Stefano Raffaele is a renowned comic book artist hailing from Milan, Italy. One of the first things you will learn about him is that he is heavily inspired by his profound love for movies spanning from classic masterpieces to contemporary blockbusters. Stefano’s style of drawing and storytelling captured emotions with attention to shot selection and timing. He made his debut in Lazarus Ledd #4 in 1994. Stefano swiftly ventured into the world of American comics, leaving his mark on beloved series like ‘New Gods,’ ‘Birds of Prey,’ ‘Batman,’ ‘X-Men Adventures,’ and many others. Following his most recent release ‘Knight Terrors: Joker,’ we had an interview to explore his inspiration, motivations, and what’s to come.
Comic Basics: ‘Knight Terrors: Joker #1’ showcases Joker's nightmare without Batman. How did you collaborate with writer Matthew Rosenberg to bring this concept to life, and what inspired your visuals?
Stefano Raffaele: Matthew’s script was amazing and very tight, full of details and suggestions. This helped me a lot to focus on his vision, and page after page, I found that we were on the same wavelength in terms of deep love for storytelling and how to express both humor and violence at the same time.
How did you approach designing the surreal environments and scenarios that Joker encountered?
This might sound a bit strange, but I just used my guts. I did read the whole script, then I “left it” inside my head for a while, and then I just started drawing without thinking too much, but instead letting my guts drive my hands. Lately, I do this a lot in my works, and it helps a lot to “free” my drawing style.
The Joker’s costumes in the comic are described as extravagant. How did you approach character design?
I have a great passion for clothing and fashion, so if you ask me to draw some extravagant clothes, you are just inviting me to have a lot of fun. But that said, everything was very well indicated in Matthew’s script.
‘Knight Terrors: Joker’ is part of a larger DC storyline. Is it possible to maintain consistency in the art while also keeping your originality?
Yes, absolutely. One of the things I loved most working on Knight Terrors: The Joker has been the freedom to draw everything as I imagined it, even if seeing it through Matthew’s eyes, of course.
Some moments in the comic deliberately make the Joker seem out of character. How did you represent these intentional shifts in the character’s personality?
I think, again, simply using my guts and having fun in putting into drawings the Joker’s quick change of facial expressions and body language. This will be even more evident in the second issue.
You present yourself as someone who is primarily influenced by the “love of movies.” How does this affect your art? Do you think that the project that you’ve collaborated on would easily translate to the big screens due to that?
Yes, I do. I spent a lot of time, especially on classic movies, starting my studies from black and white ones, studying directors like Truffaut or Hitchcock up to the most modern ones, from arthouse cinema to blockbusters movies, and I hope it shows in my storytelling. The storytelling, in my pages, always comes first. Then, I work on the “wow effect,” too. But storytelling is my main passion.
If you could choose one iconic comic book character that you could visually bring to life? Which one would it be and why?
Batman will always be my first choice, and he was my first love as a child. No other characters can have the same impact on me. I just love him.
As a second choice comes Daredevil. The two of them are my most loved ones ever. There is no specific reason. I just started reading their comics first when I was a child, and I immediately fell in love with them.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to discuss?
Yes, I am working on ‘Ministry of Compliance, which is a new comic book series that will start in November, published by IDW and written by Oscar winner John Ridley, with whom I did ‘GCPD: The Blue Wall’ for DC Comics a few months ago. ‘Ministry of Compliance’ is about an alien invasion that asks if humanity’s division and downfall are all an alien plot planned from the eighties.
When I read the script, I immediately fell in love with the story. It was just perfect, especially after our working together on ‘GCPD.’ There will be lots of drama, action, social and political outcry, and a lot of sword fights and deeply built characters.
You can check out more of Stefano’s work on his official site.