Cthulhu Mythos, the second set of the Monster vs Heroes card game is about to hit stores, bringing characters from H.P. Lovecraft’s masterpieces - “The Shadow over Innsmouth” and “At the Mountains of Madness” to the game. In addition to the simple, fast, and fun mechanics, the game shines for the beautiful artwork and graphics. Following the Designer’s Notes by the game author, Enrique Dueñas, now it’s time to learn a bit more about its main artist, the Italian Riccardo Crosa.

Riccardo Crosa, the main artist of Monsters vs Heroes: Cthulhu Mythos.

Comic book artist, designer, and illustrator, Riccardo Crosa is a multitalented artist. As an illustrator he has worked with numerous publishing houses, including Stratelibri, Mondadori and Gruner und Jahr. As a cartoonist, his drawings have appeared in book series published by Star Comics, Kappa Edizioni, and the French publishers Soleil, Le Lombard and Humanides Associees. As an author, he creates and draws the world and characters of “Frusco il Feligno,” and “Rigor Mortis, the Genius of Evil” – which had gaming spin-offs - the board game “Kragmortha” and the card games “Si, Oscuro Signore” (Aye, Dark Overlord), which is translated in 9 languages, and “Looterz.” He has been the art director since 2016 at the game publisher Pendragon Game Studio. He is also the drawing artist for ‘Dragonero”, published by Sergio Bonelli Editore, and worked on the concept adaptation of “Dragonero Adventures” for the animation project for Rai Animations.

Rigor Mortis - The Evil Genius comic: first project as an author.

Ares Games: When and how did you start your career as a cartoonist and illustrator?

Riccardo Crosa: I always had a passion for “drawn” literature and for both animated and live-action movies. I've always drawn comics since elementary school, it’s a long-time love. When it was time to choose high school, my preference was to attend Art School and then, after graduation, to go to the European Institute of Design, in Milan, for a degree in Illustration. After the first working in advertising, I published the first strips of “Rigor Mortis” for a small fanzine in my home-city, Ravenna.

Ares: Did you have another career before, or in parallel to, your artistic activity?

Crosa: I ran a brewery in town for several years with other friends. While I worked at the pub in the evening and at night, the afternoon was dedicated to drawing and comics. Then, after selling my share to my associates, I continued to work there for a few years, until the artistic career didn’t take off. Then, I have played in several rock bands in the area, but we can't call it a career ...

A cover of Dragonero Adventures, by Sergio Bonelli Editore.

Ares: Which artists or works/settings inspired you?

Crosa: I grew up reading the works of the masters of the French-Belgium group, from “Tin Tin” to “Lucky Luke,” passing through Asterix, and then falling in love with the work of Moebius, Caza, Mézières, and Gimenez. Among the Italians, Magnus, Pazienza, and Manara ... there are many authors who inspired me, but some works were really cornerstones ... “Akira,” by Otomo, is certainly one of these, as is the work of Satoshi Kon.

Ares: What is your creative process as an illustrator, starting from specific setting or characters for a book or a game?

Crosa: The ideal situation is to have a direct contact with the authors and to get as many concepts and inputs as possible, which I listen to and study carefully. Understanding what an author has in mind is vital for the outcome. Then, I start producing pencils and sketches and working on concepts, keeping an open and continuous relationship with customers. At the end, when we're pretty sure of the result, I go on with the definitive ones.
I cannot deny that the part of the creative process I prefer is the starting step, the concept study. It is the most complicated and difficult step, but also the most artistically rewarding.

Art for Monsters vs Heroes: Cthulhu Mythos - Frank H. Pabodie character.

Ares: As an author, how did your own characters and settings come out?

Crosa: It is not very different from the previous one, except that in this case there’s a much more demanding customer – myself! All joking aside, there are really no big differences, except that the creative process is more immediate. I have to say, however, that over the years I find it more exciting to work on other authors' subjects, also because, being basically a lazy person, I tend to stay in my comfort zone, even if the best things come from experiencing new directions and things that we have never done before.

Ares: Regarding the working process, do you still draw with paper and pencil, or have you done the transition to digital?

Art for MvH Cthylu Mythos: Francis Morgan.

Crosa: I switched to digital many years ago, as it is more versatile and manageable. But I have to say that I had always tended toward this direction, from the beginning of my career. I am intrigued by technology and I am fascinated by the new possibilities of the digital world. I was one of the first authors to color their own illustrations on computer and one of the first cartoonists to adopt digital tools. On one hand, you lose the concept of original, but on the other, you get more in control, efficacy and speed.

Ares: When did you start working on games and what was this path?

Crosa: From the beginning, my career has been characterized for being an author split between the world of games (role-playing at the beginning, then tabletop gaming) and the world of comic books publishing. I belong to both sectors and not to one in particular. I started more than 25 years ago illustrating board games for the publisher Stratelibri, and then I published my first “Genio del Male Rigor Mortis” comic with them, which inspired the card game “Sì, Oscuro Signore” (Aye, Dark Overlord). Since then, I have always moved back and forth between these two worlds, working for Mondadori, Hobby and Work, Fantasy Flight, Sergio Bonelli Editore and Cmon, among others.

Cover art of MvH: Cthulhu Mythos.

Ares: How much time do you spend working on your art?

Crosa: It is my job, and requires 8 to 10 hours a day, including Saturdays and sometimes Sundays.

Ares: Could you tell us more about Monsters vs Heroes: Cthulhu Mythos, releasing in May 2019?

Crosa: As I said before, I like to get out of my comfort zone, and for this project I really wanted to go in this direction. I wanted to keep the tone from the first box, trying not to detach myself too much, but at the same time trying and experimenting with new things.

Ares: What are you working on, in these days?

Crosa: My biggest new projects, which take up most of my working time this year, are not in the gaming industry but are dedicated to comic book publishing. In fact, I am collaborating with the publisher Sergio Bonelli and with an American publisher for new comic book projects. But I am considering various proposals for next year. We will have to see what happens!

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