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Back to the Future: Green, Kennedy & Tischman talk “Aeon Flux” Comic and Web Comics

by  in Comic News Comment
Back to the Future: Green, Kennedy & Tischman talk “Aeon Flux” Comic and Web Comics
“Aeon Flux” #1

In the ’90s, MTV Animation viewers were transported to a twisted dystopian future world where an acrobatic freedom fighter named Aeon waged war against an oppressive government. The show “Aeon Flux,” created by Peter Chung, started out as a short on MTV’s “Liquid Television” before graduating to its own series. This December the world will be reintroduced to Aeon and the struggle of her fellow rebels when “Aeon Flux” the feature film leaps onto the big screen with Oscar winner Charlize Theron in the title role.

Both fans of the original series, looking for a sneak peek at the world of the feature film, and intrigued comic fans will want to pick up Dark Horse’s four-issue “Aeon Flux” comic series, which serves as a prequel to the film. The first issue of that series hit stands last Wednesday. Curious fans should also check out the film’s official web site for a series of interactive web comics that offer more detail and insight into the film’s story. CBR News spoke with the writer of the “Aeon Flux” comic series Mike Kennedy, the writer of the web comics David Tischman and the man who will be provide the art for both of them Timothy Green II.

Green told CBR news that the “Aeon Flux” animated series made a lasting impression on him. “The first shorts from ‘Liquid Television’ aired when I was about fourteen or fifteen,” he told CBR News. “It captured my attention immediately, with such unique stories, as well as a style that I hadn’t seen at the time.”

Likewise, the writer of the comic series, Mike Kennedy, had a similar reaction. “I’ve been a long-time fan of ‘Aeon Flux’ since the very first airing of the very first short segment on the very first episode of ‘Liquid Television,'” Kennedy told CBR News. “I’d been sketching her in the borders of notebooks and painting her on the back of friends’ jackets for years.”

“Aeon Flux” #2

Green got involved with both projects because of David Tischman, whom he had previously worked with on the DC Focus Book “Fraction.” “David went to work for MTV. He mentioned they were working on an ‘Aeon Flux’ movie and asked me if I had any interest in working on the comic,” Green explained. “I think there were a few artists they were considering– I was just the lucky one.”

When Mike Kennedy heard Dark Horse might be developing an “Aeon Flux” comic series, he immediately began campaigning to write the project. “Months went by as the details were negotiated between Dark Horse, MTV, Paramount, and David Tischman, details I really don’t know much about, but eventually the green light blinked on, and [Dark Horse Editor] Dave Land asked if I had time to put together an outline,” Kennedy stated. “The rest, as they say, is future-history.”

The story Kennedy crafted sets up the “future history” for the “Aeon Flux” film. “The series is a prequel in that it takes place before the film, but it really has no significant repercussions on the big screen,” Kennedy said. “There are hints at what will be explored in the movie, but nothing that would spoil any surprises or require any prior knowledge. It is a ‘re-introduction’ of sorts to the world of Aeon Flux, setting the scenario for newcomers while easing into the new look for fans of the original. The story is pretty self-contained, focusing on a specific plot by the Bregnan government and the Monican Rebellion’s response to that threat.

“The core plot of the series has only a marginal connection to the movie, but there were aspects to the world that we were allowed to flesh out in ways that aren’t explored on film,” Kennedy continued. “The birth of the Monican Rebellion, for instance, as seen in a flashback at the beginning of issue #3. We introduce key characters to each other in our story, revealing how those relationships seen in the film first began. There were many other things we wanted to explore, but doing so could have jeopardized some of the bigger revelations of the movie, so we felt those ideas were best left for later tales (God willing…).”

Issue #1, Page 3

Kennedy’s goal was to have the comic series serve as a bridge between the original animated series and the film. “The original series was full of irony and satire, wrapped up in overblown action and conceptual sci-fi. The film is not nearly as ironic or satirical, but is still full of action and conceptual science fiction, only with a more pensive, dire undertone (At least, that’s the impression I got from reading the screenplay…),” Kennedy explained. “The comic series hopefully draws the best from both, wrapping deep conspiratorial drama inside layers of acrobatic ass-kicking, pseudo-scientific gadgetry, and smirking self-awareness.”

To bring the futuristic world of “Aeon Flux” to life, Timothy Green drew upon a diverse group of artistic influences. “Moebuis has been the largest influence on my work since my teens,” Green said. “After I picked up ‘Arzach,’ my work took on a whole new direction. There have been several other artists who have influenced my work throughout the years– Otomo Katsuhiro, Koji Morimoto, Drew Struzan, Tatsuyuki Tanaka, Range Murata, Travis Charest, Nagel…and several others– all inspiring me in different ways from story telling to design.”

