Back in year 2000, a new name made some waves on the comics scene: Christian Gossett.
Gossett had already bounced through Dark Horse and DC, drawing a few books here and there, but with the new millennium, he arrived with a newly minted reputation as “the guy who designed Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber” and a new comic he created—The Red Star.
The Red Star presented an alternate, through-the-looking glass history of the Soviet Union mixed with magic, and featured graphics and a 3D sensibility often tried in comics, but rarely pulled off to satisfaction. The Red Star satisfied, garnering both strong sales and award recognition.
Gossett published four Red Star storyarcs from 2000-2009…then pretty much fell off the comics map. So where’s he been?
The short answer is he’s gone Hollywood—by way of New Zealand and Bulgaria.
Gossett was tapped by Peter Jackson and Weta Workshop to be one of the special effects artists on Jackson’s 2005 King Kong movie. He later ran a team of designers for Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland flick. Along the way, he got deeper in the film business, writing and directing his first short film, Only Child, in 2011. That film played major festivals around the world, and won a major award for the cinematographer, James Takata.
Gossett then dove into a deeply personal project, 2014’s Farewell My King, an almost-autobiographical short film about the day his father died. The film contained a touching scene in which the main character pulled out a pencil and paper and did a drawing of his father right after he passed away, just like Gossett himself did in real life.
“When I realized I'd never see him again, I had this overwhelming urge to draw him, just as he was,” Gossett says today. “My father was a professional actor from the ’60s to the ’80s, and in the repose of death, he looked like he was on stage giving a speech. I had to draw it. It is still my favorite life drawing I've ever done. It was only after that I learned about ‘deathbed portraits.’ I'd never heard of them before, but I definitely understood why they were once a tradition.”
As Gossett was building a film career, The Red Star soldiered on as a video game, where it still enjoys a devoted following on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. And Gossett has turned to passing along his knowledge in all the art fields he knows.
“I teach at Studio Arts, an amazing ‘professional’s school’ near downtown L.A.,” he says. “Most of the student body are working industry professionals of all ages who are extremely talented and accomplished in their departments. Some are staying current in the technology their trade demands, or acquiring skills with new software, everything from ZBrush to Cinema4D to Storyboard Pro to good ol' Photoshop.”
Gossett teaches concept design, graphic novel creation, and story development. And he gets a great mix of students.
“I've had some real legends in my classes and it has been humbling to see how committed they are to life-long learning,” he says. “Meeting young pros is a blast too, as it’s so easy to forget all of the things you learn along the way. Teaching, and passing on that knowledge is the best way I've learned to keep it alive in my own work.”
All of Gossett’s Red Star stories are currently in print, collected by IDW. And with the launch of a new TV series, Gossett has a new gig as well, storyboarding and directing Pandora, a new sci-fi series on the CW Network, shooting in Bulgaria.
“I'm having an amazing time,” Gossett says. “It honestly reminds me of my early days at Dark Horse Comics, but instead of directing with a pencil and drawing an issue into existence, I'm directing brilliant, talented people whose contributions fill the screen and bring the episode to life.”
His collaborators are enjoying the experience as well, including Mark Altman, the creator/writer/executive producer of Pandora.
“We’ve been lucky to have a really great group of directors, but one of my favorites is Christian Gossett,” Altman says. “Although he doesn't have a ton of directing experience, we knew from his brilliant comic book work and experience as a concept designer for Weta and James Cameron that he thinks visually and would bring a unique perspective to the show and we weren't disappointed. He marries a brilliant eye with an avuncular disposition which allows him to work really well with actors and crew who love him.”
Priscilla Quintana, the lead Pandora actress who plays Jax, will testify.
“Chris is one of the best directors we’ve had, by far,” Quintana says. “He is so in tune with what the actor wants, and he’s a technical expert at the same time. He’s able to say just one word sometimes that will change your perspective on the whole scene. I can’t sing his praises enough. I hope to keep working with him in the future. He’s just a good human being. He’s a good drinking buddy! He’s fun!”
Gossett is directing at least two episodes of Pandora, and also running the splinter crew that’s shooting additional establishing and coverage shots around Sofia, Bulgaria. When that job is done? It could be anything. But it’s likely back into comics.
“I drew a Spider-Man commission for a friend and was really happy with it,” Gossett says. “It inspired the realization in me that I'd never really shown the comics business that I can draw things other than Star Wars and my own stuff. So I'll be doing some select comic shows, having a blast selling original drawings of the world's most beloved characters, or at least the ones I've figured out how to draw, anyway.”
In all, it’s a good life, come full circle.
“Having been a fan of Arrow and Flash for years, it's really fun to get a chance to work for the CW Network and tell the kinds of stories they tell: romantic, heroic stories with big characters like those one finds in graphic novels,” Gossett says. “It's been a great fit.”