Arriving in stores next Tuesday on the Max Payne Blu-Ray DVD comes a really interesting addition: the animated graphic novel. Newsarama asked our own Christian Beranek, who is one half of the writing team of Michelle Payne, about his project.
NEWSARAMA: How’d you get involved with this project?
CHRISTIAN BERANEK: I first hooked up with Comflix Studios a few years back via my good friend Larry Shuman. He introduced me to Scott Schneider who wanted to do something in what is now called the “motion comic” space. Now, we see a lot of that stuff these days, particularly with Watchmen being available on ITunes. Comflix, however, was ahead of the curve back then and I wanted to be a part of it. Scott and company quickly got to work adapting Dracula vs. King Arthur, the graphic novel I co-created with my brother Adam and Chris Moreno.
Flash forward to 2008. Scott and his partner Rick Karo told me there was some stuff they were working on with Fox. First up was Babylon AD. They needed a 5 minute long prequel piece to include on the special edition DVD. I wrote the story and suggested Dennis Calero as the artist. The end result was very satisfying.
So, when they said they needed to do a longer project for Max Payne I couldn’t say no. It sounded like too much fun.
NEWSARAMA: What’s your take on Max Payne, and how did this inform your approach to the project?
CB: Look, Max Payne is one of the most popular video game franchises of all time. The only thing I could do was pay respect to the character and enhance certain elements of the story in relation to the film. That’s all I set out to do and hopefully the goal was achieved.
You see, when millions of people play a video game like this… Well, they are Max Payne for those hours they spend shooting up bad guys. They have their own take on who Max is. You have to honor that interactive spirit and not take away from it.
NEWSARAMA: Can you give a little summary of the story? Where’s it fit in the Max Payne mythos?
CB: This a prequel. We show Michelle (Max’s wife) Payne’s back story and how it leads into the movie. It’s an actual extension of the film.
NEWSARAMA: This is an animated project — how has that differed from your typical comic gigs? Any skills you have to unlearn?
CB: Well, we (co-writer Raven Gregory and I) wrote the story as a 48 page comic that was translated into a Comflix animated short. We knew there was a set amount of minutes alloted, so we paced the story out accordingly. I think that by having worked in comics, being constrained to page counts for certain issues, prepares you to be economical in terms of storytelling.
Now, there are certain skills you have to unlearn. For instance, voice over becomes very important. You can have more dialogue in some scenes than you would normally do, less in others. There is a learning curve, to be sure, but the mediums work well with one another.
NEWSARAMA: Collaborating with Raven — can you describe it?
CB: It’s like being in a hurricane! Seriously, Raven is one of my best friends. He is also a true lover of comics. This guy lives, breathes and eats the medium. He is also a huge Max Payne fan and when I got the gig I called him up to co-write.
He’s a great collaborator and had a ton of awesome ideas. Very easy to work with and I can’t wait to do something with him again. Just keep him away from my nachos!
NEWSARAMA: Anything cool you’re looking forward to that you can allude to?
CB: Well, my main gig is with Disney. They were very gracious to allow me to work on the Fox projects as I have an exclusive with them for comics. This falls in that realm.
Right now Ahmet Zappa and I are in the lab cooking up a lot of stuff under the Disney’s Kingdom Comics banner — expect news on that soon!
Beside comics, I have several screenplays in development with some producers and directors I like and admire. In addition, I’m working on some TV stuff, my first novel and an album. Lots going on and it’s good to be this busy.
NEWSARAMA: Last but not least… anything you think I should know about this project that I haven’t already asked?
CB: The DVD comes out next Tuesday and I hope you’ll check it out. The trailer can be viewed here: http://www.maxpaynethemovie.com/michellepayne/
Keep reading Blog@, readers, where we hope to chat with Beranek’s co-writer, Raven Gregory, for his take on the project!