By Renato Andrade
Wednesday, January 31, 2007; 10:35 AM
SAO PAULO, Brazil, Jan 31 (Reuters Life!) - Peter Parker is a New Yorker without doubt, but the process of transforming into Spider-Man takes place far away from Manhattan.
The bespectacled photographer is turned into a superhero in a small apartment in Sao Paulo, one of the many U.S. superheroes brought to life by a growing number Brazilian artists working in the highly competitive U.S. comics market.
Roger Cruz, 35, has worked with Marvel Comics for 15 years and has produced Spider-Man covers and other stories.
Drawing a page a day from noon until about 2 a.m., Cruz enjoys the freedom to work at home.
"I can stop to see the view, make myself a lunch or listen to my music," said the artist, sitting on his sofa in front of a working desk cluttered with pencils, pens and papers.
In his resume of work are drawings of the Hulk, X-Men, Wolverine, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men Alpha, X-Men Omega, X-Patrol and Generation X.
X-Men Alpha was the best selling comic book of 1995 in the United States and made Cruz a star in the world of comics.
"When I was going to the Comics conference in San Diego, I had to get my visa and the guy from the U.S. consulate made my life easy when he saw I was the guy who had illustrated X-Men Alpha. He was a fan," said Cruz.
The trend to use Brazilian artists to illustrate U.S. comics began in the 1980s. The first major work by a Brazilian penciller was Justice League America, published by DC Comics and drawn by Marcelo Campos, 42.
Campos and Octavio Cariello, 43, also worked on the Green Lantern.
The pioneers opened the door for other artists. Some work for smaller publishers. But a select group draw the most famous comic super heroes for top companies such as DC or Marvel.
"We have today a guaranteed quality stamp: Made in Brazil," said Cariello.
He no longer draws for the U.S. market but helps new artists to improve their skills to get into the industry.
Over the years the world's most famous superhero, Superman, has been drawn by many different Brazilian hands and today is part of 26-year-old Renato Guedes' portfolio.
The Internet and other new technology has been a big help for Brazilian artists as it assured U.S. companies that they could deliver their work on time, said Ivan Reis, who draws exclusively for DC and now works on the Green Lantern.
"Today, what's the difference for DC, with offices in New York, to work with a guy from San Diego or another from Brazil? It doesn't matter. What's important is quality," he said.
Greg Tocchini said distance was no longer relevant. He left Sao Paulo a few years ago and moved to a small, remote house by a river from where Thorn Son of Asgard, Capitan America and the Falcon started to transform.
"I have a nice view, but there are some problems. My Internet does not work sometimes, I have electricity problems from time to time and my phone connections are really poor," he said.