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AICN COMICS Q&@: Lyzard busts skulls with HEAD SMASH creator Vlad Yudin!

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Q’s by Lyzard!

@’s by HEAD SMASH’s Vlad Yudin!!!

Lyzard here. A few months back I covered SPARKS, a graphic novel turned into a film by its own creator. Since then, SPARKS has been well received on the festival circuit and picked up by a foreign distributor.

At Comicpalooza, I met up with Vlad Yudin, a film director gone comic book creator and back again. On another stop on his nation-wide convention tour, the creator of HEAD SMASH was presenting a preview of his comic, set to release this summer. Along with writer Erik Hendrix and artist Dwayne Harris, Yudin’s HEAD SMASH follows Smash, who earned his nickname as a kid for his tendency to return bullying with even greater violent retribution. Taken in and raised by the Horde, he is one of the strongest weapons of one of the strongest syndicates in the war-torn city of Ares. Owing the Horde his livelihood, Smash’s loyalty has been unwavering. But can his brethren say the same?

LYZARD: Which idea came first, HEAD SMASH the comic or HEAD SMASH as a film?

VLAD YUDIN (VY): First it was just a story I was developing in my head and I was just developing more and more and then it made perfect sense to make it into a graphic novel first because it’s a great setup for a story in general. It gives you an idea of characters, story, and visually gives you ideas of the scenes and action. It just made perfect sense. And that’s when we teamed up with Arcana Comics, with Sean O’Reilly and then Tim Bradstreet came on board as our cover artist. He did PUNISHER and HELLRAISER. So it all came together after that.

LYZARD: Since your background is first and foremost film, was the intention always there to turn HEAD SMASH into a movie?

VY: It was just an idea and the story that people told me should be a film as we were just developing it on paper. Of course, today you see so many comic books and graphic novels being made into films, but what’s different about this one is that we have taken our time to really deliver the message to the people, going to these different events, going to Comic-Con, making sure the book is set up the right way because a lot of times today you find out about the film and then you later realize it was based on some kind of graphic novel or a comic book.

LYZARD: As you continue this convention tour, what have you noticed is different between marketing a comic book versus marketing films?

VY: What’s great about events like these, for instance, is you get feedback instantly; people are very honest. People tell you right away if they like it or don’t like it because you are competing against so many other things and people are very loyal to their heroes and essentially we are building a new superhero, Smash, and they are very honest and won’t hold back. So it’s great to get amazing feedback, like we have been getting a lot of great feedback and its actually very helpful.

LYZARD: Has Arcana been involved at all with the film?

VY: They are focused on the comic, of course, and Sean, the president of Arcana, will be involved as an executive producer of the actual film and then we’ve teamed up with the producers of the Twilight Saga, Imprint Entertainment, they are part of the actual film.

LYZARD: Getting into the story of HEAD SMASH, pre-apocalyptic isn't a term thrown around much. Usually a book like this would be set after the world has fallen off the edge. Why this setting, why the time when society is just teetering towards destruction?

VY: It was interesting because the city of Ares is where the bulk of the action takes place in HEAD SMASH. It’s a city that’s basically on the verge, and you don’t know what’s going happen but you know something really bad is happening and it can maybe get a little bit better or it’s going be total destruction because there is a prophecy of a thousand year war that’s coming, there are all the different syndicates fighting against each other. The Horde is the main syndicate which the red skull, the HEAD SMASH logo, that’s their symbol and they control everything. So it’s just a total nightmare city where you just don’t want to be there and you know something really bad could happen any moment.

LYZARD: So it creates this even greater sense of tension?

VY: Exactly.

LYZARD: Compared to the amount of control a director has on set in regards to be right there with the director of photography, was there any difference working with the artists of HEAD SMASH in how you presented your visual cues and ideas to them?

VY: It is actually very similar because in a film when I work with the DP (cinematographer) we have a lot of conversations, a lot of sketch work before it gets to the film and once the film is rolling, when we are set, we sort of already know what we are doing. There can be hiccups, of course, but we are on the same page. Here it is very similar. There is a lot of conversation, lots of meetings, lots of development work before we start the actual production but once we start the production the artist knew what he was doing so you may fix something here and there but it was very smooth sailing from there.

LYZARD: So what have been differences you found between films and comics?

VY: Of course the difference is that what’s great about a comic book, from my perspective, it’s almost like an art. You can open it up, you can look at this scene or panel and you can really appreciate it. It’s more like a painting. You can really appreciate it. In a film of course, moving images, you can’t sort of like analyze each scene the way you would do in a graphic novel. So what’s really cool to me is that you can see the action but it is different than a film in a sense, a continuous action, here you can actually focus on an individual panel and really appreciate it.

LYZARD: You have done so many various sorts of projects in regards to different mediums; even your film work has ranged in genres. What mainly attracts you when getting on board a production?

VY: It’s just some kind of spark that I feel inside that really interests me. You get it and you want to dedicate everything to it. The genres are very different sometimes, but with this specific story, HEAD SMASH, it’s a story of revenge essentially but the bigger part of it is sort of this very revolutionary spirit of Smash that he brings with him because he stands up against the whole Horde and he starts a quest of fighting this war and to save his family, his pregnant wife and his future son, and with that he starts a movement against a very popular and huge syndicate which is almost like a suicide mission in itself yet he goes ahead, he goes and does it, and that was that one thing that really sparked my desire to make it into a film, graphic novel, everything else.

LYZARD: So it essentially comes down to the story?

VY: Absolutely, though the presentation is very important still.

LYZARD: Arcana Studios will be releasing Vlad Yudin’s HEAD SMASH July 31st, with a special presentation at San Diego Comic-Con.

Lyzard is Lyz Reblin, a graduate student at the University of Texas pursuing a master's degree in Media Studies... which is just a fancy way of saying she plays a lot video games, watches far too many horror films, and then tries to pass it all off as "research."

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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