Earlier today, Newsarama had a chance to speak with Christian Beranek about the Max Payne animated graphic novel Michelle Payne, which is on the Max Payne Blu-Ray DVD set to be released on Tuesday. We’ve now spoken with his co-writer, Raven Gregory, on his take on the project.
NEWSARAMA: How’d you get involved with this project?
RAVEN GREGORY: Well, me and CB go back a while. We both came up together in the business (me on THE GIFT and at Zenescope Entertainment, and him at Silent Devil and then Kingdom Comics at Disney) and our personalities just clicked with each other. So Christian called me up one night and asked me if I had ever played the game Max Payne. I told him I was a huge fan and still had my Playstation 2 copy of the game. He filled me in on the idea of telling a prequel to the Max Payne film and I just fell in love with it. We brainstormed a bit together and pitched some ideas to Rick Karo at Comflix and they really dug what we presented to them. During the movie, very little is revealed about Max’s wife so it freed us up to really flesh out the character and bring her to life. As much as I love Max Payne’s story, Michelle’s story just blew me away.
NEWSARAMA: What’s your take on Max Payne, and how did this inform your approach to the project?
RG: What I like most about Max and his story is this could have been anybody. As I get older you really begin to understand that no one is promised tomorrow and seeing the effects Michelle death has on Max and the path it puts him on is easy to relate to. I’m not saying if the same thing happened to me that I’d go gun toting and blowing up corruption on every corner but the theme of depression and lack of control and trying to find that balance again, to answer the question of why bad things happen, is something that everyone feels. The guy just wants answers. He knows in his heart it won’t make anything better but we as humans need an answer to get the closure needed to move on.
NEWSARAMA: Can you give a little summary of the story? Where’s it fit in the Max Payne mythos?
RG: In short, it fully reveals the tragic event that made Max into the person he is at the beginning of the movie. In the movie, you know Max lost his wife and he’s searching for answers. Here you get to see the story of what really happened. It’s some pretty heart-wrenching stuff but given that the ending was already established we still had a lot of free reign in fleshing out the characters in a way you never see them before in any of the previous installments. Seeing Max before all the pain went down only makes knowing what is coming that much more tragic.
NEWSARAMA: Anything cool you’re looking forward to that you can allude to?
RG: Possibly more goodness from Comflix. Maybe some Raven Gregory creator owned madness at that.
NEWSARAMA: This is an animated project — how has that differed from your typical comic gigs? Any skills you have to unlearn?
RG: Not really. We approached it as a comic. We knew it was going to be animated but never over thought that aspect of it. At the end of the day, you try to tell the best story you can, and if you do your job well it all works out. Hearing the actors voices, the words sound even better than they did in my head, so it’s a lot like the comic making process in that you ask for one thing, and at times get back something that is even better than you could have ever imagine.
NEWSARAMA: Collaborating with Christian — can you describe it?
RG: I just love the guy. Besides being one of my best friends in and out of this business he’s the kind of writer that you can go to with a story and say, “Hey, this isn’t working. This part, it’s bland, the rest is good, but this is suck at it’s most suckness,” and he’ll take that and breathe such life and energy into and suddenly it works and it not only works… it kicks ass.
NEWSRAMA: Last, but not least — is there anything you think we should know about this project that I haven’t already asked?
RG: I just hope people enjoy it as much as we enjoyed writing it. For a sneak peek check out the teaser trailer up on http://www.maxpaynethemovie.com/michellepayne/