The Oregonian Picks My Brain

Portland’s daily newspaper The Oregonian asked me, along with a number of other Portland comics artists (Steve Lieber, Dylan Meconis, and Paul Guinan among them) to weigh in on the topic of movies based on comics. Here are my responses to their survey:

David Chelsea is watching:
Sense And Sensibility

“1) What’s your favorite film of a superhero comic book and why?

The 1978 Superman with Christopher Reeve. I lived in New York back then, and even though they call it Metropolis, the movie is full of details that evoke that time for me- I love that Lex Luthor has his hideout in Grand Central Station, and there’s a great shot of Clark Kent glancing dubiously at one of those newfangled telephone non-booths when he needs to change into Superman.

2) What favorite superhero comic of yours was, in your view, botched in its screen version and why?

I’ve never been much of a superhero reader, so it’s hard to make comparisons. It did strike me as not quite Supermanly that Christopher Reeve kills a helpless opponent at the end of Superman II.

3) What superhero comic that you love hasn’t been made into a film and ought to be?

This dates me, but I think it would be a gas to see Wonder Warthog on the screen.

4) What’s your favorite non-superhero comic/graphic novel adaptation and why?

I think pretty much every film version of a graphic novel that I’ve seen, from The Rocketeer to American Splendor, has been better than the original simply because its script went through more than a first draft; probably my favorite that I can remember is Hugo. Why? I love Scorsese, Sacha Baron Cohen and movies set in the 1930s, and it had the most stunning use of 3-D ever.

5) Why (besides money) do you think the movies and comics/graphic novels have become such a potent union?

Anthony Burgess once said that movies were more about flying than walking, and that filmmakers should stop trying to adapt Tolstoy and instead make movies from mythic sources like Beowulf. Comics are the mythology of our time.”

The full article appears on the Oregonian website here, as well as in the A&E section of Sunday’s paper. Check out also this fine essay on the subject in comics form by Mike Russell and Bill Muldron.

Fun fact: Even though I have been a published illustrator for close to forty years, living all but eighteen of those years in Portland, and even though my work has appeared in such major publications as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Village Voice and Reader’s Digest, as well as most Portland publications, and even though The Oregonian reviewed my graphic novel David Chelsea In Love and sent cartoonist-reporter Mike Russell to cover my first 24 Hour Comic event, the paper has NEVER hired me as an illustrator.