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DF Interview: Chris Burnham strives to make DIE! DIE! DIE! Great! Great! Great!
By Byron Brewer
We don't like to admit it, but this is an evil world where evil people do evil stuff all the time. Thankfully, there is a secret cabal within the United States government that works outside our normal system to influence world matters through targeted assassination. The world around us is manipulated right under our noses, mostly for the better … sometimes for individual gain.
So if you're hurting people, somehow making the world worse than it already is, or even just standing in the way of something good happening ... someone could right now be giving the order for you to … DIE! DIE! DIE!
From the fertile imaginations of Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple and Chris Burnham came DIE! DIE! DIE! … and no one even suspected it was on the way until the book hit! DF relives that first day of San Diego Comic Con a few months ago as well as exploring the book itself with artist Chris Burnham.
Dynamic Forces: Chris, first off, I HAVE to ask you about that surprise drop at the San Diego Comic Con for DIE! DIE! DIE! Wild! In order forms or catalogs, NOTHING! Did you think this was possible in this day of multiple social media? Can you give us any insight at all as to how this was excellently executed by Skybound and Image? (Being very old school, I was kinda excited about it!)
Chris Burnham: Despite being shameless gossips, Robert, Scott, Nathan, Rus and I are pretty good at keeping our OWN secrets! A skeleton staff at Skybound, Image and Diamond were aware of the plan from the beginning, and the idea was so exciting and novel that everyone was on board to cut off their tongues and throw away the key to the medicine cabinet. I doubt anyone without Robert’s clout and Skybound’s resources could pull something like this off, but I’d love to see them try!
DF: For the uninitiated (you know who you are!), give readers the general storyline for this series.
Chris Burnham: A secret cabal inside the U.S. government nudges world events along via financial manipulation and targeted assassination. But there’s a rift in the cabal, and brother is set against brother! Violence and jokes ensue.
DF: Can you spotlight a few of your chief protagonists, tell us a little about them?
Chris Burnham: Nate is the GI Joe guy. He’s an explosives expert in a three piece suit. He looks like GI Joe.
Paul is the good brother. He was handsome until he got his nose cut off and died.
Connie is their boss. She’s a foul-mouthed, sex-crazed senator who’s a softy at heart. She’d rather manipulate world events without murdering people.
George is the bad brother. He is still very handsome. He has secretly taken the place of his murdered brother.
Barnaby is HIS boss. He’s bald and spiteful.
John is the chaotic neutral brother. He doesn’t shave but can never seem to grow a beard. He reluctantly teams up with Nate and Connie to take down his evil brother.
DF: So how long has this book been cooking in the minds of Robert Kirkman and Scott Gimple? Were you on board from the beginning?
Chris Burnham: I’m not sure exactly when Kirkman and Gimple cooked up the idea, but I was apparently the first artist they thought of! Very flattering! It’s been at least a couple of years but I couldn’t tell you what episode of Walking Dead they were working on or whatever.
DF: With so many irons in the fire as Kirkman has, can you please describe to readers your collaborative process on this series with Mr. Walking Dead?
Chris Burnham: I’ll call up Robert once in awhile to ask little questions about specific details like “Now, should she still be covered in blood here or has she had time to take a shower?” etc. But for the most part, we work in our separate corners. Robert and Scott write it, I draw it, Nathan colors it, and Rus letters it.
DF: With the stomach-churning blood and gore, tell us how you as an artist approach the layouts and storytelling. How do you use your artist’s tool box to execute the script and yet keep things shocking and fresh from page to page and issue to issue.
Chris Burnham: My first concern is always clarity. The storytelling needs to be as clear as possible so the reader can see exactly what's going on instantaneously. If you have to pause for even a fraction of a second to figure out what's happening, you’re ripped out of the story and the drawing is a failure. F-. At the start of my process, I draw very tiny thumbnails. If I can get the content of the panel across with a tiny little stick figure silhouette, I know it’ll work when it’s full size and rendered.
When doing a fight scene, I try to make the motion/vectors be in right line with the motion of the reader's eyes from panel to panel. That adds to the perception of the speed of the action and also makes the reader an active participant; that punch is just sitting there on the page until they read it to life! Alternately, if a character is standing in direct opposition to the reading direction, it's like driving the readers' eyes into a brick wall. Very effective if done intentionally!
On a more geometric level, I use the X Y axis for clarity, and the Z axis for intensity. IN YOUR FACE!
DF: I think Nathan Fairbairn has been the color artist on this book for most of its young life. How does his color palette help your art and assist in moving the story along, creating those gut-punching highs of this volatile series?
Chris Burnham: Yeah, Nathan colors the whole thing! Nathan is amazing at using color to set the emotional tone of a scene and is an absolute master at establishing the depth of a location and pushing the clarity of every action.
DF: Chris, while we’re chatting, are there any projects, current or near-future, in which you are involved that you can share with readers?
Chris Burnham: I’m doing covers for Burnouts at Image and Night Moves at IDW. Other than that, I’m hard at work on making DIE! DIE! DIE! Great! Great! Great!
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Chris Burnham for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. DIE! DIE! DIE! #3 from Skybound/Image Comics hits stores Oct. 3rd!
For more news and up-to-date announcements, join us here at Dynamic Forces, www.dynamicforces.com/htmlfiles/, “LIKE” us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/dynamicforcesinc, and follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/dynamicforces.
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