People often fantasize about the benefits of having super powers. Imagine being able to fly through the sky, use your eyes to burn a hole in the wall, or possess super strength? It all sounds good, right?
Now imagine you piss off your super powered spouse.
Last week, CBR News spoke with David Hopkins, writer of Viper Comics‘ “Emily Edison,” (arriving June 28th) a graphic novel chronicling the bitter marital relations between a super powered couple from different dimensions and their young daughter at the center of it all, Emily Edison. We caught up with artist Brock Rizy who discussed the joys of illustrating an all ages book and how he became involved with “Emily Edison.”
“I’d heard it through the grapevine that David had been doing some work in comics, so I casually mentioned to our mutual friend Steven New that I might be interested in collaborating,” Rizy explains of his involvement with “Emily Edison” when speaking with CBR News. “In the past I’d been leery of working with writers, except as co-authors. I’m a cartoonist and not just an illustrator, so I didn’t simply want an art assignment. It had to be a true collaboration, which I expressed as early as I could. David seemed to have similar ideas about the relationship between an artist and writer. He pitched me a handful of concepts and Emily made my spine tingle.”
To design the looks of the characters, and convey that spine tingling effect, Rizy discussed the visual demands of the book in depth with Hopkins. Using detailed descriptions and images of actors to give each other the full picture, the two were able to come up with the looks for the main characters. “Emily was the only one I didn’t need help on. Part of the reason I felt so sure, so soon about wanting to work on ‘Emily’ was that I’d already been drawing her. Something like two days before my first meeting with David. According to David’s dossier I started to make adjustments. Her initial look (after she had her name) was based on the style of a friend’s younger sister and then she evolved with a bit of an Anna Paquin and PJ Harvey tone and then even moved away from that. I’m not sure if those original influences are recognizable.”
In addition to those influences, Rizy took time to absorb all sorts of other artists’ work, from manga to anime to comic book legends. With that in mind, Rizy is quick to add that he’s tried to keep the look of the book unique and not ape anyone else’s style.”‘Samurai Jack’ and ‘FLCL’ are the most recognizable aesthetic inspirations when I look at the finished product,” admitted Rizy. “Probably because I was watching them regularly when I started to form the universe’s visual appearance. Manga like ‘Battle Angel’ and ‘Dominion Tank Police’ certainly affected the work. There seems to be a little indirect Jack Kirby action by way of Mike Mignola and Bruce Timm, too. The only time I tried to let an outside work influence the look of the book was when I dug up some films by Koji Morimoto, but I don’t think that had as much as an impact as I’d hoped.”
There’s a definite trend towards “realism” and “grittiness” in comic book art these days, with even the most mainstream superhero books containing their fair share of violent scenes. The term “all ages” tends to invoke visions of Archie comic books and “Family Circus,” as opposed to work such as “Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane” or other all-ages work that sometimes gets lost in the weekly deluge of new releases. While Rizy is cognizant of the intended audience for “Emily Edison,” he’s not about to rein himself in. “Once the style and tone were set, I didn’t really have to rein anything in. Though it was dangerous for Emily, the action was humorous and cartoony. She wasn’t the sort of character who dwelled in a seedy environment. Shoveling in the sleaze wouldn’t have been true to Emily’s experience, so it was never an issue. I think David thinks I pushed the envelope slightly, because I didn’t approach the work with a target market in mind: his daughter was his intended audience. It’s not anything I would keep from my as of yet unborn children, at any age. It’s fun for anyone. It’s something that I would buy for myself at the age of twenty-seven.”
Furthermore, Rizy feels that “Emily Edison” will give readers of all ages something special to smile about, explaining, “David’s original concept of divorced parents from different dimensions fighting over time spent with their super-powered daughter was different from anything I’d heard (I think my mother was the first to refer to it as an ‘interdimensional custody battle’). The way the dimensions are indicated by the art style will make it stand out. The mother’s dimension is rendered with a cut-paper quality. The dad’s, which is something like earth, has outlines and anime shading. You instantly know where you are and where a character comes from when you look at a panel. Most of all, it’s the amount of action in the book. It’s funny, it’s dangerous and it abounds amidst a freshly told tale of a teenager dealing with split parents.
“Did I mention that Emily has a cool new costume for every chapter? She’s a girl, she’d prefer not to wear the same outfit twice.”
Before CBR finished up with Rizy, we asked whether he’d like to be involved in an “Emily Edison” sequel, at which point his excitement for the project took over. “I am at least up for one more Emily Edison Original Graphic Novel, because I’ve got a terrific idea for a fight scene. David has some ideas that I’m really fond of for the second book, so it would be nice to see them come to fruition. The first book wasn’t made with the OGN format in mind; it was geared for the individual issue. The long-form comic book could make available many possibilities for the structure of the story and the portrayal of the action that are ordinarily negatively constrained by thirty page chunks.”
Rizy has a lot of dream projects, in a variety of mediums, but for the near future we can expect to see the artist keep busy with comic book work. “‘I have a five-issue action book titled ‘Foxhunt’ written. The Tom Cruise/’War of the Worlds’ style pitch is that it’s about a guy who’s looking for love in all the wrong places. But with weird technology and weapons, gory action, secret military projects, flying fortresses, surprise cybernetic eyes, and the skunkape, too.
“I’d like to write and draw a spin-off one shot for Emily’s half-sister, Koo. In ‘Emily Edison’, we don’t get to meet or even hear about Koo’s father, only Emily’s. I think it would probably have something to do with Koo’s search for her absent dad.”