Sal Cipriano Tells SBC What We Want To Know

Posted: Tuesday, August 22, 2000
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Sal Cipriano Tells SBC What We Want To Know

Sal Cipriano: publisher, creator, writer, artist of Altered Realities, a small press out of Brooklyn, N.Y. He publishes an anthology book called Altered Realities. The book focuses on stories written and drawn by new talent from the NYC area. The first issue of the series has been met with a great response and the second issue, due out by May, has been previewing just as well. I enjoyed the first issue so decided to have a chat with Sal.

DS: What is your full name?
Salvatore Joseph Cipriano, couldn't be any more Italian if I tried!

DS: Age?
Sal: 25, damn a quarter of a century has passed already?!

DS: Favourite web site?
Sal: World Famous Comics and the Brian Michael Bendis message board, we're a kick ass group there! You guys rock too!

DS: Were comics a big part of your childhood or did you discover them at a later stage?
Sal: Comics have been part of my life since as far back as I can remember.

DS: Can you remember the first comics that you read?
Sal: I remember my Dad buying me Batmans, Supermans, and Spidermans when I was young but I honestly cannot recall them. The first comic I remember reading was Uncanny X-men #195 the one with the powerpack and morlocks! It was also the first comic I ever went out and bought myself!

DS: Was art an important part of your education?
Sal: Actually as much as I wanted it to be it wasn't. Go figure, I even went to the school of visual arts here in NYC and the only thing I really worked on was writing!

DS: Did you enjoy your time there?
Sal: Yeah totally. While I didn't finish, instead opting to concentrate on my comics, I do still take about one course a semester just to keep brushing things up.

DS: What was the first comic you published yourself and how did that come about?
Sal: The first thing I ever published was a zero issue to funny little voices, which was a collection of shorts that had been running in a local zine called believe. It was put together at Kinkos and only about 20 were made. I thought it'd be fun to put this out separately. That was about 2 years ago, but if you want to get real technical I put together my first comic in the seventh grade. It was a superhero comic, that shall remain nameless, hey you never know I might want to revamp it someday! Even less people saw that piece of STOP-@-SPAM#$%!

DS: How did you distribute your comics then?
Sal: Well since there wasn't that much, it wasn't too hard, y'know?

DS: Would you go out with a girl just because she had access to a photocopier?
Sal: Oh hell yeah, do you know what I could do with a copier!?!?! Bust out the porn, um, I mean, next question...

DS: What materials and equipment do you use when drawing your comics?
Sal: Well, I'm one of those low maintenance low funds type guys, any cheap .5 mechanical pencil is cool for me, ek Success's millennium pens are my inking tools o' choice aided by some sharpies and magnums, yeah I probably should use the pen and ink method, but I always mess up with those. I need a lightbox, real bad though!!! Please donate all money here.

Altered Realities backcoverDS: Do you prefer to illustrate your own stories or having other people do the artwork?
Sal: I love writing for others. It's just so great to see my stories illustrated by someone else.

DS: Is that because the artists surprise you with how they interpret your stories?
Sal: Yeah I'm such a sucker for that. I get all fanboy like when I see my stories drawn by someone else.

DS: Who do you see as the target audience for your work?
Sal: The people with the bull's eyes on their backs! But seriously, I'd like to think anyone could pick up my book and enjoy something about it, that's the beauty of an anthology.

DS: What work have you been doing recently?
Sal: The last two months have been crazy. First finishing up Altered Realities 2, then preparing for Wizardworld Chicago, now I'm starting to put the wheels in motion for issue three, writing and researching mostly.

DS: What topics are you researching?
Sal: Currently I'm only researching the roles of women in the old west. One story at a time.

DS: When was Wizardworld held?
Sal: August 4-6 (2000)

DS: How did the convention go for you?
Sal: I had a great time! We didn't sell much, but we did give out over a thousand copies of the first two issues combined! And I met so many great people, like David Mack and Jamie S. Rich. And I was pretty drunk every moment after the con, so you know it was good!

DS: What comics have you read recently? Why did you like/dislike them?
Sal: Powers #4, Rising Stars #9, Red Star #2, Battle Pope#1 & 2 and Evilution #2 were among the best books I've read recently. Powers has got to have the best creative team across the board working in comics today. These guys are like a well oiled machine! Rising Stars continues to deliver a kick ass story. I'm completely enthralled with the Red Star, Goss and crew have so hooked me. You cant go wrong with Battle Pope, I'm sorry, this is the most blatantly, disgustingly brilliant comic out there. And Evilution, which is put out by Altered Realities' Marco Dileonardo, loves to shock the s%!t out of you, and I love that!

