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Avril Brown Presents:

Jim Butcher’s DRESDEN FILES novels have been growing exponentially in terms of their popularity over the past few years, making it inevitable that we might see them find their way to the sequential art world. Dabel Bros. has the license, and they recently released their second hardcover graphic novel featuring Dresden, this one beginning to adapt the first novel in the series, STORM FRONT. CWR’s Avril Brown chatted with writer Mark Powers and artist Ardian Syaf about their work on the Dresden comics.

AB: One of my nerdy friends introduced me to the Dresden Files about six months ago, and my already sputtering social life came to a screeching halt until I'd caught up with the series. Being a comic fan as well I was uber-excited when Harry came to comics and I devoured WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, and subsequently STORM FRONT: Volume One, which was, by the way, completely awesome. Have you been a Harry Dresden fan from the beginning? Which is your favorite in the series?

MP: My favorite is Stormfront, because it’s the only one I’ve had the pleasure of reading just yet. But working on this adaptation has very much made me a fan, so I am looking forward to reading the entire series. (Who doesn’t love the feeling of reading an enjoyable book, knowing there are still several more in the series?)

AB: True that; I was humming in happiness when I found out upon finishing the first there were lots more to come. Is writing a Harry Dresden graphic novel something you've wanted to do for awhile? Is it more difficult or is there added pressure to adapting an existing novel to comic form compared to creating your own series and characters, like DRAFTED?

MP: As I alluded to above, I’d never read any of the Harry Dresden novels before I came aboard for this project, so I can’t say it was something I had waited to do. I wouldn’t say adapting a novel is more difficult or involves more pressure than something I’ve created myself—though I am aware at all times that Harry has a legion of devoted followers. Of course, the fact that I’ve become one makes the process even more enjoyable.

As far as the challenge of it—I think it’s simply a different type of challenge, as opposed to something like Drafted. I don’t need to worry about the mechanics of the story, the structure, the characters’ motivations. I need to figure out how to make it work as a comic. My editor, David Lawrence, has been a huge help in that regard.

AB: Were you and Jim Butcher in conference over the script to STORM FRONT?

MP: No—but I have been guided along the way by the aforementioned Mr. Lawrence, as well as Jim’s “Dresden team”—Priscilla Spencer and Fred Hicks. They’ve been pretty awesome and have ensured that we were keeping to the spirit of not just this novel, but the entire series.

AB: Can you see yourself writing more of the Dresden graphic novel adaptations?

MP: Absolutely, if they’ll have me.

AB: What has been one of your favorite projects you’ve worked on thus far?

MP: I’ve enjoyed all the projects I’ve written—Drafted, Rest, GI Joe, and Stormfront have all offered different sorts of challenges. I tend to associate my favorite projects, whether as an editor or writer, with the people I’ve collaborated with. I’ve been fortunate to work with some great people on all those books.

Of course, if I absolutely had to pick one, Drafted is my baby of babies.

AB: Is there any project you’ve always wanted to do but haven't yet?

MP: I have a new creator-owned book underway that’ll be coming out in 2010—it’s a project that’s been on the backburner for some time, and will be announced in the near future. So that’s probably the closest thing I have to something I’ve wanted to do, but haven’t yet.

If you want me to answer that in the geekiest way possible, I’d say writing and drawing a Batman story is something I’d like to do some day.

AB: We LOVE geeky answers! Bring on the geek and tell us a little bit about DRAFTED. Any truth to the rumors DRAFTED the movie is hitting theaters in 2010?

MP: Ha ha…I wish there was a Drafted movie coming out next year! No, that process is still ongoing. As to the story, the high concept is very simple: the entire human race—regardless of race, creed, social status, gender—are drafted by an alien species to serve in a galactic war. So on one level, it’s a massive, action-packed sci-fi story; on another, it’s an exploration of human social interaction, and touches on our attitudes toward war, religion, and racial/social distinctions. (Or, at least, that’s the intent.)

AB: That sounds incredibly fascinating; I’m looking forward to reading it. In regard to your history with Marvel Comics: I’m a huge X-Men gal myself, so I have to ask: what was it like working with Marvel’s Mightiest Mutants? Do you miss editing Marvel books?

