Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Theatre versus Comic Books!!!

Most of my readers know that I have been working on a joint graphic novel/stage play entitled the MEATLOCKER. It is part of my attempt to approach the narrative from multiple ways in order to magnify the live and exposure of the stories I want to tell. I have also been working on a weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) graphic novel version of my play CLAY CONTINENT.

But, back to MEATLOCKER.

Telling a story in two different mediums makes me wrestle daily with the differences and how to navigate these forms. The issue is a single story told twice in tandem in different mediums...one of those mediums being significantly more temporal than the other. Having to make decisions is alot harder for me when the result is more permanently framed on a page than when solely performance/production.

Theatrical expression is, as many folks love to point out, temporal. I have been working in that temporal medium as long as I can remember. However, now I am entering into a new (to me)form of expression of sequential art, and it is messing with my head.

When any creative decision happens in the theatre, it is in my experience always in process. Even after the show opens creative things happening on stage are in process. Emphasis and shape of action, pause, angle are pliant. If one allows for tweeks to the sound or lighting levels then even how the action is framed becomes mutable.

Sequential Art is not quite so. Now that I conceiving of locking the telling of the tale into a frame on a page, I am hesitate to make judgement on each image. It is enabling yes, but with that comes this unshakable anxiety. Is this image, the right image to convey the story, image, the tone.

Specifically, I am torn over how I am going to make the Meatlocker Comic Book look.

Perhaps this doubt I feel echoes the same sorts of doubts I must have had when I became directing for the stage. Hard for me to be certain, I was the quintessence of arrogance way back when.

MEATLOCKER is a noir for stage. When I think of all the classic noirs from Maltese Falcon to Touch of Evil one thing remains constant, the lack of color. How or if color is going to work in this graphic novel is something that still evades me.

The first thing that complicates my notions of whether to go B&W is the
fact that ultimately we're going to be putting this up on stage in front of an audience that will be seeing it in color, muted maybe...but in color. Perhaps Stage techs know of a way to trick the human eye to perceive significantly less color, but the production stills I've seen of this sort of thing dont read to me as black and white.

Do I want a hardboiled graphic novel awash with color? If the book were going to stand on its own would this even be a question? Would I go ahead and just make it black and white? I don't know.

Maybe folks would even say, the color spoils the illusion and homage to noir?

As I type this I'm also reminded of Coffin Joe's THIS NIGHT I'LL POSSESS YOUR SOUL. A Brazilian horror filmmaker, whose first big film was B&W except for the scenes taking place in Hell which were full color (it was his way of using color artistically oh and he couldn't afford to do the whole film in color)too...wink). Perhaps that is a way to go about it, a predominantly B&W book, with moments of color...Red blood, Blue Skin on Meat? Miller did this in Sin City of course.

And then their is the question of Miller. Of course his work is an undeniable influence upon me, but I am constantly wanting this book to be akin to the things I love about Sin City, without being too similar to that series as well.

I've storyboarded approximately half of the script now, and the question that keeps hammering into my skull is... does this look too much like Miller's Sin City or is that composition too much like Sandman...

Ultimately I'll just have to let go and do it, but It has been an interesting step in my process... the doubt that arises from a form of expression that has more permanence than performance, and the concern of emulating one's heroes to too great a degree.

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