Dax Christopher: I know when I’m seeing a completely original concept, and what I saw at Wizard World is definitely that. Can we start with you talking a bit about what exactly it is you’ve made, and/or a rundown of the concept? Is it story driven, or something more abstract?
Anthony Dortch: It is story driven. I am working on a project where models get body painted to become characters of a comic book called PURE.
PURE is a story built around the small nation of Seyns. It is governed by 7 feuding Western defined families; each with unique characteristics. They are privileged. The privileged don the ornate clothing and jewelry of money, beauty, and corruption. Their golden exterior and sky blue eyes belie any preoccupation with altruism, for the commoners serve as mere stepping stones to money, power and useless things.
The Others do not fit into society due to a substantial shortage of earthly possessions or status. The Others cannot camouflage their destitution. They live outside of Seyns and can only enter the nations walls to serve.
Video and photography will be created. Some characters are clothed and others are nude to show the differences in society…I am evolving the project to create mini stories that involve the complex issues of Western society.
My goal is to travel to different places, find interested models and shoot what I can in one day. The end result will merge animation, illustration and live action to create the mini stories – I can take the images from the video to also continue work on the comic book layout.
DC: How much of the creation are you involved in? Or rather, how many different hats have you had to wear in order to make something like this a reality?
AD: This is my baby. I think I work on every part of this project except for actually editing the film. I am the creator, illustrator, photographer, videographer, body painter, graphic designer, marketer, planner, scouter, costume organizer, set locator, travel agent, budgeter of the project. If it needs to be done, I’ve done it. Sometimes I need to bring in other talents to complete an idea.
DC: I’m always interested to find out when and where inspiration is striking people when they create things. Where did this come from?
AD: I find inspiration from people – “No one is ordinary” has been an idea I strongly believe in. Each person I have had the pleasure of working with has been a muse to push the project further.
Also, I find inspiration from current events and history.
AD: What I hope to accomplish is for people to rethink what is going on in our society. Though it is a sci-fi graphic novel, people should see the connections the story makes to what is happening or did happen in our society. Some of the issues that are raised in the book include: sexism, homosexuality, male dominance, body image, nudism, bullying, power, politics, military, religion, and media.
DC: As you said above, this is your baby. You conceived it, you’ve made it, and now it’s venturing out into the world. When you flip through the pages of your own comic, what are you most proud of?
AD: To be honest I am proud that I had the balls to do it. This project started when I was in high school and evolved several different times to where it is now. And with each evolution there have been issues and every time I have learned from my mistakes to overcome them with the help of so many amazing people coming into my life. They have helped me to evolve and to keep pushing forward.
DC: That’s a great answer. I think people generally accept that the hardest part of doing things like this is getting started, but they tend to overlook how hard and nerve-wracking it is to even make the decision to start to begin with. I get the sense that yours is somewhat of a genre-defying project. But since there are 1,000 websites out there that are going to make you cram it into one major genre label, which one would you choose? On a related note, am I right to be terrified of what’s in there? Because it looks freaking scary.
AD: Scary???? Dang I hope that the ideas that I am presenting are not scary. They are not meant to be. Ummmm…. maybe that’s why people passed my booth so fast in PA…
But seriously, I do agree with you this project could fit into several different genres. I think the best is just to say Adult. There are a lot of adult issues in PURE; for example, there is nudity and sex in politics.
DC: Ah. Yeah, I mean, not knowing anything about the concept before now, I just had those glances from the live action trailer at Wizard World to go on. I looks like something that’s bound to take some people out of their comfort zone. So, I’ve always wondered, when putting a comic book together, which comes first—the panels or the dialogue? Or is there some process that allows them to both sort of develop at the same time?
AD: Well, my process is not the norm. First, I create the idea of the short story. Then I have models/actors perform it, but without fail someone would cancel or a prop would get left out. Many times a scene has to be done in one take. So, without an option of a re-do after shooting I would have to rewrite the story to make sense with what I was able to film. Next, I put the images into the computer and add the dialogue. After a few edits I finish a chapter.
DC: Wow, that definitely is NOT the norm. I’ve never even heard of anyone doing that, which might help explain why the visual style in these books is so striking and unique. Are there any influences you can name that contributed to the aesthetic? Was it a product of experimentation or was that the look you had in mind from the beginning?
AD: Actually the style has been around for awhile. Unfortunately it is not currently popular in the comic book world.
Fumetti is an italian word that references speech balloons and comics. Some connect it to photo novels which is in reference to comics that are illustrated with photographs rather than drawings. Some have used film stills.
The evolution of my work incorporates the use of ink, photography, and my knowledge of comic book art to produce images that focus on a panoply of experience(s) while using a build up of brush strokes and bold colors. Inspiration is often found by looking to past artists like Caravaggio for his use of light and expression, Boghosian and Peters for their mixed media construction pieces, the Furturists for the use of movement, the Impressionists for the use of color and brush strokes, and Bennett for his use of color and detail to transform portraiture to a vibrant array of color.
DC: What’s your story as an artist? Was it something you grew into or were you one of those guys just born holding a pencil and working ink?
AD: Most people call me a JACK – meaning a jack of all trades and the master of none.
My mom would tell you that I started drawing at an early age. Yes, I was that kid that ruined most of my children’s books. And over time I just developed the basic skills of art. I had a wonderful high school teacher, Judy Campbell, that taught me the different mediums. She taught me how use them and focus my skills. I use what she taught me even to this day. The result is what you see now – a project that uses so many different platforms and mediums.
DC: I know from experience that there are a lot of people out there with aspirations to one day get their own comic book made and share their imaginations with the world. As someone who’s actually done it, is there any advice you could give to those who may not know what the first step to take is or what they should plan for?
AD: Never give up. I have sat many nights thinking that I should end this project – that I didn’t have enough funds – that I can’t find a proper cast – and that there is a lot of competition out there… but I have also taken the time to remember all the artists that never gave up, they pushed themselves, and they evolved. Their results have been amazing. I can and will do the same.
Thanks for being a great interview, Anthony! It seems like you have a great idea that a lot of people out there are bound to enjoy.
If you want to see Anthony’s work in person, pick up an issue of PURE, or just meet the man himself, you can catch him at these upcoming shows:
LA Marriott Burbank
November 6th – 8th, 2015
Also, visit this project’s Kickstarter page and feel good about contributing to a truly unique and inspired independent project here: