|All Art Is From “Red Star: Sword Of Lies” #1, Available At Comic-Con International|
Six years ago, a comic book called “Red Star” quietly appeared on comic book stands, but soon made noise with universal acclaim and sell-outs at comic shops nation wide. Featuring ground breaking 3D computer imagery, the series quickly developed a following that surprised creator Christian Gossett and his team. It’s only fitting that such an innovative group would join forces with Weta Workshop (announced first on CBR News), the revolutionary effects house that brought “Lord Of The Rings” and “King Kong” to life. With Comic-Con International almost here, CBR News caught up with Gossett to learn about Team Red Star’s convention plans and to get a first look at the latest Red Star book, “The Red Star: Sword of Lies.”
“The new book, ‘Sword of Lies’ #1 just arrived yesterday, looking absolutely beautiful!” gushed Gossett when he spoke with CBR News Sunday. “We are looking forward to an amazing show, with a San Diego Comic-Con special foil edition of ‘Sword of Lies’ #1 (limited – only 500 copies made), that will be available exclusively at the con, and possibly on our website. We highly anticipate selling out the lot at the show. We are extremely lucky to once again be the guests of Gentle Giant this year at Comic-Con, the wizards responsible for the lovely mini-busts of Maya, Makita, and the long awaited Kyuzo bust. Thanks to the talented documentary film making team of Andrew and Jhennifer Webberley, we have some great visuals to jazz up our booth even more, and we will have the Playstation 2 video game demo available to play right in the booth.”
Part of Gossett’s excitement stems from the close involvement with Weta, and the trips down to beautiful New Zealand, which has been a source of inspiration for the creator. To show fans how the collaboration with Weta has progressed, Gossett provided CBR News with a breakdown of his time in NZ. “Here’s a chronology of the trip,” he said and continued, “April 7, 2006- I call Richard Taylor to let him know that I’ve got over a hundred pages of Red Star artwork that I’d like to hire the Weta design team to paint. The goal is the continuation of The Red Star storyline. Richard agrees. Bliss.
“April 8, 2006- The plans begin for my return to Wellington, New Zealand. Home of the Weta Workshop, as well as the film community made famous by the world-conquering ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. I originally planned to be there for just over four weeks, working with the design team on what is going to be our most fascinating production process yet. It ended up being about six.
“April 28, 2006- I land in Wellington to attend one of the world’s great pop culture conventions. I ain’t being fancy or anything, its just that this show, Bill Geradts’ Armageddon Pulp Expo, is like a three ring circus full of everything today’s media mad public wants from such an event. Comics, Movies, Vidgames, Celebrities – there’s even a massive pillow fight for kids under a certain age. A pillowfight! Those pillows got shredded, the kids screamed with glee, nobody got hurt, nor will they ever forget that kind of fun. Only in New Zealand.
“May 1- Work begins at Weta. It is quickly realized that there is way more work to be painted than can be done in four weeks.
“The bad news is, I now wonder how much we’ll be able to get done. As I contemplate the worst-case scenarios, I have trouble breathing for a while. I wonder if I can just change my name and let the world forget me. Then the good news comes.
“By the calculations of the angels at Weta who are managing and coordinating the production– (Gayle Munro and Kate Jorgensen, whose superhero powers are that they keep artists from losing all sight of reality despite our constant attempts to do so.) I learn that I will have more artwork produced before the release of the first issue than ever before in Red Star’s six year history. It’s a beautiful day in Wellington.
“May 2- My brother’s birthday. I call him to tell him how much I love him, and he reminds me that I’m across the International Date Line. Back in North America, it’s only May 1st. He thanks me anyway for finally calling a day early instead of a day late. I suddenly have an epiphany. If I stay in New Zealand, I’ll always be a day ahead of myself…
“May 3- Jonah Weiland’s CBR posts the first completed image along with the first article about the new Red Star story. The image is a shot of Sorceress Maya Antares in full dress uniform, painted by Stephen Crowe. The congrats emails come flying in. Takes me a week to clear my inbox.
“May 6 and onward- The momentum shifts into high gear. Image after image reaches completion. Page after page of artwork is brought to beautiful life. The design team, whom I’d befriended during my brief stint of work on “King Kong”, are incredible to work with.”
Gossett has even more detailed accounts of his time with Weta, and experiencing New Zeleand’s fine culture, but that’s a story to be told another time. A story he will share is that of why he decided to publish the series again, after a tumultuous time with publishers. “We didn’t make the decision lightly,” explained Gossett. “We wanted to be better than we were before. Across the board, from art to editorial to promotion, you name it. To use a sports analogy, however a team might have performed last season, that’s all well and good; but did you win the championship? Did you even get to the playoffs? If not, what has to be changed to move the team toward that higher level of achievement?
“When I look at the previous books, I’m very proud. But I can also be objective and see where I have to work harder. Another great aspect of working with artists as passionate as those at Weta is how much one learns in their presence. From artistic techniques to professional poise, they are a unique group of people.”
Gossett’s appreciation of Weta also extended to their professionalism, which he admits wasn’t a surprise, but still a welcome treat. “The team at Weta has a rare enthusiasm, and it was a pleasure to have the chance to direct them,” he says. “Digitally painting in the comics medium was a new idea for the guys on the team, and they took to the task fearlessly. They worked quickly and efficiently, and delivered fully layered files that could be used in any way necessary in post-production. Plus it was a blast. Not five minutes went by that we weren’t cracking up laughing.”
While it’s been two years since “Red Star” last appeared on the new comics release wall of your local store, it doesn’t meant that Gossett and the team have been resting on their laurels. “The nice thing about not publishing for two years is that it allowed me to work on my art and writing, improve my fundamentals without having to rush and meet a deadline,” explains Gossett. “I find that in ‘Sword of Lies,’ I am paying more productive attention to anatomy, story structure, character depth, etc.
“The design team at Weta brings a distinctly cinematic feel to ‘Sword of Lies.’ The few people who have previewed the book have enthusiastically remarked that the book looks like a ‘movie on the pages.’ This team is used to bringing life to some very complex and dynamic stories, and their work on ‘The Red’ Star is no exception.”
If you’re a fan of “The Red Star’s”, you’ve probably visited their website, you’ll also notice it’s been rejuvenated to coincide with “Swords Of Lies'” release. “Thanks to the talents of Emil Petrinic, (also responsible for composition of the new book) the website is undergoing its long awaited facelift.”
And if Gosset has his way, there’ll be lots more “Red Star” in everyone’s futures, in print and on the web.
CBR Staff Writer Arune Singh Contributed To This Story