DS: If a film was made of your life who should play you?
Sal: I think if Ewan McGregor could pull off a Brooklyn accent and dropped some weight, not that he's fat I'm just real skinny!, he would kick ass as me! Hey if he's good enough for Star Wars, he's good enough for me!

DS: Describe Brooklyn for us in 46 words.
Sal: There's lots of food here! You know, when I really think of Brooklyn, I really do think of food. I wouldn't trade eating here for anyplace else. We got all these awesome roast beef places, like roll n' roaster and John's deli and of course pizza, where would I be without L&B?

Altered Realities Cover closeupDS: In issue one of Altered Realities the common theme seemed to be people finding themselves at the mercy of other peoples plans. Is that how life is for you at the moment?
Sal: Kinda. Running this anthology has kind of put me at the mercy of my collaborators whims. This is an extremely difficult book to keep together. I'm gonna admit right now, that I feel that the second book has suffered because of my tolerance for crap. As a direct result, I've recently taken on more of an editorial role than before to ensure that the next issue really lives up to everyone's potential.

DS: How do you indent to do that without upsetting the artists?
Sal: Well most of the artists involved are or have become pretty good friends of mine, which isn't always a good thing when you get more editor like, but they all know where I'm coming from. They know how I feel for the second issue and are all ready to turn out the best work possible, and they know I'm not going not settle for less now. We're all being very professional about it because we all want to make it in this business. I couldn't ask for a better crew.

DS: How did all the Altered Realities team meet up?
Sal: Let's see: I've known Mike Mongello (American Hero, issue two and forth coming special) for what seems like forever. Through him I met Brien Cardello(Bruisa) at a community college about five years ago. Brien and I became two sides of the same coin, often coming into conflict with our views of the industry, so naturally working together on a project was inevitable! Through Brien, Andy Macdonald(Planet Hell, issue two) was introduced into the group. Marco Dileonardo(aka Mr. Altered Realities) and the rest of the boys from issue two I met at SVA, all of whom loved the idea of being published. And that's that.

DS: What sis your view of the state of comics?
Sal: Personally I think there has never been a better time to be reading comics ever. The amount of incredibly significant work out there is tremendous. I've literally been spending buckets of cash at the comic store. I love it! The only problem lies in the new readership market, its so damn hard to turn people onto comics. I think it's up to us as fans to try to get nonreaders reading more than the companies. There is nothing better than a recommendation from a friend, it's just a matter of giving the non reader something that they could grasp onto and run with without our guidance.

DS: What's the small press scene in Brooklyn like?
Sal: Well, it's interesting because I know there's plenty of small press going here in Brooklyn. This corner of Brooklyn, Bensonhurst, is the only part I can fairly tell you about, cause I get blurry about the other guys. All I know is my Altered Reality comics and Brein's Tears Like Water Productions are trying to carve out our own piece of the industry, and we do it out of a local Dunkin' Donuts!

Altered Realities BackcoverDS: What is your first law of small press publishing?
Sal: Keep your chin up and prices low, cause no one is gonna notice you otherwise.

DS: Who has/is going to do stuff for Altered Realities?
Sal: Everyone mentioned above has work going into issue three with the additions of an anime-manga sensation named Becky Cloonan who is also another SVA friend, Corey Zayatz who I met at this years Pittsburghcomicon and was wowed by his amazing portfolio, and online friend John Greiner whom I met through Brian Bendis' board and has recently been wowing the board with his own comic 513. It's gonna rock!

DS: What do like about each of their work and what do they add to your stories?
Sal: The thing that I like about us as a group is that we're all so different in styles and interests, so it makes for a wide range of storytelling opportunities. When I usually come up with ideas I usually have an artist in mind and if none of the boys fit, I usually save that story until the right artist comes along.

DS: If you could get any person to illustrate one of your stories who would you choose and why?
Sal: Your going to make me all fanboy like now aren't you? For my money, I would have to go with Michael Avon Oeming. The man is not only a great artist, but a really cool guy too. That to me is important, you gotta be able to work with people you can get along with and even call friend to produce the best work, I mean look at Powers, I really think that comic is so great because of Brian, Mike and Pat's friendship and talent. Mike's drawn a pinup of the funny little voices boys, which will be the cover of this printed zine we are putting together which promotes indie books. Maybe one day I'll get to work on a story with him, you never know and that would be really cool

DS: What's the best bit of graffiti that you have seen?
Sal: You know its funny, I know nothing about graffiti, even coming from Brooklyn! I cant even recall any pieces that I've ever liked in particular! Everyone seems to think that my style was developed through graffiti, but it wasn't. It kinda formulated out my influence from Art Adams and developed into its own thing.

DS: How do comics make your life better?
Sal: They're pretty darn comfortable to sleep on. Now me go to sleep.

You can contact Sal via:

1819 West 11th St. Brooklyn N.Y. 11223, USA

If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me