AFC Giovanni Rigano Interview (1)
In June of 2007, AFC site visitors received answers to their submitted questions from Giovanni Rigano, the artist from the Artemis Fowl Graphic Novel. The questions and answers that we asked are below.
1) What is the process of actually making a graphic novel?
In this case the first step for me was reading the original book. Then of course as the artist I would start from reading the script. The first thing
I do then is to make a storyboard, which is usually a quick sketch of the page just a few inches across. On this I’d then show how the page is
divided up into different panels, and within those panels the narration boxes, the POV of the different sequences and the character position and
movements along the page.
At this point it's very, very useful being able to speak directly with the writer just to talk about different graphical solutions and to discuss them, and I find it really important for the storytelling to do that. Eoin and Andrew Donkin worked very closely together writing the script and Andrew, the co-adaptor of the novel, came to Como twice, so we could work on and develop the pages together. When I have my storyboard completed and everyone is happy with them, then I do a layout, in which I focus on characters' acting, the background and the structure of everything in the page. I use to work on several layers and loose papers in this passage, with different pencils and pens, just to add all the final sketches together at the end. In this phase I always ask the writer his comments, just to find out that everything fits with his ideas and to make sure that every detail is at its place.
When the layout is ready, I start to link it with pens and brushes on another paper using the layout as a guide. At end there's the colour phase, created on computer in this case by Paolo Lamanna, a brilliant colourist I’ve worked with for over five years. For this stage I do some colour thumbnails when I need to show a particular chromatic line I have in mind for a scene and the colour design for new characters. Normally, after that, I also check the final page looking at shadows and lights, and the general atmosphere of the sequences.
2) What art media (if any) do you use to illustrate the graphic novel?
I usually work on paper for photocopies with pencil and pens even for the final ink, but it really depends on which kind of effect I want to achieve. Sometimes I use thicker paper, brushes and inks when I need a rounder look, but in this case it's only paper and pens.
3) How did you come up with the character designs; are they shown the way you picture them when reading the book, or did you change them to suit the medium?
I tried to be as near as possible to the original ones described in the book, but sometimes I did make some slight changes to them just to help the visual point of view and express their personalities better See if you can spot them!
4) Did Colfer make any of the decisions about character design, or was that left up to you?
Eoin and Andrew followed all the creative process of the graphic novel, and his comments and suggestions were really helpful in that. Of course he gave his advise about the character design, but finally was really respectful of my job, as I tried to be of his own.
5) What was the main aim behind your illustration style? Did you alter it to fit AF?
I always do that. Sometimes I make small changes, sometimes they're more evident. It depends on the story I have to tell. With Artemis I started doing sketches several years ago, and I did them in a cartoon style. That's because, at first sight, I was attracted by the humour and all the action scenes in the novel and I choose a design which would have been better to emphasize those aspects. It's only much time later that, at Eoin's request, I approached them in a more realistic and grotesque way. In fact I recognized after that Artemis' universe is darker, more complex and less reassuring than I thought at first, and using a humouristic style would have been reductive for the characters' psychological elements that are vital to the story.
6) What points did you keep in mind for the People and illustrating Haven?
The main reference other than the book Eoin gave me for the general atmosphere was Blade Runner, the movie. After that I tried to keep in mind all of
those images, illustrations and visuals typical of Irish folklore. I remember once, just before starting sketching, I went into a big bookshop in
Milan and I bought everything I could find about Ireland. When I went to pay, the girl at the desk said to me: “Have a good journey!”
Well, finally it was… sort of!
7) Which book in the series do you think would be the most difficult to turn into a graphic novel?
It will always be the next one!
8) Have you tried to incorporate all of Colfer's details into the graphic novel, or did you let the art and its design be partially at your discretion?
I tried to put everything I found from the original Novel, of course. But in a book usually it's not necessary to describe everything, and that gave me the opportunity to adapt slightly some parts just to fit the action better.
9) Who was the character you felt you portrayed best and why?
I can't really tell, but I can tell you which one is my personal favourite: Mulch Diggums (in Italian he has the great name - ‘Bombarda Sterro’)! I liked him in the Novel and I waited impatiently for him to appear in the graphic novel so I could have fun drawing him.
10) Did you have to visit any of the sites, such as Ho Chi Minh City, mentioned in AF for inspiration on what the scene would look like? Or was it, again, your own interpretation.
No, I didn't have the opportunity to do that, but I bought a lot of books and internet is a great place to find as many references I needed. It would have been great to spend a weekend in Ho Chi Min City or in Ireland just to take some pictures. Maybe next time!
This interview was conducted by AFC Staff. You may only copy small portions, and not the entire article. A link must also be given back to the source.