Well, the game company's intent in commissioning me to do the story was that it would attract sales for the game. So, yeah, you will need to buy the game.
The story is about 20 pages long. I finished the artwork in December. The setting of the story is very different from anything I've done so far, but the type of visual narrative I attempted will be familiar: no narration; minimal dialogue; open to interpretation. It's WWII, so the hero/villain conflict is pretty clear. Allies=good. Nazis=bad.
I was reluctant to do it at first, since the medium of comics is so much more restrictive than animation. In the end, I gained some new skills and a lot of appreciation for dedicated comics artists. Animation is collaborative. Comics are more of a solo act. (I wrote my own script.)
I'm looking forward to doing a longer book, based on my own original material. That is, if this one gets some positive response.
― Peter Chung, Wednesday, 11 February 2009 01:40 (fourteen years ago) link
Well, I think I'll just have to buy it then. Not that anyone has to twist my arm for that to happen. :)
Anyway, I'm interested to see how your style of narrative works in a WWII setting. We've seen how you've worked in similarly morally bi-polar territory before in other people's worlds (the Matrix, Riddick -- well, I guess those are up for debate), and subverted them. But even though it was a real conflict, these days the WWII era is perceived as sort of the mother of all good vs. evil scenarios (more so than any fantasy story that I can think of, except maybe something like the Lord of the Rings). It's kind of funny, now that I think of it. It excites me, the kind of fictional work I imagine being done in that weird mix of propaganda and reality making up "the Greatest Generation." (Ugh. I hate that phrase, almost more than "War on Terror.")
I'm sure creating comics brings a ton of new challenges, but in a way I imagine it must be more freeing as well, as you seem to be saying. I bet you'd flourish there, for what it's worth, and I look forward to this project and hopefully something longer someday!
― Matt Rebholz, Wednesday, 11 February 2009 05:22 (fourteen years ago) link
By the way, speaking of comics...
Eric Canete, who did some work with Peter on Aeon Flux and has done a lot of comics, has his own blog lately with lots of great sketches:
He's been a favorite of mine since 1995 or so, about the time I rediscovered Aeon Flux.
― Matt Rebholz, Wednesday, 11 February 2009 05:32 (fourteen years ago) link
Matt?Nhex?Or anyone else--Please post your thoughts.
― Peter Chung, Saturday, 9 May 2009 07:15 (thirteen years ago) link
Thank you so much for involving us in your process.
I was just thinking a few weeks ago how frustrating it was that you get hired to do your amazing work, and then they make it so hard to see.
Thank you so much for making this available to your fans.
I hope that you can forgive my sad faced and negative attitude, it helps me imagine that things can always get better.
Kind of a reverse psychology on myself I guess.:)
Your animation is my only and bestest favorite!Yours and a few other examples like "Running Man" (LQT made a good match to you with that one), Star Blazers and Jack and the Beanstalk.
I am also an enthusiastic, if not relatively devoted fan of comics.
They lost me arounds '86.But they've been getting back into stride here and there for certain arcs after the garrison belt faze.
The "Generation X" storyline from the "Age of Apocalypse" arc, under Lobdell and Bachalo (a pretty good anime inspired artist) called "Generation Next" (stupid name, I know) was so beautifully strange and melancholy that I cherish it favorably along with your own creations.
These are my crude and unromantic initial impressions of the Velvet Assassin comic after the first reading.
The severed hand is not as shocking as it should be. Probably due to desensitizing by so much over the top violence like faces of death and saw movies.It needs something stranger ... odder, but not more violent, for a more emotional instead of visceral reaction.
I understand the value for a recurring stigma like the key that creates a thematic signature. But it mostly reminded me of your original opus in this example. William Gibson has become a shadow of himself by reiterating himself too many times. You're better than that.
Its seems that the "no dialog" style is much better expressed with moving images that can take the place of words. With still images I think your ideas would be beautifully spelled out with your own words. As you've done many times before on this forum.
Spelling out sound effects like "bang" or "your dead" is .... below you. Its also invasive onto your beautiful visual imagery. Better no words at all than that.
You have not lost your knack for drawing beautiful women! And the art is as exotic and thrilling as always.
I love it and cherish it very much. We dont get enough of you.And I hope that you will make your journey available to us, whatever you've got in mind, in the future.
Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us. It makes me happy.
― robthom, Monday, 11 May 2009 23:15 (thirteen years ago) link
― Peter Chung, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 07:12 (thirteen years ago) link
That was an exaggeration for effect. I Lied!I know you would never dumb yourself down that bad.I was more than likely fibbing for emphasis.(But I cant vouch for myself either)
My point was probably that your so much smarter and creative than the enclosed liscence that they hire you for.
