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Tue, Feb. 1st, 2005, 10:48 am
ny_xx: Arcana's Ant Heads to Image Comics

by Benjamin Ong Pang Kean

Ants are creatures of little strength but sometimes, the things that look simple in life can teach us some of the most important lessons. Even though their "brain" is less than one-tenth the size of a pinhead, ants live in highly organized social colonies. Ants are known to be hardworking bugs with a “never say die” attitude.

For newcomer Mario Gully, he’s never given up on his comic, Ant. In an earlier interview, he said: “I would like to tell all the wishful creators out there reading this thread to fight for what you want. I do possess a little talent but I am four times ambitious than talented. Ambition will get you very far in life. "There are 5,000 would be comic creators that die every year due to procrastination".

”Never give up.”

For Gully, it’s always been his lifelong dream to bring Ant to Image Comics.

And Image took notice.

This September, Ant will debut from the house of new ideas.

“I have been bugging Image for years,” Gully told Newsarama. “My goal has always been to be at Image. I love the company. You can see it in my style of art. I bothered [Image Publisher] Erik [Larsen] until he gave me a chance to prove that I was ready for "prime time" as he calls it. At first on the fence about my ability as a new and young creator in the doors at Image. I had to prove that I was up for the majors. I think I proved it with my new stuff. And that was that.

“Ant did very well at Arcana. I think pretty much all the Ant books are gone. The response of the book overall has been overwhelming. Now that I'm on the best playing field for Ant that could possibly happen. I think things are gonna be even better.”

Ant is an original story about a little girl overcoming obstacles in her life and growing up to become the greatest hero ever. “A real hero,” Gully said. “That started from nothing. Ant is a reflection of my own personal life. I came from nothing. No art background. No history drawing for Marvel under my belt. Just a poor kid with ambition. I created Ant under very hard conditions for hope of a better tomorrow. I wanted to be a comic book artist. That's all. But that was a dream I thought I would have never imagined. Ant is just that.”

Erik Larsen praised the creator and said that Ant is going to be a great book. “There are a number of creators who have, over time, proven through hard work that they are "Image-worthy.

“I saw Ant as a book that was very raw, very rough -- but one with a lot of potential. Mario Gully's work has improved over the years and he has grown a great deal as both a writer and an artist and it simply got to a point where he could no longer be ignored.

“That was what I responded to -- not so much what Ant was but rather what Ant could be. When I talked to Mario about the book, I came to him with a number of concerns and suggestions and Mario surprised me by rattling off a number of changes he wanted to make to his book and before I could say anything, he'd addressed them all. We were really seeing eye-to-eye on this.

“I expect that Ant is really going to turn some heads. Those already familiar with Ant will be surprised to see the new twists being injected into the title and Mario's art has taken a huge leap. He's really at a new level.

“At this point, what I'm looking to see is Ant get integrated into the Image Universe and that's a first step.”

With Ant set firmly in the Image Universe, Gully is excited about the notion of using iconic Image characters in his book. And he gets to do just that in the first few issues of the new volume.

Many have likened Gully’s art to that of former Spawn artist Greg Capullo. And Gully is going to live his dream of not only drawing the Savage Dragon but also Spawn in the new series. “To my delight, Todd McFarlane saw fit to let Mario use Spawn in an upcoming issue,” Larsen said. “It's like a classic old school Image book from the early '90s. Mario's very enthusiastic and he's willing to push things and do what he can to improve.”

“Ant fans will see a Mario Gully they have never seen before,” Gully promised. “Erik has taken me under his wing and is molding me into a better artist. I am very young to comics and having a mentor like The Dragon in my corner is as good as it gets. I'm one of the guys that he is really hands on even though his schedule is so demanding. It's an honor. And I'm treated like family at Image at a very short time. It's crazy.

“The new Ant series takes place a year after Ant #4. Hanna is all grown up and is putting the pieces back together in her life. She woke up in a mental hospital and realized she isn't eight years old anymore. A traumatic event occurs when she was Ant and now she is trying to live up to the hype of being the greatest hero this world has ever known. But she doesn't remember being Ant at all and that is only half of her battles.

“In the first story arc she battles a great enemy of the The Savage Dragon. And Ant goes head to head with the big guy Spawn in issue #3! I can't say more than that right now. This is gonna be a wild ride for Image fans, I assure you that.”

The first Ant series is available in the Ant: Days Like These trade paperback from Arcana Studios. Issue #1 of the new Ant will be available from Image Comics in the July issue of Previews, and will go on sale this September.