Sunday, April 20, 2014

Interview with Giusseppe Pennestri of DieGo Publishing

From the United Kingdom, DieGo Publishing is one of the newest and rising publishing companies in the country. The company started up a few years ago and already has produce a strong core of titles ranging from different genres such as horror and steampunk. CBNAH staff writer Panagiotis Drakopoulos spoke with the CEO of DieGo Publishing, Giusseppe Pennestri to chat about the history of the company, past and current titles, and much more.

CBNAH: First off, how did DieGo Comics Publishing start up? 

Giusseppe Pennestri: Reading has always been one of my biggest passions. I grew up with comics and books and I always had the desire to do something in the publishing industry. Looking back now, I can see it has been my dream since I was just a little boy wearing shorts.

In 2012, I took the final step to make this dream come true. I started to research the market, got in touch with authors and illustrators and developed an idea about what to do. I knew that I wanted to publish comics and I was not alone with this idea. I started a partnership with my little sister, Marcella, who is a painter and anatomy teacher. Our niece Denise Di Prima, an amazing graphic designer, joined us in our venture and now brings life to all our titles. I admit that we would not be where we are without her graphic skills and dedication. Of course I can’t forget to name Matthew Perryman as well, who started last year as an intern and has became an editor, a friend and important part of the crew. Furthermore, we are supported by several renowned authors and illustrators, who give us confidence to publish their titles and represent them internationally. Last but not least, our crew of translators, who yield the Italian texts into English, while remaining faithful to the originals.

CBNAH: Can you tell us about the current titles at DieGo: Dark Rock Chronicles and Rourke the Hexbuster?

GP: Rourke the Hexbuster stars Rourke, a character created by the renowned Italian author Federico Memola. The story is a dark fantasy set in Ireland, centred around a very dysfunctional family. Rourke has the gift to bear the curses cast upon other people, a job that he conducts with a troubled heart, until he and his family find themselves involved in an ancient witch hunt. The series has eight episodes that we will publish twice a year in four volumes each 208 pages each in length. The first was published last October and the second volume will follow this May.

Dark Rock Chronicles is a contemporary fantasy novel by the emerging Italian author Marco Guadalupi. DRC is set in a world, where rock music has a very important role. The book is a must for fans of both, fantasy and metal: the young protagonists find themselves involved in a deadly tournament, in which they use their rock music to fight dragons, werewolves and demons.

CBNAH: For those who haven't read Desdemona and Clockwork, what are both titles about?

GP: Desdemona stars a comic heroine created by authors Giuseppe Di Bernardo and Andrea J. Polidori. This year it's the twentieth anniversary of its first publication in Italy. To celebrate, we enlisted a few illustrators to create contemporary covers that will maximise the effect of Desdemona's return to the public. To introduce this awesome young character, we’ll launch a Kickstarter project that will help create a base of readers.

Desdemona is an esoteric, mind-bending graphic novel series, that follows the turbulent life of Desdemona 'Desdy' Metus, a young night-time radio DJ. Aside from her show, 'The Sleepless', which introduces the mysterious, dangerous and compelling sorts of characters that make up her audience, Desdy is connected to a timeless feud between two warring secret sects. Her father, Isaiah Metus, is affiliated with one of them – the mysterious Brotherhood. But his past is not clean-cut, and we discover the dense history that he has with both the Brotherhood and their mortal enemies – the Black Lodge. Run by a female triad of Mothers, consisting of Cybele, her daughter Sarah and granddaughter Cronilde, the Black Lodge is hell-bent on disrupting the political state of the modern world. Throughout the series, Desdy becomes more and more embroiled in their feud, especially as the history of her parents is revealed.

Desdemona is set in Florence and on her adventures, Desdy must travel to many of the most beautiful locations in Europe. Sometimes this is in her modern time, while other times it is in historic events of the past. This is due to her special strain of insomnia, which takes her, sometimes unwillingly, back to alternate planes of reality that are kept hidden from those with a normal mind. Each episode sees an exhilarating entanglement between the threads of the past and present, providing a cerebral and tense world for the reader to inhabit.

Clockwork is the first book of a steampunk trilogy, written by author Augusto Chiarle. It takes the reader on a journey through an alternative Europe, one that is made up of robotic and alien plots. Chiarle’s prose is smooth, never dull, with a strong characterization that emerges from his meticulous historical research. This is no mean feat, regardless of how well-known the era is. Chiarle successfully interprets and adapts places, dates and characters in telling a story that spreads across decades. These characteristics, and their manipulation from the normal to the fantastic, are precisely what makes the steampunk genre so fascinating.

The story in Clockwork begins in Nice in 1921, where the suffragette Carola Dubois is investigating the mysterious death of her brother. Lieutenant Bertrandt of the Royal Savoy Dragoons finds a mysterious Martian relic in the Alps. In Turin, chosen once again as capital of the new Italian Kingdom, Marshal Scotti of the Royal Carabinieri thwarts dangerous, mutilated killers. Clockwork is characterized by conspiracies, alien technology and science fiction.

We are currently running a crowd-sourcing campaign through kickstarter to finance the translation of this amazing novel. Our plans are to translate and publish one book a year. To promote the publication of Clockwork, we will be participating in a series of steampunk events across the UK this summer, where we will present this novel to the steampunk community. We will also hold a themed art exhibition to accompany Clockwork's promotion and presentation.

CBNAH: Is any of this material on Comixology?

GP: No, not yet. I have heard a lot of positive feedback about Comixology within the online small press community and I’d like to give it a try. Right now I'm searching other similar platform as DriveThruComics though. I definitely want to find even more solutions for offering our titles to an overseas audience. Moreover, the recent news of Amazon acquiring Comixology can open new opportunities for small press. There are pros and cons when a big fish like Amazon conducts such an operation, however, and therefore I’m cautious.

CBNAH: What's your publishing schedule for the rest of the year and into 2015?

A. In July we will present the Desdemona and Rourke comics at the Comic Con in London. In October and November you will see the first volume of the steampunk saga and an Anthology of short stories. In 2015 the Rourke saga will come to an end. If the public response to Desdemona is positive, we will continue with the publication of this comic. I will also be working hard to start the production of another Federico Memola series, Enchantment Agency, with its main characters being a sexy duo of witches. Further new books are also planned: The Airship to Mars that continues Chiarle’s trilogy, and more Italian fantasy authors will be translated into English.

CBNAH: Any upcoming Con appearances?

GP: We’ll be attending various events this year across the UK. The most important for us will be in July at the London Film & Comic Con. We plan to introduce the first volume of Desdemona and the second of Rourke the Hexbuster there.

CBNAH: Where do you see the company in the next few years? 

GP: I know where I’d like to take it and I have a clear plan how to do it. Publishing is a hard business, even harder considering that we are introducing a new concept of making comics, one that is very different from the popular style of American superheroes or Japanese Manga. Every day we face new difficulties. But I love challenges. If we can cut ourselves a slice of the market in a few years, with our trustful base of readers, and if we can make the jump to produce more all-new series, beginning with Enchantment Agency, I will be happy

CBNAH: Do you have any words or advice for young writers and artists trying to get into the industry?

GP: Never give up! All the best have been rejected at their first try. And remember: you write or draw for your own pleasure, first and foremost. Appreciation by others will come with time - and hopefully rewards too.

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