Saturday, February 27, 2010

Revanche (DVD)

Hey, look at this: a design process post, on this "design process blog"! What are the odds? *Ahem.*

Anyway, previously, I discussed the process of designing the theatrical poster for this film. The image we chose for the poster was aimed at mass appeal--emphasizing the "genre" elements of the plot (i.e. the gun) to hopefully draw people into the theater... and I think it was a good fit for that.

But when it came time to design the DVD, we wanted to take a step back, think less about why Revanche will be interesting to see tonight at the movies, and more about why this film deserves a place in the collection, what about it is really remarkable. And we decided, ultimately, that it was the subtle things--the gentleness in the tone, the quiet way the film inhabits different spaces--that make it great. One thing that I loved in particular was the way Spielmann will linger on shots of various locations, well before you understand why they might be significant. You almost don't notice it on first viewing, except when the film finally arrives at the moment which gives a particular location its significance, and it has that much more impact.

Practically speaking, the other major advantage we had for the DVD was that I could use frame grabs from the film itself, instead of relying solely on set photography. (We didn't yet have a digitial master when I was working on the poster, and anyway frame grabs don't really have enough resolution to blow up that large.) Don't get me wrong, there was some excellent set photography done for this film, but having the entire film open up to you is a huge advantage.

So, these first two were based on an image from the film that Peter Becker particularly liked... it's a big emotional turning point moment in the film (which I won't spoil for you) that's punctuated by a wind that starts blowing across the previously clam lake. It's a great moment in the film, but it really depended on the movement of the water to make it work, so these... didn't work.

This next was based on a [german, I think?] poster for the film. I rebuilt it from framegrabs since I couldn't find the original files. I like the poster, but I'm glad we didn't use this for the DVD, since it's someone else's design... (Original poster is the 2nd image below.)

This next one I quite liked, because if you've seen the film, you understand immediately the importance of this moment (again, don't want to spoil it for anyone), but even if you haven't, you get a wonderful sense of calm and quiet but yet with an unmistakable sense that something is very very wrong here... a variation of this actually wound up as the booklet cover. (More on that below.)

And finally, the winner: based on the opening shot of the film, this image of "ripples in the water" is a visual metaphor that's certainly been done before... but it, again, takes on a deeper meaning once you've seen that point in the film and know just what is making those ripples, plus it's just a visually beautiful image. Again, very much that sense of quiet. I also quite like the fact that you first view this an image of trees and the reflection of those trees in the water, but in fact both sets of trees are reflections in the water (one before the water ripples, one after), the top one is just flipped upside down. People tend not to notice that at first, but even though you can't put your finger on it, you kind of know that something is off... Anyway, I liked this one a lot, and so did everyone else, so there you have it.

People often ask me to include more than just the covers on here, and I think this is a good opportunity to do that, since the booklet design went through a couple iterations here, too. Here's a look at the first version (I've shrunk it down so you can get a sense of the whole thing--click to enlarge a bit, though still not full size. If you want to read the essay, it's up at the Criterion Current (or you could always just buy the DVD)):

We so seldom get good, high-resolution color photography, I was kind of seduced by it, so I built this design based primarily around nice colors and pretty pictures. And it's fine, I think. But Peter reminded me of some of what I was talking about above--in particular the idea of locations--and I came at the design again with a new perspective, using framegrabs this time:

I think the final booklet was definitely an improvement, and overall I was very happy with this package--an interesting case study in treating the same film in different ways.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Announcing: LIAR'S KISS!

That's right: I wrote a book! The great Jhomar Soriano is drawing it, and it's going to be published by Top Shelf Productions. And you don't have to take my word for it, you can see the official listing up at the snazzy new Top Shelf website. Here's a glimpse at the full (not yet final) wraparound cover--click for a larger view of Jhomar's great linework:

It's possibly a bit premature for me to really start hyping this--I'm sure I'll be posting much more about it as it gets closer to the actual release, but since Top Shelf officially posted the listing today, I just can't resist linking to it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Hey, it looks like we've announced our May titles, including the first (or second, I guess) of the three favorites I mentioned the other day: John Ford's Stagecoach!

I'll give this a proper design-y post closer to the actual release date, but for now I'll just mention how much I love this movie! Uniformly great characters, surprisingly intense action, and just incredibly fun to watch, start to finish. I always thought of myself as more a Clint Eastwood guy than a John Wayne guy, but this totally turned me around--and, incidentally, started a whole Western kick around our house for a while. I *might* still give The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence the nod as the best Wayne/Ford movie, but Stagecoach is damn close!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Empty Kingdom

There's another little Q&A with me up today, this one at Go on over, give it a read.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Criterion sneak peak

I've designed a lot of Criterion covers over the years, but I think my next three coming up (one due out in May and two in June) might be three of my all-time favorites. Here's a sneak peek at the last cover of that bunch, which was just approved. I've removed the title treatment since it's not officially announced yet, but I imagine the film buffs in the crowd will be able to guess which film this is anyway...

Monday, February 1, 2010

EGG #2 is coming!!

Breaking news! I just sent the new issue of EGG: Hard Boiled Stories to press. This will be the second issue of my apparently annual crime comic series, this one featuring three stories drawn by three amazing artists: "Lost & Found," drawn by Ming Doyle; "The Platform," drawn by Victor Kerlow; and "Cold Feet," drawn by Evan Bryce. (There are a couple of other artists working on other stories that just weren't ready in time, but hopefully that'll just mean less of a wait for issue #3!)

The final printed issues should be ready just in time for this year's MoCCA Festival, April 10 & 11. To whet your appetite, you can see some preview pages from Ming and Evan's stories over at Geekweek, and here's a sneak peek at the cover: