Friday, July 20, 2007

The Creative Process: Elaborate Collaborate

(I have no idea what that post title is supposed to mean.)

An e-mail I just sent to an artist collaborator for an upcoming piece (EDITED FOR SPOILAGE):


Quick question re: action sequences in (THE COMIC WE'RE STARTING TO WORK ON TOGETHER).

(Edited after the fact to note: It was going to be a quick question, anyway. Skip down to the bottom if you want to get to the actual issue at hand--the rest of the mail deals with why I'm asking the question, which seemed relevant but perhaps shouldn't be, considering the question really revolves around your aesthetic preferences as opposed to mine. Anyway...)

When I initially conceived of the project, my intention was to do it in the vein of a big-budget sci-fi actioner in the (in terms of the action element) Lethal Weapon/Die Hard vein: characters would get hurt and bleed, but overall the violence would be explosively over-the-top. For instance, the opening sequence as it stands at this moment has the protagonist and his partner unarmed, facing a group of heavily armed baddies, who the good guys proceed to disarm, beat the living crap out of, shoot and/or kill before the big (EVENT THAT SETS THE STORY IN MOTION)

The fight sequence at the beginning would be theoretically possible--one thing that's going to be very important to me regardless of which way we go with the action is the choreography (I still have bad memories of reading an old-school Image book where characters' relative positions shifted seemingly at random from panel to panel--it drove me nuts). The point being, the protags won't go from having guns on them to just grabbing them and kicking ass, the bad guys would make a crucial mistake (ideally one they're maneuvered into by the good guys) which would make the turnabout feasible, at least in the LW/DH realm I'm thinking of.

HOWEVER, reading of your interest in sci-fi noir, I'm wondering if you'd prefer me to downplay the action aspect a bit. There will obviously have to be a certain amount of bloodshed for the story to work, and my goal with the opening sequence was to establish the protag as very effective when it comes to fighting. But at the end of the day, when (THE ANTAGONIST) starts killing (...) he doesn't really need to be Martin Riggs to do it--the element of surprise plus big gun could certainly allow him to do the things he needs to do to advance the story properly.

On the one hand, the Big Action thing might hold more appeal to the comic-buying audience (and Hollywood producer-types, though I try not to think about them as much as possible because, well, depending on who one talks to they're either insane or stupid, and everyone one talks to agrees they're fickle, so trying to predict what they'll like is a mug's game), and it was where I was coming from when I started developing the story. I've long wanted to attempt an old-school John Woo shoot-em-up in comic form--I know some people have used Woo's old work as a touchstone {Marv Wolfman and Shawn McManus' A MAN CALLED A-X series was the most explicit in this intention that I can recall}, but it seems to me those tried to hook into a Woo-ish philosophy--character revealed through action--while I wanted to focus on more technical elements of visual framing/storytelling techniques/choreographical considerations.

The way I see it, (THE COMIC) COULD be a very entertaining action comic.

But then the Artsy snob in me kicks in and I start thinking, yeah, it could be that, but does it really NEED to be that--the more or less inescapable inference being that making it into an entertaining action comic would somehow instantly undermine the character relationships and deeper themes in play.

It's an admittedly kneejerk reaction that, left entirely to my own devices, I'd probably try and ignore just because I don't think doing something that's got the potential to be commercially appealing is an inherently bad thing (well, some part of me obviously does, but that part's a pompous twit who's doing me more damage than good in almost every aspect of my life, so I try and ignore him as much as possible.)

However, I'm thankfully not left to my own devices now that you're involved, so, in the interests of hopefully making this collaboration as much fun for both of us as possible, I put the question to you: would you prefer to draw an action-centric piece, or something more moody where the effects of violence are more realistically depicted?

(A final note: I've no problem making the call on this if it's either something you don't care about or is something you don't believe you as the artist should be involved with. My intent isn't to pressure you one way or the other, nor is it to wriggle out of the responsibilities a writer should have in regards to a project. As it happens, you've come on-board at a much earlier stage than my artist collaborators usually do, so I have the luxury of knowing who I'm working with and want to take advantage of that to the extent that you're willing to be taken advantage of.) (That last bit...really didn't come out as well as I'd have liked.)

Next up: a rough outline of the plot and, hopefully, some character bios.

Hope all's well on your end.


Now I get to write character descriptions for the AS REAL AS MONSTERS artist, and get some responses back to Nick on his HOLIDAY MEN designs.

Much of the rest of the day will be spent on the phone to as many people as possible, as next week is the San Diego Comic Con and everyone in the business who isn't me will be there having fun.

I'm feeling particularly bitter about this at the moment, as I only just now got an invitation to an SD party that I obviously won't be able to attend. My favourite bits of San Diego have always involved open bars. At least, that's what I've heard; I don't remember them that well.


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