Friday, June 26, 2015

Black Tiger: Chuck Dixon Interviewed

Black Tiger

If you click upon the link directly above this sentence, Black Tiger is a brand new One Shot from celebrated writer Chuck Dixon, and fan favorite artist Graham Nolan.  It comes from India, and I thought, since I really did like Virgin Comics back in the mid 2000s, I should promote this work to help a bit.

Welcome back Chuck.

You are famous for writing great action scenes and dialogue, but what makes it feel real, the verisimilitude, is that you don’t place mountains in Minnesota or everglades in Nevada, you get the details right.   So with a character in India, how do you know those details?  Did you go to India?  What kind of research did you do?

Chuck Dixon:  For the culture and locales I rely heavily on the folks at Graphic India. I'm not one for reading a book or taking a tour and acting like I understand the country like a native. That's insulting. So, I pestered them with questions before writing the script and made all the changes they pointed out afterwards. It's a superhero story so there's some level of forgiveness. I wanted to get the attitudes right though. But I did watch LOTS of Bollywood movies to learn what their potential audience expects from their entertainment. That's something I could get my head around.

Is the primary audience for this work India?  Or is the hope to set the work in India, thereby gaining that home audience and then swing the American market over, due to the Chuck and Graham followings, and US super heroics comic book shelf?  Is your comic going to come out in English for American audience and the Indian audience?  How many versions with the many, many people and language groups of India would there be?

Chuck Dixon: With 1.5 billion potential readers in India I think the US market is a sideshow for this project. It will be consumed digitally through a motion comic over there. That allows the comic to appear in the many languages that are spoken there. It's also a less expensive delivery system than print. I hope our American fans pick it up. It's me and Graham doin' the superhero thing again.

For comic works in India, are action heroes/super heroes a vital genre, or are they rather rare there?

Chuck Dixon:  Superheroes are starting to appear more in their movies. There's one popular series featuring a powerful superhero named Krssh. Classic goodguys and bad guys with a masked hero and supervillains. The series is up to its third movie.  Action flicks they have lots of. Tough cops and tough gangsters and heroes of the people.

Is the Black Tiger a cultural icon that is easily recognizable in India, or is it a wild animal found in the jungles of India?

Chuck Dixon:  Tigers are native and part of the culture the same way grizzly bears and bald eagles are here in the USA. As far as I know there aren't any black tigers. Siegfried and Roy would have let us know if there were, right?

What was your reaction to the Virgin Comics that came out in the mid 2000s?  What, from the outside looking in, did they do wrong, and what did they really do well?

Chuck Dixon:  I'm not sure I was paying enough attention at the time. I recall that they invited me to write some pitches for them. I wound up doing a limited series called The Chosen that eventually appeared from another company.

I am aware that you probably aren’t a historian of comic books across South Asia or elsewhere, so I apologize if this is out of play… How long have there been comics in India?

Chuck Dixon:  No clue. I can't imagine a publishing plan that would work given the diversity of languages.

Tell us a bit of the character’s story?

Chuck Dixon: Black Tiger has some elements of Batman but with an Indian twist. Rajan Shah is an orphan who receives a gift from a mysterious benefactor. He becomes a successful lawyer but becomes frustrated with the gap between the law and true justice. From his secret benefactor he receives the power of an ancient gem and learns that he's the world's only guardian against a cabal that threatens to take the whole planet for their own. That's the elevator pitch. It's more layered than that. But there's loads of action.

Sounds great, anything else we should know?

Chuck Dixon: I'd like to mention that this is an all-ages book. 
One of the things about Bollywood entertainment that I appreciate is their ability to handle even more mature material without the sleaze. They aim at the widest, most universal audience they can reach. I like that.  It's the same approach I used back when I was writing for DC and Marvel.

Thanks Chuck!

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