Actor and director Bill Paxton and artist Mick Reinman visited the CBR Yacht at Comic-Con International in San Diego to discuss the print release of their “Seven Holes for Air” graphic novel from Arcana. They discuss the jump from digital to print, as well as why the final edition is in an oversized format. They also discuss how they first hooked up, their work together on “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” and the difference between storyboarding and making comics. The finish up by talking about why they decided to make a comic in the first place and whether or not this is their last effort with the medium.
On why the previously digital-only book was released in a massive, oversized format: “It’s a western, and we always saw it with a lot of scale and real Cinemascope. We wanted it big. It’s a western, it’s an epic story — we wanted it big.” said Paxton. “We almost wanted to put it out on double truck newsprint, so you almost opened it like, just a big-ass thing. So when the first one came out, it was just kind of the regular size — trade paperback size — it just felt a little underwhelmed. It was one field too small. So we had these guys do another test. We’ve only come down here with about 100 copies we’ve signed for Arcana at the booth, this is coming out in the Fall. We just feel like it’s got a better size to it. We just feel it works better.”
On the different artistic approaches to comic books and storyboards:
“The primary difference is I was given a brilliant script by John McLaughlin. The visual storytelling of a script is a godsend to a story artist because all the visuals are there written, and then I draw them out. So I have to edit, and I have to choose, I have to compose and color and all that stuff. But I was given a great piece of material to work with,” Reinman said. “The difference between this and a comic, I just think it’s a perfect marriage. I think that working with story for so long and adapting it in a cinematic way is what it called for. It wasn’t meant to be a “comic book” necessarily or even a graphic novel, per se, but really a visual storyteller in a cinematic kind of sense.”
“The script had a real male-ness to it, not just that it’s set in a western,” Paxton said. “Bob Rourke, the protagonist, he’s in a contemporary story, tough, hard as nails steel worker — and then you’re not sure if it’s an alternate reality or a fantasy life, he’s in this hard-scrabble spaghetti western where they’re trying to run him off his land because the railroad’s coming through and they’re sending assassins and stuff. It’s very male, and I wanted an artist who had a positive kind of male strength. Mick is a — let me blow your horn a little — he’s a great figurative artist. This guy can draw. And we kept it loose and everything. I didn’t want to confine him. You hire an artist to do a job, let’s see what he’s gonna bring you. I knew he was a perfect fit with this material. In a weird kind of way, Mick, you could be Bob Rourke.”
“[Laughs] I think you could be Bob Rourke,” Reinman fired back.
“I could act it, he could be it. But he has a strength about him and a real maleness about him and I think it really comes through in the attitudes of the figures,” Paxton said.
On whether there are more comics in their futures: “Absolutely. For me, ever since I read the script to ‘Seven Holes for Air’ by John McLaughlin I’ve envisioned a great movie, a classic film. But I thought this might not ever come off. A script’ll just get dusty on a shelf. But I thought, I want to see this thing exist in some way,” said Paxton. “That’s when I brought Mick into it and I thought if we make a graphic novel of it, even if the movie’s never made it’s still gonna be out there in the popular culture, in the zeitgeist. Whether it hits or not, who cares. To me this is a great piece of art, it’s a great piece of entertainment. Really, I got into this business as a vocation. I don’t mind getting paid a lot of money to be an actor, that works great for me — and my wife, particularly. But I really, if I go all the way back, I got into this as an avocation. I really wanted to be a storyteller, I wanted to make films, I loved documenting things. So I hope to continue this, absolutely.
“I’m a storyteller and I’m an artist, so I enjoy doing the two together. It just works for me. So hand me the project and we’ll talk about it,” said Reinman.