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Red Moon Rising, First Phase: An Inter-Review

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This is an Inter-Review—a review and an interview in one!

Today we speak with soon-to-be wonder of the comic book world, David McAdoo.  His debut graphic novel Red Moona fantastic animal adventure epic focusing on a  young dog and his place inside a prophecy that speaks to an end of man’s world, as nature moves to reclaim her own—is set to debut in early 2009.

So…wait…that’s a little ways off.  What’s this Inter-Review about, then?  Well, in order to pave the way and bring readers lithely into this new world, McAdoo is offering three free 8-page online webcomic prequels.

Broken Frontier takes a look at the first.

Broken Frontier Review: It’s always hard getting old readers to notice a new title, especially from an unknown author.  There’s countless ways to go about it, but probably the easiest and most effective is also the simplest and most intuitive: free stuff.  Artist/writer David McAdoo and producer Steve Kozak figured this out well in advance, and so to their credit, and hopefully to the benefit of their upcoming graphic novel, they managed to put together some beautiful and worthwhile prequels, to capitalize on the time left before the book hits shelves this coming Spring.

A website is already up for the book, sporting flash animation, character bios, synopses, illustrations, a blog, contests, and the foremost topic of the hour: a free 8-page prequel. The first was posted this past June, with a second to follow in the Fall, and then a third and final in early 2009. There’s also a Myspace page, which posts and presents nearly everything on the website, so McAdoo and Kozak are off to a very fine start.

Now comes the big question: looking at the website, the Myspace page, and the prequel, does it all entice? Does it make me want more? More prequels? More extras? Does it make me want the graphic novel now, instead of later next year? Is it all good enough to inspire impatience?

Oh, my goodness: the answer is yes.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Welcome, David! So tell us, how long ago did you begin working on Red Moon? What was your initial inspiration for the book and was the idea to begin so much promotion so early on your own idea, or Steve’s, or both?

DAVID McADOO: Thanks for the inter-review! Red Moon really began some time in 2001, as a script for a full-length animated feature. I had written a few sci-fi scripts that I wasn’t too happy with, so I decided to write something that I really felt close to. My favorite animated films growing up were The Secret of Nimh, Watership Down, Rock’N’Rule, Heavy Metal, so I thought I’d put my own spin on a more adult interpretation of the talking animal genre. It was a long, heavy trip but I finally got a first draft finished some time in 2004, and I haven’t turned back.

I started doing promotion for Red Moon back then, when I figured I would just direct and  animate the whole film myself and even finished a minute and a half trailer for it, complete with music and titles. Computers are wonderful! As I started work on the second more refined trailer (and subsequent drafts of the script) that’s when my friend Steve Kozak got involved and steered the project towards the graphic novel incarnation. I had done some artwork for Steve on his Myspace project called Movie Battle Royale and I noticed how  good he was at marketing and taking an idea to just phenomenal levels. But he was the one that approached me with the idea of him producing the graphic novel and the whole business plan and marketing tactics. He’s obviously doing a fantastic job, since we're here doing this interview about the graphic novel and not my trailer for the film!

BF: On the subject of the prequels, what can we expect to see, subject matter-wise, in the first, second, and third?

DM: Well, my ideas for the prequels were just to fill in some history on the three main characters in the story while I finished the actual book. While writing the script, I came up with a lot of back story (as usually happens when writing) that didn’t really have to be in the book. I thought I could kill two birds with one stone (no, it’s too obvious!) and show the readers what the book will be like and make use of some trimmings. All three prequel stories will focus on incidents that are only touched on or implied in the final book. So the first one is some history on the antagonist, Krigg, and his flock leader, Alk. The second prequel will follow the supporting lead dog, Daeden, in his travels and the third will bring in the hero of Red Moon, a little black and white schnauzer, Mox.

BF Review: The first 8-page prequel story is titled “One Must Fall”, and features a brutal and battle-scarred raven named Krigg. Here we see that Krigg is, true to nature, a member of a larger flock, one ruled by another raven named Alk; but Krigg requires control of the flock, to prepare for a great upheaval to come, and so he challenges Alk to a duel, in which only one will emerge triumphant.

It’s a clever introduction, because it alludes to the larger epic of the upcoming graphic novel while also remaining entirely focused on only a single character and a single event—a single battle. Krigg’s character gets to shine, as does his background and motivation, all things which likely won’t be allowed a wide berth of space, if any, within the GN. Plus this opening story is all action, which doesn’t hurt in the least. All the dialogue between animals in the world of Red Moon occurs via telepathy, so the fighting doesn’t mean the script is sparse just because the characters are dive-bombing and snapping beaks at each other.

BF: Krigg is a great character, a true amoral anti-hero kind of bird. But what made you choose him as the subject of the very first prequel?

