After reading Anomaly I reached out to Brian asking if would answer some questions about the story and the other projects he is working on. He was nice enough to take the time to answer a few questions. So with out further adieu, take it away Brian!
Tell us a little about yourself and your background? (Where are you from, where you grew up, when did you start drawing and creating comics.)
Born in Hawaii and raised in Southern California. Always was the kid that drew…and the kid the other kids came to for drawings of this or that. But it wasn’t until highschool that friends turned me onto comics. Great stuff being done then…John Byrne on Uncanny, Frank Miller on Daredevil and then the host of older things they cherry-picked for me to look at from Jim Starlin, Jim Steranko, John Buscema, Barry Smith…the list goes on and on! I worked my butt off drawing hands, hands, hands for hours…then feet, feet, feet… I was first offered a job to pencil for Marvel when I was 18, but the pay was terrible and you had to move to New York…and they wouldn’t promise consistent work. So I went to film school and did illustration on the side.
When did you first know you wanted to be a comic creator?
When I was a teenager. But I see a difference between “comic creator” and work-for-hire talent. For me, a comic creator works on their own creations. A work-for-hire talent/creator works on other peoples’ creations. I knew I wanted to be a comic creator when I kept getting assignments from the big two and thought, “That’s dumb. I can do better that that!”
I always remember the famous words of Todd McFarlane. “Listen, bud. You don’t want to be known for doing Stan’s or Jack’s characters…you want to be known for you own characters.”
I mean, imagine if everything on TV was still Gunsmoke, or Ben Casey…the challenge is to do the new thing. It’s a personal decision.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate great treatment of existing books as much as the next guy. Love Capullo’s and Snyder’s Batman stuff and whenever things are done with a high level of professionalism.
You have been working on a few different projects over the years including Witchblade and Cyberforce, which you are well known for. Can you talk a little about how you came up with these ideas and why you think they were so successful?
David Wohl and I had the initial idea for Witchblade. Really pretty simple concept: a woman with a very involved day job getting an incredible power that has a mind of its own. I had just worked with Mike Turner on Ballistic and then Marc gave his ideas and it was off to the races. One of the things I love about comics is the “from the idea” stage to holding an “actual product in your hands” is sooo fast!
Witchblade was a good story and great art. Really, it’s not science… that combo usually wins.
After reading Anomaly I was very intrigued about how you came up with the idea for this story. I can see so many different influences from Avatar to Lord of the Rings. Who is your biggest influence in your work?
I wouldn’t say there is a biggest influence on my work. I again cherry-pick the best from the best. For example, that palette from that painter, the composition, that rendering, that color combo…not with the intention of copying, but more as an impression.
For the graphic novel Anomaly, how did you decide on the story you wanted to tell? To me you perfectly blend two different genres (fantasy and science fiction), was that your intention or when you started writing or did that just eventually happen. Did the story write itself that way?
The story for Anomaly started with Skip. He contacted me when I was still EIC for Todd McFarlane Productions and drawing Spawn. Of course I said I was too busy but I’d meet with him. During this meeting, he handed me the story outline for Anomaly.
During this time I was helping Todd and Robert Kirkman staff their Haunt book…and as I said before…Todd and Robert would both chime in about creating their own characters and I would think, “I used to do that” (with Aria, Stone, Hellcop, The Wicked, etc.) so I was already planning on leaving. But the plan was to take a high profile gig at Marvel and do my creator owned thing on the side.
Skip and I hit it off and the idea of doing an oversized landscape graphic novel with virtually no limitations was a door too good to not go through.
Anomaly is a mash of 3d models, hand work and digital paints. It starts with layouts, then the black and white base that I’ll often print out and do additional analog handwork with pencil, inks, white, etc. Then Geirrod paints and I take a quick beauty pass at the page in Photoshop…or not… Geirrod is amazing!
What was your goal in writing this graphic novel? It is massive, and boasts the title of longest graphic novel. Are you afraid that the size along with the price of the book may deter some readers?
The idea was, “Go big or go home!” We wanted to make a mark with our first book, and I think we did. We gave it to people in multiple ways so if you couldn’t afford the print book you could get the iBook or the voice-acted interactive app for MUCH cheaper.
There is a digital aspect to Anomaly, that you call Augmented Reality. Do you think this could be the future of comics, and why did you use this aspect to help tell the story?
It’s a scifi story so why not include some scifi storytelling, right? Augmented Reality sort of came into our window as when we started Anomaly, you had to have intrusive QR codes in the pages. I didn’t want that in the book. Then the SDK changed and made it so the Augmented Reality could be triggered by an image, a panel, a cover, a page… Then we were in business.
We’re still in the early days of Augmented Reality, but with Faster Than Light, I think we are really taking it up a notch with voice-acted captain’s logs for each issue, games, and other surprises.
But to me, the coolest thing about Augmented Reality is the ability to add to a book after it’s printed. For example, we started Anomaly with about 20 interactive pages. We’ve done about four updates to the app and it now has 60 interactive pages.
(For more info about Anomaly Productions’ Augmented Reality, check out the links below.)
FASTER THAN LIGHT: http://www.experienceanomaly.com/faster-than-light/apps
I don’t think I’m ever happy with anything I’ve done for long. That’s what keeps me going. I think like Faust if I ever am content with something I’ve done, that day, the devil comes for me!
I did read that there was a movie deal out there somewhere for Anomaly. Where does that stand?
There is. We’re with Joe Roth as producer and his Revolution Productions. I’m starting on a new draft of the screenplay next month. (See? Not going to work for Marvel at 18 and getting a Master’s degree in screenwriting was helpful! 😉 )
Well, we started with Anomaly. Then Shifter, a more contemporary graphic novel in a sort of Hitchcock mystery with a scifi twist. Then we have Faster Than Light, a continuing series coming out through Image Comics. We have novel coming out through Random House titled, Between Worlds, in 2016. The massive Anomaly 2 graphic novel and Fury Formula, another comic series, will be out in 2016 as well.
As an aspiring comic writer, can you offer any advice and or inspiration to me or anyone else other out there wanting to follow in your footsteps. What has helped you most to become successful in the ultra-competitive world of creating comic?
Treat it as an athlete would. Train, train, and train. Keep working on your art/writing and especially keep working on whatever is weak about your art/writing. Seek out the challenges. Get bigger, stronger, faster, wiser! Even if you don’t succeed, you’ll be better as a result of the challenge.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Please check out my books at: http://www.experienceanomaly.com
And my tutorials at: http://digitalarttutorials.com/