Arvid Nelson, Rex Mundi

 Mr. Nelson was a real treat to work with!! He was gracious about my time situation and allowed me access and use of anything on his website.  Arvid got our Q&A done in record time even though he was working on deadline. And those who are hooked on his series know how much we want the next installment!! So please enjoy his answers, he was very candid and very gracious and complimentary! And we thank him sincerely for being so accessable to us! Here is what "Rex Mundi" author Arvid Nelson had to say.

Originally posted on  March 7 2007.

These books were a nice surprise for me. At some points I felt like I was watching a movie rather than reading a story. It was incredible. How does the combination of the text and illustrations come together for a comic book? If you have the idea for the text of the storyline, how do you partner with the illustrator so that you are able to provide the work for your vision?

AN: Thanks for the kind words regarding my little story!
You know, everyone works differently, but this is how most people, including me, do it. First, I write a detailed script that breaks down each page panel-by-panel, along with accompanying dialog. Then Juan, the artist, sends me back a rough sketch of each page, along with suggestions -- adding a panel, removing a panel, changing dialog, that kind of thing. Once we reach consensus, Juan draws the page. Then I letter it!

If you’re interested in seeing the process graphically, Dark Horse, my publisher, put together two “Making of Rex Mundi” features online:
Issue 2:
Issue 4:[/b][/color]

 I've read that your mother is a witch doctor and your father is a professor and an investment banker. It must have been a very interesting family to be a part of growing up. How do you think they influenced you into becoming the person that you are?

AN:My family is very interesting indeed! My father taught me to be intellectually rigorous. He’s an intense person, and he always made sure my brothers and I gave our best, whatever we did. My mother is very loving, caring and spiritual. I only that hope some of her gentleness and kindness rubbed off on me.

How did you find yourself writing graphic novels to tell your stories?

AN:Almost by accident! I’m really interested in film -- in college I did a few internships in the film industry. One was at Scott Rudin productions, who produced Sleepy Hollow. In fact, it was in production while I was there. My first summer following college I landed a job as a production assistant on a Woody Allen movie, Small Time Crooks. Both the internships and the stint as a PA were pretty grueling. A lot of fetching coffee and a lot of photocopying. It occurred to me no one would ever ask me to write or direct a movie because I was good at either of those things.

That same summer I worked on the Woody Allen film I visited Paris, and there I had the idea for Rex Mundi. I had some leads in the film industry, but I made the decision to drop out and start writing. Comics seemed like a good way of telling epic, filmic stories on a modest budget.

 I found it interesting that you would use a woman as a personal doctor to the Duke and to be very involved in politics. Any particular reason for that?

AN:Most of the time, women are portrayed very ineptly in comics, so I wanted a female character that was realistic and three-dimensional. In some ways, Genevieve is the classic femme fatale. But her motives aren't purely selfish or diabolical either. She’s more complicated than that.

 I loved the use of art work in your book as a form of clues, do you have a background in art?

AN:  Thanks again! I’ve always admired and appreciated art, and I’ve taken a few courses here and there. I constantly drew as a child and in high school. That’s about all!

 I think Julien is really in an 'I have to know but don't really want to know' situation. Do you think his own personal beliefs have something to do with this?

AN: Yes, they certainly do. Julien is a complex person, he’s not the sort who’ll believe something just because he hears it repeated over and over again. There is also lot of conflict in his past -- he’s really in conflict with himself. So his quest to discover the Holy Grail is also his quest of self-discovery.

Will viewers compare Rex Mundi as a 'copy cat' to "The Da Vinci Code" movie since the movie deal for the "Rex Mundi movie" was made public afterward the release of the DVC? Are you getting weary of the comparisons?

AN: They might! I should let it be known I first published Rex Mundi three years before The Da Vinci Code. I’m just happy to know a story similar to mine found such a wide audience. I take that as a good sign I’ve got my finger pressed firmly to the pulse of the zeitgeist. It’s also extremely gratifying to have elicited Johnny Depp’s interest. I truly believe Rex Mundi is deeper, more exciting and more engaging than The Da Vinci Code. If I didn't feel that way, I would have abandoned it long ago.

 You've hooked us! When will we have the last of the books for "Rex Mundi" in our greedy little hands?

AN: Hah, I’m very flattered! The next book, “Crown and Sword,” will be in print by this summer. You can see a preliminary version of the front cover on the Rex Mundi website. The site is a good place to go for all the latest and greatest news.

 Have you stayed with your planned original storyline or have you made some changes along the way? If you have, why the changes?

AN: I always knew the ultimate course Rex Mundi would take, but I’m constantly revising, deleting and adding things. I think I’m finally at the point where everything is locked down, but it’s taken me seven years to get here! It’s a constant work in progress. They say paintings are never finished, only abandoned. That’s absolutely true of Rex Mundi.

What are you reading now?

AN: I’m reading “The Book of Wonder,” by Lord Dunsany, considered to be one of the fathers of modern fantasy writing. I’m also reading the stories of Clark Ashton Smith, another of my favorite writers. Smith lived in California and was active in the 20s and 30s. He wrote the most darkly beautiful and elaborate fantasy stories. His vocabulary is awe-inspiring. I learn so much about the English language by reading his stories.

I've read that Jim Uhls, of "Fight Club" fame is penning the RM screenplay. WOW! He did a great job with that screenplay. Will you have any input in what shape the film takes? Any idea when production will begin?

AN: You know, Johnny Depp and the rest of the producers are expending a lot of effort and money to get the film made, and they need me to give them complete creative control. It’s really my job to support them. I’m always happy when they call me for advice, but it’s really incumbent on me to stay out of their way. I just try to be as helpful to them as I can. And I’m incredibly excited and honored to have Jim Uhls writing the screenplay.

As to production, no specific information yet! If all goes well, it could be in a year or two. But it could be longer. I’ve been working on the film adaptation of Rex Mundi for about five years now, and I’ve learned the virtue of patience!

What do you think there was about the "Rex Mundi" series and Julien that attracted a film production company to option it?

AN: I can only stab blindly! But Depp's one of my favorite actors, and a person I’d like to think I have some things in common with. To know he’s interested in something I’ve written is absolutely surreal to me. I believe he’s interested because he sees some potential for it as a “thinking man’s action film”. And it’s funny, because that’s exactly how I conceived of Rex Mundi.

 Is there any chance that there will be another murder or mystery for Julien to solve? A sequel perhaps?

AN: Honestly, no. Rex Mundi is a finite story, I’ve always imagined it that way. It ends up in a very different place from where it starts. I’d rather it end in a burst of glory than have it outlive its purpose.

 Without giving away the secrets, what was the most difficult part of the storyline for you to write?

AN: Well, Rex Mundi is a murder mystery and a historical mystery all rolled into one. That translates into a lot of people, places and dates! The hardest part is trying to cram it all into the story and not make it ponderous. Admittedly, a few issues near the beginning are a little overbearing, but I’m much better now at communicating the vast amount of information. Every issue is a learning experience.

Thank you very much Arvid!

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