Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An interview with Marc and Giovanni

What is the premise of the story?

Marc: The story is open to much interpretation -- indeed, I've heard several different readings from several different people, all of which differ, whether substantially or just marginally, from my own take -- and this even includes the premise itself. This was actually one of the biggest drives in telling this particular story in this specific way: a more literary or, for lack of a better word, poetic comic that is open to the same level of critical scrutiny and rigors that traditionally gets applied to literature. (As Giovanni, my artist, himself pointed out at one point during the creation process, this is about as far as one can possibly get from a super-powered battle between hero and antagonist on some downtown rooftop; with Culture's script, ten different artists would produce ten profoundly different comics.)

So, I suppose the most authentic and succinct -- not to mention ambiguous -- answer would be emotion. The story's premise is emotion.

Giovanni: Here in Italy, we have a proverb that goes something like, "Things were better when times were harder." That's the first thing that comes to mind when I think about IMC.

It's not easy to discern the focus of the story, and not because it's a bad story -- but, rather, because it has a different point of view. It depends on the reader. When I read the script for the first time, I thought the second character wasn't real, just a hallucination of the first. And even Marc has said that though he thinks both characters are real, he can be wrong -- even though he wrote the script!

This reminds me of our first work together, Refrains of Light, Twilight, which had the exact same theme. This, obviously, is not a coincidence.

Why do it in comic format rather than prose or animation?

Marc: There are two different threads that run concurrently throughout the comic's 12 pages: the left-hand pages tell one tale, replete with its own visual ques, such as lighting and number of panels; the right-hand pages, another. The two run parallel for most of the book but start to collapse into one towards the very end, erasing boundaries just as the characters start to face collapsing emotional realities. I don't see how another medium could possibly handle this type of narrative structure, with its subtleties and ramifications.

What influenced the creation of this comic?

Marc: There are, of course, a number of specific artists, some in the comics field and most without, and a slew of stories, ranging from novels to video games to audio dramas, but perhaps the single biggest influence came not from external properties but an internal drive. The comics field is one of the most remarkably stagnant art forms in American cultural history, and if the industry ever wants to see the daylight of mainstream relevance -- not, of course, to be confused with commercial viability -- it needs to (a) tell different stories and to (b) tell them differently. This was also one of the major concerns going into the creation of Gio's and my first collaboration, the graphic novel Refrains of Light, Twilight (originally published by Alterna Comics), but, here, the story structure and emotional reach were expanded while, ironically, the page count was contracted.

Opening the comics world up and making it a dynamic and living artistic force is very much a selfish desire, it should be added; I want to tell a whole gamut of stories in this wonderful medium and not be constrained by some rather arbitrary demarcations. I imagine a whole slew of other creators, from McCloud to Straczynski to Manning, want it, too.


Visually speaking, I thought about the old horror movies -- yes, I said horror movies -- in black-and-white, where illumination had a crucial importance of giving depth and power to the imagery (now, with pristine HD colors and 3D, it's another matter). There is a horror atmosphere in the story. You can feel the tension and the thrills, even if it's not exactly a horror story. You fully expect to see a ghost or a monster pop up (even though, obviously, this won't happen :) ).

Who would be the target audience or reader that would most appreciate this work?

Marc: Those oddballs who thirst for the uniqueness and quirkiness that tend to be the hallmark of DC's Vertigo imprint.

Also, I imagine, those long-faded die-hards who got burnt out by the infinite onslaught of such "mega" events as Onslaught and Infinite Crisis, such as myself.


Considering what I said above, I can easily answer: everyone. This way, every single person will have the opportunity to perceive the story in his own way.

Where can we find it, and will it see print?

Marc: It is currently, and for the foreseeable future, housed at my personal site, which is currently, and for the foreseeable future, housed at Called Blue Buddha, this is the homepage for my very small and very much independent production company, and it is predicated upon the creation of quality short fiction that is realized within a significantly constrained budget (hence the unfortunate need to reside at MySpace). In addition to Culture, a photographic storybook called The Hallows of Hollow Ground and a monthly column entitled Inane Drivel -- which analyzes the various narrative components of various pop culture entries -- can be found there. In the very near future, a collection of audio dramas, short films, and none other than Refrains of Light, Twilight will be added to the Blue Buddha ranks.

The site is located at Immaterial Material Culture can be found at this direct link.

This comic, as well the others that Gio and I are working on, both past and present, should be bound together in an anthology that will most definitely see print.

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