Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thursday is Thanksgiving!  Like many holidays, it's a chance to escape, even if it's at the dinner table, eating turkey and mashed potatoes. 

It's quiet this week.  Much of the PWC Staff is out of the office, and it's given me some time to think about what's next for Perro Worldwide!  All I can say is, I'm very excited!  There are so many possibilities!

From myself and everyone at PWC, I'm wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Setting and Weather

Today in Boston, it's raining.  Not a light sprinkle, either.  Heavy rain that soaks through the moment you step outside.

It made me think about environment, and how important setting can be for a character.  Often, I imagine rain being the perfect weather condition for Chris Ember.  Something about him being able to turn into water, and at the same time being surrounded by water, is interesting.

Bad weather also adds a new element of danger for characters, and it's a great way to increase the tension of a story, without the audience even fully realizing it.

That's why I find it strange that so many superhero movies are set in the summer.  It's so bland...  So unoriginal.  When I'm writing, I think long and hard about the setting, and weather conditions for each scene.  Not all stories can take place on warm sunny days, and in the world of fantasy and sci-fi, the more outrageous the setting, the better the story!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween!

Here at Perro Worldwide Comics, it's our absolute favorite holiday.  And for good reason…  Comic and Sci-Fi fans love dressing up in costume, showing off their inner-superhero, and there's no better day to do it than on Halloween!  Even the thrill of dressing up for a comic convention pales in comparison to dressing up on October 31.

When I was younger, I dressed up as Superman several years in a row.  It began in first grade, and I was dressed as Superboy.  The year was 1990, and my inspiration came from the Superboy TV series starring Gerard Christopher.  I remember all the teachers saying "Oh look!  It's Superman!" as I marched down the halls.  I also remember explaining that i was in-fact Superboy, not Superman!  It was an easy mistake to make.

The following year, I was a little older and a little wiser, so I dressed up as Superman.  The Christopher Reeve movies had made quite an impact on me, and it was time to embrace the adult version of the character.  I wore the same costume, but I was older, so when my teachers exclaimed "Oh look!  It's Superboy!"  I had to explain that this year it was different.  I was Superman!

Winter came early that year.  I was living in Minnesota, and my Hero-Costume wasn't warm enough to wear when I went trick-or-treating, so changes had to be made.  Still wearing the Super-Suit, I was forced to put on a pair of dress pants and a button down shirt.  I clipped on a tie, and was then given a pair of dark glasses frames.  If I couldn't be Superman, I'd be the next best thing…  Clark Kent.

Lots of people asked who I was, but the moment I pulled open my shirt, revealing the "S" underneath, they figured it out!

Today, I spend more time dressing up as Chris Ember than I do dressing up as Superman, but my passion for superheroes began with the Man of Steel, and without those childhood memories, I might have never developed my own characters.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mission Park Members in Street Stories

So who's going to be appearing in Mission Park: Street Stories?  Or maybe, more specifically, which members of Team Mission Park are being featured?

Here's a partial list:  Chris Ember, Tessa Faux, Victor Strength, Timothy Note, and Valerie Sarah.  I'm most excited about Valerie's role in this story.  She's an important character, and in Mission Park:  Street Stories, she gets substantial screen-time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Week of Writing

A majority of this past week has been spent writing.  Sometimes, the story flows forward so easily,  and the pages add up one after another.  Other times, I find myself trying to figure out how I'm going to get my main character to arrive on the scene for the next big battle sequence.

This week, there were some definite moments of both.  And when the writing was difficult, it had a lot to do with the crafting of the villain.

Superheroes are easy.  They stop the bad guy from carrying out a master plan.  But the villains...  They require some work.  A well written bad guy needs to have a well written motive.  And when they're a super-villain, they need to have a larger than life well written motive.  That can be a challenge!

I think that's why there are so many super-villains with hokey master plans.  They need to do something that has the potential for action, but in a way that makes sense.  It's so easy to make a super-villain campy because the nature of their crimes are somewhat campy.  A solid motive solves the problem, but it takes work.