MP: It was great working on the X-Men! It was a comic I enjoyed when I was younger, so the opportunity to contribute to something so many people hold dear was a privilege. I miss the Marvel characters, for sure—but not the deadline stress!

AB: If you could sit down and have a chat over tea with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? What would be your first question?

MP: Hmmmm, that’s tough. I’d probably answer that differently, depending on the day—one day it might be Stephen King, another it might be JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof. (I’d ask Stephen King what ever happened to the ‘Salem’s Lot’ sequel! Yeah, I’d be a geek.)

AB: You’d be in good company, I’m sure. As for the question I love to ask every writer I interview: Any advice you can give to aspiring writers?

MP: I’d say just absorb as much information as you can from all sources. Read a lot; observe people a lot; watch how they interact and speak to each other. Pay attention to how you speak and react to others. Work independently, but also take advantage of any formal schooling or training you have access to—there’s not any one path that will work. As with any creative endeavor, it’s about finding your own, and being disciplined about it.

AB: Solid counsel. And now time for the random question of the day: If you could safely attend any major event in world history, what would it be?

MP: That’s a really tough one—if it’s something bad, I’d need to try and stop it. If it’s something good, I’d have to make sure it’s not screwed up. How about being in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776?

AB: Sounds good to me, I’m sure it was one hell of a party. Bring on the celebratory ale! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with our readers, and we’re all anxiously anticipating the release of STORM FRONT: Volume Two!

Now to check in with STORM FRONT artist Ardian Syaf!

AB: I absolutely adored WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE and fell completely in love with your depiction of Harry, which is saying a lot considering I typically like my book characters to remain sort of faceless in my head. But your Dresden is perfect, as are the rest of the supporting cast. Carmichael is a special kind of scrub, and Susan Rodriquez is smoking hot. I do hope you stick around for the entire series; I’d love to see your rendition of Thomas. Were you a fan of the Dresden novels before you starting working on Welcome to the Jungle?

AS: I never heard about the book before. That’s why I was very nervous when I got the job; it’s a huge fan base with high expectations for the comic version.

AB: Do you have a favorite Dresden character to draw? Are you familiar with my fair city or did you have to do research on Chicago landmarks for the Dresden books?

AS: Of course Dresden himself is my favourite! I think he is a real gentleman. I love the character knowing he is a wizard with very good attitude. I had to do research on the internet about Lincoln Park Zoo mainly.

AB: I agree, Harry is quite the gentleman…with a great body, and you got to draw Harry Dresden naked, you lucky dog you. Were there certain restrictions handed to you on what exactly could and could not be shown in order to keep this book relatively kid friendly?

AS: They didn’t allow me to draw a woman’s butt in Storm Front, but not for Dresden’s. I like “Jungle” since I didn’t need to draw sexy women. So this is a good book for all ages in my opinion.

AB: Have you always wanted to draw comics? Is there any book in the comic universe you’d like to work on more than any other? Any other projects on the horizon?

AS: Definitely, it’s like a kid’s dream. I always wanted to draw comics since my father bought me my first comic. There are too many characters I want to draw since I am still beginner in this industry. I am still doing Dresden Files: Storm Front volume 2.

AB: When did you know for sure you wanted to be an artist?

AS: Five years ago. I love comics and I couldn’t go work like other people and leave behind my interest in drawing comics.

AB: What is your favorite artistic tool today? What was it ten years ago?

Pencil, since I am focusing on a penciller position now! Ten years ago, I liked watercolours; I still like to play with watercolour sometimes.

AB: I read you live in Indonesia, which must be pretty sweet. Did you grow up there? Have you ever lived elsewhere? Do your surroundings influence your art?

AS: Yes, I did. Born and live here until now. Of course, especially old local comic artists here influenced me.

AB: If you could sit down and have a chat over tea with any artist, living or dead, who would it be? What would be your first question?

AS: Hermann Huppen, he is a Belgian comic artist. “Hermann, can I see how you draw?” He is perfect for me.

AB: And now for the random question of the day: If you were trapped in any piece of artwork for six months, what would you choose as your prison?

AS: Europe comics style project! I grew up with those comics.

AB: Well thanks so much for taking the time to give our readers a bit of insight into the artists’ studio, and we’re all looking forward to STORM FRONT Volume 2 and any other projects your talented pencils will be appearing in! 

Avril Brown

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