“The aim was to bring an innovative way to read and contemplate a comic!” Diego Escalada reveals the secrets of Expanded Comics’ Dark Pulsar
With cutting edge motion graphics and animated panels that see pages explode into life, Expanded Comics new series Dark Pulsar is one of the most exciting and dynamic new digital comics we have seen in ages! With so many innovations on show we caught up with Director Diego Escalada to find out more about the secrets of the Dark Pulsar!
Dark Pulsar is an exciting mix of comics, motion graphics and animation, can you tell us what you were hoping to achieve when you started work on this? Were you aiming to reinvent comics?
DE: My idea with Expanded Comics was to reinvent comics. The aim was to bring an innovative way to read and contemplate a comic. When I say reinvent, I don’t mean that traditional comics or motion comics will ever disappear or change, but I think they will co-exist with these new comics.
Expanded Comics is based on traditional comics, I love comics and I admire so many comics’ artists. The concept is also a result of so many good moments and experiences spent reading, enjoying comics and watching movies during my life. The meaning of ‘Expanded’ is attributed to the idea of expanding the experience of reading a comic. Bringing new artistic resources without losing the sense of contemplation one page or particular picture can provide us, for as long as we desire. To me, this is one of the big pleasures of reading a comic… the time to read and to admire a drawing.
While in animated movies or motion graphics, each scene is in continuous movement and it is the edition and the director who guide us through the action and timing of the story.
Can you tell us a bit about the team involved and how you all came together on this project? And your backgrounds in comic or graphics etc.?
DE: I directed a team integrated by illustrators, sculptors, maquette artists, 2D and 3D artists, musicians and composers, sound editors, iOS developers, translators (5 languages, English, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese). There are around 30 professionals behind this project.
I am an illustrator and direct an art studio called 7th Art Studio. For 14 years now, we’ve been working for clients such as advertising agencies, studios and tv channels. The team I gathered for Expanded Comics have been working with me in different projects in my studio.
Regarding my background, I’ve started working as an illustrator and have incorporated new media in my work, such as animation 2D, 3D, sculpture, storyboards, illustration, concept art, motion graphics and so on.
Besides my studio, I also have an art school called Art Land. Together with artist Karina Carrescia, we direct a programme which includes illustration and visual arts.
Can you tell us a bit about some of your inspirations?
DE: Steven Spielberg’s film Minority Report has been of great inspiration to me. There is a particular scene where Tom Cruise is in a train and a sitting person is reading a journal with an animated image of Tom Cruise. At that time, I thought how amazing it would be if we could ever have animated magazines. Back in 2002, I would’ve never imagined I’d be developing the concept in the real world.
Peter Jackson was another source of inspiration. With passion and enthusiasm, he’s used all the digital media and practical resources in his hand to fulfil The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I admire the fact that he has used all the possible resources to achieve an idea.
You use animation in a really confident way, which we’ve never seen before, using quite long clips that then seem to settle in to loops rather than just have elements move into position on the screen, was that always part of the plan to make Expanded Comics different?
DE: Besides the animation used in the comic, the purpose of the project was focused on creating a concept using all the media to fulfil an innovative result and mainly, make it happen as a product in the real world. Each area demanded a huge development, for example the animation, music or programming areas. Science studies have demonstrated how internet and media are changing our brain capacities, and how we are now able to process information while carrying out tasks at the same time.
In my opinion our mind is becoming more and more used to processing many animated images at a time. This could have probably caused confusion some time ago, but nowadays it is totally natural. I find it an amazing hypnotic effect, and with the expanded comics we play and focus on this concept and idea.
Were there any particular challenges in terms of work flow when it came to creating the pages? Did you plan them out in a traditional comics ways (script, thumbnails etc.) or did you base the story around what you could achieve visually and then work a story around that?
DE: The original concept was a smaller production. But, as the project was moving forward and more animation and movement was involved, the more interesting the result was. Although this meant a full challenge, I wanted to keep the concept of a comic since we were not animating a movie.
I tried to create the same sense impression as when contemplating a traditional comic and let the reader observe details for as long as he desires. My idea was to obtain this same sensation but through animation.
It was also important to follow the narration as a in traditional comic, but adding the continuous movement. Since it was a huge development, the combination of all the elements was a real programming challenge.
The appearence of the iPad was a key for this project, it provided us the right hardware to run the app. The development of the comic started just a year before the Ipad appeared.
I worked with the script first and I based myself on the art-deco style for the conceptual designs. Another inspiration was the Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis. I’ve planned the pre-production as if it was a film, and then organized each specific area and tasks.
To create a new concept is both increadible and difficult at the same time! Since it is new, there are no rules to follow, everything is to be settled. It is such a pleasant and fun feeling! But when problems are to be resolved, there are no manuals to look up to… It is a very intense and creative process.
How important was sound to the way you built the story? And how important do you think it is for digital/motion comics?
DE: Sound and music are very important because they provide depth and emotion to the image. With Maxi Votta, we’ve worked the score as leitmotives/melodies for diverse moments in the story. For example, there is a special melody for number 7, which maintains a mystical tone, and an epic melody for Dark Pulsar. For the first 3 chapters there is more than 1 hour of music composed in an original way.
How do you classify yourself – a digital comic? Motion comic? Or something completely different?
DE: Motion and animated comics exist for a long time now, but I think that Expanded Comics is a new concept. Through animation we intend to recreate the feeling of reading in a continuous way and with no cuts, as in a traditional comic.
Did you look at other motion comics platforms for inspirations? If so which ones do you rate or recommend and what did you learn in terms of pros and cons from each?
DE: We did not look at other formats as an inspiration for the project.
What’s the ongoing plan for Expanded Comics? More Dark Pulsar stories? Different characters? Or just keep plugging away with these first issues?
DE: Expanded Comics can continue growing. I have so many ideas to develop yet, this is only the beginning…
The story of Dark Pulsar evolves gradually in intense, action and science fiction with some metaphysics flashes. Chapter 1 intruduces us to the Epsilon world and tells about the mystic mysteries around number 7. Chapter 2 is a full action chapter! And in Chapter 3 we’ll get to know more about a dark force coming to the world, and we’ll discover deep secrets Dark Pulsar hides.
Shortly, chapter 3 will come out, and we are currently developing chapter 4. The full script is a saga of 3 books narrated in 10/12 chapters each. But to be able to make it real, we will need the public support. We also have another comic outlines of differents genre under development: The Golden Flame (Fantasy), Enigma Buenos Aires (Science Fiction) and The Strangers (Terror).
Besides my own creations and projects I am open to create alliances and develop comics for other companies and stablished franchises. I would be thrilled to develop expanded comics for film franchises! We are in an era where comics become great movies, and would love to enjoy new stories about forgotten characters that still remain in our memory.