Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Working between the Panels

A few posts ago, I mentioned a fun project that I hadn't written about yet. Well, this is an entry on that project. A few weeks ago, I headed down to a photographer’s studio to be a character in a comic book. I’ve been reading comic books since I was six years old, and I am now an avid collector. I love those old newsprint pages from my youth, and they fire something deep in my imagination. So when a friend of mine sent me an email from an artist who was looking for actors to pose as character models for a comic book, I made sure to answer that email right away.

David, the artist, responded very quickly and explained the overall plot of the graphic novel he was illustrating. Based on actual events, the comic book would chronicle the series of nights when Lord Byron, Percy and Mary Shelley, and two other guests gathered around a fireplace to entertain each other with ghost stories. Each issue would be a different character’s story in which the storyteller would take on the role of “hero,” the final issue being the most famous story to come out of that party – Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” David cast me as Lord Byron, discussed some costume things, sent me the script for the comic, and then we scheduled the photo shoot.

I arrived at his studio not knowing what to expect, but thrilled to learn. When everyone had arrived and gotten into wardrobe, we moved into the studio, which David had decorated as small sets. I had read the script and so I knew the story behind each scene. But since David was shooting still images for the comic, it was an interesting acting challenge to convey the intent behind dialogue without getting the opportunity to actually say any of it. We worked out a system, though, where we read the dialogue for each panel, and then struck a pose to convey the intention. Without the use of my voice, I relied on body language and facial expression. David explained that he will use the photos as a reference when illustrating the comic, so I really tried to create the character in my eyes.

The entire group wrapped shooting at about noon, but David and I stayed for another few hours to finish up the first issue, which had a lot of solo shots of my character as he was telling his scary story. In this ghost story, I got the chance to play a Jekyll/Hyde character. And since Jekyll and Hyde is one of my favorite books, I was thrilled to play the part. At the end of the day, David let me keep one of the wardrobe shirts (which I have already used in another project), and he promised to send me the artwork when he finishes some pages. And you can sure believe that I’ll be posting some of that here if he allows me.


Abbie G said...
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Abbie G said...

Abbie G here, Sarah Gafgen's friend. We met a few months ago and then I got to see you in Henry V this summer, and as a fellow actor, I enjoy reading your take on things via the blog. I just had to comment on this because it is SO. COOL!!! I am not much of a comic book reader but I do love many iconic comic book characters (esp superheroes) and I love learning more about how things are made, so it was really neat to read this post.

I had no idea anything like that might go into making a graphic novel or comic book. Again, so cool!!! And I love the subject matter. That is a graphic novel I'd read, for sure.

I know it can be weird as an actor to suddenly become a model, so kudos there. I posed for an artist once, but it was far less elaborate. (On the plus side, my face and excited expression are forever immortalized on a particular Coca-Cola Commemorative Plate :>)

Hope you get to put up a picture or two!