NYC dream: Swan Lake, angel of Bethesda, AlCopley, tiny apartment and Little Italy

Earlier this year a European art house film ignited a fire in my heart and that led to writing 25 pages long script of a graphic novel. When the opportunity came to put the words into the images, I started to combine inspirations from various sources. Essentially, all the major elements of my previous blog posts from past 5 years showed up in my creation: the 1989 Bolshoi version of Swan Lake, my obsession with the angel of Bethesda in Central Park, my interest in trailblazers from the past who successfully incorporated both art and science in their lives, the teeny tiny apartments in New York City and my newly discovered Italian connection.

Page 1The first page took me the longest. I wanted it to immediately draw the readers in, have a strong and complex visual and a conflict of the protagonist that attracts the readers’ empathy. I think my interest in dramatic perspective and videography with wide, total, half-total and close-up shots helped my storyboard design. With several layers of analog and digital paintings, mixed media pieces and typography motivated by a very purple mood board finally created what I wanted!

1989 Bolshoi version was unique as in the last scene when the evil wizard is trying to kill the prince, the swan queen throws herself in between them and as a result the power of the love of the prince and the swan queen wins over the dark magic of the wizard ultimately killing the later. In this version, the swan queen is not only a beautiful and fragile damsel in distress, but eventually turns out to be a powerful shield protecting her prince. I wanted the protagonist watching Swan Lake in Lincoln Centre, to completely immerse in this moment and wanted a flashback from his own life that reminded him of a similarly empowering moment of love.

Immediately, the protagonist is back in his past! It’s summer of 1982 when he decided to apply for an Italian internship. Of course, he researched several equally prestigious opportunities elsewhere. But, standing in front of the Bethesda fountain and noticing the details on the face of the angel reminded him of his love for Hellenistic sculptures. The key frame in this second page, is thus the angel. So, I drew her with more details than anything else on this page. As the protagonist slowly walks away from the fountain, lost in his thoughts, he knew he needed strong recommendation letters.

That’s where my research on the physician scientist Dr. Copley a.k.a. the artist AlCopley, came handy. When I met Al’s daughter Una back in early 2016 in New York, hearing that I’m inspired by Al and his life in combining biomedical science and fine art, her husband Scott gave me copies of Al’s shows from the past. I found that in 1982, Al was showing his work in the City Gallery near Columbus Circle. So, this gallery became my venue where I wanted the protagonist to network with famous (and sometime highly controversial) people in the art world that ultimately led to the recommendation letter he wanted for his internship application.

In the last part of the third page, my interest in tiny apartments and learning Italian became highly useful. The protagonist’s study table in his tiny apartment showed his books, word processor (remember it’s 1982!) and the letters addressed to a professor of art history and a publisher in Italy. I wrote the address in Italian!

Soon, I will start working on next pages where the protagonist goes through another time frame, the summer of 1983. There will be some overlap with scenes and stories with the film that inspired me. As the film set in 1983 summer used a very unique cinematography and storytelling technique of immersive cinema stimulating the viewers’ eyes with colors, I want to take a different approach. I’m thinking about the black and white style of Japanese Manga minus the large eyes and huge hair.
The stark contrast in style for the first page with the second and third were intentional and I hope as the novel progresses the readers will be able to understand and connect each style with a different time frame.

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