'Ghost Canyon' Comic Books
If you think you know all there is to know about comic books ... THINK AGAIN!!
"This was not the first dead body and it would not be the last since many sacrifices had been made in an arduous attempt to settle this wild, unpredictable land in a determined effort to make it livable, or at least survivable. What drove these individuals to attempt conquering the unconquerable, no matter the cost? One man had lived so devoted to his cause that while he was not the first dead body, and would not be the last, he was the first who would return."
'Ghost Canyon' Comic Books were sparked by the idea that the world of comic books could (and perhaps even should) be as real as the characters in them, Evolved Comics was created.
Their mission? To break tradition from the "cartoony" world of typical comic books and give readers an experience that is as real as the world around them by utilizing amazing photography and real-life characters.
Ergo, if your comics don't look like anything on this page surrounding 'Ghost Canyon,' well, they're not EVOLVED!
Step into a world of possibility. Gone are the sketch lines and drawn elements that separate your world from graphic novels.
This is not your ordinary comic book. Unlike any comic book you've ever seen, Evolved Comics brings you an all-photographed graphic novel complete with characters as real as the world they were photographed in.
A series you can sink your teeth into. Deep with complex and colorful characters, each issue boasts 32 pages of dark and mysterious adventure from the Ghost Canyon ten issue series, all in photographed reality.
Inspired by a road trip out west, comic book creator Aaron Warner began feverishly sketching ideas and collecting notes for a new comic book idea capturing the creepy ghost towns and cowboy folklore that he absorbed along the way.
Wanting to create a more dynamic and darker look than what simple illustration could offer, Aaron reached for his camera and began setting the scene for a ten-issue series titled 'Ghost Canyon.'
With hundreds of costumes and props, Aaron reined in a cast of over 35 local actors, 10 different locations, numerous horses, wagons and volunteers for almost a year to participate in this ground-breaking effort.
Tapping into over 25 years of comic book skills and knowledge, Aaron developed the Ghost Canyon universe with a blend of dynamic posing, dialogue, set design, photography and Photoshop.
Chatting recently one-on-one with comic book creator Aaron Warner himself, I first wondered at what age had he been when he first knew that he was artistic when it came to his imagination? "No different than any other kid, I had always "played pretend" and made up stories with my Star Wars action figures, and I drew all the time. What seemed different for me was that it never stopped. While other kids would get into different activities, I just kept pretending and making stories and characters and comics and having fun. I had a great childhood. I was allowed to be weird and creative and was encouraged to be artistic. Probably because it kept me out of my parents' hair."
What was the very first artistic work you did that people started to take notice of - and do you still have it? "As a kid I always drew and my goal was to draw comic books some day. My dad sent my cartoons to different publishers and the Boston Law Journal published one. At the age of 17 that was the first time I was paid for something I created. The first work that most people started to notice was probably "Adventures of Aaron," a weekly newspaper comic strip I started when I was 19 which became syndicated and grew to a circulation size of over 6 million readers. A comic book version of the newspaper strip, which I also drew, was published by Image Comics and nominated for a Reuben Award for Best Comic Book by the National Cartoonist's Society."
When it came to the title of your comic books, why 'Ghost Canyon'? "Ghost Canyon is more the story of a region or specific location than it is about just one or two of the strange inhabitants struggling to survive there. Obviously there are heroes and villains...and lots of sexy ladies...but Ghost Canyon is about a strange and eerie place where cowboys and zombies, witches and demons...and of course plenty of saloon girls...all do battle, and what is revealed at the end is something not even the actors know."
Indeed, what are you the best at creating for your 'Ghost Canyon' comic books? "Hopefully an audience. Comics have a very loyal fan base and for over 80 years comic books have been primarily line drawn with little innovation. Being that Ghost Canyon is not line drawn cartoon characters comic purists may disregard a graphic novel created with photos thinking we took the easy way out, using photography instead of drawing every panel. I can say after having produced both illustrated and photographed comics, creating photo comics is definitely not quicker, nor are they any easier."
