Hmm....It's been a few weeks since my last Javzilla entry. I feel like a real Blogger now! But, here we are, on Easter Eve.
Speaking of resurrections, I debuted the latest El Muerto story last week at the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. El Muerto: Dead & Confused premiered in a special preview edition. I made a run of 50 signed and numbered books, printed in a sharp little 8.5" x 7" format. Basically sheets of 8.5" x 14" paper photocopied, folded and stapled (the stapling took place during the first hour or so of the show!).
The image for the front cover of this edition is actually just a grayscale version of the color image for the final edition. Here's what the color one looks like. The text will probably be changed slightly for the final print. The coloring was done by Bernyce Talley, a comic book illustrator finishing up college and prepping several new comics projects.
This was the first time I got back to creating a new El Muerto comic since we finished filming the movie last year. It was real interesting getting back to writing and drawing. Even though I was one of the fimmakers on the production, the storytelling was in the hands of our writer/director, Brian Cox. I was just happy to have a front row seat to all the magic, to be honest! Certainly I shared my opinions of the various drafts, and had other contributions to the production. But I enjoyed the experience of seeing all the talented artists work on bringing the Muerto story to film.
When I heard Frank Miller share his experience on the SIN CITY DVD commentary, I was very fascinated by his comment that he learned a lot about some of his characters from the actors who portrayed them in the film. He said that when he worked on his next Sin City comic, he would no doubt be influenced to some degree.
In my case, as I worked on DEAD & CONFUSED. my approach was more of returning to the comic page with newfound knowledge. My director was always concerned with nailing down the story, and creating characters with motivations and realtionships to one another. As I worked on the comic, I was conscience of his approach and worked at applying those rules to my own storytelling. When I read interviews of comic creators writing and drawing 'wide screen action and drama', I think they're missing the point. A comic doesn't have to aspire to give the same feeling you get from a film, at least not the visual aspect. It's always got to be the story, and about the characters. The uniqueness of the storytelling found in comics is amazing, I always thought. Each panel has to be composed on it's own, but at the same time, it interacts with the panel following it. And then one page has to lead into the next page. All the while allowing the dialogue to weave through each panel from character to character. And sometimes knowing when the art alone can carry the story forward.
Will Eisner, the master of comics storytelling, used to describe his process of creating akin to a theatre production. He would have to move his 'actors' on and off the stage, assign the correct wardrobe for each character and light each scene with it's own look. I approached the creation of each of my characters (and the new book has a pretty good sized cast, more than half of them are new characters) as if I was a Mexican puppeteer. One of those guys who puts on shows with hand puppets and a small stage made out of a wooden box. I would have to get inside each of my characters, perform their dialogue, then switch over to another character and find a new voice.