In 2004, Marvel Comics launched the ongoing “Astonishing X-Men” series, helmed by writer Joss Whedon and artist John Cassaday. On October 28th, Marvel is hoping to astonish fans of the burgeoning art form of motion comics when part one of the motion comic adaptation of Whedon and Cassaday’s first “Astonishing X-Men” story, “Gifted” will debut. CBR News spoke with Cassaday about the project and his extensive involvement with it.
What was your initial reaction to the idea of a motion comic adaptation of “Gifted?” What made you want to get involved with this project?
I’d seen some motion comic animation, and the quality varied. When Marvel approached me, I was initially hesitant, but after looking at some test footage and hearing how committed they were, I knew what direction they were wanting to go.
The images you originally drew for “Gifted” were meant for the printed page and not meant to be seen moving. Is there any extra work that needs to be done by you to get your pages from “Gifted” ready for the motion comic process? Or are they pretty much ready to be animated?
There’s a great deal of additional drawing to be done. Talking mouths, add-ons to shots to fit the new and necessary dimensions, and some action in-between bits. I contribute here and there, but Neal Adams has been undertaking the bulk of that task.
For their “Spider-Woman” series, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev are producing two versions, one for the medium of motion comics and one for print, and there are some differences between the two versions. Will that be the case with the motion comic adaptation of “Gifted?” And if so will there be any new scenes added or cut out?
The goal for “Astonishing X-Men: Gifted” is to make as literal an interpretation as possible. Shots may get tinkered with and added on to for the sake of movement, but nothing will be left out, and [there are] no dialogue changes, for sure.
On average, about how long is an episode of “Gifted?”
We’re doing the first six-issue storyline at around ten minutes each episode.
I know from talking with Alex Maleev about the “Spider-Woman” motion comic series that a number of visual effects are employed in the making of that series. Can people expect some of those shots in “Gifted?” And if so, were you involved in producing them?
There are many effects in the series. Some fun stuff. Neal Adams and his animators at Continuity are responsible for that aspect.
Motion comics also involve audio aspects, like voice actors and music. Were you involved in the this part of the ‘Gifted’ adaptation? What was it like trying to find the right voices for characters like the X-Men and Ord?
This was maybe the most enjoyable aspect of the project for me. I worked alongside voice actor/producer/director, James Snyder, to get an amazing cast. Sitting in on many of the voice sessions, I was enamored with the process. Characters I’ve spent so much time with in the past several years were coming to life right in front of me! Working with James and the actors was very rewarding, in and of itself.
Now that you’ve been in involved in several production aspects of a motion comic, what are your thoughts on the medium as a whole? In your mind are they comics? Animation? Or something new?
Something new and, also, something strange, to be honest. It’s a medium trapped in the middle. I don’t know what the future of motion comics may be, but it’s gonna be exciting to find out.
If people respond to the adaptation of “Gifted,” will we see adaptations of the other “Astonishing X-Men” stories that you and Joss did? If so, can we expect you to be involved in those projects as well?
We’ll see where these first six take us. But I would love to see the rest of the series get the treatment as well. Keep your fingers (and claws) crossed!
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