Saturday, 27 December 2008

CAUGHT IN THE ACT - the inspiration

Film noir. The black-and-white interplay of light and shadow (not to mention the grays) that has spawned an entire generation of cinematic gems penned by authors such as James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler and Graham Greene, and directed by auteur-s like John Huston, Carol Reed, Orson Welles and the like.

'Out Of The Past', a famous noir film.

In recent times, film noir had slipped down a bit from celluloid popularity, but it has come back with a bang from the pages of the comic book, thanks majorly to the works of one man – Frank Miller.

Since 1991, Miller has been working on his neo-noir comic strip ‘Sin City’ for the US-based Dark Horse Comics. And his work (later turned into a blockbuster film directed by Miller himself with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino) has been instrumental in acquainting the members of a new generation with film noir – one of them being me.

A panel from 'Sin City'.

The project I have thought of is inspired by both the moody B/W cinematography of the old noir films and the primarily duotone (with the occasional splash of red or yellow) artwork of Miller with his mind-blowing use of negative space to achieve the same edgy and dangerous atmosphere (something Bill Watterson has spoofed wonderfully in the ‘Tracer Bullet’-themed stories of his ‘Calvin & Hobbes’ series).

All of us – well, okay, most of us have thought of ourselves as a detective or a secret agent at some point in our childhood. Growing up in Calcutta, India, where femmes fatales and trench coats are equally rare, these daydreams were even more exotic to me. Since I couldn’t do those heroic acts myself, I did them in my drawings. I read detective fiction (from Sherlock Holmes to Perry Mason, and beyond), watched films (from James Bond to ‘Se7en’), and generally fried my brain drawing the same in page after page of my sketchbooks. This project is an outcome of – and a tribute to – that eclectic childhood melting pot.

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