I'll always be disappointed unless its your creation without limits, by you and only you.
If the beautiful woman actually SAYS "BANG" as she pulls the trigger, that is worthy of you and good stuff.
But It didn't come off like that.
It came off mechanical and prehensile.
Its a different medium...
The very best comic artist/creators couldn't do what you've done.
I think your first experiment in that field is a relative success.
Your not out dogging the lifetime pro's yet, any more than JJ abrams is out dogging them either.
But your in the game and worthy comp just by the strength of your creativity and talent.
Do it again IMO. Your a champ, and a champ keeps coming!
― robthom, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 22:51 (thirteen years ago) link
I apologize if I sound like an asshole.
But I'm more than likely kind of an asshole.
(Its hard to see yourself sometimes)
― robthom, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 23:24 (thirteen years ago) link
I have not seen this, but a "your dead" sound effect balloon sounds amazing.
― Philip Nunez, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 23:31 (thirteen years ago) link
robthom,Thanks for posting. I miss the interaction on this board sometimes. Since I'm not interested in discussing AF at this point, I thought I'd throw this out.
"Your dead" is possessive. You meant: "you're dead". That aside, I don't disagree with your point.I don't like having to write "Bang!" on a panel of a gun being fired-- but there are some shots where the sound effect is needed, so it gets put in everywhere for the sake of consistency. It's why the text is below the image. You can choose to ignore it.
― Peter Chung, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:35 (thirteen years ago) link
Peter, thank you for posting the comic! I really appreciate having the chance to read and discuss it.
I wasn't sure I was looking at the right thing, since what I was looking at was 135 separate images, while the press descriptions mentioned that it would be a 15-20 page digital graphic novel. Was it meant to be composited into larger pages? I'm going to judge it as if it is presented as those images, in order, but I apologize if this is incorrect.
The illustration quality, needless to say, was really nice. Loved the character poses, facial expressions, constant energy in action, beautiful outdoor environments - pretty unsurprising as your work has tended to show strength and inventiveness in these areas. The image where the man hurls himself into the other at the end, and their subsequent collapse into a heap, in particular struck me. The colorist deserves good credit as well, I really liked the scheme and tones used.
Couldn't help but grin when coming across elements that felt like your trademarks, or your attitude in plotting. The wilder action of the first fight scene while Violette secretly watches, and the discovery of the Sarin with the detached hand (as a matte shot, ha!). Her reaction when realizing who that hand belonged to. A proposed escape by hot air balloon. Botched and deceitful item exchanges. The use of the needle at the end. Enjoyed all of these things and more.
Admittedly, though, I didn't really like that this technically felt like a series of good storyboards rather than an effective comic, especially the use of below-panel captions for sound effects and dialogue. (I did laugh at *SNIKT*.) I agree somewhat with robthom that it might have been better off with no sound effects at all - the captions can't really be ignored, because the fact is, they are there, in this comic.
Each individual page/panel was well constructed, but aside from a few spots it felt like you weren't fully using the tools that the comic medium provides in terms of time and space through layout, panel juxtaposition, etc., it was too cinematic (though I felt like maybe you were deliberately going for a silent film feel). It seemed like the same "camera angle" was used several times in a row unnecessarily or it seemed at odds with the pacing of the scene/action.
All that said, I would really love to see you do more comic work, and hope to see more in the future if you are granted the opportunity.
― Nhex, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 04:00 (thirteen years ago) link
Thanks again for letting us in on this. It's beautiful work, and a rare treat to be able to linger on such beautifully rendered "single frames" for a change, instead of having to freeze frame the VCR like I did back when I was 16 (okay, maybe I've said too much... I was a bit obsessive about your work back then).
The layout is not what I was expecting -- it's sort of a deconstructed animated film, in a way, rather than a typical page of interlocking comic panels. In addition, the use of text threw me for a loop (by the way, did you write the text? Was any of it, or its use at all, foisted upon you?). On the other hand, the way these were handled, when I think about it, seem much more "you" than using speech bubbles and Batman-style "POW!" graphics mixed up with the imagery. I like the clarity the separation provides, which an overlaid text might have muddled. I opened all of the image files in a slideshow format and clicked through to view it all, faster on the second and third and fourth times, almost like making it into my own film.
