X-Weta Artist Launches Online Comic with CNZ
This November, former Weta Workshop designer, Tim Gibson, launched his debut digital Graphic Novel, ‘Moth City’, online at http://www.mothcity.com/
Set against the backdrop of the Chinese Civil war, when the governing Nationalist Party fought Mao’s Communists, Moth City tells the story of an American weapons tycoon who must solve a brazen murder, before his city’s inhabitants are wiped out by the warring factions.
Moth City is an independent online digital graphic novel; a crime/horror comic with splashings of westerns and 1970s Kung Fu movies. It is a story about control - when we lose it, when we gain it, and when others hold it over us. It updates weekly on Mondays with a section of pages at a time. The pages utilise the digital delivery system to control flow amongst panels and make for an immersive experience.
For Gibson, one of the designers on Steven Spielberg’s ‘Tintin’ movie and ‘District 9’, the connection between comics and movies is a natural one. “They both have a visual punch that reaches out and grabs an audience,” said Gibson. “The two mediums have been borrowing from each other for a long time, and with the pacing that digital gives you, that overlap is really obvious.”
Gibson believes there is a real opportunity for comics online, “I’m not talking about motion-comics, but simple story-telling. Sites, like Thrillbent.com or the work of Alex de Campi and Balak really play with the page and the page turn. You’re able to inject suspense or surprises throughout a sequence, not just every two pages.”
But, it’s not just the innovators of comics that have influenced Gibson; it’s the film world as well. “It would be hard not to be inspired by the types of stories we told at Weta, these giant worlds like Avatar or Lord of the Rings,” he explains, ”Graphics novels have even more freedom in a lot of ways – you don’t need a team of talented people building the world for you. In comics it takes as long to draw a spaceship as it does to draw a shoe, so there is no budget in terms of content.”
“’Moth City’ is for fans of fiction, people who jump from a Stephen King novel to an issue of Hellboy before settling in for a Walking Dead marathon on DVD,” says Gibson, who is both writer and illustrator for Moth City. “It’s certainly not naval gazing fiction. I looked into that, and all I found was lint.”
So, does that mean readers can expect to see costumed heroes saving the world from giant meteors? “No, definitely not. There are no superheroes in Moth City, no one to swoop down and save these characters but themselves. The story is set in a very tense time in history, weapon-science is really coming to the fore, but a lot can still be achieved with grit and determination. It’s certainly not like our lives, more like a heightened reality, like a Bond novel.”
And like all good books, it starts with a murder. “Moth City is my take on the murder mystery, a gumbo of detective fiction, noir-horror and suspense comics,” explains Gibson. “Let’s just say Spider-Man would be severely overdressed, and Donald Duck would probably be eaten by the locals.”
And would Steven Spielberg like it? “I would hope so, it’s certainly a bit darker than the stuff we designed for Tintin, but I’m not going to be waiting by the phone.”
ABOUT TIM GIBSON
Tim Gibson is the writer/illustrator of Moth City, and an active member of New Zealand’s Film Industry, working on recent Kiwi Horror movies like ‘Fresh Meat’ as well as Hollywood blockbusters ‘Tintin’, ‘Avatar’ and ‘District 9’. ’Moth City’ is a digital graphic novel that will be released, for free, at http://www.mothcity.com/
Gibson’s work on Moth City has been supported by a Creative New Zealand literature grant.
The website was designed and built by two independent web designers, Steven Holt and Mark Webster.