Monday, January 3, 2011

Kicking Back with David Lloyd at STGCC - part 1

It probably came with that typical Asian cultural sentiment of Respect for a more experienced older person. But when Red Dot Diva was given a rare chance to meet veteran artist/ comic creator, 60-year-old David Lloyd, she couldn't say no!

Being an ardent movie-goer, Red Dot Diva was familiar with the "V For Vendetta" film that was, more or less, based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. And therefore, she was very eager to meet David in person.

David was here in Red Dot Island as a Special Guest for GnB Comics, and he was also making special appearances at STGCC 2010, together with the other popular comic creators from Marvel and DC.

The night that Red Dot Diva met David at GnB's store, the members' crowd was already buzzing with excitement. It was also the pre-convention launch for the special hardcover edition "The Absolute V for Vendetta" as well as "Kickback".

And not only was David there, other cool comic creators were unexpectedly present too! Towards the back of the shop, artist Harvey Tolibao was set up in at a corner, across the Gilamon Studio folks - Tan Eng Huat, Chin Sau Lim and "Lefty". Then, there were the two Phils - Phil Yeh and Phil Ortiz, artist Leinil Yu, and DC's Ivan Brandon with his pretty wife. WHOA!

When Red Dot Diva arrived, David was already sketching and signing autographs for the patient, orderly queue. With a bottle of wine and half-filled wine glass next to him, he seemed nicely settled for the night as key guest of the event.

Although, looking a little jet-lagged tired, the still gentlemanly-charming David was friendly with his fans and looked comfortable doing his sketches of "V" for the seemingly endless autograph line.

When it was her turn, David mistakenly wrote her name wrongly when personalizing his autograph on her hardcover, and so-apologetically corrected it when she told him about it. Red Dot Diva then leaned close to take that momentous fan-pic with David. The crowd of fans present that night had been mainly testosteronal, so perhaps that could be one of the reasons David might have remembered her later. Red Dot Diva could never be quite sure. ;)

With David's already packed Red Dot Island-schedule, Red Dot Diva was unable to interview him during that pre-convention event. No worries. She had left her questions to the GnB folks so that he could answer them later on.

So, it was to her surprise that on the 2nd day of STGCC, after an epic hang-loose chat session with Matt Fraction (*nom nom nom*), Red Dot Diva was filing out of the guest lounge to take more exhibit hall pics, when she saw David enter the room for a breather.

Leonard, David's minder from GnB, quickly offered David's time for her special one-on-one interview. Despite feeling a tad guilty for taking up his rest time, Red Dot Diva grabbed the chance. Red Dot Diva can be such a kind-hearted sap for a media person. #EvilPushyMediaFail!!

Approaching David cautiously who, coincidentally, was settled in the very same sofa that Matt had sat earlier on, Red Dot Diva introduced herself again and told him that she was given some time to interview him. Thankfully, David recognized her from that previous night and despite him looking quite tired, he gave her a smile with eyes that twinkled. Inwardly, she sighed with relief and began the interview.

After asking her first question, David's answer came through in that unmistakable, crisp British accent. This was despite the clamouring din outside the guest lounge. After talking to many American comic creators that day, his cadence was like music to her ears!

Red Dot Diva: Your name has entered more into the pop-culture realm with the movie adaptation of “V For Vendetta”. When it was first green-lighted, were you worried that the movie might not meet up to your original artistic visions?
David: The movie had a long genesis as a product. There were two screenplays done before the final one that was approved and went into production. That was the one written by Larry and Andy Wachowski, and it was much closer to the original source than the final film. But that never got made. They made "The Matrix" and became very popular and powerful in their own right.

After that, there was a gap of time and then I heard from the internet that the project was back on and Larry and Andy was involved with it again, and were now the producers. As it turned out, when they sent me the screenplay, they had made more changes to it than the earlier one.

But to answer your question as to whether I was concerned when I heard it was going to be made a film... No - because they were involved with it. When I read the script, I could see it could make a good movie. It would of course had been better if they had used the original screenplay.

If you sell something to Hollywood and film-makers, they have their own agenda and they need to add something to it. So I expected that. If the film was a betrayal to the original, that would have been different. But it wasn't. The central core of the original, the Valerie sequence is the core of it. And what it says is the core of it.

