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Graphic Novel Friday: Greg Broadmore on the Imagination and "Hardly Any Beatings"

Every Friday, Omnivoracious will turn the spotlight on one or more graphic novels, with future installments also including news and special features. You can let me know who or what you'd like to see featured by commenting on this post.

This time out, I interview Greg Broadmore, author of the sensational Doctor Grordbort's Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory (Dark Horse Comics), which I reviewed in a previous installment of this column.

Who is Greg Broadmore, and why should you care? Well, in addition to having illustrated over 30 children's books, he has worked as a designer and sculptor on, among others, Peter Jackson's King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia. He's also a member of the famed Weta Workshop and a responsible for an awful lot of ray gun designs. In short, Broadmore is one of those multi-talented wretches doomed to spiral off ideas from their giant, imagination-stuffed brains on a daily basis. He's also, as this interview shows, a lot of fun... What was your childhood like? Do you remember any early "projects"?
Greg Broadmore: My childhood was good. I was smaller than I am now, and was into Star Wars more... Very little trauma, hardly any beatings. Lived in a coastal town called Whakatane in Aotearoa (New Zealand), which was nice. Yeah, I give my childhood a thumbs up. Early projects? I remember drawing lots of tanks, soldiers, dinosaurs, spaceships, robots... Mostly in scenes of destruction. I suppose that's not really a project. At primary school I did this project where I drew lots of German tanks shooting shit. Not sure what the teachers thought of that. I liked it. Was there any definitive point at which you realized, "This is what I want to do with my life?"
Broadmore: I've always known that I would draw and create things. I was totally oblivious to any notion of how i would make a living from it, but I knew that I loved drawing things, making models of things, etc. Luckily I never had any pressure from my parents to figure out a real career. Do you think imagination can be taught?
Broadmore: That's a hell of a question. I'm not sure... I can't see into people's minds, unfortunately, but I've always assumed that anyone can imagine, can have amazing visions and concepts. It's implementing them that's the trick, and that I believe can totally be taught. People assume that drawing, sculpting, writing whatever are all natural skills, that they couldn't possibly learn them if they don't already have a "gift" in that way. I don't believe that. I think if you have the inclination and dedication you can teach yourself any of these so called "natural" talents. The key is having the desire to do so. What gives you the most pleasure out of the whole process of creation?
Broadmore: That's another tricky question.  I love the almost trance like nature of rendering an illustration, the layers of detail and light. You get a flow going and it's great. Seeing the final piece is sometimes great, sometimes difficult. And a little time always changes my perception of the piece.

The big appeal of working on Dr. Grordbort's and a lot of my film work is seeing the final items made real by model makers and craftspeople like David Tremont. Very cool to pick up a design that you drew rendered into a tangible, tactile object. I get to see all sorts of my concepts become reality--like for Dr Grordbort's, we don't only make guns, we're doing all sorts of things now (which I can't exactly mention yet, because we're doing the big reveals at Comic Con next month). And of course it's amazing to know that people are actually buying our work and putting it in their homes. The guns have been out for just over a year and they have practically sold out, so we know we're on to something. It's good to know you're making something that people are actually genuinely into--enough so that they'll pay their hard earned cash for it. What role does humor play in your work?
Broadmore: I work on a lot of movies, a lot of Sci-Fi and  Fantasy projects, and most of the time these are played really straight, taking themselves very seriously. But most Sci-Fi, not all but especially movies and TV, are full of ludicrous inconsistancies and breaks in logic. This is easy to see in retrospect, which for me is a big part of the appeal of classic Sci-Fi. If we look at older science fiction we see the grandiose assumptions of the day, and the details that get missed that break the whole illusion. In twenty or more years we'll be able to look back at current Sci-Gi and see the incongruities with better clarity. So Dr. Grordbort's kind of revels in retro Sci-Fi as well as poking fun at it. It's almost always tongue in cheek, playing with the hokey science and backwards cultural assumptions of those bygone eras.

You can meet Greg Broadmore and find out more about his upcoming projects at Comicon in San Diego, July 24-27.


Check out these Broadmore resources:

The King of Fat Boss

More on the Good Doctor

Weta Workshop Profile

Broadmore Galleries


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