“I have an idea for a new graphic novel (…). Any interest?”
And with these two simple questions, Ted put the poison back in me.
After publishing “The Year of Loving Dangerously” with Ted Rall in 2009, I fell in my usual state of “feeling-void-after-finishing-a-book”. “YOLD” had been a colossal effort -although a rewarding one- in terms of searching references and creating an appropriate graphic atmosphere. Being myself a maniac of documentation and historical coherence in the silliest details – a car seen in such and such a scene, a magazine cover, the inside of a subway car of NYC in 1984… – and with the level of detail with which Ted elaborates his scripts, the work was simply exhausting.
This “I have lost all my energies and skills” lasts usually for some months for me. But in this case, aggravated by personal trouble, it took around three years until, in February 2013, I received a message from Ted that rang a bell in my brain.
“I have an idea for a new graphic novel.
The book is about a washed up reporter/war correspondent who is largely out of work because newspapers and magazines are all going under and slashing their budgets and closing their foreign bureaus. (…) A wicked take on the state of the media, the collapse of the economy, the Internet, the nature of warfare, etc.
Of course I was interested!!! So I climbed aboard, never imagining that I was embarking on a 6-year-152-pages-task.
First discussions were about what style would match better the story. I am always experimenting with new things, changes of style, attempts at evolution. At that time I was trying out a style that was not as realistic as “The Year of Loving Dangerously”…
… nor as dark as “Bluesman”.
I was looking for something more schematic, that synthesised reality in order to, without losing realism, give it a more “cartoonish” touch that would fit better with Ted’s satirical-cynical writing.
Ok, so we have the style… What about the main character? How should Mark look? He was a guy in his late 40s/early 50s, a little rattled by life but still in the mood, a bit cynical but still confident in himself and his ability. Someone just like Robert Redford in “All the President’s Men” or maybe Nick Nolte in “Under Fire”.
But there was something that didn’t fit the “schematic” style I was looking for. Also, it was necessary to reflect the passage of time – decades – as we told Mark’s story. An obvious recourse would be to make the protagonist’s hair greyer, so he needed to be dark-haired.
So I switched to a most modern look, dark hair and gray temples. Got it!
Discussing with Ted a cast if “The Stringer” were a movie, I see Ben Affleck as Mark. Ted’s betting more on George Clooney, who’s not bad either.
Anyway, Ben or George: if you’re reading this, know that we’re counting on you for the role of a lifetime 🙂
Thank you for reading. More to come on the creative process of “The Stringer” in the next days.