Tom Hammock and Megan Hutchison, creative team for the new Archaia original graphic novel “An Aurora Grimeon Story: Will o’ the Wisp,” stopped by the CBR Speakeasy in Los Angeles to chat with executive producer Jonah Weiland about their first comics experience. During the interview, the duo expounded on the influences of the project and how the storytelling of comics has evolved over the years, their longtime collaboration together in film, music videos and commercials and more. Plus, Hammock discusses how his degree in landscape architecture continues to help out in creative projects for film, comics and beyond.
Hutchison on how her experience with comics influenced “An Aurora Grimeon Story: Will o’ the Wisp”: “I loved ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [growing up],” she said. “I read ‘X-Men,’ and then it got kind of boring and racy in the ’90s. It was all people hooking up with each other and it got stupid, so I stopped reading. Then I just stopped reading altogether and I started again in high school. … There are only so many epic battles between dudes in really tight uniforms that you can take before you say, “I’m just bored.” This is kind of whimsical and fantasy-ish, and there wasn’t really that in the ’90s. It was all kind of superheroes and super violent and all that. Now we’re lucky enough that we have fantasy and sci-fi and all that stuff. There’s more that you can get out of comic books that there wasn’t really then.”
Hammock on the genesis of the project and its connection has with his father: “My dad is from the south and we would go visit him and his family would have these practices for luck,” Hammock said. “It was only later in life that I learned they were part of this magical practice called hoodoo that exists in the deep south. That side is tied to him, but also the scientific side is all tied in to him because he studies toxins. We spent a lot of family vacations collecting venomous animals and such things. That sort of all leads into this. Aurora gets stuck with a lot of chores that I used to have growing up.”
On the nature of their collaborative process: “I think we approached it much more like a film where we spend a lot more time researching the world and came up with this huge bank of images of the architecture and the props and wardrobe and all these little things — characters,” said Hammock. “Once we had gotten ourselves on the same page using the pictures, I was free to just concentrate on writing the script and Hutch could go crazy with the art.”
“It was actually an easy relationship for us because we’d been making movies and music videos and commercials together for about 12 years, probably,” said Hutchison. “So, it’s kind of seamless. We just know what each other are capable of. The only notes I would really get were, ‘I don’t really understand what’s going on in this panel.’ It was never micromanaging or anything like that.”
Hutchison on possible future plans in comics: “We’re going to continue with the series and then we have another project in development,” said Hutchison. “I can’t speak for Tom, but I don’t really have any desire to work on any of the bigger titles. That’s never been something that I’ve wanted to do. If they asked me to, I’m not going to say no, but what’s great about comic books is that it’s narrative storytelling in its purest form. That’s all I ever wanted to do. That’s why I got into film school, that’s why I got into movies in the first place. Whatever shape that takes, I will do it.”
Hammock on how his degree in landscape architecture comes into play in film and comics: “You’d be surprised at how often you have to design gardens for those films,” he said. “Architecture school trains you in solving of problems more than anything I can think of — and film is all about problems. There are constant problems. But in terms of pure landscape architecture, I think it came to the front a lot in this book, because the landscape envelops the story with the trees and the tombstones and everything makes up the island where they are.”
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