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Captain Blood and the Peril of Indie Comics

bloodindie-page01

Matthew Shepherd, Michael Shoyket and David Hedgecock rework a few pages from Captain Blood to address the problems independent comics have with distribution, ultimately asking readers to “demand more from comics.” And, in one panel, not to download comics … which seemed very unpirate-like.

Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs: SLG’s Captain Blood #1

Captain Blood #1

Captain Blood #1

Rafael Sabatini’s novel Captain Blood opens with rebellion, battle, and a country doctor dragged kicking and screaming into a civil war he wants nothing to do with. It’s an exciting opening that not only lets you know who Dr. Peter Blood is, but also explains his motivations for the rest of the novel.

SLG’s is the second comics adaptation of Captain Blood I’ve ever read – the other being part of Graphic Classics‘ Sabatini volume – and I think it’s interesting that both adaptations choose to begin their stories later in Blood’s life when he’s been sold into slavery by his own government. They both then flash back to England almost immediately, picking up Sabatini’s beginning.

I’m not sure why that is. I understand the advantage of starting a story with later, more exciting events and then skipping back to explain what’s going on. But Blood’s slave career is hardly more exciting than the action and drama around his fateful midnight house call to the bedside of a rebel leader. Or to his subsequent, wrongful imprisonment and monkey trial. That’s cool, thrilling stuff.

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Talking Comics with Tim: Chris Schweizer

Crogan's Vengeance

Crogan's Vengeance

Chris Schweizer is a creator that lives in my neck of the woods: Atlanta. I always enjoy the opportunity to support (albeit imported) local talent. I recently email interviewed him about Crogan’s Vengeance (Oni Press), described by the publisher as  “the first in an ongoing series of adventure graphic novels spanning continents and centuries as cartoonist Chris Schweizer climbs through the various branches of the Crogan clan’s family tree! Volume one of THE CROGAN ADVENTURES series introduces us to ‘Catfoot’ Crogan, an honest sailor who finds himself thrust into a life of piracy! Crogan never wanted to be a pirate and he never dreamed he’d wind up at odds with the most dangerous buccaneer ever to sail the Spanish Main! But there’s more to this fight for ‘Catfoot’ than just staying alive, there’s also CROGAN’S VENGEANCE!”

As noted at Schweizer’s own site: “He received his BFA in Graphic Design from Murray State University in 2004, and did his post-graduate work in Sequential Art at the Atlanta branch of the Savannah College of Art and Design . . . he now teaches as a professor of Sequential Art and Animation at SCAD-Atlanta.”

Thanks to Schweizer for an interview and thanks also to Oni’s Cory Casoni for facilitating the interview.

Tim O’Shea: Your pirate tale really relies on strategy being conveyed in battle partially with dialogue and visually, how did you strike a balance that did not make it too detailed or not detailed enough, while still being entertaining?

Chris Schweizer: A lot of it was gut instinct and hope.  In some of the scenes where strategy came into play, I was very mindful of the potential to get bogged down in factual minutia.   I tried to combat this a couple of different ways – firstly, by giving the bare minimum amount of information needed to understand what was going on, making sure that once an idea had been put forth in dialogue that it wasn’t repeated in subsequent dialogue.  The other was panel composition and subject focus.  Showing the different members of the crew in varying states of readiness rather than simply following the protagonist, Catfoot, around, bought me a little bit of extra reader attention during these expository battle preparations… at least, I hope it did.

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