Saturday, March 1, 2008

Snow Angel: Four Page Preview!

This is the very first release of our preview for Snow Angel. Combined are the talents of Blacksheep Studios, illustrated and inked by Tyler Jenkins and written by yours truly. Enjoy! (Click image for larger view)

Friday, February 22, 2008

At the Heart Of It

I love noir.

It’s something that only struck me in the past three or four years, but it’s unquestionably ingrained in a lot of things I write. Somehow gangsters, femme fatales and hard as nails, morally grey protagonists seem to slip into even short stories that I write.

Now I’m writing a comic that allows me to really sink my teeth into what’s become somewhat of a fascination.

I wanted to include all the popular noir themes and most certainly the emotion, but I felt that in order to make Snow Angel something slightly different I had to come at it from a new perspective. Most often it’s about the struggle between the hard boiled detective and the mysterious, sexually fired dame, or some gangster tale about revenge. And, like I mentioned, these themes have worked in many titles almost universally.

However, I didn’t want to create a story that walked down these roads already so well travelled by massively successful stories like Scarface or The Maltese Falcon. Snow Angel’s perspective came from a long hard look at how one creates an identity. We show Angela, the lead character, at the height of her power; strong, confident and in total control. Then we deconstruct her very nature and look back to how she became who she is.

It’s these details that will become the very focus of the story. Sure, drugs, money and sex are all interesting points along the way, but at its heart, Snow Angel delves into the mind of a young woman trying desperately to understand who she is.

I wanted Angela to be strong, yet have insecurities, just like all of us do, born from some event in her life that, looking back, set everything into motion. I want the reader to be able to see the impact of those events and fully understand why Angela, despite being the top dog in the Cocaine Cowboys era, is falling apart. All of this, as will become obvious in the first issue of Snow Angel, centers around one man. Her father.

All of us, at some point in our lives, have questioned the love our parents have shown us. Most people can identify with trying to find themselves a place within their own families. Strong emotions are tied to memories of the people closest to us. I wanted very much to capture that and explore what it would be like for a young woman to never feel the love from her father.

And when it comes down to it, these themes are the heart of Snow Angel, and I hope to make it a wild ride even if it is caught up in a little bit of sentimentality.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Snow Angel: Plotting Points

Jo approached me with a scenario in mind for the femme fatale that was the prominent image for his production poster. We spoke at length over the phone about a mutual love of noir and crime stories, naming movies back and forth and in turn praising the title as one we enjoyed. It was obvious from the first conversation that we both knew what we wanted from Snow Angel: a gritty, crime story set in the backdrop of the drug stuffed era of the 70’s.

He asked me if I had seen Cocaine Cowboys, a documentary that came out in 2006 relating the events and details of the Medici Cartel’s drug running operations in Miami at the tail end of the 70’s and early 80’s. I hadn’t at that point, but he discussed with me in detail a powerful figure of that time, Griselda Blanco, nicknamed the Godmother.

This woman, by all means, was the ultimate badass. Her vendettas knew no boundaries, she murdered people if they crossed her, no matter how powerful their allies or relatives may have been. There were never extensions on late payments, failure to follow through on promises got you and every single person in your family killed.

A killer instinct and the total commitment to show abolute power was something both Jo and I saw in the woman Tyler had illustrated.

In essence, Griselda is a small influence in Snow Angel. However, when approaching this story I didn’t want to write the story of someone who’d already lived, I wanted this character to be my own, someone I could craft and develop over time. I really wanted to breathe life into the narrator and make the world around her feel that much more real.

The first question one has to ask is that if someone is a certain way, what events in their life led them to that point? It’s easy to hash together a life story that we’ve seen hundreds of times in film and print because the easiest answer sometimes is the most logical. In this case, Griselda herself was a sexually exploited woman who at a point in her younger years worked as a prostitute. It is legitimate grounds for someone to become emotionally disconnected and to harm those around her.

I felt differently about my character. One of my main issues with a lot of mainstream films and graphic novels is that most often a woman is strong only because of some awful injustice that was put upon her. Often times, they are of a sexual nature, and the strong, unshakable woman exists as such because she had to ‘toughen up’ or else remain a victim. Again, I’m sure there are cases of that, but it’s a cause of concern for me and I didn’t want to follow that same path. Why can’t this beautiful, strong woman be strong because she has chosen to be a leader and has the gumption to do so?

Of course, Snow Angel needed to have a strong theme, and while the tale of a young woman dominating the drug trade in Miami is certainly captivating, there needed to be something a little more.

I contemplated the story at length, really searching for an interesting angle that would have a great underlying message we could see and feel from beginning to end. Over coffee, my wife and I brainstormed several ideas and came up with a theme that I feel will really bring Snow Angel a life of its own.

Next Blog: Snow Angel: Family Matters

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Snow Angel: How it all Started

I came across this project rather unceremoniously. It was not by anything impressive I had done by any means, it was more a matter of timing and ultimately it came down to knowing the right person.

That is almost always the case.

I met Jo Brar of Smoke Films Ltd. through Tyler Jenkins, an ultra talented artist that I met at the Calgary Comic Expo in April of 2007. I had originally made the trip from Saskatoon to pitch a project I'd had in the wings for about three years called Wrench. Arcana Studios had a booth at the Expo and I had been in contact with them via email for about two months before I planned to meet them.

Expectations were high and so the abysmal meeting was rather crushing. It was all by happenstance that as I left, dejected, my wife pointed out to me a small little table across from Eric Powell, one that belonged to Blacksheep Studios. This, of course, belonged to Tyler and Hilary Jenkins, who've since that time become great friends and business partners.

We worked on a viking era tale called Wode and pitched to several publishers but, being our first comic project together (and Tyler's first sequential work, period) it was rough and we were still learning each other's creative strengths and weaknesses. It was a fantastic learning adventure though, and it wasn't all bad either. We heard positive feedback from a specific publisher that only rejected it based on the content. (They were looking for Slice of Life stories. Whatever that means.)

Fast forward to November where Tyler meets up with aforementioned Jo Brar, the head honcho for Smoke Films. He starts putting together some classy noir-style promotion posters and Jo loves them so much he decides he wants to do a short comic based upon it.

Tyler drops my name to write it, and that's how I end up becoming involved with this fantastic project.