So I was very happy, and I went to support it as much as I could. I was at the press junkets and all the interviews to help support it. And I'm still happy with the result of it, because despite of its shortcomings, it still managed to reach to many people across the world. A lot of people saw the movie and from what I was aware of, it has introduced a lot of people to the graphic novel even though they have never read graphic novels.

Red Dot Diva admitted she was kinda like one of "those people". David beamed and said, "Well, there you go!"

Red Dot Diva: While getting involved and promoting the film, did you learn anything interesting or relevant regarding a comic-to-movie production?
David: It doesn't matter how perfect the original source material is, the movies have a need to change it in some ways at least. And there's also a genuine necessity for it to change. Because the audience is completely different, and it would also depends if it's on a budget. Spending alot of money... you'd have to get that back. So, I understand all these considerations. Those things have to put in the mix.

But at the end of the day, all you hope for and all you really expect from the producer of the movies to do with any source material - make sure it's good. And at least, in a number of instances, it is not. And that's unforgivable.

I think Alan (Moore)'s reaction to the film - which is completely different from mine - may have well been coloured by his bad experiences. I mean, the "From Hell" movie was a terrible result from its original material. And "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" was a terrible film, and should have been better. People made the wrong judgements of what to do with the adaption.

With that very interesting backstory about the comic to film adaptation of "V for Vendetta", Red Dot Diva decided to indulge David by talking about his own crime-noir graphic novel, "Kickback".

Red Dot Diva: Was it tough to handle the writing and the drawing at the same time?
David: No. The only reason why I haven't done it more in my career because it is very difficult to make the time to do that.

In this business, I have been lucky, I've never really been short of work because people like what I do illustrating other people's scripts. So when you do that, that's how you pay your bills, then that's what you tend to do.

Because if you take a step back and try to develop your own projects, there's quite a risk. I've been asked to do some short stories - not many, just a few. But I did want to do something more substantial.

There was one of those periods when the phone wasn't ringing, and you just have to decide that you'd have to pick up the phone and see if you can get a job. Or, say, 'oh, this is an ideal opportunity for me to take that step back and spend the summer writing my book.'

So I did that, but then the phone started to ring again. I couldn't progress further with my script for a couple of years. Then I said I had to do this now and decided to really make an effort, which I did. And then I sold it to France initially rather than America.

Red Dot Diva thought that it was interesting that France was the first country to have "Kickback" published, so she asked David if it had been a hindrance to get the publishing/ distributing contract because he was more well-known as an artist.

Shaking his head, David firmly replied, "No. It had nothing to do with that. I didn't even try to sell it to America. Or England, where I live. I didn't try to sell it to America, because crime wasn't important to American comics at that time. There was only "Sin City", that was it.

As you know very well, the central core of the American comic market is the superheroes. Anything else is like a risk. At that time, at least.

But in France, where there's a massive range of subject matter in comics, and they like crime, and they knew me because "V for Vendetta" was very successful there, I decided to sell it there. And I successfully sold it there.

And then I sold it afterwards to America and Dark Horse... and now, I've sold it around the world now."

Red Dot Diva: How would you feel if somebody was to offer you to adapt “Kickback” as a movie?
David: Absolutely fine. No problem!

Red Dot Diva: Would you want a stronger say in the "Kickback" film adaptation compared to "V for Vendetta".
David nodded slowly and said, "Yeah... I would want to try to do that. I think it depends who you are going to be working with.

There has been some interest in doing that actually. Dark Horse has tried to initiate some interest. John Dahl, the American director, was interested. But Hollywood as it is, ideas come and they dissipate.

Dark Horse's option finishes in August next year and so, I am gonna try to run with the ball myself. Dark Horse currently has the movie option. When that contract ends, then I'll do it myself because my style is quite cinematic so it wouldn't be too much trouble to translate it into film."

With non-superhero comic genres gaining popularity with a non-conventional type of reader, like Red Dot Diva herself, it came as no surprise that "Kickback" was selling awfully well during STGCC weekend.

Red Dot Diva hopes to also get a copy of "Kickback" for herself some time soon!!


As part of his busy Red Dot Island weekend, David did an interview with main cable news channel, Channel News Asia's. CLICK HERE for the interview video from "Prime Time Morning"!

Look out for part 2 of the Red Dot Diva interview with David Lloyd where she asked him about his artistic style, his take on comics in the digital age and what he thought of Red Dot Island.

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