Your images were so dynamic, but what else is new? I'm reminded of when you said that would-be animators should practice drawing motion in still images to start -- I didn't need thirty frames per second to see the movement here (in particular, I enjoyed the image of Violette injecting the guy with sarin, and the knife-gun grappling between them beforehand). Violette was beautifully drawn, sharp like Aeon but soft too. The forest landscape was great, strange and mysterious, and the use of color throughout the work was amazing. The image that stood out most in my mind though, taking everything into consideration, was the useless balloon trailing in the wind at sunrise.
Content-wise, I guess that's what I make of all this -- the use, or uselessness, of things in war. I see that as a common theme in a lot of your work -- things substituted for other things (the popsicles in place of custodian heads, for example). A man's hand severed, meaningless to Violette until she realizes it's his. Then it becomes a weapon, no longer his but just a blunt weapon he's hit with. He makes similar work of his own body, by the end. The balloon is at first a means to spread deadly sarin, then it's a means of escape, and then it's nothing but a sad reminder of the uselessness of it all. I can only imagine that, by the end, Violette is wondering whether she should make similar use of her own self. Just another tool for war? But for her, it's personal (and maybe it was from the start). As far as I can tell, her connection to the whole thing has been through her husband. She was more concerned with hurting the people who hurt him, than bringing them to justice, as the rules of war would dictate. When she decides to serve her country in the end, it's the wedding ring she's gazing at.
I may be making too much of this little comic based on a video game, based in turn on a true story that I know almost nothing about, but isn't that the point? I hope my little interpretation has helped to make your efforts worthwhile.
I'd be interested to know what other people think.
(P.S. Here's a link to an interesting story I stumbled upon, regarding some potential controversy of the game's content, which ends up turning into a discussion about various things like the sexualization of women in film and video games, and the ethics of turning a true story into a project like this: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/05/11/velvet-assassin-sick-filth-or-slick-thrills/)
― Matt Rebholz, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 04:10 (thirteen years ago) link
"A man's hand severed, meaningless to Violette until she realizes it's his. "
― robthom, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 13:12 (thirteen years ago) link
A bunch of good points!
I was in the process of rereading already, but now I've got to start all over again after your observations.
― robthom, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 13:20 (thirteen years ago) link
"Peter, thank you for posting the comic!"Where was it posted -- did I miss the link?
― Philip Nunez, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 20:12 (thirteen years ago) link
"Each individual page/panel was well constructed, but aside from a few spots it felt like you weren't fully using the tools that the comic medium provides in terms of time and space through layout, panel juxtaposition, etc.,"
Thats another great point.
Were these images meant to be arranged together on a laid out page?
That would be another level of impression that we wouldn't see through Peters very gracious sharing of every panel.
Fantastic observation Nhex.
You made me just realize that I've always taken the kinetic layout of a page for granted!
BTW, upon rereading I'm starting to grasp the "feel" of the comic. I'm liking it!
This is starting to look like another Chung masterpiece thats too deep to get it for the lazy.
― robthom, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 21:36 (thirteen years ago) link
I have the exact opposite view on this. For me, the comment is equivalent to stating that a filmmaker isn't making use of all the screen is capable of by not dividing the space into multiple simultaneous views. The "tools that the comic medium provides" are imposed by the need to limit page numbers.
I know that among comics scholars and theorists, there is a view that the page layout is an integral part of the medium. The same could be said of word balloons and inking technique. If the venue of publication-- in this case, the computer screen-- can allow the artist to be freed of such mechanical constraints, I see no reason to preserve them other than adherence to convention. In my many years of reading comics, I've almost always felt that the storytelling would have been improved if the reader's attention and field of view could be limited to one panel at a time. It's one of the reasons I've always favored working in animation to doing comics.
― Peter Chung, Thursday, 14 May 2009 01:35 (thirteen years ago) link
Is this a webcomic or in-game cut scenes? I'd have to agree that webcomics are generally employed as cheaper delivery systems for what might have otherwise gone on paper, and it's a little weird to remain hidebound to paper techniques, but if this is for in-game cut scenes, it is equally weird to deliver a story as static frames when the cost of creating motion is negligible. (They've already spent the money to make the game characters moveable. Why not reuse the engine?)
On one-panel-per-page specifically, even though the page limit has disappeared, the mechanics of advancing to the next screen is still there (or is there an auto-timer that clicks forward?)It's a fair enough reason to stuff more panels per page, if only to save the reader some clicking.
― Philip Nunez, Thursday, 14 May 2009 02:28 (thirteen years ago) link
ok, maybe I'm missing something, but where is the link to the comic you fellas mention?I NEED TO SEE THIS NNNNNNOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW!!!
