Friday, August 8, 2008

Welcome to Planet X!

PlanetXLast week I mentioned I had spent all day working on another Zuda pitch/project. The most interesting thing about this project is that my sole creative involvement in the pitch is pretty much the lettering. Outside of that, I'm only acting as producer of this pitch, which has been an exciting change in perspective for me. Let me explain.

To begin this story properly, let me introduce Trey Causey. Trey is a fantastic writer who combines a vast knowledge of literature and film with a poet's ear and a director's eyes. Using a gift of language I rarely see anymore, he paints elaborate vistas that harken back to the grand days when pulp writers were honing their craft in such magazines as Weird Tales and Amazing Stories.

You can check out an example of his storytelling technique here in a story from the the Sword & Sorcery e-zine Flashing Swords:

[ God of the Catacombs ]

Trey has pitched a couple of ideas for FBU to me on occasion, and while they are always interesting, usually they just weren't what I could use at the moment (usually because someone else was working on a story with the same character.) He *did* pitch a sort of Faster Pussycat Kill, Kill idea for Terrorsaur Rexx story which might get a green light one day. ;)

Well, one day, in an offhand discussion of crazy ideas talking about genre blending in comics, Trey throws out what I think is a genius idea: A James Bond type of character on a Barsoomian Martian world!

Diamonds Are ForeverNow, I happen to be a BIG James Bond fan, having seen all the Connery films when I was kid with my folks either in the theater or as ABC Friday night movies.

The earliest one I remembering seeing in the theater was Diamonds Are Forever in 1971. I think that was my first exposure to a movie that wasn't animated or strictly for kids, so it made quite an impression on me.

After that, I was hooked, and saw every James Bond movie that came out right up until Timothy Dalton took over the roll. (Nothing against Dalton, he just happened to inherit the mantle when I was a starving heavy metal guitarist, so I really didn't have enough funds to see movies in those days.)

But that was just one component of the idea that excited me. The other side was Mars. As one might guess, I'm also a big Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars fan.

John Carter of MarsMy mom was a fan of the series and introduced me to the first book on a rainy afternoon at the beach when I was 12. I think I finished the whole book that afternoon, and spent the rest of the week begging my parents to take me to the Book Nook, so I could see if they had any more in the series.

That Summer I burned through all of the ERB Martian books and was a little disappointed to discover that there were only about a dozen of them.

What I was not aware of was the vast library of books by other writers like C. L. Moore and Leigh Brackett who also used Mars as a environment for High Concept alien adventures, much in the same flavor as ERB.

Trey told me that it was his vision to combine the hip 60s proto-psychedelic super-spy style with the exotic imagery, and baroque pulp flair distilled from the best of these fantasy Marses.

I loved the idea and told Trey to work it up as a pitch, which he did. However, as I read the pitch, I realized it really didn't quite fit into the Flashback Universe.

We talked about some options, which ended up with me encouraging Trey to turn the comic into a Zuda pitch. Trey liked that idea, but asked if I would help him find an artist and help shepherd the project given my experience with digital comics.

Chaz TruogSo, after a post on Digital Webbing, and a couple a weeks of viewing artists submissions, Trey and I picked Chaz Truog, who some of you may remember from Animal Man and Chiaroscuro: The Private Lives of Leonardo da Vinci both of which he worked on at DC.

Chaz brings a nice style to this project because he has a strong knowledge of history and historical designs evident in his other work, and really seemed to grasp the feel we were going for.

As Chaz worked up designs based on Trey's character concepts, I really became interested in being creatively involved in the project. Eventually, my yearning turned into a request to letter the comic.

More recently, we just started getting completed pages in from colorist Blake Wilkie and seeing the colored versions of the pages is a real blast.

I can't wait for everyone to see the finished results!


Phil Looney said...

Man, there is nothing in that pitch I don't like. If it doesn't get picked up, you all should still publish it on the web. Maybe do a new Flashback imprint a la Vertigo (or something)

Anonymous said...

Is image at the top from the comic? That looks really sweet! Nice idea for web comic too.


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