"Hollywood has turned audiences on to real-life heroes, and as a reader I don't think I'm alone in thinking the level of expectation in comics themselves should and could be raised to that of a big budget Hollywood film. As Evolved Comics we take the extra steps to make sure everyone who picks up Ghost Canyon will immediately see this truly is an evolved version of the sequential art form."
To this day, what has been the best comment you have ever had about 'Ghost Canyon'? "A lot of people have said some very nice things about Ghost Canyon and how excited they are to see each issue, which is fuel to keep me going and get through all ten issues. One of my favorite comments was from a 12-year old member of our cast who sent me a Christmas card thanking me for including him on this adventure. That meant a lot to me. My illustrated comic characters never said thanks so it has been very meaningful and rewarding to see members of our cast appreciate being a part of something so unique."
When you go into the wilds of the country to take your still photography, does everything always go according to plan? "It's been important to learn how to be flexible capturing the real world as opposed to controlling all the elements of a drawing. If we were lucky enough to get all the actors in one place at one time, then we hoped the weather would also be as accommodating. And it rarely ever was. Plus, a lot of our props and costumes were either old or second-hand and certain items became as temperamental as Hollywood divas with buckles breaking, gun grips falling off or zombies falling apart."
"Before the actual shoot I would write a shot list of the images I wanted to capture in order to tell the story I imagined playing out in my mind. Due to time, or wardrobe malfunctions, or the patience of a thousand-pound horse, many other factors actually determine what ends up getting photographed. The key is to be flexible and appreciate capturing anything at all. Fortunately, once the shoot is over, we can utilize the tools in Photoshop and usually turn any photo into something dynamic.
Is there one element about these comic books that you are the most proud of, for a personal reason, perhaps? "The element I am most proud of in the Ghost Canyon series is the work done by all my family, friends and actors who portrayed the characters of this wild story. There was no script and no one really knew what the entire story was except they were cowboys being attacked by the living dead. But that is only the setting. And that was roughly all that was told to them while shooting the scenes. There is a lot of dramatic surprises in each issue and everyone who was a member of our fantastic cast took a chance and trusted me with whatever vision I had planned, even when they didn't fully know what it was. I hope they are as happy with the outcome as I was with each photo shoot."
Given that you have two (2) of the comic books released thus far in the series of ten, where does the production stand on the remaining eight (8) 'Ghost Canyon's? "At this time, we actually only have all the photography completed, but the actual page layouts, photo embellishing and special effects, along with the script writing is taking place as we go along. As of this interview, I am about halfway through issue #3."
Do you have another "paying job," so to speak, or is 'Ghost Canyon' comic books your full time profession, perhaps? "I've been a freelance illustrator for over 25 years creating comics, children's book art and magazine content. My wife, Angie, is an artist, as well, regularly completing assignments for the variety of clients we receive at www.CartoonistForHire.com. Ghost Canyon has yet to be officially launched with distributors so we're not quite to the point of hiring a staff. It's just her and I, so you can imagine the office Christmas parties get pretty crazy."
If you are not already, do you envision selling these unique comic books in Europe, Canada, and other such countries, perhaps? "Currently the books for sale at
www.GhostCanyon.com are "advance copies" we print as we complete each issue so the cast can see what we are creating. This allows us to build interest before the entire series is solicited through Diamond Comics Distribution, which really is the primary and only source for printed comics to be sold both nationally and internationally. We only get one chance to sell each issue through that distribution network so we want to build some steam before that worldwide launch. In addition, each issue takes about four to five months to complete, so we also want the entire series to be available before that launch phase begins."
What is the most interesting thing about you that you yourself don't ever get to really mention in interviews? "I have a cameo in the forthcoming 'Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice' movie - or, what those of us in the "industry" refer to as being an "extra"!"
Finally, as this rumor about both you and I has been circulating for years now re: our infamous "Beach House story," I was wondering if you wanted to put the record straight - right here, right now?! "All I can say is that the danger of fifteen packets of Kool-Aid per one eight-ounce glass was tested and that's why I've replaced all my zippers with Velcro. What happened with the ceiling fan was your fault, Mr. Trunk, and any further comment about that should be directed to your attorney ... :-)"
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
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