Last month, true crime writer and journalist Seth Ferranti and GR1ND Studios kicked off the true crime comic book renaissance. Ferranti dropped Supreme Team, the first comic in a series of comics about Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff and his South Jamaica, Queens crew. Following up on that release is award winning author and journalist Christian Cipollini has brought has released Lucky into the world. Released under GR1ND Studios and Stache Publishing, this comic focuses on the father of modern-day organized crime, Lucky Luciano.
For a little on the author, Cipollini hails from the suburbs of Pittsburgh. His father was a cop, but his friends’ fathers were “from the other side.” “I kinda had the best of both worlds,” reflected Cipollini. He went on to attend Seton Hill University,
where he majored in journalism. His career path was decided in the school’s library where he read countless articles in New York City papers about the “Dapper Don,” John Gotti. The stories drove Cipollini to consume an array of books on crime, economics and politics and deduce how they’re connected. “Everything from Harlem to Hollywood, these guys were connected,” said Cipollini.
In the years to come, Cipollini wrote and published his first true crime book, Diary of a Motor City Hitman: The Chester Wheeler Campbell Story. It was the first of three publications, along with work published as a freelance journalist. His expertise has scored him television appearances on the Biography Channel, as well as National Geographic.
Luciano is a subject Cipollini is intimate with, as he is the topic of one of his books. Lucky Luciano (born Salvatore Lucania) is an appropriate early subject for the emerging true crime comic. As true crime comics are looking to change the comic book world, Luciano did for organized crime. He was messianic in a sense, for the Italian Mafia–as creator of La Cosa Nostra’s Commission–and for the Mob, by interweaving rackets of other ethnicities (Jewish, Irish, Black, etc.). Yes, there’s a difference. “Luciano and those guys were the mob,” explained Cipollini. “It was an ethnically unified group, not a Mafia family. The Mob was powerful because it was unified.” He added, “In my opinion, [Luciano’s] real stamp on society was being the figurehead of an era where the Mob ran better than any legitimate business because it was a unified effort of ethnic cooperation and understanding of what human nature wanted and desired. They were who they were because they had incredible networks of friends that were equally as good at their stuff.”
“A Scar Is Born,” he first installment of the Lucky series starts off with Luciano’s name ringing out after being beaten by police and dumped on the road. The incident caused the press to start calling him “Lucky,” because he was lucky to be alive (he was known as Lucky before on the street, evidenced by a tattoo on his forearm). “I introduce them as kids, but I quickly jump to where he was scarred. that’s when people started to know him,” Cipollini revealed. “Each issue is gonna open with a little back story.” Luciano will also be used to introduce other Mob legends like Meyer Lansky Benny “Bugsy” Siegel and Murder Inc., along with some lesser known, yet important figures.
There are four issues of Lucky–illustrated by Russian-born artist Evgeny Frantsev–slated to drop. It is Cipollini’s plan to have them coalesced into one graphic novel,later this summer. “We’re hoping that comic fans and [true crime] aficionados go, ‘Hey! Here’s a different kind of superhero,'” said Cipollini. “This is hard-hitting shit that is entertaining,but you have to learn from it.”
A sneak peak of Lucky can be seen below. To grab a copy of it or any of his other works, visit Christian Cipollini’s official website here.