― Voltero, Friday, 15 May 2009 21:11 (thirteen years ago) link
"ok, maybe I'm missing something, but where is the link to the comic you fellas mention?I NEED TO SEE THIS NNNNNNOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW!!!"
― nalle, Saturday, 16 May 2009 14:35 (thirteen years ago) link
ok, not to sound like an insane person but, I'm assuming there after the word 'This.' in your reply, there is a link to the web comic, however, I see nothing. does the forum code block links or is there something about the website that prevents it from being linked?
― Voltero, Monday, 18 May 2009 19:28 (thirteen years ago) link
There are some weird secret boards here, but I didn't know that could make secret links, too...
This is what I'm imagining the comic looks like based on the descriptions:http://canvaspaint.org/437f.png
― Philip Nunez, Monday, 18 May 2009 20:36 (thirteen years ago) link
nono what I meant with "this" was simply that I feel the same way. I also want the chance to read it :)
I was supposed to buy the game to get the comic but realised to my suprise that you had to preorder it in order to get the comic, which I never did.
― nalle, Monday, 18 May 2009 20:52 (thirteen years ago) link
ok, thank you for clarifying, I was starting to get frustrated with my perception of reality.
― Voltero, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 19:30 (thirteen years ago) link
1. I really loved all of the characters faces, especially when they were reacting to each other. I liked when Violette was attaching Ethan to the Balloon and their faces were touching.
2. the perspective in action scenes was excellent, conveyed an excellent sense of speed and weight.
3. the layouts were amazing, I look of the smoke when the grenade goes off.
4. The format didnt bother me at all, I actually like that I couldn't see the next panel as with normal graphic novels/comic books. It kept the tension very high.
5. I honestly wish it could've been a little longer.
6. One little thing, in a few instances, I wished there had been one or two more panels to explain some of the action that was happening. I thought that I had skipped a frame once or twice, but maybe i just need to read through it a few more hundred times.
― Voltero, Saturday, 23 May 2009 03:39 (thirteen years ago) link
I went through many emotions trying to get the apple native file to play.
Animation, moving, is definitely your medium!
I read how you dont care for static images/comics before, and it shows.
You have to learn to love it if you want to do it well.
Your distaste kinda shows.
(And I have no problem with that)
Its not as easy and untalented as it may seem.:)
Your animation and art is better than a thousand of your peers!
I enjoyed the first 2 episodes, but the third is the one that I love.
It reminds me of you more than the others.
Would you do personal work, maybe just online, without the hamstring of payment?
― robthom, Friday, 12 June 2009 03:51 (thirteen years ago) link
I'm gonna complain some more.:)
This is regarding the Velvet Assassin comic:
The color scheme is claustrophobic!
Maybe I'm over reacting. Aeon was also very color specific.But I do get easily claustrophobic ever since a child. I never had that problem with Aeon. This one makes me feel afraid and cornered.
I do understand that this happens at night so the color scheme is limited. But its mushy and depressing. And not depressing in that warm comfortable way. :)
I didn't really care for the "cartoon" exaggerated features of some of the characters. Like the fat faced guy, or the squirrel faced guy.
At a distance, at first possibly distorted, when the squirrel faced guy killed the scotts, it was strange and intriguing. Pretty cool like a boogey man.
But when he later turned out to just have a squirrel face, it lost its "spook".It just looked cartoony.
Its also too similar to the concept of Aeon!
The way she bats away knife attacks to stick a needle in a neck is too similar to the Aeon concept of ridiculing action movies.
But it is a beautiful series of art! Tattoo worthy as usual.
Have you ever had an opportunity to do your art in Japan?
Would you be less muddled by western style contract obligations and freer to focus more on your art than on "selling" in that environment?
Or would your personal, non "anime standard" "big eyed" style be a hard sell there?
― robthom, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 12:59 (thirteen years ago) link
unnh guh kkkahkek kek kek
― zombie, Friday, 26 June 2009 05:09 (thirteen years ago) link
The gaming site IGN interviewed me a while ago on my involvement in the Graphic Novel for Velvet Assassin. I guess for reasons of limited interest, the interview never made it online. I'm posting it here. My plan is to get back the right to publish the story some time soon.
