Thursday, November 05, 2015

THE 12 DAYS OF MUERTO: Day 4... Music, film and comics

 Day 4: 2004 saw the release of EL MUERTO MISH MASH. I had also done the artwork for a CD booklet for the band CORE 13 from Portland (the ad on the left was printed on the inside front cover of the MISH MASH). I was previously contacted by the band's lead singer, Jon Alsono, about collaborating with him. The result was me doing the illustrations for the booklet that accompanied CORE 13's "Whisper Out Loud" album. Basically it was the story of the album, told in single image illustrations featuring the group as a team of superheroes overthrowing an oppressive government. It was a fun foray for me into the world of indy music. (Check out their music video "Girls aren't worth a Heartbreak", there's a cameo of me and my comic!). The partnership also resulted in Jon agreeing to dress up as El Muerto for me at the 2004 San Diego Comic Con! I actually had this costume made up a few years previously, and it was worn by two other friends of mine for earlier appearances.

2004 was significant for another reason as well. A year previously I had signed the contract with an independent film producer to make a movie based on my comic. Filming was to begin in February of 2005, and more and more I found my time being consumed by the production of the film. Lots of meetings, lots of getting wined & dined by the producer and executive producers! And also constructive things like meetings with the writer/director and other creative personal. Again, I'll cover the whole Hollywood saga in subsequent posts, but suffice to say that working on the next issue was pushed further back. At the time, I was still working at the screenprinting job, and had even started to teaching comic book workshops at local community centers and libraries. (Which proved to be a smart move as we'll see later).

Once filming did commence, I took a 6 week leave of absence from my day job (which I had informed them would happen when they hired me back in 2003). In case you're wondering why I had to work with a film deal in the can, well, it was an independent film production. Yes, there was money in the deal, but I didn't want to leave myself completely at risk with no steady income for the time being. As it is, one thing I made sure my lawyer put in my deal was that I get paid a weekly salary as Associate Producer for those 6 weeks on production!

Once we were done filming, I was able to get back to my life (a far as a 9-5 working stiff goes). Also, it was nice to sit down at the drawing table and once again be the sole person responsible for an El Muerto story! This was going to be a two-issue story, and it dealt with Diego's sojourn to Baja Mexico in search for answers and possible a cure to his particular dilemma. So I slowly hammered away at the comic, while dealing with the post-production side of the film. Which meant more meetings and dinners and etc.

By April of 2006, when that year's Alternative Press Expo was being held in San Francisco, I had enough material to print up a preview edition of DEAD AND CONFUSED. So I took another new El Muerto story on the road, a return to my hand-stapled, photocopied days....

The movie began hitting the film festival circuit in late '06, for which I was able to attend several on the West Coast. When it came time for the DVD release in 2007, I had suggested to the distributor that I could write a new story to be included with the DVD. They liked the idea so we drew up a contract and I contacted my friend Mort Todd to collaborate with me. I figured it would speed things up on the production side, plus Mort's finished inks and gray tones on my pencils would give the story a unique look. It was nice to be able to pay him for the work as well! So there was a new Muerto comic in '07, one that was included with my movie...

Next thing I know, 2008 rolls around and I realized I better get DEAD AND CONFUSED out in a proper comic book format (standard sized, color glossy covers). By this time POD (print on demand) was becoming more widespread and commercially viable. This is the process of printing comics (or any publication) in any quantity you want using digital printing, as opposed to the giant presses that you see used for newspapers, for example. For this edition, I added some extra story pages which helped flesh out the world. The back cover was this time contributed by Michael Aushenker, a person I had become really good friends with since I started publishing my own books in 1998. My friend Bernyce Talley colored the front cover, as she had the right skills to get that proper effect I was looking for. 

It was 2008, which meant it was 10 years since I first published that little black & white photocopied first issue of El Muerto. While, admittedly, the comics were trickling out at a snails pace, I remained active on the publishing and conventions circuits in one way or another. In addition to the works you've seen in these last two blog entries, I also published two mini-books: EL MUERTO ON MY MIND, a series of illustrated essays on the creative process and musings on the character of El Muerto, and DRAWING THE DEAD, a brief "How to Draw El Muerto" book.

For the 10th Anniversary, I produced this oversized 2.25" button:

Now it was time for the next 10. More El Muerto, for sure, but additions to the Los Comex line-up were coming...

El Muerto and all related characters are ™ &  © Javier Hernandez 1998-2015

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