Thursday , September 21 2017

Comic Book Diary: Andrez Bergen Part 2

ANDREZ BERGEN returns with more tales of hardship, hospitals and heroes. Here’s part two of his Comic Book Diary…

PART 2: THE TYRANNY OF MEDICALLY ENFORCED DISTANCE.

Lemme tell you – Being forcibly away from one’s girls messes with the mind something chronic. Not being privy to my daughter’s growing up debilitates me no end, every waking moment. Man, Fathers’ Day and birthdays are especially hard.

By the way, it’s additionally not a choice idea to publish a novel from your hospital bed. While this might seem all too apparent to some of you whole-brains out there, it’s exactly what I did last year when my publishers released the novelized version of Bullet Gal some time while I was in I.C.U. They were only running with the book as a charitable favour anyway – my past few tomes hardly set the literary world aflame, but promoting a book from the Brain Injury Medical Ward isn’t as viable as it might sound. Needless to say, sales have been tough, as no-one actually knew it was out, aside from me in a groggy stupor and my very kind, very brave publishers.

One of the other shitty things about being trapped in a cot away from your regular Mac and usual tools of creativity is that I’ve been unable to continue my comic series Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat that I licensed to U.S. publisher Project-Nerd, meaning only #1 was properly finished and printed up.

It’s also affected the comic Onna Bugeisha, for which I was collaborating on art chores with Gareth Colliton; this is shaping up as part Wonder Woman, a smidgeon Kill Bill, and the tiniest bit Kiss Me Deadly. She’s a funny character and came from a throwaway pedestrian on the first page of my collaborative work with Frantz Kantor for Magpie. So Frantz invented her. I just gave her a bio. And Gareth gave her the awesome looks I have to contend with. Trouble is, I didn’t know the Onna Bugeisha trope had already been used in Australian comics by Frank Candiloro. Living in Japan does tend to insulate you.

I was heavily influenced on that nascent project by Japanese woodblock artist Hokusai, to the point of appropriating and including his famous Great Wave off Kanagawa.

Gareth sadly has had to bow out, as he’s busy running an art gallery, meaning I need to step up to assume 100% of artistic responsibility from here on in, which kind of scares the crap out of me as I haven’t focused on drawing people in years. It’s a tough call taking the baton entirely from Gareth – I’d worked with him before on Tales to Admonish, and cherish the way in which he approaches character and faces.

Honestly? I can’t see properly anyway. I’ve been having problems seeing clearly, since I had the stroke last year, especially peripheral vision on the left and according to my opthamologist (try saying that word fast several times over) am lucky I’m not totally blind, as the stroke cut across close by my optic nerve.
I could therefore be in a more precarious state – I’ve seen worse here, believe me. Also I’m petrified of losing my ability to see and have my latest opthamology check-up this coming week.

Between you and me, although it tanked sales-wise, I actually think Bullet Gal’s one of the best books I wrote. Of the seven out there, it has a better lead and consistency, probably because I knew Mitzi pretty darned well by now. She starred in her own 15-issue comic book series and had origins told in an earlier prequel book titled Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth, which is also a wee bit autobiographical. She made a cameo in Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? And the Bullet Gal novel could be written in just two months since I had the “production notes” of the comics.

As it turned out, this was lucky, since I was going to be knocked out of action writing-wise for several months. There were times when I did fret that I’d never be able to write again, that the writing part of my mind had been damaged in the stroke and resultant surgery. My imagination remained, though. I actually rewrote the first 100 issues of Fantastic Four in my head while trapped in bed and forced to watch Monster Trucks, along with completely inane fishing programs and reruns of MacGyver.

I decided I needed to get my mitts on that shuttered Marvel property and bring their first family back to the kind of glory they used to inhabit. Of course, nonsensical as I may’ve been, I realised it was an impossible dream. Meanwhile, however, I became privy to all the stories of the other people put into this hospital for help, and before you knew it, was making mental notes for characters. One, a genial dairy farmer trampled by his own cows whilst milking ’em, would become Epilepsia, a character I’ve developed with artist Danny Zemp since my first seizure dictated I’d joined the ranks of not just those with stroke-related disability, but those with epilepsy.

I’ve also been able to write a swag of comic scripts for artists like Danny, Frantz Kantor and Ken Best post-meltdown, so I’ve proved to myself it is possible; I just dunno in which pocket I left my CORRECT-USE-OF-SEMI-COLON—O-METRE, and self-editing does get otherwise out of hand oft times.

That’s enough navel-gazing for now. Stay tuned for more. Heh… Better than Monster Trucks, believe me.

Andrez

Credits from the top:
Feature: Onna Bugeisha art by Andrez Bergen.
Photo of Andrez Bergen by Cocoa Bergen.

From the Bullet Gal comic book, art by Andrez Bergen.
Onna Bugeisha art by Gareth Colliton.

 

About GC

GC
Gary Chaloner is the creator of Flash Damingo and The Jackaroo, The Undertaker Morton Stone & Red Kelso. He's also worked on Will Eisner's John Law, Robert E. Howard's Breckinridge Elkins, Astro City, Doc Wilde and Unmasked. He's the co-convenor of The Ledger Awards and the host/publisher of the AustralianComicsJournal.com.

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