DM : Because amoral anti-heroes are more freakin’ fun! No, seriously, it was really just the natural knee-jerk reaction to put the bad guy’s story first. It’s more action sooner, ya know? The idea was more fleshed out too. I had written this scene early in the script but pulled it to keep the story moving in the right direction. I knew immediately when we started talking prequel comics that that’s the one I wanted to start with.

BF: And why tell the story of his bid for control of the flock? Will the ramifications of this event be a part of Red Moon? Will we see Alk again?

DM: Yeah, Krigg’s control issues play a pretty big part in Red Moon. I don’t want to give too much away, but Alk is in Red Moon.

BF Review: McAdoo’s art is the best part of all: definitely the aspect that’ll draw in the most readers and keep them there. He’s like Don Bluth by way of James O’Barr, or maybe that’s just the influence of having read page after page of large black birds dogfighting. It’s heavily detailed, muscular line work, a great mesh of animation and illustration, with a strikingly gothic dynamic. The layouts are inventive and always suit—straightforward when the story is calm, frenetic and crazed as the action doggedly rises (you like all these “dog” words I’m using? Get it? It’s about a dog and…well, not the prequel, but…yeah, okay, I’ll stop).

BF: So tell us a bit about your art background.  Are you school-trained, and what other works besides Red Moon and its related materials have you done?

DM: I’m self-trained.  I’ve been drawing since I can remember, and any classes that I’ve had I’ve absolutely rebelled against.  I have a problem “learning” someone else’s techniques, whether it be a teacher’s or a Master’s. My brain just has to work it out on its own.

As part of a week-long seminar I wrote and illustrated a children’s book when I was 10 called The Dragon of Ord. When I was 15, the guy doing those seminars from five years before, David Melton, decided to publish the book. I toured around talking to other kids about how I wrote and illustrated it and really learned a lot. It was a hardbound duo-tone pencil-illustrated book that was sold mostly to schools and libraries, so it didn’t get a huge amount of exposure but I learned a lot about the business at an early age and I had a lot of fun.

After high school and college I moved to California (from Missouri) and quickly got into storyboarding for films and video games for a handful of years. The best from those years is a feature film I storyboarded called Devil’s Pond, and a Jewel video “This Way”, that I did storyboards for. All the while working on my own stuff, mainly a self-published mini-comic called The Last Soldier of 10-Sky that I did a couple of issues of before going full blast on Red Moon.

BF: What are the usual techniques used in crafting a page of Red Moon and the prequels?  Is the style here specifically used for the Red Moon story and the world it’s set within?

DM: I don’t know if this will surprise people or if it’s actually becoming somewhat more commonplace but all of Red Moon and its prequels are being done digitally. I use a 6 x 8 Wacom pad and lots of layers in Photoshop. It’s faster for me, especially since it’s a larger GN. As far as style goes it’s really just the style I’m most comfortable with. Lots of black and shadows, lots of cross-hatching. I’m a big fan of harsh lighting. I like black and white comics and I like lots of dark. Maybe if I wrote a story about puppies and birdies and flowers it’d be a little less dark... oh wait, never mind.

BF Review: So the first Red Moon prequel is a definite hit.  Remarkably solid art, dynamic storytelling, classic though nuanced characters caught in an effortlessly recognizable situation.  It’s a must-read and should bring everyone back for Round Two this coming Fall.

BF: The next prequel will be coming out this fall, though I’ve noticed there’ve been some contests held on the site, and that the third and latest contest is to win a chance to be placed inside the second prequel webcomic  !  That’s super cool—can you give us the details?

DM : I love that you use the contraction “there’ve”.  It just seems writers needlessly try to stay away from them [contractions].  I try to get more people to use more of them. My personal favorite is the double contraction: “couldn’t’ve”.  Anyway, sorry, yes, the contest.  The prize will be that I will draw the winner’s face into a panel of the next prequel webcomic. Of course, it’s not a main or continuing character but we thought it would be a pretty cool idea that we haven’t seen done much before, if at all. And it sets up a future contest that’s even cooler.

BF: As a parting shot, name the top comic book being published today, the top graphic novel of all time, and the best comic material on the web.  In your “humble” opinion, but of course.

DM : Oh, jeez. Won’t even touch the top comic today, I’m really all over the map. Sometimes I just look at the art and follow the artist, sometimes it’s for the writer. On a rare occasion it’s both.  Top GN of all time: I have fond memories of The Dark Knight Returns, but I recently re-read Watchmen in anticipation of the movie and was absolutely astounded all over again. On the web I frequent the Frank Cho site and every couple of weeks I’ll just hit tons of different sites to see what’s out there. It’s hard to pick.

Be sure to join us again in the fall, when we talk to creator David McAdoo about the second Red Moon prequel, all building up to the big GN release in 2009!

###

The Red Moon prequel “One Must Fall” can be read in its entirety at the Red Moon Website.

It can also be seen at the Red Moon Myspace page.

Finally, you can just look below and read the whole thing here!

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