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Interview with Ernst Dabel, Roland Bernard Brown and Renato Arlem
By Owen Jones (2006-06-14)
Roland Bernard Brown
OJ: It must have been highly gratifying being chosen by OSC to adapt the book, how did this come about and what level of input did OSC have on your work?
RBB: I was a bit worried about taking on the responsibility of the task when Scott asked. But my apprehensiveness was very quickly cast aside by the fact that, in my heart of hearts, I really didn't trust anyone else (save maybe Scott himself) to translate one of my favorite novels into a comic. I knew that I could trust me.
OJ: How much license were you given in terms of altering or removing dialogue /characters/ scenes to fit the more condensed medium of comics?
RBB: Anyone who has read The Alvin Maker series knows how wonderfully the novels are written--how the charming language is one of the factors that make Alvin's saga so standout. So it's best to include as much of Scott's writing as possible. Every change I make to better suit the medium is a difficult one ... for me as a writer and as a fan of the source material.
OJ: What challenges and or difficulties have you encountered adapting Red Prophet?
RBB: Well, Red Prophet the novel is an epic filled with many characters. You grow so fond of them primarily because they're written with many subtle details that allow the reader a clear peek into their hearts and minds. In other words, you understand what motivates them to do the things that they do so clearly that you find yourself very emotionally invested in what becomes of them. Translating that kind of affecting power from a novel to a comic is very tricky due to space limitations.
OJ: You've created some gorgeous, detailed artwork for Red Prophet, what process did you go through to visualize how Alvin's world would look?
RA: Well, it's been a pleasure to work on this project. With regards to Alvin's world, I think like an alternative historical setting, something from movies like "The Last of the Mohicans," pre-cowboys movies and mostly the great Bonelly Italian comics like TEX.
OJ: What are the main concerns when trying to nail the visual appearance of an already established and popular character?
RA: I had to grab the essence of the characters while trying to come with something fresh. I also wanted to create visuals that recall the original text's descriptions.
OJ: Is it as enjoyable recreating a familiar world as it is to create something new and original?
RA: Absolutely. It's a marvelous job. Because when you think about it, I'm getting to create visual scenes that no one has ever seen before-- it's almost like they're brand new worlds with blueprints!
I love to think the tiny details of each scene, thinking like a movie director -- I pose the actors, play with the lighting, and adjust the scene to make it all work.
It's been a wonderful experience overall. I thank the Dabel Brothers and their staff for the opportunity to have this much fun.
Sffworld would like to thank Ernst, Roland and Renato for taking time out of their busy schedules to talk to us and we look forward to their future successes.
Owen Jones 2006