Remember a time when comic books were actually geeky? That is no longer true. Now is the golden age of comics. The biggest movies of the year are often based on comic books and universally loved by fans and critics. TV networks also turn to the art form for inspiration.
Miami filmmaker Michael Ruiz-Unger took a step away from the camera to create a new comic book series, Dark Beach.
Co-created by Ruiz-Unger and fellow filmmaker Tucker Tota, Dark Beach is written in a neo-noir style based in the year 2355, when the Earth’s sun has become unstable, emanating killer radiation. A new society has been created in Iceland, and this is where the story of the main character Gordo takes place.
Ruiz-Unger describes the creation of the story as a combination of a number of things, “the first being my interest in 1940s crime scene photographer Weegee. He would ride around the streets of New York City with his police scanner, attempting to be the first photographer on
"I did not see the sun for weeks. So Weegee plus no sun equals Dark Beach."
After developing his story idea, Ruiz-Unger enlisted a team that could bring his vision to fruition. The longest part was getting the look and feel just right for the comic. “You have this noir story set in a dystopian future which is also set in Reykjavik. How is there any color involved in this?” explains the filmmaker.
He had an idea of how something should look and feel, so entrusting the task to other people proved a challenge. Ruiz-Unger eventually partnered with fellow filmmaker Tota for the comic book. The pair brought on artist Sebastian Perez, illustrator and graphic designer Ray Jones, and web programmer Patrick Hart to round off the team.
“The difficult part really came once we actually started going from script to page. We [artist Sebastian Piriz and colorist Ray Jones] really had to learn how to communicate with each other on what specifically we wanted the characters to do or how we wanted to show them to the world. There’s a big difference between a screenplay and a comic book script, but the more you can convey and express what you want beforehand, the better."
Courtesy of Michael Ruiz-Unger
It took the five about six months to complete the first 28-page issue.
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Once complete, the next step was funding. So the fivesome turned to Kickstarter. Their hope is to receive investment for the first installment (with a total of six issues planned in the Dark Beach series). As of the writing this article, their initial goal of $1,300 has been surpassed with another two weeks to go. Like any typical Kickstarter, there are rewards offered to backers along the way and Ruiz-Unger promises to add more if their second goal of $3,000 is met.
“Kickstarter has become the place to buy independent comics, which is great because it gives people like us the chance to show Dark Beach to a larger audience. The response has been great so far.”
Kickstarter campaign ends on February 19. Visit darkbeachcomic.com.