‘DENVER’: The waters–and crowd-funds–rise for PaperFilms’ post-apocalyptic graphic novel

March 4

A HIGH-WATER MARK? PaperFilms seeks crowdfunding for its latest project.

 

By David Betancourt

THE OCEANS OF the world have risen, most of the planet has been destroyed and the only place on Earth to survive the aquatic doom is the Mile High City.

That’s the story behind the original, Kickstarter-funded graphic novel “Denver,” a 72-page tale for mature audiences produced by PaperFilms.

The Kickstarter campaign for “Denver,” which also announced the creative team of writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and artist Pier Brito, went live Feb. 10, and met its financial goal of $31,000 less than a week later; the project has raised more than $40,000. (The fundraising campaign ends March 12.)

“Denver” is the sixth Kickstarter project for Paperfilms, which was founded in 2012 by Palmiotti, Gray and popular artist Amanda Conner (Harley Quinn, Before Watchmen, Power Girl), who frequently contributes to PaperFilm.

Palmiotti, 52, says that “Denver” takes place in a future that will be determined by the reader. There is no specific year.

“I like to just say ‘the future’ and let the reader place the year,” Palmiotti tells Comic Riffs. “Whenever a book or film put[s] an actual year, I always start doing the math and dissecting what’s going on, rather than just enjoying the idea of the story. ‘Denver’ could happen 20 years from now.

“There is really no technology featured in the story that isn’t almost available right now,” he continues. “We didn’t want to go for the far future, because then we would have to really get abstract in the world-building, and that would make us focus less on the characters involved.”

“Denver’s” main character is Max Flynn, a border guard for Denver’s waterways who’s forced to deal with blackmail and betrayal in a post-apocalyptic water world.

“Max is a family man who lost his first wife to cancer and is in a newer relationship and having another chance at love,” Palmiotti tells The Post. “He is a solid guy all around, but is thrown into a situation where he is forced into making some hard decisions that go against the very nature of his existence. [He's] up against a force bigger than him, something he never had to deal with before, and in this situation, things go from bad to worse.”

Palmiotti and Gray have teamed up before on projects for Marvel, DC and Image Comics. Gray says that the differences between working for a major industry player and doing a Kickstarter project to create a graphic novel are significant.

“You are essentially part of a larger business [at a major company], where you’re expected to contribute to a rich mythology that is several decades old,” Gray tells us. “They are great sandboxes to play in, and I have a lot of respect for the characters. On the self-publishing side, it’s an opportunity to create our own mythology — to tell stories that are personal or that we would want to read. There’s more work in it because we don’t have the same resources available to us, but we also have different expectations and ways of measuring success.”

Both writers agree that Brito was the right artist to create the visual world for this project. “Denver” will be the first American graphic novel for the 39-year-old artist from Montevideo, Uruguay, who now resides in Amsterdam.

” ‘Denver’ existed before we ever had an artist, and when I met Pier at the New York Comic-Con, I knew right away we had our guy,” Palmiotti says. “The secret to all graphic novels is the right matching of writer to artist. After that, anything is possible.”

Brito says that his art style has been influenced by various artists, including Katsuhiro Otomo, Moebius, Alex Toth, Syd Mead, David Mazzuchelli, John Romita Jr. and the Uruguayan-born Alberto Breccia.

Brito has seen the success that PaperFilms has had with Kickstarter projects (this is his first time being involved with Kickstarter), and he says he’s looking forward to introducing his art style to an American audience.

The American comic-book industry, he says, “is a very vibrant industry. I’ve always loved American comics. I’d like my work to reach a bigger audience and there is no better audience than this.”

“Pier brings a European and otherworldy imagery to his storytelling that fits perfectly, and it carried over into the soundtrack.” Gray says.

That’s right — there’s also a soundtrack that goes with “Denver” — one of the many things the creative team came up with to make this Kickstarter campaign a little more unusual, giving readers a chance to listen to the sounds that influenced the tone of “Denver” during the creative process. The composer of the soundtrack was Hans Karl, who has worked on documentaries, animated shorts and indie films.

“The idea [for a soundtrack] was brought about by Jimmy and Justin and their desire to expand the world of ‘Denver’ through music,” Karl tells Comic Riffs. “I think that having a soundtrack is another great way to further cement the experience of the world depicted in the book.”

The creators expect “Denver” to be completed in April. Once the project’s finished, the team hopes to accomplish its most important Kickstarter goal: approval from the fans who helped make it happen.

“We want to make sure each and every person [who contributed] feels special,” Palmiotti says. “It’s a simple formula that we never lose sight of.”

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