Veteran Artist Calero Brings REPO MEN To (Motion) Comics

Get into REPO MEN w/ Palmiotti

Repo Men hits theaters this weekend, on March 19, 2010, but intrigued fans can get a taste of the story telling they have in store now with a free motion comic. The comic, commissioned by director Miguel Sapochnik, gives a sneak look at Jude Law's character, Remy, courtesy of two comic book veterans. Jimmy Palmiotti wrote the script, and Dennis Calero provided the art for the two part project, but in a bit of a non-traditional working fashion.

"Jimmy and I weren't aware of each other on this project, which as far as he's concerned is probably the best way of working with me," Calero joked in a phone interview. "He wrote the script ahead of time," he explained, and the back-and-forth that Calero usually has with his collaborators was instead had with Sapochnik.

Calero was pulled in a while after Palmiotti had written the script in a traditional comic style. After Sapochnik picked his art from a group of artists shown to him by Double Barrel Studios producer Jeff Krelitz, the director worked with the artist on how to tweak the script and panel descriptions to fit the unique medium, and decided to direct these shorts himself.

"The animation is limited, which can change the way we have to interpret the writing. You don't have the limitation of a static picture, but not the freedom of full animation," Calero said.

He also gave a lot of credit to Sapochnik on helping him draw specifically for this style.

"My thinking had become very static, and I had to remind myself I can start on this image down low, zoomed in, then move up and out to go into the scene." At the same time, the director didn't want the art to move for motion's sake. "There was a constant concern from Miguel that the camera's movement say something. He has a lot more idea of how to do this cinematically, and I learned a lot from him."

Calero enjoyed doing the comic and said hearing Jude Law's voice come out of his drawings was odd, but made sense for the story, using his likeness.

"When you're drawing batman, you have the costume, you have to draw batman. This guy's costume is just his beautiful face. My wife was thrilled to have all these drawings and pictures of Jude Law around, too," Calero said with a laugh.

As for motion comics' future, Calero didn't want to speculate too much, acknowledging that while free promotional videos like this get millions of views, "and I love having my work in front of that many people!" the paid model has yet to pan out in a big way for the medium. He would, however, like to try out more animation, and is in the midst of making that dream come true.

"I'm working with a writer whose name you'd recognize, and we're looking at doing a short film with some cool full-form animation techniques," Calero teased. "Animation for adults hasn't been explored that much in the U.S. outside of comedy.  It's a shame that it's 2010 and you can't find one cartoon on American TV that looks as good or better than the Fleischer Superman cartoons from the 1930s. It's been almost a century, and no one has figured out how to do it better."

As for Repo Men itself? Calero still hasn't gotten to see the whole thing, but saw portions of it during the editing process for reference.

"I've seen about a third of the movie, and I'm thrilled that I really liked it, and didn't work on something that really sucked."

Repo Men hits theaters Mar 19, 2010. The first chapter of the motion comic can be seen below, chapter two will premiere soon.

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