LEGENDARY TALESPINNERS #1 "Director's Commentary"

First Look: LEGENDARY TALESPINNERS #1

Welcome to the Legendary Talespinners #1 “directors’ commentary.”  Everyone likes to get an exclusive look into what makes a book special.  Nothing can enhance your enjoyment of a good story like knowing what went into creating it from idea to execution.  What were the creators’ original visions, how much input did the artists have for the overall look of the book, and were there any strange things that happened during production?  There is no better way to really get the whole story of a new comic book than by hearing what the creative team has to say about how it all came together.  Some of the behind the scenes information is hilarious and some is tragic, but all of it is interesting and contributes to our enjoyment of the concept.  

All of us involved with Legendary Talespinners were very excited about having a chance to work on a project that stretched our limits and allowed us to explore new genres.  We’ve built a history on horror stories over the past few years and have enjoyed every minute of it.  LT didn’t fit into that straight up genre, but when there is a good story to tell it will find the right outlet.  And thanks to the editorial staff at Dynamite Entertainment, we were given the opportunity to stretch our wings and bring the world of stories and tall tales to life in comics.  There has been a great outpouring of interest from fans, retailers, and librarians in the slightly twisted but rich world of fantasy that we’ve developed but the most outspoken folks have been those that identify with the main theme of imagination.  At its core, Legendary Talespinners is about the importance of creativity, imagination, and belief in the fantastic elements of life.  It is a testament to the joy of childhood and that inside everyone that youthful spark of creative magic never dies, it just gets hidden away until something re-ignites it.  We hope that Legendary Talespinners is the catalyst to re-ignite the spark for kids and adults alike and that you leave this series with a sense of wonder about the world and your life.  

Grab a copy of the Legendary Talespinners #1 comic and join our unique look at the power of imagination and the belief in the fantastic.  Close your eyes, open you mind, and let your imagination soar!      

And now…Legendary Talespinners #1, the Directors’ Cut…

Covers:

James Kuhoric: What can I say about the amazing covers Nick Bradshaw and Grant Bond put together for the launch of Legendary Talespinners #1?  Both artists understood exactly what the story called for and came up with beautiful works that pay homage to the modern dark fairytale we are spinning and the classic adventures of Baron Munchausen.  Nick Bradshaw has long been one of my favorite illustrators.  Even to this day I consider his work on Army of Darkness to be some of my favorite from that license.  Nick has a way of really getting to the root of a concept and expressing it through his art.  He was the perfect choice for a collaborator to create covers and art direct the series.  There is no one in the industry that I trust more to capture the essence of a book through incredibly detailed cover work.  We decided together to have his covers each be in homage to the original adventures of Baron Munchausen as he drags Abby along through his tales.  This first cover is one of the best known of the Baron’s adventures as he rides on a cannonball to escape the clutches of the “Modern Mother Goose”.  And hey…it has flying monkeys, I mean who doesn’t like flying monkeys?  

The guys at Dynamite Entertainment did a great job designing the Legendary Talespinners logo and cover treatment.  Thanks to them, Nick’s cover looks even more like a classic storybook than we could have hoped for.  

Grant Bond was my first choice for the interior artist on this project.  I’ve been a fan of his work for years and was really moved by his interpretation of Clockwork Girl from Arcana.  The animation style and incredible expressiveness of his characters was exactly what I was looking for in Legendary Talespinners.  Grant’s cover is a classic storybook image that does a great job of introducing the main players.  I especially like the “battle armor” he created for Baron Munchausen.  It made perfect sense that the Baron would have a suit crafted for battle in defending the stories he spins life into.  The original art Grant created for this first issue had an image of Mother Goose over top the characters and zombie fairytales.  We’ll be running those illustrations as extras in the collected edition later this year.          

Pg 1 – 3    

Kuhoric:    I’ve always really enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s work.  Books like Stardust, Neverwhere, and American Gods are modern day fairytales that blend classic mythologies with modern storytelling.  When I started working on Legendary Talespinners I knew that I wanted the story to be in the same vein, being accessible to all audiences and paying homage to the world of fantasy that lives so vibrantly in his tales.  No one is in the same league as real life “legendary talespinners” like Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, but I hope folks can enjoy this homage to their fantastic works.         

Kuhoric:    Our story opens up in a dream.  We don’t know Abby yet, but we start to see what her childhood was like from the subconscious images of her past.  The simple joy of shared imaginative role-playing is a part of most children’s lives weather it is pretending to be pirates or princesses.  Abby was no exception to this, but as the story unfolds we see that dark and repressed memories from her past made her put away this imaginative play.  