I suppose that if I'm saying anything in this weeks blog, it's that larger than life action needs to be grounded in real life emotion.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Power Of Grit

This past week, I was describing a portion of the Tessa Faux Origin Comic Book to an actress, when I found myself using the word gritty in my description. 

It hit me funny, because I find myself using that word semi-regularly, and I can see how it excites other people. 

Is it possible for a comic book to be too gritty?  It’s a popular word to use when describing a work of entertainment.  Gritty…  just saying it can give a person Goosebumps.

In and of itself, gritty is not necessarily a positive word, but when it’s used to describe a story, it elevates that story in a way that seems to excite everyone.  “Did you read the latest issue of Batman.  It’s insanely gritty!  You’re going to love it!” 

Gritty has been used to describe a story that is (for lack of a better description) less fun.  But since that’s a vague description, let’s really break down what a gritty story is all about. 

Gritty means that the story is more violent and more graphic.  It means that the story lacks moments of comic relief.  It means that the story features characters with loose morals.  It means that the world the characters live in is less optimistic, more cynical, and on a downward spiral. 

Is gritty bad?  No.  A story with a little grit can be very exciting.  The problem is that grit is being used more and more as the only spice in the cabinet.  Grit is the opposite of camp, but just as someone doesn’t want to read a story as campy as 60’s Batman, they probably don’t want to read a story so gritty that it lacks all fun.

The Tessa Faux Origin Comic has some grit.  But maybe gritty isn’t the best description, because it doesn’t describe everything else that it is.      

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Origin Stories

I’m in the middle of production on the Tessa Faux origin comic, and it’s looking fantastic!  The 40 page issue tells the complete story of how Tessa Faux, Cherry Pie, and Apple Orchard came to be.  It’s a dramatic adventure with lots of twists and turns.  But…  If you think the beginning is thrilling, just wait until you see what happens after Tessa Faux puts on the cape! 

And shouldn’t that be the most important part?  What happens next?  An origin serves to tell the details of a character before the real story begins.  If we focus too much on the story before the story, we’ll miss out on what these characters are really all about.

Unfortunately, today, with Hollywood so involved in superhero properties, we’re seeing the origin take center stage, with little story dedicated to superhero characters already established.

On screen, superhero characters walk through their origins in the first film, and rarely make it past a third movie, before getting rebooted.  The Amazing Spider-man is a perfect example of this, but it’s not the first movie to retell an origin again and again.

On television, we watched ten seasons of Smallville, with Clark donning the costume in only the last few minutes of the series finale.  And just this past Monday, Gotham premiered, which features a very young Bruce Wayne, and ultimately, Batman without Batman.

Over and over, creators talk about how interesting origin stories can be, and how it’s possibly the most fascinating aspect of superhero characters.  I think it’s due to a lack of creativity.  If the most compelling story is a hero’s rise, then it doesn't say much for the hundreds of post-origin story written in comics week after week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Filming The Trailer For HHS: Power Trio

Today was quite the day!

A highlight, no doubt, was the filming of the trailer for High Heel Samurai:  Power Trio.  Jena Walsh was on set, and the scene for the trailer required her to display some very difficult martial arts techniques.

I'd like to see the trailer online in the next few weeks.  It'll be that first peek at the next evolution of High Heel Samurai, and it's beyond exciting!

I'm in the strange position of wanting to say more, but knowing that doing so would spoil all the surprises in the show.  That's why, today, I thought I'd reveal one big secret about the upcoming High Heel Samurai:  Power Trio and Mission Park:  Street Stories.

They're connected!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Monday Auditions for Mission Park: Street stories

On Monday, casting began for Mission Park:  Street Stories.  There is so much work to be done for this project.  It's a big one, and the audition alone was huge.  Actors from all over New England came in and read for leading and supporting superhero roles.

One of the reasons Mission Park:  Street Stories is so exciting is because of the realism.  Not in the story (Which plays out like a sci-fi crime drama) but in how the project is being filmed.  We're going back to basics with the action, with very little CGI, and a focus on practical stunts and effects!

The audition didn't follow the typical formula.  Sure, the actors read sides (a selection from the script) but they also participated in a traditional Karate class.  Because these roles require a certain amount of martial arts skill, it's important to find actors who are interested in not just the dialog, but also the movement!

One of the biggest scenes in Mission Park:  Street Stories involves a massive fight that will largely be accomplished practically.  We can't say much right now, but when Mission Park:  Street Stories is released, you'll see superhero action in a completely real and practical way that has never been done before! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Happy Labor Day

Yesterday was Labor Day.  A holiday celebrating the American labor movement.  Everyone gets the day off, and for most students, it’s the last day of summer vacation.

I always think of Labor Day as the first day of Fall.  I also think of it as the unofficial start of the year.  We all know that it really begins in January, but September is the month when everything seems to start over fresh.

Students go back to school, the fantastic holiday season from Halloween-Christmas kicks off, and all the new TV shows are back from the summer hiatus.  It’s an exciting month!

I spent my Labor Day rendering a sequence for both:  Mission Park:  Street Stories and High Heel Samurai:  Power Trio.  Though they are two very different shows, they share a connection, and one single scene will unite them in the very first moments.

What is that scene?  All I can say is that it is set in space!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

High Heel Samurai: Power Trio - Fight Scene Choreography

On Monday, we began the blocking for the first fight sequence in High Heel Samurai:  Power Trio.  Actors on set included:  Ally Matteodo, Maren Keyt, Liz Richman, Jena Walsh, and Greg Feroli.

Putting together a solid fight sequence requires lots of preparation behind the scenes.  It's not just about showcasing good technique (which is vital) it's about turning that technique into a cohesive series of movements in a way that is visually appealing and action packed!

In the scene, Matteodo, Keyt, and Richman play Samurai Girls:  Viola Tallatetto, Amorelle Abney, and Francesca Satori.  They're squaring off against arch villain Clementine Crush, who is played by Walsh.  Feroli plays Rock, one half of the tough bodyguard team:  Rock & Roll.

Without giving anything else away, this is a big action sequence, and it all happens in the very first episode of High Heel Samurai:  Power Trio!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Early Drawing of Tessa Faux

Yesterday, I posted an early drawing of Tessa Faux at www.perroworldwide.com  

It was a concept drawing, back at the very beginning, when I was still working out what Tessa's costume would look like.

In that preliminary sketch, she still had the red suit and fishnet stockings, but little else made it to the final version.  The cape went over Tessa's shoulders, and looked more like what Apple's cape would eventually become.  I had an idea about Tessa having straps on her uniform, as a way for her to carry more weapons, and as a result, she was missing the Faux symbol on her chest.  Tessa also had holsters attached to her belt.  She wore black gloves, and her boots were even taller.

I think the part that I'm most happy I dropped were the gloves.  I can't imagine Tessa wearing gloves.  At the time, the gloves seemed like a good idea, and within the story, a way to make sure Tessa never left any fingerprints.  Without the gloves, I imagine that Tessa simply finds more creative ways to make sure no evidence is left behind.

There was even a time when I imagined Tessa wearing a mask, but when her personality became more fleshed out, the idea of her hiding her identity was completely scrapped, and so was the mask.

It's interesting to see where an idea begins, and how it evolves when it gets more fleshed out.  Some of my favorite stories began with a concept completely different from what ended up on the page.

Not knowing where a story is going to go, or what a character will become is a magical part of the writing process.  Even now, I'm often surprised where the adventure takes me!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Paper Cups

Here's the challenge...

Take a small paper cup, and cut it in half.  Now what you should have is an even smaller paper cup.  Fill it with water.  Now do the same thing with another paper cup.

