Graphic NYC has a terrific piece by Christopher Irving and Seth Kushner on comics luminary Neal Adams. Among other things Mr. Adams discusses next week’s debut of the Astonishing X-Men motion comic in Union Square (which Forbidden Planet is participating in with Marvel, the details of which can be seen here at The Beat but will be discussed here on The DP soon).
Debuting October 28th in Union Square, projected on the side of a building, is the motion comic adapted from the first issue of writer Joss Whedon and artist John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men. Continuity is shepherding the comics pages along, turning them into a cross between comics and animation.
“This is the next step, because this is a new art form,” Neal adds. “It’s never existed before. What you have is comic books and animation. Animation is Bruce Timm interpreting everybody else’s work, and all very nice and semi-complimentary, and not exactly royalty-filled-with. It’s good, but it’s animation: 500 Czech artists tracing animation from some other artist. It’s fine, but it’s not the comic books. This is the comic books. This is taking the work of the artists and words of the writer, verbatim. The thing about Whedon is that [he] is used to doing copy, so he knows how many words need to be dealt with, and he does good personality stuff.
“So, you have vocalizing of the writer’s words, and the artwork being animated by the most modern technology available by computers. The technology, as little as a year ago, is half of what it is today. It’s moving very, very fast.
“I’ve been doing animatics since I was nineteen years old. Animatics are the unknown art form. We’ve been doing it for advertising agencies and making a living, and happy to do it. Now this art form is applied to comic books as a commercial product. So, what do you get? You get the writer’s words and the artist’s artwork. This is what we believe in, and this is what we’re doing: You’re seeing the artist’s line with very little change. We may extend a line or slightly finish an arm, but as often as not we’ll steal another arm and stick it on there, if possible. Like when we do the mouths moving, I’ll draw a moving mouth, but what we’ll do is, in the computer, steal the actual mouth and put it on there to make the mouth fit the actual positions of the mouth I’ve drawn. You get the mouth, line for line, everything that’s there.”
Astonishing is a step up for the ever-evolving motion comic, with the characters moving through their paces with panning camera angles, kinetic bodies, and expressive faces. Chances are, given the rate of the technology’s evolution, that the final issue will be relatively far ahead of the first issue.
“There’s more available every day,” Neal adds. “We just did the first book’s worth, and now the second book’s worth is so much better. That’s how good it is, and it’s joyous for us, because we know we’re going to see it out with the customers. We’ve been doing animatics for years. We do the work. It gets tested, and it’s put/thrown away [after]. And then we look at this. I can see that being the next step in comics.
“You’re going to walk into a comic book store and see DVDs, watch it on your T.V., and on the subway. It’s tech-conscious because it’s not on paper….The thing that’s so wonderful about this is that there’s nothing about it that denies the comic book, but in fact, feeds off the comic books. We do comics, Marvel and DC do comics, so that movies will be made. Everybody recognizes it through the comic book. Everybody gets it, so that it’s still the origin point.”
Be sure to check out the whole piece. It’s an absorbing read whether you’re a fan or not.