It's time to break the bank with "The Last Days of American Crime" from Radical Publishing. Written by Rick Remender ("Punisher") and with art by Greg Tocchini ("1602: New World"), "Last Days" sets its sights on an America where the government plans to broadcast a signal that will affect the population's brains in such a way that it will prevent all its citizens from committing any crimes – and the last great heist of America is about to take place. "It's a crime history," says Tocchini. "All kinds of crimes, all pages have crimes happening. All the characters are bad guys, thieves and assassins. There is no good guy or hero. All scenes are strong, and you never know how it will end, or even if somebody will die."
Part of the draw of the project for Tocchini was getting to work with Remender. After being introduced to the artist by Rafael Albuquerque, Remender contacted Tocchini about working together. "Rick is one of the best writers that I know and have had the privilege to work with," Tocchini told CBR. "'The Last Days' is a fertile universe with plenty of amazing scenes and strong characters. It's easy to work under these conditions. All insights are a consequence of this."
Tocchini has worked on a number of different projects spanning Marvel's "1602" universe and the deep space adventures of DC's "Ion." However, "Last Days" presented a challenge for the artist to throw out the playbook for something markedly different. "I'm a lucky man when we talk about projects," he said. "I have drawn with great writers and creative teams. All these experiences helped me to create the visual universe of "Last Days". [The best part about working on "Last Days"] is all that freedom I have to create. You have to follow some guides when you make mainstream comics. Last Days gave me the possibility to just create without bothering with guides or rules."
This freedom gave the artist the chance to change his usual style and the result is a visually stunning universe for "The Last Days of American Crime." "The biggest challenge was all this artistic freedom that Radical Comics gave me," he said. "With all the freedom they gave me to work, I was able to transform all pages, to dedicate myself to do a good page design linked to the narrative, to lengthen scenes and effects. [I have] the same personal goal that I have always had when beginning a new project: Do my best. It is more difficult now because I'm testing everything I believe about drawing."
The testing that Tocchini mentioned takes place in a number of different ways. While much of the artist's process for "Last Days" simply involved research, ("At the beginning of every issue, after reading the script, my first job is collecting references," he said. "Therefore, I use fashion and architecture magazines, the internet and Google Earth. This last one I use very much, and I travel a lot around Los Angeles. And of course, all visual references we all collect during our lives.") the most marked change in "Last Days" is Tocchini's bold new art style. "First of all, I could escape from the traditional way [of illustrating]: pencil, inks and color," the artist said. "Instead, I could use watercolor to do the finals. This can open a new palette of hues, and the final picture will look like an animation scene. I could use the colors to fill all spaces and compositions and take off all that hatching I used to have in my art."
Even with his change in style, one thing Tocchini believes remains constant. "In comics, telling a good story is most important," he says. "Many things excite me in this project. The universe, working with Rick, and the artistic freedom are some of them, but what excites me the most is the story. I'm trying to do my best all the time and to express all my excitement on the pages. I want to tell an exciting history and catch the reader's eye. The feedback I'm receiving confirms that I'm achieving my goal."
"The Last Days of American Crime" is available now from Radical Publishing.