This week, I finally wrapped up the character animation for the scene where Rex and Aven meets for the first time. It was a challenging scene to animate and a crucial one in the film. To make it work I needed to get the acting just right—a mix of surprise, apprehension, playfulness, and intrigue. I posted the pencil test on The Saga of Rex Production Blog. If you have a subscription to the blog, you can view it here.
I'm mostly known within the animation industry for my effects animation, but I actually started my career as a character animator, working on pictures such as The Land Before Time (Original) and All Dogs Go To Heaven. In retrospect, having done work in several departments at various animation studios has given me the necessary skills to pull this film off single-handedly.
Doing the 4-minute film is also a good way for me to determine what type of crew I will need when I handle the longer version.
Speaking of... I've been getting a lot of emails from people wanting to help on the film. Thank you all very much for your interest. At this point, I'm saving all these emails in a folder for future reference, but I just don't have the time to look at portfolios or listen to music samples. My life is immersed into the production of the film and the little that's left over, I need to spend with my family. When I need help, I'll let everyone know, no worry.
The Saga of Rex is progressing very nicely. I've had some problems with my hand using my Cintiq, so I added an Intuos5 Wacom Tablet to my arsenal and everything is back in order. For those interested, I go into this in a lot more details on TheSaga of Rex Production Blog.
While keeping an intense schedule working on the film, we are also keeping up with shipping rewards to our Kickstarter backers. We spent the weekend printing, signing, cutting and bagging prints. Those rewards will be going out this week. We're getting closer and closer to having all the rewards shipped (except for the delivery of the film, which is going to be in production until October), and it feels good to see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as that's concerned.
Now, back to work, I've got thousands of drawings to do in order to finish this film!
Too bad "The Krah Khronicles" by Steve Rolston never materialized. This project, from 2005, was going to be a spin off of ZED featuring the foul mouth heavy metal band, Krah. Steve just unveiled the artwork on his blog. Check it out!
A few days ago, after reading a nasty comment about my work on the internet, I posted the following statement on my facebook: "When people hate my work, I feel like they hate me personally." I wasn't really depressed, I just wanted to voice an opinion that I'm sure many artists share.
The post prompted several people to leave comments including this one from Inkynebula Faye Retinioti: "haters gonna hate, and I love your work. I actually love it so much, I have it on me. For life. Keep up the good work."
Here's the picture of Faye's tattoo next to my original drawing.
Whenever I have a new book coming out, I'm always nervous to see how the critics will react to it. I know I shouldn't care about that stuff, but it's just hard to ignore. Fortunately, the response from both fans and reviewers seems to be on the positive side. Here are the reviews that have been popping up through my Google alert:
"Those familiar with Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet will have been exposed to Michel Gagne’s work previously. His art style is clean, with soft shading and uniquely inventive worlds. The dialogue for the most part is snappy and well paced with nothing extraneous in the mix to bog it down. Panels are cleanly set, dialogue is well inked offering an easy read that taxes the readers sensibilities rather than have them struggle with cluttered layouts. The art is one of the most compelling factors to this series – it’s surreal at times but just so well made! Zed: A Cosmic Tale manages to do so much with it 280 pages. The book shifts from cutesy, to touching, to menacing to horrific scenes of extermination with such beautiful and effortless ease" Read full review. - Game Fiends
"Zed is, for all intents and purposes, a comics storytelling masterpiece."
Read full review. - Talking Comics
"ZED has that perfect mix of innocence and brutality that makes it feel substantial enough for kids and adults to fall in love with. This is how classics are made." Read full review.
- The Daily Planet
"The action, suspense, and larger questions about the nature of life are very well done particularly when paired with the reworked art. I highly recommend ZED to anyone that likes their science fiction with tongue in cheek humor and action." Read full review. - Sharon the Lirairian
"This adorable sci-fi comic book wades into some pretty dark and menacing territory. And, that seems to be the most important detail of this comic. It is never just one thing. The most striking thing in Michel Gagné's Zed: A Cosmic Tale is the art. It is surreal, complex, and gorgeous. The art style, much like the book as a whole, bounces back and forth between cute and sinister. What is so impressive is not how effectively Gagné summons cuteness or menace (incredibly effectively), but how quickly he can shift from one to the other." Read full review.
- Fanboy Comics
"Definitely give Zed a read, and thank me later. Just don't pass it on to the kids until they're a little older and can handle getting their tiny souls scarred for life a little better. It really is an uplifting and beautiful story when all is said and done."
Read full reviews.
- Shut up and read something.
"ZED: A Cosmic Tale is a fun science fiction story that combines adorable characters with heavy, depressing subject matter but in a feel good, entertaining way. And lets be honest, he’s just too cute to pass up!" Read full review. - Black Ink Books
And then, there's this one review which rates the book 0 out of 5!
"There is blood, gore, violence, treachery, and so much anguish that reading this would probably put a kid into therapy." Read full review.
- The Armchair Librairian
Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of The Saga of Rex Secret Production Blog.
This will be a place where I will document the making of the film and give a real insight into my process. I want to make this a tool for animation students and enthusiasts to see how I do things. I'm going to be learning a lot myself and sharing will make it all the more worthwhile. Subscribers will be able to leave comments and suggestions. This should be a fun interactive experience for everyone involved.
The Saga of Rex Secret Production Blog was part of the reward incentives for the Kickstarter campaign launched last year in order to get seed money to do the first four minutes of the film (If you are not familiar with the project, I suggest you check out the Kickstarter page describing in great detail what I'm trying to accomplish).
Since the completion of the campaign, I have received requests from people who missed the boat the first time around, and would now like to have the opportunity to be part of this. So here is your chance. The subscription is set at $20 and will cover the entire period of time it will take to make the four-minute film. Once you subscribe, we will do our best to send your access pass within 48 hours.
Although I will keep updating this page, posts will most likely become more infrequent and will not cover the making of The Saga of Rex. That will be reserved for The Secret blog.
I received my comps from Image Comics and I'm very pleased. The grayscale really came through and it makes the art look very lavish for a black and white book. I have to say that I'm a bit nervous about what the reception will be. ZED: A Cosmic Tale is such a deeply uncompromised vision. A lot of people might be shocked when they read ZED. What appears to be a little children's tale (based on the art and writing style) is in fact an edgy dark sci fi comedy adventure.
ZED is dark, there's no denying that, but it is also a tale about overcoming obstacles and evolving from being victimized to empowerment and ultimate triumph of will. ZED very much echoes my own life in some ways. My childhood was filled with extreme hardships (growing up in a broken family with an abusive father; constantly being sick and in the hospital—coming very close to death quite a few times; being shot in the head at the age of twelve and loosing half my vision, etc). But like ZED, I came though and made a great life for myself. In many ways, ZED was my therapy. I almost took a sadistic pleasure at traumatizing him, because I knew that like myself, he could take it and that his triumph over adversity would be that much more remarkable.
When I created ZED, I never concerned myself with the commercial viability. I wanted to stick to my vision undiluted by public expectation. Like an underground comix, ZED is pure in its artistic integrity—for better or for worse. Who will enjoy ZED? I don't know. I know that I would have loved ZED as a kid, but then I'm hearing all over the place that ZED is not for kids. People who expect a cute little story might be disappointed but if they keep an open mind, they might discover that under all the trauma is a story, like mine, that is full of hope and wonder.
Here are a couple of advance reviews that have popped up on the web: