the projects offered to me allowing my work to generate more work. I can then sort out what is being offered, accepting only what I want or need. I believe that is the way of placing myself in the hands of the Man who is above all Men: Jesus Christ himself!
“I’ve had my share of drawing Super Heroes so I wouldn’t mind doing the Spirit or some European characters like ‘Asterix. It will be neat also to do more historical biblical characters in comic book format the way I know how! To do stories that have eternal relevance and moral values are the ultimate projects for me. Everything else can be just as fun, entertaining, very rewarding and somewhat unforgettable, but they are temporal! Getting back to the Lone Ranger’s creed: ‘I believe that all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever. I believe in my Creator, my country, my fellow man.'”