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Micah Farritor: The Living and the Dead
Interview by James W. Powell
Posted August 17, 2005

Micah Farritor is a newcomer to the field of comic books, but judging from the images he's put together for the upcoming The Living and the Dead (Speakeasy Comics, October) he'll be a hot commodity in no time. Farritor met writers Robert Tinnell and Todd Livingston at the 2004 San Diego Comic Con, and the trio immediately began talking horror.

Now, having just put the final touches on his art for The Living and the Dead, the artist is already working on his next project, Night Trippers, with writer Mark Ricketts. But before the artist becomes a household name, I caught up with him to ask a few questions...


 
 
 
 

The Living and the Dead CoverBookshelf Comics — In your own words, what is The Living and the Dead?

Micah Farritor — The Living and the Dead is a story about redemption. There is a terrible, hopeless feeling of destiny throughout the book. The Doctor, the protagonist, is haunted by his past mistakes. He tries to make amends to the world by doing charitable deeds, but fate has other plans for him. It is a story of the depth of human cruelty and depravity. It is also about rising above your fate, and atoning for your past. Yeah, it's a feel good story. [laughs]

Bookshelf Comics — I've read the 11-page preview and must say The Living and the Dead starts off with a horrific bang. Which type of horror will this story focuses on: the psychological or the gruesome?

Micah Farritor — The book certainly has gruesome episodes but the real horror comes from the motives behind those episodes and the story surrounding them. Our villain is without conscience, remorse, or any shred of humanity. His madness is frightening to behold on the page, but it will be the reader's empathic connection with the Doctor, his creator and enemy, that brings that fear home. As the Doctor's dread grows, so will the reader's.

Bookshelf Comics — The more I can relate to what’s happening on the page, the more I can truly get into the story. How has your art helped create a firm bond between the Doctor and the reader?

Micah Farritor — Since the readers need to make an investment in the Doctor's well being, I needed to try and connect them with him. I used lots of close up panels and panels that are filled with his eyes. This seemed to be an effective way to draw the reader into what must surely be going on in the Doctor's mind.

The Living and the Dead InteriorBookshelf Comics — How did you develop the look of The Living and the Dead?

Micah Farritor — Bob and Todd had decided they wanted a full color book even before they introduced me to the story. I find there is something about fire that needs color to glow on the page, and blood must be red, of course.

The look of the characters, settings, and everything else came from 1840-1850 era Europe. I kept aware of architectural style throughout the book. I wanted the sense of place to be very real. Individual costumes and effects play a part in defining those characters, like mill workers in rags and wealthy Lords and Ladies living in decadent style. All in all I wanted to create a world that was believable, engrossing, and pleasing to the eye. I'm hoping readers find as much goodness in the details of the setting as I did.

Bookshelf Comics — One of the things I noticed immediately while reading the sneak preview was how the atmosphere and setting plays a big of a role in the story. Did you have to do much research to attain that look of 1840s Europe? Was there much trial and era early on in the creation of the book’s look until you came up with just the right color palette and tone for the story?

Micah Farritor — Oh, yes. Lots of research into wardrobe, architecture, transportation, lighting, weapons, the works. And I did struggle to come up with a period look that could satisfy the story and its creators. It was important for the book to follow an already defined backstory (forgive my ambiguity, but I don't want to spoil the twist). Bob and Todd also recommended some great resource material for me to consult when coloring. I watched several old Hammer films to see how they lit and colored their movies. I was a beginner digital colorist anyway so it took a lot of experimentation and help from my friends who were more adept at making digital art than I was. The result is a dark, often murky, dirty palette of colors and textures that brings the grit of the story nicely to the surface.

Bookshelf Comics — When Livingston and Tinnell pitched the story to you, what was your initial reaction? What about the story made you want to be a part of its creation?

Micah Farritor — I was hooked from the very beginning. The script they gave me was their movie script, and they both have a keen eye for cinematics and for building a powerful drama. Apart from the literary aspects of The Living and The Dead, it looked like a thrill ride. The story has a lot of great episodes. I knew I would be entertained visualizing the story and executing the illustrations. I like to have fun with the projects I work on.

The Living and the Dead Interior Panel

Bookshelf Comics — Sounds like the book will have some exciting moments. Is there a particular scene you really enjoyed bringing to life?

Micah Farritor — There are some action packed scenes. Bob And Todd really let me explore a lot of dramatic moments. My favorite scene, however, was a short one of a man delivering a letter to a seemingly abandoned house.

Bookshelf Comics — You’ve said how important it is for you to have fun with the projects you’re working on. Can you explain a little about the process that allows you to have fun and be creative visually, while at the same time focusing on deadlines, page count, and following the script?

Micah Farritor — Luckily for me I had a lot of time to work on this project and develop a good rhythm of laying out pages. Bob and Todd gave me some editorial powers to adapt the movie script to the page. I could slow down a scene for pacing purposes or eliminate shots that they had written, in order to keep the book at a readable size.

I did have to ask them to push the deadline back a couple or three weeks when I fell behind early on. It was just a matter of underestimating how many pages it would take to tell the story. We had originally talked about 90 pages. It ended up taking much more than that to get the most out of the dramatic scenes within.

The Living and the Dead Interior Panel 2

Bookshelf Comics — What one thing would you consider the most enjoyable aspect of working on this project?

Micah Farritor — I liked working on a book of such great scope and feeling. There is so much drama and emotion packed into this story. I had to really sink my teeth into it. I found that as I got deeper into it, the story and project became very dear to me.

Bookshelf Comics — What was the most difficult?

Micah Farritor — The Living and the Dead is my first publication. I wanted to make a good first impression on readers, and other creators for that matter. I put a lot of pressure on myself. Luckily, I find I work pretty well under pressure.


Check out the book's web site for more information on The Living and the Dead, and be sure to watch the graphic novel's trailer.

 

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