Archive for March, 2007
First I thought I was early, then I thought I was late, then I realized I was interrupting.
An Interview with Frank Espinosa, author of Rocketo
Interviews are a tricky subject. It can be difficult to find the balance between the inquisitive observer that just wants his questions answered, and the compromised listener that cares about his subject. There is a space for attempting to shape the interview according to what is planned, but there is also a space for learning, that comes from the unexpected.
In the class I am taking with Henry Jenkins at CMS, we were given the task to interview the media creator of our choice with the goal in mind of exploring their thoughts as theorists of their own medium. It was very rewarding last wednesday in class to look through the diversity of projects put together by my classmates, and to see how the different subjects everyone chose would network together in a set of relations across the broad variety of Media. Singers, comedians, journalists, cartoonists, filmmakers, and all other genre creators you can think of, from any possible cultural background, and any possible combination of them (like cartoonist-journalist Joe Sacco) could come out of that pot of interviews.
I asked my friend and professor from another CMS class, Frank Espinosa, if I could visit his studio to record a conversation about his experience in the animation industry, and the creation of his personal comicbook project Rocketo. Because of my Production Design background, where we like to think of atmosphere as an important active character in film, I like to approach interviews from a documentary point of view, thinking that the audiovisual information captured by the camera significantly enhances the meaning of what the subject of the interview has to say, and specially the one represented by the subject’s habitat.
After a couple of great interview sessions where I realized Frank is not only a cartoonist, and almost as good a storyteller when talking, I came back to my computer with around three hours of footage to try to make sense of what Frank told me, in terms of what interested me for class. Even though I let the conversation flow in an almost freeform manner, I had in mind three axes that would serve as anchors to explore Franks theories and methods: I wanted him to describe how he works, to tell me about the things he likes, and to describe his motivations and his message. After talking about his childhood in Cuba, his favorite books, and the birth of Rocketo, I recorded him explaining how he makes a comicbook page, while drawing a panel on it at the same time, and when we were done he gave me the drawing he made for the camera. This is a link to a rough cut of the footage where Frank explains how he can produce at the crazy rate of 12 pages in one weekend. Here he talks about storytelling, film and comics, and here he talks about his motivation for creating Rocketo. This last clip is interesting because it explains a little about Frank’s obsession with traveling and exploration, and in particular the journey as a search for one’s own home. In Frank’s eyes, the very process of delivering Rocketo as a long time serialized tale is itself a journey, that makes him close to the timeless heroes he reads and writes about.
And this, of course, is a digital copy of the drawing I’m so proud of owning: