The long journey to Shadow Planet

The Shadow Planet, published by SaldaPress for the independent label Radium, is an explosive mix of retro sci-fi, exploitation and horror by the Blasteroid Bros, the collective made by screenwriter Giovanni “James” Barbieri, illustrator Gianluca “Johnny” Pagliarani and colorist Alan “Junior” D’Amico. The “most terrifying retro sci-fi horror ever made in comics” – that could become a film very soon – has already inspired a board game, whose prototype will be presented at the next Essen fair. Here’s how the Blasteroid Bros have told us the story of the project.

One warm summer evening of 2004, Gianluca Pagliarani invites Giovanni “Gianni” Barbieri for a pizza in Santarcangelo di Romagna. Gianluca has an idea for an old school sci-fi story with rockets, spacesuits and a monster on a secluded planet at the boundaries of the known universe. He asks Gianni for help with the plot and together they jot down a few drafts, until they have a complete story which they start calling, as a tribute to old films with the word “planet” in the title, The Shadow Planet. The project was inspired by the two authors’ obsessions and their “guilty pleasures”, a mix of Mario Bava, John Carpenter and H.P. Lovecraft. The intention is exactly to make a “B-movie on paper” and Gianni has an idea to promote it: they will become brothers! Here come the Blasteroid Bros, from the nom de plume Johnny Blasteroid which Gianluca used to sign his early work. That’s how Gianni became James.

The idea takes shape and develops, but a colorist is needed. Johnny and James call on a friend they both love and appreciate, Alan D’Amico. Alan, the youngest of the three, takes the name of Junior and, aside from coloring, he helps out massively with social media communication about the project. The Shadow Planet catches the eye of Matteo Casali and Alessandro Apreda, founders and motors of Radium. Soon the project is announced at Lucca Comics & Games festival in 2015 and 900 people contributed to the crowdfunding in 2016. The mainstream edition of the book is presented at Naples Comicon in 2017 thanks to Andrea G. Ciccarelli and Stefano Marastoni of SaldaPress, who strongly believe in the project.