Ray Harryhausen is a pioneer of visual effects in motion pictures, producer of such classic films as "Clash of the Titans" and "Jason and the Argonauts" and has influenced many filmmakers and comics creators over the years. Now his work is moving from film to comics, courtesy of Blue Water Productions, who are launching a line of Harryhausen comics that continue the adventures of the heroes and creatures from some of Harryhausen's most beloved films. Harryhausen and Publisher Darren Davis spoke with CBR about these upcoming series.
Blue Water's Harryhausen-based books begin with "Wrath of the Titans," which serves as a sequel to the Harryhausen film "Clash of the Titans." "Darren has developed 'Wrath of the Titans' to begin five years after the point when Andromeda was chained to the rock as a sacrifice to the Kraken," Harryhausen told CBR News.
Additionally, the line of books will continue with "20 Million Miles More" which continues the story of the Ymir which threatened the city of Rome in 1957, as depicted in the classic monster movie "20 Million Miles to Earth." "The continuation of '20 Million Miles to Earth' takes place 50 years after the first story," said Harryhausen. "It does involve the Ymir, but in an entirely different context."
While Harryhausen himself is not writing or drawing the comics, he does have final approval over each issue. "Darren and his colleagues present stories and artwork to Arnold and me for our approval," said Harryhausen. "I'm not directly involved on a regular basis but do have final approval on anything with my name attached."
Added Davis, "We get notes about the story and artwork. We really want to keep Ray's vision of his characters that he created. "
Harryhausen's artwork will however be featured in the line in a special context. "We have a special section of the book dedicated to Ray's original artwork," Davis said. "We wanted to make sure that people knew that Ray was involved in the books as well as show what an amazing artist he is. I was really impressed with his art that I wanted to make sure other people saw another side to his talent. He will also be doing a cover for '20 Million Miles More'."
Blue Water Productions came to the attention of Harryhausen when he and his producer Arnold Kunert met Davis in Bellingham, Washington in 2006 as part of a promotional tour for his latest book, The Art of Ray Harryhausen. Darren discussed the possibility of doing a series of comic books based on the continuing adventures of Perseus, Jason and other characters from my films, revealed Harryhausen.Arnold and I thought the idea was interesting, so we made an arrangement with Darren very soon thereafter.
"He was a huge inspiration for the comics that I created such as '10th Muse' and 'Legend of Isis,' David added. Both dealing with mythology. When I spoke to him I gave him a couple of graphic novels on my properties. I then spoke to Arnold about why nobody has done a line of comics with Ray. He mentioned to me that a couple people have approached them in the past and nothing really came of it. I told him to give me two weeks and I will have a presentation for him. I came through with it and signed the deal the next week. Nadir Balan did the artwork for the Wrath of the Titans piece. It was so good we made it one of the covers to issue #1."
"Up until the time we met Darren, I hadn't really considered doing anything else with my feature film projects, said Harryhause.I've been very busy with other things during the past few years, so working on comic books never entered my mind."
Harryhausen is realistic about the possibility that these comic book sequels to his films could spawn new films. "Comic books, by their nature, are similar to storyboards," said Harryhausen, "which are often the basic building blocks for feature films, particularly those which are action-based. We may be able to adapt the comic books into feature films, but we must first see how well the comic books do. Everything in its own time."
Harryhausen responded to the notion of his inspiring the creators of today. "Naturally, I'm very flattered, said Harryhause. I had no idea when I was working on films in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s that my films would have such a lasting influence on future generations. It's very satisfying and quite touching."
Beyond the line of comics from Blue Water, Harryhausen hints that there may be other projects in the works. "Arnold and I are working on a variety of different projects, but I'm not at liberty to discuss them at this time. You might want to keep checking my official web site, www.rayharryhausen.com, for upcoming projects and special appearances."
However, it is certain there will be more comics bearing Harryhausen's name and concepts. "We are finishing up the 2nd phase of books with the line which includes 'Sinbad: Rouge of Mars' and 'Jason and the Argonauts: Kingdom of Hades,' said Davis. They have been happy with what we have produced so far and we are looking to expand the line in time. I want to make sure the books we are doing come out on time and we do not grow too fast with them. I love Ray's work and have a lot of respect for what he has created and we have a lot more stories to tell."
"Wrath of the Titans" hits the stands on May 31.
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