Monday, December 20, 2010

Karl Altstaetter Slices and Dices Samurai

It's been my pleasure to work on Samurai The Graphic Novel with so many talented artists. This project has been a labor of love and it shows in the final product. Here is a short interview on the creative side of my experience of working on STGN.
You can pre-order Samurai The Graphic Novel here: Samurai Pre-Order

Karl Altstaetter
Samurai The Graphic Novel

In two sentences what is your STGN about?

SAVED is about a ninja who's village is destroyed by a Samurai clan. He spends his life looking for revenge only to find a dark secret that will test his belief in his very existence.

Where did your STGN story come from? What were your trying to achieve with the art?
SAVED was a story I had written a couple of years ago. Originally it was going to be part of a Graphic Novel that was going to combine some of my short stories I've written and drawn. It was going to include Postal: A Homicidal Love Story, Survival Instinct as well as the story GO 2 HELL. I like telling short stories because you have to get down to business quickly and be efficient with your storytelling. That keeps the energy going and I find that keeps me motivated creatively. As an aside I went pretty far with an idea called Samurai Billy. A Rockabilly Samurai story that never fully formed. Samurai Billy will be making a comeback in STGN Book 2 with Jamie Gambell taking over the idea and writing it.

What was your experience like working on Samurai The Graphic Novel. Was it a challenge?

STGN was interesting for me because I was editing the book. I had to jump start the idea and keep it moving as well as set up the structure for it to work. Although I've self published many of my own Comics it's totally different working with other artists with differing levels of experience with publishing. In the end it was great seeing all this diverse work coming in and all in one place in print. I think the biggest challenge is getting other artists to believe in and join your vision. In the end we have created a really unique and diverse comic experience which in today's Comic Book market is saying a lot. The great part is that book 2 and 3 are going to be even better quality. I also have to mention Jamie Gambell for his work on helping with the logistics of the book. He really came through on the project. Also Gerimi Burleigh lent his considerable talent to the graphic design of the book. Without those two helping on the editorial side it would have been an almost impossible task. From the Hyperwerks side my business partner Jamie Douraghy helped fund the book and has shown a great deal of faith in the project from the very beginning. Also Rex Mong for helping coordinate the printing in China. Rex's eye for detail and follow through has made the printing process a breeze.

What was your process for creating your story for STGN? Describe it step by step.
I had written some notes on SAVED and from those notes I made a loose treatment. I started doing layouts based on the treatment and revised those over a few months based on new ideas that were coming to me as I worked on other projects. I invited Jamie Gambell into the creative process and we had a discussion about the story and then I started the pencils and inks. I started coloring the story and eventually I turned the coloring over to one of my frequent collaborators the artist EVE. He jumped in and took the colors to whole other level and made the story really shine and have a distinct look. Jamie and I started the scripting process and I lettered the book.

In one word what best describes your style?

How many years have you been creating art?
I've been creating art since I was a kid but professionally for almost 20 years.

What's your biggest influence artistically/story wise?
I have so many influences artistically that it's hard to pinpoint just one. Story wise Satoshi Kon and his style of storytelling has had a big influence on me. His death was a great loss to the creative community. 

Why do you think the idea and iconography of the Samurai resonate with the imagination?

On a visual level the Samurai has a silhouette that is so recognizable that it stirs preconceived idea in our minds. The Samurai as a visual icon transcends cultures like the Cowboy or the Super Hero. The Samurai imagery is so ingrained into our popular culture that it's easy to project yourself onto that iconography and that is a huge trigger for the imagination.

If you were a Samurai what part of Bushido (The Samurai code) best describes you. Pick two: loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, honoring your elders/ancestors, and self-sacrifice.
I would have to say loyalty. I think maybe I'm loyal to a fault.

The sword was the main weapon of the Samurai. What is your weapon of choice when it comes to art?My weapon of choice is the Micron Pen. I burn through these fantastic little pens like crazy.

What do you hope readers will get out of your story in Samurai?
I hope the emotion resonates with the readers. That's my hope with all my stories but SAVED in particular needs that audience emotional participation to work.

What are your latest projects or projects you are going to be working on in the future?My latest project is called Me2 which I am collaborating with MTV and their new site MTV Geek this coming year. You can read about it here. Me2 Interview on MTV

I'm also developing a new toy/TV show with a major toy company. I can't talk about that in detail but more news on that soon.  

I'll be finishing up my mini series Emerald City Blues which is my take on the world of The Wizard of Oz. Issue #3 is almost done. You can read more about it here: ECB Book 01

I also recently finished book four of Rostam Tales of the Shahnameh. It's a Comic Book re-imagining of the classic poems and stories of the Persian poet Ferdowsi. It's been an amazing project to work on and one I'm very proud of. It reaches out to readers that don't normally read Comic Books and introduces people who don't know about this aspect of Persian culture a unique and entertaining introduction to it. You can find more about it here: Rostam Tales of the Shahnameh site