click to shareFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

cover-print

When I came across Blank, I was intrigued by the combination of three thing that I love – graphic novels, crime stories, and social media. So I had to interview the creators, Ian Lewinter and Don Richmond.

This is their story:

What is your background?
We are the Brothers of the Silence, creators of Blank – The Graphic Novel. Ian LeWinter is the writer and creative strategist. Don Richmond is the writer/illustrator and creative strategist. We come from a visual media background. We met and 2006 and decided to launch Blank in May 2009 as the first graphic novel in history to launch on Facebook and Twitter.

Why did you decide to write a comic book?
Graphic novels are currently, without a doubt, a mega-burgeoning market. Society is poised for a new age in graphic novels. These are exciting times. There are people entering this arena who will amaze and inspire beyond our comprehension. Publishers are recognizing this fact and expanding their labels. Fans are what this market is all about and they are driving the generation of the most creative work seen in decades. We’re going to Comic-Con this week and we can’t wait to see the brilliant projects. We’re like kids in a candy store.

Our schooling was that shared experience everyone has: life. Some brains collect formulas. Some brains collect algorithms. Our brains collect art — whether in words, in visuals, or in sounds. Because of this, our interest in graphic serials began the first moment we touched one. The promise of creating a world in which we can communicate the unique patterns we see in life was and still is the most important discovery we ever made. So graphic novels were a natural medium for us to explore.

18

Why did you decide to make it available online?
Our goal was simple: find the most effective means to tell the world about Blank. Whether that means transferring a portion of the rights or keeping them outright makes no difference to us. The medium will dictate. Our responsibility is to the project and to future generations who must know about the Trilogy. The book is being launched on several social media platforms with a new 2-page spread viewable every other day. The pages are always viewable free on the website: JohnBlankMustDie.com. Before the project is over, for us to accomplish our goals, we will have published three graphic novels, negotiated a motion picture deal and produced spin-off books.

What was the inspiration for the plot?
The concepts came in parallel from both of us. Don was obsessed by an after-world in the Greek tradition in which its inhabitants metaphorically drank from a river of forgetfulness — in other words, its inhabitants were unclear of the reality of a prior existence. Throw in a young girl-ghost who would be the ostensible guide for a hitman who is new to that world. Ian was haunted himself by a megalomaniacal intellectual giant who was raised to believe he was the incarnation of Uranus, much in the way the Dali-Lama is raised to believe that he is the incarnation of the Buddha. Ian also gave John the quality of personality fragmentation, making him a melting pot of competing mental images of self.

As such, Blank is a novel that defied genre from its inception. It is a McLuhan hot and cool media experience; which is to say, an experience that vacillates between passive, singular visual media and active, multiple-sense media requiring abstract thought and deep pattern recognition. John Blank has what psychologists term a compromised ego integrity — one that is continually fragmented and redefined, possessing no reliable sense of self apart from his unique capability to kill. The antagonist, Ouranos Gaia, has a psychopathic megalomania that stems from a mythic iconography that has been nurtured by his family for generations. The child-ghost Angel will attempt to enlist John to defeat Ouranos’ purpose and therefore save humankind from extinction. We wanted to explore that image-rich conflict.

How does it work for you? What did you learn from the process?
Work is an interesting term here. We knew it already worked by the artistic excitement we felt when discussing the project. It had all the attributes of a magnum opus, of a life work on such a grand scale that it would survive for many generations. Whether it worked economically was subsidiary to that fact. The only challenge after that realization was to listen to what the characters were saying and to find the most productive means of telling everyone about the story.

212

Our typical process is to discuss the project from various vantage points. Afterward, Ian jacks into the ether and begins listening (and sometimes confronting) the characters as they craft the story for him. As a story designer, he sees the action, he hears the conversation, he feels the emotions. When the characters eventually get it right, he records his vision and sends it to Don. Don’s responsibility at that point is to become immersed in the words as one drowning and then draw that floating, suspended death as beautifully as his hand will allow. The Flash site is a collaborative effort after Don’s illustrations meet with both our approval.

What’s next on your plate?
We have a franchise idea on deck and one in the hole, making three longterm projects. But for now, our shortterm goals necessitate that we focus on hitting the tipping point with Blank. It’s too important not to do that. After that, we’ll play with expanding that franchise and nurturing the next two. It’s hard to believe that we have this opportunity. We feel that we’re being encouraged to play, to inspire, to create and, ultimately, to bring to life the greatest cast of characters our genre has seen to date.

Thanks guys and good luck!