IGN: How much did you learn about the game (Velvet Assassin)? PC: I'm not a gamer, so I didn't play the game itself, though the developers walked me through it when I met them at G3 in Los Angeles. The game developer provided all the reference material available at the time I started, including screenshots and a summary of the course of gameplay. I also had detailed discussions with them before starting. It was important for me to be true to the game's objectives and to keep in mind the points of interest that would be relevant to the prospective user. That meant being true to the historical period, and more importantly, letting the graphic novel feel like an interactive experience. IGN: What’s your favourite thing about the story? PC: Regarding the story of the game character, Violette Summer, I've always been interested in strong females in traditionally male roles, which is no doubt why the developers wanted to get me involved. The game itself is like a dream, in that Violette is passing in and out of consciousness between missions. I'm not sure if that is still the framing device of the game, but it was a large part of the original concept.
As for my favorite thing about the graphic novel, it was a chance to establish a character through an emotional arc that expresses itself through her actions rather than through dialogue and exposition. As a filmmaker I strive to employ visual storytelling to its fullest, and I hoped to apply those skills to the medium of comics. For me, it means forbidding myself the use of narration. The challenge is in the orchestration of visual elements in a precise sequence that allows the reader to infer motivation, as well as emotional and psychological dimensions to the characters that aren't apparent in any single image. To achieve that is my main interest in doing comics. IGN: What was your inspiration for the work you did on the GN? PC: I began the project by looking at a lot of comics from the era. I especially enjoy the work of Lou Fine and Bernie Kriegstein. It was important to preserve the feeling of the 1940s by using a classical approach to illustration without the stylistic flourishes of drawings you see in today's comics. I was also inspired by Leonard Starr's "On Stage" strips as an example of classical storytelling values. IGN: What was the biggest challenge in bringing the game to the pages of a GN? PC: My preference is to work on stories that occur in imaginary settings, such as the future, or an alternate history. This was the first time I've done a story set during World War 2. Knowing that gamers can be very knowledgeable about the minutiae of things like the equipment used during the period, I spent a while doing research to make sure the settings, the vehicles and other hardware were believable. Of course, the events in the story never would have happened in the way I depict them, but I also need to be true to my own ways, both to motivate myself and to put my personal stamp on the material.
IGN: There’s been a lot of crossover between video games and comics lately—do you see this progressing in the future? If so, how? PC: I'm not very tuned in to either the current gaming or comics scene. I'm frankly not sure of the future of traditional comic books. In the case of the Velvet Assassin graphic novel, I was actually glad when the game company decided to publish the story for on-screen viewing rather than printing it on paper. The need to lay out a story on a page is, to me, a liability rather than an advantage of the comics medium. I say this coming from my background in animation. I hope that we will see more comics artists take advantage of publishing for the screen, as I think it will broaden the readership along with distribution. If so, then the crossover will continue, as the two mediums will be employing the same delivery device.
― Peter Chung, Wednesday, 4 November 2009 12:59 (thirteen years ago) link
This reminds me of some very forward-oriented webcomics that really take advantage of the medium rather than just appearing on the screen as they would in a newspaper. (Can't remember any examples at the moment, but I'll have to track some down.) I'm also reminded of Marvel's (I think?) recent decision to publish all their comics digitally for the Playstation Portable recently. Just download wirelessly from the network and you're set.
― Matt Rebholz, Tuesday, 10 November 2009 03:35 (thirteen years ago) link
When trying to avoid the use of dialogue and narration, how do you overcome the inevitable resistance to it? I'm constantly told that comics are too limited a medium to be able to be subtle and rely on the art. This is often by the artists themselves! "some dialogue needs to go in, some narration needs to go in" etc. To what extent should we allow the audience to meet the story halfway, rather than having it spelled out?
However I am of the opposite feeling regarding layout - though not many writers and artists use layout to incredible effect, there are some like The Maxx, Sandman, etc where the layout is very important to telling the story. I though the television adaptation of the Maxx especially was benefited by taking a lot of design elements from the layout of the comic and expanding on them.
― skyknyt, Friday, 18 December 2009 11:48 (thirteen years ago) link
also sup again, I managed to successfully navigate the registration process I botched so many years ago. I'd given up and remained a specter. BUT NO MORE
― skyknyt, Friday, 18 December 2009 11:52 (thirteen years ago) link
Resistance? I don't really understand. Just go for it! I've read plenty of effective comics that avoided dialogue - it's more of a challenge for the writer and artist, but most certainly possible.
― Nhex, Friday, 18 December 2009 19:09 (thirteen years ago) link
Yes, the reg process filters all but the most determined. Welcome back Sky.
― Sam G, Tuesday, 29 December 2009 09:49 (thirteen years ago) link