At the moment I work with an incredible artist names Frantz Kantor — and have no idea how he creates half of what he does, like this video teaser for 'Magpie'.
It doesn't help that I'm unable to peer over his shoulder while he works.
Frantz lives in my old hometown Melbourne, while I reside in Tokyo. So we've never met and do everything via email.
Yet we get on like a house on fire, probably because we grew up with similar influences, a lot of them obscure, and I already loved the man's art more than 20 years ago.
Typically, our creative process goes something like this – which relates to the development of a new character for #5:
ANDREZ: How about we do a Hello Kitty rip?
FRANTZ: Hello Kitty can be a menacing idea with a deadpan expression.
ANDREZ: Hah. I love the deadpan expression. You know the Japanese name for Hello Kitty is Kitty-chan, right? We could call her Hitty-chan, an anthropomorphic character tiny in size like Rocket Raccoon, but with big fists…
FRANTZ: Hah! I like it.
ANDREZ: She's in, then! ;) Which animal? Australian, I guess, since it's Oi Oi Oi! A possum? We could make possum pie jokes.
FRANTZ: There could be references to both Granny Clampett's possum pie and Dame Edna's "Hello, possums."
ANDREZ: Ha-Ha-Ha… Oh god… YEAH!!!
As you can see, high-brow stuff.
But with 'Magpie' we've been allowed to go crazy concept-wise, involving word-play as much as art, and after #1 (we're now working on #5) I was already bouncing off Frantz's artwork as I nutted out scripts.
Humour plays first position, but a brewing drama undercuts that.
We've already thrown in references to the Terminator movies, film noir, 'Fantastic Voyage', 'Ghost in the Shell', M.C. Escher, Wally Wood in his 'MAD' magazine days, Roy Thomas, media manipulation, and Russ Manning.
Personally, I'm having a blast — while one day I'll find out exactly how Frantz does create these wild, three-dimensional images. Every page he produces and attaches to an email to cross the Pacific via digital means… Well, each single one blows my brain.
And don't let the character's somewhat skimpy costume fool you.
Magpie's a scrapper as much in the mold of Wolverine as she is Black Canary – and 'The Incredibles' this ain't.
'Magpie' #1 hits newsstands on February 15, but only in print in Australia, inside a quarterly comic book anthology zine called 'Oi Oi Oi!'.