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four months pass...
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
one month passes...
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