My second interview is actually with two guys today. I'd like to introduce to you, Angelo Panetta and Tom Dheere- creators of the newest graphic novel, Agent 1.22. This is no ordinary comic and the agent isn't just some chick- it's amazing and if you don't take a look for yourself, you're sure to miss out!
Alyssa: I was blow away by the comic in general- it blew me away! Please, could you share the concept? How did Agent 1.22 come into existence? (backstory on creation of her)
Angelo: My background is in audio post production. I also produce an audio series called "Anne Manx" that stars the voice of Claudia Christian from the TV series Babylon 5. Between 2003-2006 I was working in computer animation. I enjoyed it very much and I wanted to do more. That led me to David Martin, a computer animator from England. He had this character Agent 1.22 and suggested we create a story for her. I contacted Tom to see if he would be interested in writing up a three-minute script for us to produce as a 3D animated short.
Tom: I had done some writing assignments for Angelo in the past. He sent me a one-page outline and some YouTube animatics of Agent 1.22. I wrote a nine-minute script in a couple of hours and that first script is pretty much Issue #0.
We originally envisioned a computer-animated web series with me penning the scripts, Angelo casting/directing the voice talent as well as scoring, and David doing the animation. We later discovered that it’s almost impossible to monetize a web series and the project was too big for only three people to produce.
I suggested we turn it into a comic book but it was too unwieldy a project to undertake until Comixology came along. Now we have a great method of delivery along with Kindle and Indy Planet.
Alyssa: So I'm dying to know- where did the idea of providing her enhancements and information in the form of “Body Art” come from? (totally cool, btw!)
Angelo: If you’re referring to her cybernetic arms and legs, that was something that evolved when we were developing her character for the comic.
Tom: I always wanted Agent 1.22 to have a tattoo that was a key to her past but we could never find the right design or backstory for it. The enhancements script writer Stephan Nilson came up with along with the amazing designs of artist Douglas Shuler did an even better job of conveying her function & beauty better than any tattoo could have.
Alyssa: I've noticed a feature on her that I've seen on a few other female characters- What’s up with baring the navel? No hair?
Angelo: Originally there was a practical reason for her being bald. In our original concept as a computer animated webseries, hair was a bit of a problem to render. Once we moved to making Agent 1.22 a comic, we decided she would be badass bald.
The costume was Doug’s choice. I immediately took to it. Showing the navel was totally an artistic choice but it does tell the reader something important. That Agent 1.22 was born a human and even though she has been transformed into this instrument of the agency, she is still a woman, in every sense.
Tom: It’s fascinating that so many of our readers have asked about the navel and lack of hair. For years people asked why Batman has yellow on his chest symbol. One explanation was that it draws fire to his chest, which is the most heavily armored part of his costume. Another was that it was one of the few colors that could be used next to black and grey without bleeding on the page. I think it’s because it looks cool so I’ll stick with that answer.
Alyssa: OMGOsh- I didn't even think of the human birth thing! An umbilical cord means human! Gotcha! (slamps forehead!) Why was it necessary to make her female? Why not some buffed out guy?
Angelo: I think female characters are much more interesting and have a lot more layers of emotion than their male counterparts. I personally am attracted to stories with strong female leads in which the women can be strong and still be vulnerable. What’s interesting to me is a woman who can can kick ass but still have her heart broken.
Tom: Honestly, it never even occurred to me that Agent 1.22 could be a man.
Alyssa: On Director Miller’s introduction: Is she our villain with major Clean-up Duty, because I refuse to believe she was anywhere near Outpost 42.
Angelo: You may be onto something. :)
Tom: What he said. ;)
Alyssa: Okay, I get it- TMI. Agent 1.22 is so beautiful - why the appearance of such an innocent? Or is that part of her story?
Angelo: Making Agent 1.22 beautiful was very important to me. Once we committed to her being a comic, we were having a bit of a problem finding an artist who could make her look beautiful. I rejected many early versions of her and was beginning to wonder why it was so difficult to make a bald woman beautiful. Then we found Doug Shuler. He was very committed to this digital art style and produced an image that I fell in love with as well as a style for the comic that fit the cybernetic world we had created. Yes, there is an innocent aspect to her. This is very important to her story. No matter what we see on the outside, she is still a girl on the inside.
Tom: We feel very strongly about making Agent 1.22 start out as an innocent. Learning about the world she lives in, the agendas of the other characters, and her true purpose as she metaphorically grows from newborn to child to adult both intellectually and emotionally is a major theme. That’s also the journey we want the reader to take.
Alyssa: The best part of my interview endings are the final questions. I usually ask something to share or something quirky. I'd like to know, did you grow up on comics? Who did you want to be and why?
Angelo: Growing up I was a big fan of Spider-Man and Supergirl. Today I am a big reader of digital comics and love the work of Zenescope. Warlords of Oz and Red Agent are my current favorites. I also enjoy Top Cow’s Witchblade and Aphrodite IX.
Tom: I’ve read comics since I was very young. I started with Captain America, Iron Man, and The Avengers but as a teenager I shifted to DC Comics, specifically the Justice League titles and my favorite superhero Martian Manhunter. He also is alone and looking to find his place in the universe after his home & family were taken away. Oh, and he’s bald, too. I wanted to be Batman because, well, doesn’t everyone?
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