"Immortals: Gods and Heroes" Tells The Story Beyond The Movie

By Danica Davidson

Inspired by the movie Immortals, Archaia has created the graphic novel anthology Immortals: Gods and Heroes. The graphic novel is already out, and on November 11, the same day the movie is released, Archaia and Panelfly are bringing out Immortals: Gods and HeroesHD to your iPad and iPhone for a more behind-the-scenes experience. MTV Geek spoke with ten of the people who worked on the graphic novel, wanting to know what story they worked on, what their experience was like, and how they did their research. (you can check out all the latest news on Tarsem Singh's Immortals at MTV Movies)

Ben McCool

MTV Geek: How would you describe the story you worked on?

Ben McCool: Well, for starters, it's very gory. Quite fittingly, too, as the movie is an absolute bloodbath! My tale sees Prometheus, an all-powerful Titan, showcasing his hatred of humanity by torturing a group of hapless humans. None too impressed by this, Zeus decides to pay Prometheus a visit to discuss the grisly goings-on, and that's where things get REALLY heated. I had an absolute blast writing it, and Trevor Hairsine did a wonderful job bringing it all to life.

Geek: What was your experience like? Did you do research for the story?

McCool: A great experience, and unlike anything I'd done before. I was intrigued by the idea of a book being "inspired" by a movie, rather than a direct adaptation or prequel. So to use these fantastic characters away from "movie continuity" and simply have some (wild) fun with them was a very cool experience. And in regard to research, other than speaking to (project editor) Nate Cosby and a few of the Relativity guys, I was pretty much left to do what I wanted. Bonus! There was a little tweaking here and there, just to make sure my story slotted in alongside the book's other tales, but it was a very natural process.

Justin Gray

MTV Geek: How would you describe the story you worked on?

Justin Gray: Hyper violent, dark and primal. We were offered the opportunity to choose what character we wanted to work on and the immediate answer was to jump on the origin tale of one of the films most visually interesting and disturbing characters. It was a great opportunity to work outside the normal genres we encounter so we ran with it. Steve did a great job of boosting all of the elements that are essential to the character. It was fun looking at the mindset of a psychopath set that far in the past.

Geek: What was your experience like? Did you do research for the story?

Gray: It was mostly set location research and trying to establish the mood. We weren't required to hinge our story on established mythology, but rather work within the context of the Titans and Immortals universe. It was a very entertaining and extremely smooth process in dealing with our editor Nate Cosby and Relativity Media.

Dennis Calero

MTV Geek: How would you describe the story you worked on?

Dennis Calero: It is THE story. Heh. In the sense that it's the story of the Gods, and specifically, it's the story of Zeus, which in the universe of Immortals, is, to me, a much more complex character even than in the original myths. He's conflicted, he's willing to make great sacrifices and is courageous. He has children who he loves. Gods can die in this world, and often do. Presenting that reality is essential to understanding this world.

Geek: What was your experience like? Did you do research for the story?

Calero: It was fun. The chance to do the original superheroes, the Greek Gods, was so much fun. I had already amassed a great knowledge of them through my work being a dorky 8th grader, so my pedigree was in order, you might say. But I did read up some to remind me, and going through the Relativity archive was helpful too.

Jeff Parker

MTV Geek: How would you describe the story you worked on?

Jeff Parker: As a Coming Of Rage story. I apologize, but that does kind of describe it. We show young Theseus on the road to becoming the protector hero he grows up to be. It's sweet, and violent.

Geek: What was your experience like? Did you do research for the story?

Parker: I read the screenplay, but I've also read stories of this mythology for years, so it's pretty natural. What's best is that I got to work with Phil Hester, who had great ideas about staging the battle, and executed it like the top-level artist he is. He and I had never gotten a chance to work together before, so that was terrific!

Phil Hester

MTV Geek: How would you describe the story you worked on?

Phil Hester: It was a lot of fun. Since Jeff Parker's script is set in Theseus' youth, we had license to be a little more lighthearted than the film, or even many of the other stories in the book. I mean, our story is still stylistic and violent, but there's a bit more of an Aesop's Fable feel to the structure of the tale and I tried to push the art in that direction.

Geek: What was your experience like? Did you do research for the story?

Hester: Theseus was always my favorite demigod, so I've been drawing him since 2nd grade. I got a lot of beautiful reference material from the film, but as this was set in Theseus' youth, we had a little more room to go "off model." I really just tried to keep pace with the high visual standards the film displayed and delivered pages I thought reflect that sense of innovation. Who knows if I succeeded?

David Gallaher

MTV Geek: How would you describe the story you worked on?

David Gallaher: What I loved about working on my story, apart from working with Kevin Colden and Jordie Bellaire, was that I had an opportunity to write about a character that doesn't appear directly in the film -- the dark god Hades! What's great about Hades is that while he's not in the film, his actions in our story literally lay the ground work for the movie. Hades is the oldest brother of Zeus and Poseidon, and I had a great time exploring their relationships to one another. I also had the opportunity to explore the origins of Tartarus - the dungeon of the damned, as we call it - a gigantic prison cell that holds all of the fiendish titans. It was an incredible amount of fun. The art is really outstanding, vivid, and trippy.

