'Motion Comics' vs 'Illustrated Films' - Analysis of Watchmen & Godkiller

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Award-winning filmmaker Matt Pizzolo compares and contrasts the newest animation formats based on an analysis of Warner Premiere's Watchmen motion comics and Halo-8's Godkiller illustrated film.

Award-winning filmmaker Matt Pizzolo ("THREAT") has outlined the distinctions between two emerging animation formats, 'motion comics' and 'illustrated films,' in his Hollywood-2.0 blog (http://www.hollywood-2point0.com).

His analysis compares the highest profile motion comic to date, Warner Brothers' "WATCHMEN: THE MOTION COMIC" [directed by Richard Zangrande Gaubert ("ANACHRONOX") and Jake Strider Hughes ("ANACHRONOX"), based on the comic book by Alan Moore ("V FOR VENDETTA") and Dave Gibbons, narrated by Tom Stechschulte ("THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE")] against the upcoming illustrated film "GODKILLER" [written and directed by Matt Pizzolo, illustrated by Anna Muckcracker, animated by Brian Giberson, featuring the voices of Lance Henriksen ("ALIENS"), Danielle Harris ("HALLOWEEN" 4 & 5, Rob Zombie's "HALLOWEEN" 1 & 2), Bill Moseley ("THE DEVIL'S REJECTS"), Davey Havok (singer of A.F.I.), and Nicki Clyne ("BATTLESTAR GALACTICA")].

WATCHMEN debuted on iTunes in August 2008 and on DVD in March 2009 (through Warner Premiere), while GODKILLER is set to debut day-and-date online and on DVD in late 2009 (through Halo-8 and Warner-Elektra-Atlantic) following a festival and limited theatrical run, although both WATCHMEN and GODKILLER were developed simultaneously.

The varying gestation periods are based primarily on the source material. Both WATCHMEN and GODKILLER began as comic books, but the WATCHMEN motion comic was based on an existing, fully completed comic book. The GODKILLER illustrated film, on the other hand, started its animation process while the first pages of the comic book were still being illustrated.

According to Pizzolo, "We had a few extra obstacles… like for example, Anna [Muckcracker] still had to illustrate and I was rewriting it as she went. It took a really long time before we even had enough existing artwork to do our first feasibility tests… and it was pretty slow-going from there."

Pizzolo's comparison between WATCHMEN and GODKILLER is less about the terminology of 'motion comic' or 'illustrated film' and more about the different choices made by the two companies.

"We're filmmakers and we developed our style with a cinematic aesthetic. WATCHMEN is different. And I find it actually quite fascinating how Halo-8 & Warner Premiere made significantly different creative choices while developing a very similar format simultaneously but in isolation," said Pizzolo.

He was also sure to point out respect for the WATCHMEN motion comic and clarify that his comparison is purely an analytical look at the different creative choices made. "I think the WATCHMEN motion comic is awesome. I was really impressed by what I saw. But they made some creative decisions that I just don't get. At all. And I think it's interesting that we made very different creative decisions when developing our 'illustrated film' format," he writes. "I suppose I can't really draw a fair comparison until after GODKILLER is released and all the critics and reviewers and commenters point out all of our misguided choices… then I'll go back to WATCHMEN and see how they did all those things right."

What are the key differences noted by Pizzolo?

1. The storytelling background that informed each development team. "It seems to me that the [WATCHMEN team's] inspiration was to create a cartoon utilizing existing art--whereas we started with the inspiration to make a film utilizing existing art. I think that's why our paths stray from one another so immediately."

2. The levels of motion and animation applied to the artwork. "WATCHMEN's visual design takes the original art from the comic, but ignores the visual language of the comic book and treats it like a cartoon. The amount of motion is also cartoon-like, even music videos don't bounce around that much." He continues "our personal assumption for Godkiller was: this is not a cartoon, so it shouldn't try to be a cartoon. We should use motion sparingly when it serves the story. Other than that, we should let the format rely on the visual storytelling elements already there and only try to augment them rather than replace them. That said, in certain places we chose to go far beyond the comic book art and integrate entirely new 3D CGI animations... but only when the story demanded it."

3. Integrating the comic book's visual storytelling devices. "WATCHMEN really doesn't utilize, even in a self-aware style, the language of comic books in telling the story. Sure it uses word bubbles, but I mean the architecture of the visual storytelling--most notably, the panels. We tried to incorporate the comic book language in our format, often showing the panels on screen and occasionally using multiple-panel reveals onscreen to borrow effective devices from the book."

4. Audio book-style narration versus animated film-style voice acting. All the characters (male and female) and narration are read by a single actor in WATCHMEN, whereas GODKILLER is cast with film and television actors delivering their lines in dramatic performances.

Pizzolo wrapped up with a summation that, "this project is exciting in a different way than most, because it's an entirely new format of storytelling… and each creative decision is a mix of personal inspiration, synthesizing existing methods, and determining the most effective way to serve the story. So two creative teams with different sensibilities, different backgrounds, and different source materials will create wholly different methodologies."

Which methods the fans will prefer remains to be seen, especially with creative teams around the world further developing the new format. At February's New York Comic Con, Marvel Comics announced its upcoming line of motion comics (though they arguably started the format with Stephen King's "N") will debut this Spring with "SPIDER-WOMAN" and "ASTONISHING X-MEN." Marvel's motion comics are said to have voice acting performances instead of narration and are being directed by the comic book's illustrators.

About Warner Premiere
Warner Premiere is Warner Bros. Entertainment's new production company focused on the development, production and marketing of feature-length content for the growing direct-to-consumer market as well as the short-form digital space. Warner Premiere is committed to being at the creative forefront in the evolution of quality product in the direct-to-consumer business, creating material that exemplifies the commitment to story, production and brand equity for which Warner Bros. is known.

About Halo-8 Entertainment
Halo-8 Entertainment (http://www.halo8.tv) is a Hollywood-2.0 movie studio using bleeding-edge strategies to create and distribute daring new films and alternative-culture lifestyle videos. Recent and upcoming releases include the megapopular animated series XOMBIE: DEAD ON ARRIVAL (which Bloody Disgusting called "one of the best online animated series to date"), the controversial documentary YOUR MOMMY KILLS ANIMALS (which Variety called "a miraculously evenhanded treatment of a snarlingly divisive debate"), the award-winning hardcore-punk thriller THREAT (which Urb Magazine said "makes KIDS look like an after-school special"), and the legendary NY hardcore documentary N.Y.H.C. (which Cinematical called "smashing... a terrific, well-told, engaging story")





Maddy Dawson
Medusa PR
p. 323.285.5066
f. 323.443.3768


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