When I started this project it was going to be a short graphic novel in black and white.
The idea was to marry my passion for comics with my passion for cinema and see where it took me. Everything about it was designed to give me a lingering experience in the less inhabited medium of sequential stills, to provide a long, meandering bridge towards cinematic storytelling.
I find myself, 3 years after the inception of the idea, mired in an undertaking of epic proportions. A 600 page, full color draft and a miniature building operation that is a black hole for money and time. I have not calculated the dollar figure sunk into the project so far but I suspect it is in the area of $50,000, most of it of my own money.
But alas, I plow on. Too late to turn back and by now I'm too curious as to how it will turn out . I'm already miles away from the original vision and still diverging...
One of the most fascinating aspects of the work, for me, is the incredible malleability of the medium. In basic filmmaking, one must rely on the "take" in which foreground, background and dialog (Not to mention weather, light and background sound), are instantly fused together into one amalgam. Here, in "Isness-world" every aspect is accessible for editing and re-editing. A character shot, say, in a green dress standing in daylight shouting, can be morphed into a sitting character in a pink dress in an indoor night scene... singing. She can be moved from foreground to background. Her expressions, eye color and hair design all can be changed. Just recently I decided to knock a tooth out of Petro's mouth to give him a little more edge. This level of control is extremely gratifying even if the price is painstaking work which is not far from the kind of work sunk into animation.
Below is a sequence of layouts I'm working on for the opening of the story. The Russian soldier that lands on the islands shore is propelled through a psychedelic time warp inspired by Stanley Kubricks Star-Gate sequence from Odyssey 2001.
In the next photo, my miniature in-house model is trying on for size a few of the aprons I made. The designs were collected from online images then printed (at some risk to my inkjet printer) on fabric and carefully cut out by my friend Mindy. Later I drenched them in a water/glue solution and hung them on their miniature hooks and hangers.
A fun, side activity for the project is the research of popular products from the 60's in North America. A favorite magazine for this is The Ladies Home Journal. Did you know the first issues appeared in the late 19th century? It's a fantastic insight into an evolving society as it is mirrored in ideas about women and the home.
All the images below were cut out of vintage Home Journal advertisements and scanned. My favorite is the "Cope" pills for menstrual cramps with the Venus/female symbol built into the logo and it's stylish off-center opening.
Many of these products will appear in the novel, tucked away on shelves or otherwise placed. The original cutouts are being collaged onto Thank-You cards that are going out to my kickstarter backers.
Once in a while I come across odd selling strategies of the time that seem very revealing in hindsight. Below is an ad for a "feminine hygiene deodorant spray" touted as a friendly accessory for the liberated woman.
I think it implies something like "Sure you can have free love, Babe. As long as your pussy smells like daisies!" Love it.
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