Geek: What was your experience like? Did you do research for the story?

Gallaher: I had a blast. The folks at Relativity had a clear vision of what they wanted to accomplish with this graphic novel and I'm glad they invited me to be a part of it. Before I grew up on comics, I was an avid reader of mythology. The tone of this book really dovetails nicely into my other projects and my creative sensibilities - so working on the project felt very natural to me.

Rafael Kayanan

MTV Geek: How would you describe the story you worked on?

Rafael Kayanan: The story that writer Ron Marz and I worked on revolved around how the Epirus bow transitioned from one god to another and how the war god Ares felt entitled to be the bearer of such a powerful weapon. Limited to an eight page format we also wanted to showcase how powerful that bow was by showing the devastation and aftermath it can cause, especially in the hands of the war god. So the goal was to throw the reader into this massive battle, CHAOS! - the gods fighting well but still under constant pressure by the Titans. Then showcase how the bow changes the tide, literally altering the very landscape of the battlefield and culminating with the ending which involves the arrival of a being so powerful that even Ares cowers before him.

Geek: What was your experience like? Did you do research for the story?

Kayanan: I had a dual role of also having been involved with Tarsem's film as a concept illustrator working directly under the genius costume designer Eiko Ishioka since its early development stages years ago. So I primarily had to reference props that were made for the film, which ironically I'd had a hand in creating in the first place. For example, the crazy, sword crest helm design of Ares was something I came up with that Eiko approved. My idea there was a god of war would wear weapons to represent him, but through time mortals paid homage to him by wearing feathers or hair instead. Their physical limitations prohibited wearing heavy swords on their head. The scrollwork on the masks was something Tarsem really liked, that was based on my experience with swordsmanship. I added the scrollwork that you find in sword guards which protected the wielder's hands. This made the helms light and airy, you were also able to see the actor emoting under the mask.

However, the task for me was to make sure I drew from sources from the actual filmed sequences themselves rather than from our work on the conceptual stages, because the physical props evolve, sometimes costume details get swapped, etc. I was not sure which helm design I drew was chosen since I may have drawn twenty to thirty variations of an approved form design. I had great time revisiting everything, though I'd never left a film project for a couple of years and then returned to reinterpret it in graphic novel form. The wonderful creative meetings I had with Eiko gave me a heads up of what Tarsem was looking for. So I knew he wanted that Caravaggio look, he's always had that visual aesthetic as far back as REM's Losing My Religion video he directed. The addition to it was being able to coordinate with Ron Marz about the fight design and the tone of the sequence. I wanted to refer to that Caravaggio look but due to the single images of a graphic novel, I had to find another way to add that feeling of uncertainty. So I painted the panels digitally in a very chiaroscuro approach, then scraped color and conveyed figures that were moving with less polish - more gesturely. I wanted to give the idea that, yes, this refers to those beautiful shots but they've been run thru the grinder of war.

Brian Clevinger

MTV Geek: How would you describe the story you worked on?

Brian Clevinger: I had the opportunity to get into the head of Hyperion, the film's villain, a little more. We don't get a whole of lot his past in the movie, so I saw this as an opportunity to do an origin story. But, at the same time, I tend to think origin stories are a little too pat. Sure, we all have catalyzing moments in our lives, but really we're more complex beings than that. So, I approached it as, "Hyperion's origin story," but I mean that in two distinct ways.

You can think of it as either 1) the story of his origin or as 2) his story of his origin.

Geek: What was your experience like? Did you do research for the story?

Clevinger: I got to read the screenplay before there were even any trailers, so that was pretty cool. It'll be interesting to see how that draft compares to what's on the big screen.

And, really, beyond that, there wasn't much research to do. I was dealing with characters from the movie and it's fair to say they deviated a bit from historical texts.

Kevin Colden

MTV Geek: How would you describe the story you worked on?

Kevin Colden: I drew the story Dungeon of the Damned, which essentially tells the story of how the prison Tartaros was created. We also got to create the characters Hades and Cerberus and see a bit of the underworld, expanding beyond the scope of the film and into some new corners.

Geek: What was your experience like? Did you do research for the story?

Colden: It was a lot of fun to play around in this sandbox, and get to work with such a great team in David, Jordie, Rus, Nate and Joe. I've always been interested in Greek mythology, and love the visual sensibility in Tarsem's films, so I mainly revisited a lot of things that were familiar already.

Steve Ellis

MTV Geek: How would you describe the story you worked on?

Steve Ellis: It's the story of one persons development from disturbed child to monster and how the monster is tamed and turned into a Beast of War by a man who styles himself as a god. It's pretty brutal and exciting.

Geek: What was your experience like? Did you do research for the story?

Ellis: The experience was a lot of fun. Archaia let me push the edge of what I could do with the piece and I had a lot of fun with it. I did a lot of research on the characters and world of the film and how to assimilate the styles from the film into my style. It was a fun challenge overall.

Immortals: Gods and Heroes is in book and comic stores right now; check out this behind-the-scenes clip about how the graphic novel was made:

'Immortals' Graphic Novel Exclusive Clip

 

And check out the trailer for the film Immortals -- which hits theaters today, 11/11/11 -- below:

"The Immortals" Trailer 3

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