Friday, July 17, 2009

The Reaper

In order to graduate from UMass Lowell, we had to undergo the wonderful trials of Senior Studio. Basically a semester devoted to one project of our choosing... it had to be perfect... not A+ perfect, just B- perfect.

My project came in the form of a graphic novel titled "The Reaper". The plot was completely distorted through painful hours of critique by students and professors who knew... well... nothing about graphic novels and who cared very little about my "vision" for the story. In the end, the style was changed, the plot was changed... and my pride was diminished. Nonetheless, it did turn out quite well for what it was. Stylistically, I was pretty impressed. It went from traditional comic drawings to a more typographical visual with an impressive Communist color scheme.

The story is a loose interpretation of the book of Judges from the Bible; Where a nation is under duress from a terrifying enemy, cries for help which comes in the form of a new, fearless leader. Before long the nation turns on the leader for his violent tactics against the enemies and ultimately adopts the religion of their former aggressors. Under the rule of new leaders, the nation is plagued with violence and discrimination, which gives birth to a new savior, a ruthless entity who many believe to be an Angel of Death.

Due to time restraints and setbacks from obnoxious and irrelevant critiques, I was never able to complete the story and had to call it "PART I"... Overall, the story, though only being a shadow of its former vision, turned out really well and would ultimately become one of my favorite pieces of work. It was like a breath of fresh air to do something very different from my usual drawings and it even helped me typographically, as I was forced to place an emphasis on text rather than drawings.

My only real complaint is that I had to change a great deal of plot in order to please my professor and was almost forced into applying political undertones, religious depictions, etc... Enemy's had to be "terrorists", Moab had to be an American city, etc, etc... Along the way it almost appeared anti-Muslim, which was not even REMOTELY the case. I plan on redoing this novel in a more true-to-vision form eventually. But for the time being, it's a fun piece of art, and also my longest running comic spanning over 100 pages. Yeah... Part One.

As the book progresses the style goes through a few drastic changes, still type-heavy, but more sketched out, photo-edited, trippy imagery. The reason for this was the plot involved a hallucinogen being forced upon one of the characters, so visually I needed to compliment the story.

Anyway, the full pdf can be downloaded here at also on the site, you can find a pdf of the original look and feel I was going for in the novel called, "The Lost Pages"... it also has more character development on Azriel (the main protagonist) and some differently colored versions of some of the final pages used. The style originally planned was closer to this look and feel:

Traces of this look can be seen in the beginning pages of the novel, mainly because the ruthless "critiquing" came soon after I had already begin the first few pages... c'est la vie.

All in all, it's worth checking out, and it will DEFINATELY be worth checking out once it's redone in its former glory.

For Joshua!
~ Mark

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