Sunday, October 01, 2006
Storytelling 101: Filmmaking and cartooning
That's a panel I just inked. Still need to add the border to the panel, and erase some of the pencil and blue pencil. I'm currently finishing up EL MUERTO: DEAD & CONFUSED, PT. 1. Earlier this year I had released a Preview Edition of the book, and now I'm adding several pages to the story before I go to press with the final edition. I know I'll be tweaking some of the previous pages, things like dialogue and art touch-ups. But it will be great to finally have a new issue out!
It's been about 12 days since I saw a screening of El Muerto. To have finally been able to see the completed picture was a big thrill. Although I had seen two screenings last November, they were a rough cut of the film. Now, having seen all the digital effects, scoring and all the sound and color corrections, I can say I am very happy with the final film. I always knew the actors we had in the film would really create a varied and rich cast of characters. But to experience the film as a complete production was very satisfying. Now of course, the film moves to the marketing and distributor stage. As word on that becomes available to share, I'll keep you all posted.
I started working on my new comic last year, after filming on El Muerto had finished. So while the film was in post-production, the comic book was in production. Seeing the final film gives me a unique oppurtuntiy to see how the character and his world plays in a different medium. Collaborating on a film is just that, a collaboration. But since I created the source material, and crafted the entire comic book on my own, it was really amazing to see the property go through so many hands along it's path. With our director/writer Brian Cox providing the roadmap, everyone from the art departments to the wardrobe to the composer contributes to the vison, working together to bring the film to life. Brain would tell me that he was always dedicated to creating something that I would be proud of, and for succeeding with that he has my respect and admiration. From the beginning, he had to find the voice for the character and movie he created. So, I also got to play the role of the ultimate spectator from the inside. Experiencing the whole filmmaking process was rewarding in ways I wouldn't have even imagined from Day 1.
Today I've spent the majority of the day inking pages. In the background while working I've played the director commentary for THE GODFATHER and APOCALYPSE NOW. Every time I hear the filmmaker commentary on a DVD, particulary if it's a big budget supehero movie or a classic American epic, I am amazed to hear these big films had the same obstacles we had on our movie. Not enough time, not enough money, pressure to get things done fast and cheap. At least we had no studio interference. We were independent and had to answer to no one. And by having the creator of the comic book onboard as one of the filmmakers, you keep things on the up and up! But what I learn from hearing Francis Coppola's tales of making his films is often useful and inspirational. How he finds the characters with the script and actors, or how he sells a scene with the emotion or psychology of how it's presented, these things are applicable to drawing and writing a comic. I'm always amazed when I hear the big comics publishers claim a new project is a 'blockbuster bursting with wide-screen action' or some other such hype. To look at a film and attempt to take the visual cues that you couln't possibly replicate on a comic page is counter-productive, in my opinion. With El Muerto, even though it's structured around mythological gods in it's premise, I've always felt that at it's core it's the emotional resonance people have to connect with to the character and his predictament.
Film and comics are indeed visual mediums. And often, to varying degrees, each can have a literary foundation on which they are created. But the most memorable experiences for me, regardless if it's a film, novel, comic or music, is the emotional quality it has. Or the emotional reaction reaction I respond with, that makes the story worth watching, or creating.