By Gerry Cassidy
// 15 March 2015 //
SETTLE down for a simple tale of boy meets girl as they set out to tackle the evils of the world. Ok, wolf-boy meets albino deer girl; it's not so simple after all.
Welcome to Rossi Gifford's world of fantasy as depicted in her first graphic novel, Spirit Leaves. Her beautifully drawn comic has been flying off the shelves in specialist bookshops and comic fairs earning legions of fans for the adventures of demon-hunting Freya and her wolfish sidekick Skoll.
It was Rossi's first solo foray into the world of comic book publishing and now, as Issue Two of Spirit Leaves nears completion, the fast-working artist is busy sketching out a career for herself among some of the world's leading animators in Toronto, Canada.She spent four months on work experience in North America's animation hub last year, honing her craft and making valuable contracts in the industry as she rubbed shoulders with artists working for Marvel and DC Comics.
Now she has upped sticks from her Ayrshire home as she prepares to make a name for herself in cartoon animation. Rossi collected a degree in illustration from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee last summer and already her work is attracting the attention of some of the biggest names in animation.
Internationally renowned Glasgow artist Frank Quitely, whose award-winning talents have been put to use drawing Superman and the X-Men, describes Rossi's work as "very impressive".
He said Spirit Leaves is "meticulously planned and beautifully executed, full of playful tricks and rich in texture and detail."
Another giant of comic book art, Dave Gibbons, who has worked on Dan Dare and Green Lantern during a lifetime of notable achievements, said: "Rossi's work is excellent, dynamic and involving a gorgeous colour palette. She should go far."
Clearly a very gifted artist, Rossi is effusive in her thanks for her tutors and lecturers at the Dundee art school where she studied... though her original plan didn't work out quite the way she had hoped it might. Born in Ayr and a former pupil of Belmont Academy, Rossi's dream had been to study at Glasgow School of Art and she was devastated when she wasn't accepted.
"I was heart-broken," she says. "But then I was offered a place on a visual communications course at Dundee and it has been the best thing that has happened to me.
"I did a lot of painting and my teachers there said this was the path I should take, but I was only interested in drawing cartoons."
Her talents were quickly spotted and Rossi thanks two teachers in particular for their support and encouragement as she developed her art: the wonderfully-titled Head of Comics Chris Murray and Animation and Visualisation course director Philip Vaughan, with whom she has begun an online collaboration called Bantah6.
During her previous visits to Canada, Rossi has worked with animation houses Nelvana, Yowza, The Raid and Solis, some of the biggest names in the business.Like her own cartoon characters Freya and Skoll, you get the impression that Rossi's story is just beginning, with many great adventures to come.