The combination of feature film storytellers and comics has been a potent one. That’s why Liquid Comics has been working with people like Men in Black helmer Barry Sonnenfeld and Sherlock Holmes’ Guy Ritchie to produce motion comics for Yahoo Screen, blending together graphic novels and animation into something else altogether.
Motion comics are short films with the look and feel of graphic novels. Unlike typical animated adaptations, here the illustration style is lifted directly from the page. Though the action plays out more fluidly than it does in the individual panels of a comic book, the story in both mediums unfolds with the same pacing, making the experiences similar.
“In the same way anime is an evolution and perfect companion with Japanese manga, we believe motion comics can serve as an animated companion for western graphic novels and hopefully enable more experimentation and risk taking by creators,” says Sharad Devarajan, founder and CEO of Liquid Comics. “Unlike traditional animation, motion comics allow for a lot of new experimentation in how comics can be created and shared. The key is to stay authentic to the original art and story that started in the comic book format.”
Apparently, Yahoo recognized the inherent potential of Devarajan’s vision for popularizing motion comics; recently the web giant decided to partner up with Liquid Comics to share the nascent storytelling medium with its substantial audience. Starting today, Dinosaurs vs. Aliens, a motion comic created by Barry Sonnenfeld will begin running on Yahoo Screen, joining other animated fare such as Tom Hanks’ Electric City. Motion comics have sometimes served as waystations for high profile adaptations to come, and sure enough the work coming out of Liquid Comics could be considered test runs for possible big screen vehicles in the future.
The project came out of a years-long relationship between the Liquid Comics CEO and the director, who met when Sonnenfeld wrote an introduction for a previous graphic novel. “Barry had an idea for a dream project he always wanted to do called Dinosaurs vs. Aliens, and wanted to see if I was interested in doing a graphic novel around it and then working with him and producer Arnold Rifkin on a feature film adaptation,” Devarajan says. Soon he matched the director up with comic book artist Grant Morrison, and the rest was history.
Sonnenfeld isn’t the only high-profile director with a Liquid motion comic premiering on Yahoo Screen this summer, though; Guy Ritchie’s Gamekeeper is coming soon as well. Ritchie had worked closely with Liquid’s Gotham Chopra on the original graphic novel version years ago, developing it with comic book writer, Andy Diggle.
Although Ritchie and Sonnenfeld may not have a direct hand in all the day-to-day work their respective writers perform, they are still involved with the motion comics’ development. “The directors we work with take a lot of pride and ownership in these projects since they came from their original ideas,” Devarajan says. “They have been very engaged in the process, but have also been very respectful and trusting of the comic book writers, artists, editors and teams working with them on the graphic novels and motion comics.”
As comic book movie adaptations continue to dominate the box office and events like Comic-Con speak to a broader international audience, more and more publishers, game companies, online media, and TV networks are seeking to get a stake in the kind of dual-platform storytelling that Liquid has made its business, between graphic novels and motion comics.
“We like to work with leading filmmakers because they know how to tell great stories. Their skills and expertise is what makes them such great partners,” Devarajan says. “I don’t think fans focus too much on the directors involved. It may help make them give something new a try that they otherwise might have ignored, but in the end, all the audience really cares about is if they are being entertained with a good story.”