Kuhoric:    This first sequence went through a lot of changes before it was finalized.  We wanted the dreams to stand out to the readers so that we could follow along as they went from innocent fantasy to nightmare over the course of the panels.  I asked Grant (Bond) if we could put a “fairytale” border around the panels as a way to signify the difference between the waking and dreaming sequences.  But I had a very special request…I didn’t want the standard “nursery room” type images that you see in classic fables.  I wanted the images to represent the fantasy world now as a decayed place where non-belief has caused treasured stories to become stark skeletal shadows of what they were.  He responded with these amazing individually hand drawn borders of exquisite and unique detail.  Take a few minutes just to go around the panels and identify the stories that are represented here in the fantasy vine-work.  I knew Grant was a great artist, but these are truly a treasure.

Pg 4 – 5

Kuhoric:    Waaaake  Uuuup!  With the nightmare over we get our first glimpse into Abby’s “real life” and meet her best friend (and bad influence) Tina Bean.  Believe it or not, Tina was the subject of a lot of debate.  But her exploits as a “gamer girl” are based on a few real life women I know who have embraced the way of the pixel as their religion.  Think of Tina as the girl who spends more time with friends online than face-to-face and you’ll be on the right track.  But that said, she does have one really good real world friend, and that’s our Abby.  

Kuhoric:    I enjoyed the little touches Grant put into this sequence.  Abby’s Bluetooth gamer headset to keep in touch with those online friends and the very Atari 2600 looking game she is playing are interesting additions.  I didn’t know you could play Space Invaders online.  

Kuhoric:    We do get a good look at who the girls are here.  Abby is all business and worried about being late for her work-study at the university hospital while Tina is much more concerned about sending the last alien invader packing from their hostile electronic attempt to take over the world.  Having been a professional in the business world for the last two decades, I’ve experienced both sides of this coin and honestly, Tina may be right about what is more important.  If it isn’t more important, it’s certainly more rewarding than “working for the man.”  But that is a story for another time…

Pg 6 – 7

Kuhoric:    Enter the villain!  Who is this creepy old woman and why is she talking to herself?  Well she isn’t actually talking to someone but some “thing” in the room, more on that later.  My favorite part of this sequence is the tome our mystery woman is reading.  It’s an ancient book of fairytales but there is something very wrong about it.  Is that a zombified Little Red Riding Hood with the word “fearlessness” above her and a very creepily rotted Pinocchio with the word “naivety” over him?  This tome is one of the “old books” that were kept in the time of fantasy.  It illustrates the tale and the power that particular story held.  But the decayed state of the characters tells you something about what has happened to these time honored stories.  

Pg 8 – 10

Kuhoric:    Ever had to punch the clock at work?  This first scene of Abby and Tina at the Pan Tosis Medical University is directly inspired from real life.  And trust me…no one wants to get a present from the “bedpan fairy.”                

Kuhoric:    Enter our hero?  Karl Munnikhouson believes he is Baron Munchausen?  But isn’t the Baron just another fantasy character from a bunch of old stories?  Maybe, maybe not…  But what isn’t a fantasy is how some people in the medical field treat patients with delusional problems.  This interaction is fun as Karl comes into the story as a feisty elderly man with colorful stories and language.  He’s seen as a bit of a loon but after a lifetime of telling stories it seems like maybe this fellow is one fable short of a storybook.  

Kuhoric:    I’d be remiss in not stating what a huge influence Terry Gilliam has been on me as a fan of film.  His theatrical version of Baron Munchausen’s stories is one of my favorite movies and (in my opinion) one of his best films.  Most of the movie is brilliantly brought to life from the classic tales captured by Erich Raspe and Gustave Dore’.  Over the years since Munchausen debuted I’ve compiled quite a collection of original printings of the tall tales.  One thing that is universal in all of them is the amazing illustrative work created to express the Baron’s many fanciful tales.  If you enjoyed the movie or Legendary Talespinners, I encourage you to do some research on the Baron’s original tales and enjoy some very creative books.  

Kuhoric:    Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Stihl are a great team.  Do they seem familiar?  Keep watching and all will be revealed.

Pg 11 – 12

Kuhoric:    We’re back in Abby’s dreams again getting a little more of the picture from her childhood.  She loved fantastic stories and had a rich imagination as a child.  And as a grown up Abby watches her younger self listen to the story of “Abby in Wonderland” on her grandfather’s knee, she starts to get some unconscious insight into the adventure to come.  But just as things get interesting, the specter of her mother’s stringent influence screams back into the picture.  Why does she want Abby to “grow up” so badly…?

Kuhoric:    This is our second look at the beautiful and haunting dream borders that Grant drew for the series.  The detail on the borders is amazing with intricate skeletal designs and dreamy vine weaving through the stories playing out around the panels.  Once again, Grant outdid himself with this great work.

Pg 13

Kuhoric:    Back in the waking world we get a look at the relationship between Abby and Tina.  They are more than roommates, they’re best friends and the two girls support each other wholeheartedly.  The relationships and characters in the book had to be realistic for it to be genuine.  I wanted everyone to really “know” Abby and her friends so that the transformation from “all business” to “adventurer” meant something.  The real story of Legendary Talespinners is about the journey not the destination.  

Pg 14

Kuhoric:    Grant and I talked for a long while about the signs that fable-folk have in the real world to give the observant a clue about their true origins.  We decided that one of the main clues was the shadow they cast.  Just like in Peter Pan, the shadow is more than just a silhouette created by a light source.  It’s a reflection of the character’s real nature and you can see that Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Stihl are more than they appear to be.  

Kuhoric:    I really enjoy the interactions between “mother” and her henchmen.  These two are clearly ruthless killers but they almost seem afraid of this frail old woman.  We’ll soon find out who mother is and why she is feared by everyone in the fantasy world.

Kuhoric:    There you have it, the villains are looking for the Legendary Talespinners and it appears that Baron “the Liar” Munchausen is the one they found.  But who is the “Dreamer” that is with him?

Pg 15 – 18

Kuhoric:    This is a great sequence as we get to know Abby, her friends, and Karl better.  I especially enjoyed the “Three Stooges” inspired eye poke to ward off the Angel of Death.  Karl is starting to really like Abby in spite of himself.  He sees her potential buried inside to be a storyteller just like him.  But Abby isn’t able to see the truth in his observations because of her past.  When her mother told her to “grow up and put away her childish things,” Abby listened.  Her imagination has been locked away since she was a young child.  

Kuhoric:    By now some people may be asking how “Baron Munchausen” could possibly be alive since the historical source for the character lived over two hundred years ago.  I’ve always believed that a measure of immortality is attained by the repetition of stories through the ages.  The people (real and imagined) in them are alive as long as others continue to pass the stories from generation to generation.  That is one of the things that inspired the world of Legendary Talespinners.  As long as some people still believe in the stories the world of fairytales and fables is alive.  But the fewer people that believe the weaker the characters and creatures are.  

Kuhoric:    On some level, Abby really does believe in Karl’s stories, she just refuses to acknowledge it.  Little by little her defenses are being worn down.  Seeing Mr. Stihl and his wicked knives helps to chip away her reluctance to believe enough to get Karl out of his room and to the university library.  I loved the wheelchair race as she speeds through the halls of the hospital.  This is one of the scenes I can really see playing out in an animated feature.         

Pg 19 – 22

Kuhoric:    The final scene of the issue is the pivotal sequence of the first book.  Inside the library Abby and Karl find an ancient ornamental silver-backed mirror.  In our LT mythos, these old mirrors are the gateways to the fantasy world.  Finding the portal was the first step to entering the stories directly.  We get our first glimpse of Baron Munchausen in the reflection of the mirror while Karl makes his plea for Abby to believe.  

Kuhoric:    The showdown begins here as all the players are assembled in one place.  It is here we first find out the mysterious old woman is really Mother Goose.  All of our perceptions about Mother Goose being the protector and keeper of fairytales are shattered as we find out that time has twisted her into a wicked witch that feeds on the tales she once defended.  It seems like Abby’s journey may be at an end before it begins, until she spies the fantastic reflection of the Baron in the gateway mirror.  With a shred of belief in her heart she attempts to save her new friend from danger only to find herself at the end of a “Turkish assassin’s bullet.”  Why does that sound so familiar…?

Kuhoric:    The choice to drink the magic potion has been taken from Abby before she could chase the white haired Baron Munchausen down the rabbit hole.  But her belief, no matter how small, has opened the doorway to the adventure more than she realizes.  The next issue will reveal the truth of Karl’s stories and reveal the twisted state of the fantasy world.  

Kuhoric:     Join us next month in Legendary Talespinners #2 as we explore the fantasy world and face the fate of the characters who have already met the devastating fate Mother Goose inflicts.

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