Earlier this week, publisher NeoText announced that Rizzo, the latest novella from writer Ho Che Anderson, would release later this week. The book, part of the Stone series that debuted last month, features illustrations by Grammy-nominated artist Benjamin Marra. Today The Beat is proud to exclusively debut a few pieces of art by Benjamin Marra for Rizzo. Included in the art are designs and character sheets, as well as illustrations of scenes from the novella.
Here’s how NeoText describes Rizzo:
Once Rizzo was a legend in the making, a kid from the flats on the way to achieving the dream of becoming a pro basketball player—until he crossed the Martin family, regional directors of the Merit Party, and wound up on the Chain Gang, facing a slow, cruel death sentence of years of hard labor in service to the very people who stole his life. But in a world where US elections have been suspended, and the poor are taxed at a rate far, far greater than the rich, Rizzo watches the guards drag two men to their execution for a trivial offence and decides now is finally the time to embrace his plan.
Rizzo must return to his hometown, form a crew of the best people he knows—Dennis, the smartest person ever to attend the flats high school and an expert on electronics, security systems, locks, and surveillance equipment; Mo, the sneakiest person alive and a self-appointed spy, always one jump ahead of the authorities; and Rhino, whose impulsive explosiveness with his unparallelled fists is both his weakness and his strength—and lead a revolution to overthrow the Merit Party. He’s already worked out where to start: by hitting them at their most sensitive point—their money—in an outrageous heist that shouldn’t be possible. But first, there’s the matter of escaping the confines of his prison. And Rizzo has a plan for that too…
Rizzo will feature fifteen illustrations by Benjamin Marra, including five pieces of fully-painted artwork. In a statement, writer Anderson praised Marra’s work on the illustrations for the novella:
“Ben and I share the same comics publisher, got seated next to each other randomly at a convention signing a couple years ago, and became friends on the spot,” said Anderson. “I read his book Night Business and immediately started dreaming of collaborating with him. I totally clicked with his graphic novel’s 80s neon-smeared brand of exploitation, a set of sensibilities I hold very dear to my heart. I think Ben’s art reached a new level with his work on Rizzo, and I’m thrilled we got to work on it together, and for people to see what Ben’s got up his sleeve.”
Marra also expressed his excitement at teaming with Anderson on the book:
“Ho Che Anderson is a legend whose comics work I’ve been following for decades,” said Marra, the acclaimed artist of American Blood and JesusFreak. “I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for his talents as a writer and artist. It’s been a special honor to get to know him as a friend and an incredible experience to collaborate with him on this project. I hope it’s the first time of many. The story Ho Che wrote is pure pulp crime genre goodness. It’s exactly the kind of thing I love and which inspires me to make art. It was easy to be inspired by his prose to create the illustrations accompanying the narrative, and I hope my images do his words justice.”
Take a look at the illustrations by Benjamin Marra below, and keep an eye out for Rizzo on NeoText’s website later this week. And for more information on the Stone series, check out our interview with Ho Che Anderson.