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Gangland Legends

Christian Cipollini is an award-winning author, organized crime historian, and comic book writer/creator. He regularly contributes articles to Real Crime Magazine, and has appeared as a guest 'expert' on episodes of Biography Channel Series "Gangsters: America's Most Evil," History Channel Series "United Stuff of America" & served as a consultant & Location Producer on National Geographic Channel’s critically-acclaimed series DRUGS, INC. We have conducted and interview with him.



Based on your experience as a Location Producer National Geographic Channel "Drugs, Inc", what are your views about how the drug trade works? Do you think it can be regulated?
The manufacture, trade and use of narcotics has been a divisive subject for centuries. As with everything in life, there are good, bad and ugly sides to drugs, with no clear cut solutions on how to regulate. Prohibition, historically speaking, has not proven to be effective for eliminating illicit substance use, abuse, trade or addiction. In my opinion, the drug problem is a social and economic based issue that will probably never be solved by criminal legal efforts. Regulation, in some form or another, would have more success if the benefits and detriments of narcotics-in-general were viewed from the aforementioned perspectives, plus medical and psychological science.

How did you begin your work as an organised crime historian?
My entrance into crime history writing really began as a kid, I just didn't know it at the time. My father was a narcotics cop who had a love of history, and I always felt my one talent was writing short stories, little comic book type things, fictional and a lot of various period-piece. He and I both loved the obscure, sometimes darker elements of history and nonfiction biographical type books. In my early twenties I think I consumed a hundred books on crime, politics, infamous historical figures, etc. I started freelancing for magazines, newspapers and so forth about fifteen years ago, covering mostly entertainment subjects and personalities. That, plus a lot of networking, opened doors to the true crime, organized crime history realm. Eventually, well it was a long time in the making really, the influence of my Dad’s work and fascination with history, combined with my journalism experience and interest in how the underworld really mirrors the so-called legitimate world, well it all helped to usher me towards this true crime genre I now adore.


What is your favourite type of writing on crime stories?
I am very drawn to the Roaring Twenties, Prohibition and Depression eras of crime history. My other favorite period is the 1970’s. Everyone has their specialty or area of extreme interest, those are mine. As for my ‘favorite’ type of writing, in regard to the crime areas I study – I absolutely love to uncover, detail and paint the visual picture with words of how so many of the infamous (and lesser known) mobsters were all connected, how they saw the world, how they saw themselves.

Which are the most difficult and challenging aspects about writing biographies?
Research is the most daunting and time consuming part of biographical writing. That said, research is also the most amazingly cool part. It’s difficult and sometimes frustrating to successfully find and authenticate information. Every researcher/writer wants to get the story straight of course. But with all history – there’s a lot of ‘folklore’ mixed in and distinguishing, or avoiding repeating a previously inaccurate publication, can be a challenge. The incredible moment when you find that metaphorical ‘needle in a haystack’ though – that’s what gets the blood pumping and why I still love the research part no matter how hard it is.


Do you create or write comics books? Which are your works?
Comic books and graphic novels are the most recent creative endeavor I’ve immersed myself in. The subject of a comic book and true crime collaboration was something my colleague Seth Ferranti and I had discussed quite some time ago, and then he made the leap, adapting one of his books. Shortly thereafter, he invited a handful of other authors, myself included, to write a comic book series for his new comic book company. I chose to write the story/script based on the criminal rise of Charles “Lucky” Luciano. The book is called “Gangster: Lucky Luciano” and will consist of several single issues – the premier issue releases in March, then a full graphic novel compendium later this year. I conceptualize the story and write the script. The artwork is done by an amazing artist we selected named Evgeniy Frantsev. The coloring is done by my editor Anthony Mathenia and the lettering is added by Micah Myers.

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