After that, have someone place one cup on the palm of each hand.  Hold the cups out.  It's not too hard to keep them steady when you're standing still.  But try banging out some snappy kicks, and not spilling any of the water starts to become difficult.

The teaser trailer for "HHS:  Power Trio" is going to feature some fantastic martial arts control.  We're so excited to show it off in the coming weeks!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Word About Personal Style

This week, we presented a picture of Chris Ember, drawn in the Bruce Timm style.  The goal was to make Chris look as though he was dropped into an episode of Batman:  The Animated Series.  Looking at the final product, mission accomplished!

But what is the Bruce Timm style?  Some people would say it’s minimalist and angular.  Others might go for the term “art deco” as a more appropriate description.  Bruce Timm, a self taught artist with no formal art schooling, lists two of his influences as Jack Kirby and Harvey Kurtzman.  It’s not surprising.  There’s definite Kurtzman in Timm’s work.

No matter how one would like to describe Timm’s style, he takes his cues from artists before his time, as they took cues from artists before their time.

Good artists steal from the past and make it their own.  They never quite become the artists they admired, instead they build upon style, until their version becomes something unique.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Working Through a Fight Scene

I was working through a fight scene with Jena Walsh yesterday. The scene is part of a big, climactic moment in the first episode of the upcoming High Heel Samurai: Power Trio.

It’s looking incredible, and packs so much literal punch, you’ll feel it coming through the screen! Jena has been training hard for this. And when I say hard, I mean that she has been refining her technique for over a year. When you see her on screen, you’ll be seeing some incredible martial arts action!

It’s one of the reasons I love pure live-action stunts so much. At the end of the day, what you’re seeing on screen is real.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

High Heel Samurai: Power Trio - Now in Pre-Production

On July 15 we announced that High Heel Samurai would be returning January, 2015 with the all new High Heel Samurai:  Power Trio. 

The new scripts are written, the new sets are nearly complete, and just today, some very important casting decisions were made.  In short, HHS:  Power Trio is inching closer and closer to production.

All this new HHS action has me thinking back on the original High Heel Samurai.  It was an exciting time.  Production took place over the course of several years, nearly every weekend.  Long hours, lots of locations, and so many behind the scenes stories that never made it on camera.

I think one of the hidden joys of working on a show is looking back and remembering fondly all the moments I couldn’t while I was in the middle of production.  As I get ready to begin production on HHS:  Power Trio, I can’t help getting excited for the new moments.

In name, HHS:  Power Trio is a different show from HHS.  As the creator of both series, I can tell you without a doubt, the shows are connected.  To illustrate that, I thought I’d end this particular blog with a spoiler.  Since announcing HHS:  Power Trio, I’ve been asked over and over about whether or not there would be any returning Samurai Girls from the original series.  In short, the answer is yes!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Style vs Action

As I type this, a rather impressive thunderstorm is raging on outside.  I’m at the studio, waiting for an actor I’m working with to arrive on set.  He’s part of a documentary I’m filming, all about the martial arts.  

As a practitioner of traditional Shotokan Karate for over twenty years, I’ve always wanted to showcase what it takes to be a skilled martial artist.  Not so much what a martial artist can do, but how it’s done.

The actor I’m waiting for intends to bend large pieces of metal like a real-world superhero.  He says that his own chi-energy is what gives him the strength to get the job done.  It’s not exactly what I would call traditional training, but it’s visually impressive, and to be perfectly honest, I’m just plain curious to see the feats of strength in person.

Between the storm, the chi-energy, and the feats of strength, the entire atmosphere is taking on a real-word superhero vibe that I’m completely enjoying.

A good superhero story needs atmosphere.  It’s why Tim Burton’s Batman will hold up better than Christopher Nolan’s Batman, and why the 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be remembered more fondly than the 2014 reboot.

Right now, the hollywood standard is all about action.  As much as possible, as big as possible.  But on the quest for the highest number of CGI explosions, style is getting lost in the editing room.  It’s time to bring it back.