The hardest thing for Green in drawing the comic series was getting use to the changes between “Aeon Flux” the animated series and the movie. “The most difficult thing was not being able to draw the Aeon that I knew. The one I loved,” Green stated. “It wasn’t until half way through the first issue that I started feeling comfortable with the character and her new look.”

Green did not get a chance to see the finished movie, but was provided with a wealth of photographic reference from the film. “They gave me the script and many pictures from the movie as references so I could get an idea of how the movie runs,” Green said. “It was a little strange at first to see Aeon with straight hair, but once you get past that, it looks to be a great sci-fi film with impressive designs.”

Issue #1, Page 5, Panel 6

The impressive design work, particularly the costumes, was one of the elements of the film that Green really wanted to bring to life with his art. “I loved the guards’ suits, as well as Sithandra’s neat little vest,” Green stated. “The weapons were a lot of fun too– it makes things go quicker when someone else has already created all the designs. I couldn’t really use any building references from the movie, since they weren’t done (it’s a CGI city) when I started the book, but what I’ve seen from the clips look nice.”

Green didn’t mind being an artist on a licensed book where most of the design work has already been done. “The main difference in working on a licensed book is that you have to refer to someone else’s designs and there is a more strict approval process,” Green explained. “As well, there’s more attention paid to an already established character like Aeon and whoever is the artist benefits from that.”

Dan Jackson provided the colors for the “Aeon Flux” comic series and Green felt Jackson’s work perfectly complimented his style. “He really put a lot of effort into the book, and you can see it in each page,” Green said.

As for the “Aeon Flux” Web comics, Green had to change his style for his work for the online series. “Since the web comic is so small, there isn’t room for a lot of detail, so it’s much more simplified,” Geen said. “This is my first online comic, so I’m new to it. I think it’s a bit different from most online comics. It has small squirts of animation throughout each page, and in order to get that effect, each page has to be layered. There is anywhere from 4-8 layers depending on how much movement is needed. I did some of the key animation for the web comic (which I’ve always been interested in doing), but Anthony Lim does most of the animation. I was so amazed with how much he could do with my simple drawings.”

Issue #1, Page 8, Panel 6

Green’s work on the “Aeon Flux” web comics reunited him with his “Fraction” collaborator David Tischman who wrote the four episodes, which will appear on the film’s official web site.

Like the Dark horse Comic series, Tischman’s web comics provide more background and insight into the world of the film. “A Monican agent uncovers a dark secret of Trevor Goodchild’s government, and is chased by Bregnan security agents as he tries to deliver the information to the rebellion’s leader, The Handler,” Tischman explained. “It’s really a lot of fun, and we got to use a lot of different aspects of the ‘Aeon’ world– the chase literally leads you across the entire city of Bregna.

“We created new characters for the web comics,” Tischman continued. “Yes, we use The Handler, and Trevor and Orin are there, too, but we introduce Androcles and Milius, two Monican rebels, as well as Barnabus and Livia, our Bregnan security officers.”

Unlike many web comics out there, readers of the “Aeon Flux” web comics won’t be playing a passive role in the story. “These web stories have a cutting-edge interactive element– allowing players to experience the action as a Monican rebel or as a Bregnan security officer,” Tischman explained. “It’s a mini video game.”

Issue #1, Page 9

Tischman was amazed by Green’s finished art for the web comics and the comic series. “The ‘Aeon Flux’ movie is hot— and Timothy has created a smart, visual counterpart in the Dark Horse four-issue comic book mini-series, and in the four Paramount/MTV web comics,” Tischman stated. “Timothy is a great artist– smart, creative; he has an incredible visual sense.”

Mike Kennedy also offered high praise for his artistic collaborator on the Dark Horse comic series. “Timothy is awesome. I had seen his stuff, quite by accident, on the web and really liked it (enough to download all I could, bookmark it, and check back regularly for more). When Dave Land told me he was gonna see if Timo was up for the gig, I knew it was a smart choice style-wise, but I had no idea how good his stuff would turn out in the end,” Kennedy said. “Seriously, this is hands-down the best work he’s ever produced. I giggle out loud for a good 8-12 minutes whenever a new page comes in. And finally getting to meet him at Comic-Con International this past year was great, too. He’s not only amazingly talented, but a really cool guy, too. Its always disappointing when a hot talent turns out to be some smug, lazy, wanna-be rockstar, but that’s not the case here: he’s extremely professional, soft spoken, and full of great ideas. Working with Timo is a blast, and I would love to collaborate with him some more in the future.”

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