Friday, January 23, 2009

Here we go again...

Back for another year (I think...still waiting on the mail out). Anyways, been taking notes/jotting ideas so I'm ready to rock and roll when I get back. Will post notes and copy of proposal hastily typed in November after an all nighter working to the 3rd Year film.

Decided to focus on a main interest this year- Copy of original proposal below.

Marvel in the 60’s: What factors helped shape this creative period and how does this relate to recent Hollywood adaptations and Contemporary Concerns.

I have a huge interest in the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby era of Marvel comics- the period in the early/mid 1960’s where after the “Golden Era” on the 1940’s and the senate/public backlash of the 1950’s, the Superhero genre of Comic books came back into popularity mostly thanks to both the artwork and never-ending creativity of Jack Kirby and the storytelling/characterisation of Stan Lee. Together they made a struggling comic company spitting out a handful of romance/western/monster/flavor of the month comics into an American Household name, brought the world an almost endless stream of popular and original characters and changed the visual and written language of the comic book.

My interest lies in what factors both within the industry and the American political landscape helped shape this creative period (such as Superman and his influence, World War 2 and America’s role, the creator’s perspective of Hitler, The 1950’s backlash/Senate hearings and the creation of the Comics Code Authority etc.) and how much of an impact these characters had not only in the popular culture of the day but how these books are seen today in the comic book industry. The majority of these characters are almost 50 years old and yet their popularity, particularly in the realms of Animation and live action films are greater than ever before. The current trend in Hollywood sees a revival of these characters and stories that Lee and Kirby created so I wanted to explore not only the visuals and the comparisons between the books and the films but also what aspects appeal to the mass market and what was left out for cinematic/audience considerations (such as dated references and issues which don’t concern/no longer apply to contemporary ideology, years of continuity that a non-comic reading audience would not be aware of etc.). Contemporary adaptations of Lee and Kirby’s work exist in the Comic book industry too (in the form of “Marvel age comics” and in particular the “Ultimate” Universe series of Comic books and graphic novels) and I wish to touch on their relevance, the 40-50 plus years of cultural/social issues that differ between them and how this continuity of stories and characters reflect on the Hollywood adaptations.

Other artists that I wish to look at in relation to Kirby’s Influences is John Romita and John Buscema, who were artist that were in Marvel around the time the “Kirby look” was being pushed as a storytelling must in the Marvel Bullpen and modern artist John Romita Jr, who is influenced by his father John Romita and Kirby’s work also. He doesn’t have a contemporary penciling/storytelling style that is the popular/stylized trend of the day, and yet some of the major books including “The Amazing Spider-man” and “World War Hulk” crossover and Frank Miller’s “Daredevil: Man without Fear” contain his work.

In regards to the Studio proposal I would like to incorporate what is considered to be “Marvel” way of composition and artwork and produce a piece of work as a Graphic Novel format. This was a trend that Kirby predicted years before they surfaced as an alternative to main continuity of comic books and then as a way to repackage comic book story arcs into one volume that can be sold not only in Comic stores but reach a wider audience in book stores and libraries. He also felt that Comic books needed to do this if they were to survive as a medium competing with Television, and now Video games, Film and the Internet. At the same time, I would like to explore the trend of composition in comics and how Kirby’s artwork is designed in a sense to work within the frame and how now there is a consideration of frames in the composition of the entire page, which may not have necessarily been an important factor in Kirby’s art, and yet it works. Accompanying this is the growing cinematic considerations of storytelling within a comic book and how even though comic books are considered cinema’s “little brother”, the comic book is a medium that can interact more so with the reader as they play a roll in the “pacing” of the story and images, they can flick back and forth in the realm of the story, and can take more time to consider an image. Only a comic creator can limit the size of frame and what detail is shown in regards to the altering of time and ideas.

To accompany that I would like to do a small trailer for the Novel with some simple animation and camera moves- nothing long and fancy, but something that would incorporate the panels into a film/animated structure as a form of “cross-promotion”, similar to the videos posted regularly on Marvel’s websites promoting New story arcs or upcoming comic events (such as Planet Hulk, Civil War, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion etc.) Marvel Comics in recent years have reinvented itself into “Marvel Entertainment”, and no longer has total core business interest in just Comic Books, but in the licensing of its characters into other markets; Meaning it is aggressively branching into other mediums such as Graphic Novels for Bookstores, Cartoon series for Television/Web, Video games, Direct-to-DVD Animated Features, Live action films, Digital comics, Toys) in order to promote the characters and books.

The Outcome of all this is for me to have an overall better understanding of the process involved in creating a Graphic novel and promotion of such, and a greater understanding of the contemporary market for such stories and characters. From my freelance and work Integrated learning/work experience projects with Cult Fiction Comics Australia, I hope to have greater access into the smaller Australian audience and have it provide a bigger opportunity for the work to be viewed on top of just to its creation for my portfolio.

I believe this research/proposal is worth doing as it is a topic and a medium which I am passionate about and hope to incorporate into my future profession. Research in relation to Marvel is important to me as part of my future portfolio ambition is to apply to them- a background in their overall art style and characters is important in their criteria for entry.
For my approach, along with working closely with the research/source material that I have at my disposal (including detailed books on creators such as Lee, Kirby, Joe Simon, John Buscema, Klaus Janson, text books on various other writers and artist in the field, documentaries and a 700+ comic book and graphic novel library), I would like to work authentically in regards to drawing on Professional Blue Line pages and referencing photographs which I would like to take of various locations in Brisbane city and surrounding suburbs (narrative permitting) which would serve as possible locations for the Novel. I would like to incorporate Digital coloring and lettering as the contemporary industry does and hopefully produce a professional package with complementary promotional material. Considerations will be made as to whether it would be best to create a story arc which would release as various issues and then package the final result into a Graphic Novel or whether the project would suit better or appeal greater as a complete text.

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