Sunday, 16 May 2010

the Return of the Strange

Looking back I can't recall exactly where The Strange Things came from. I have no recollection of making them up. It is as if they came with Leo, attached to him like a shadow or a reflection.

When I drew Leo Fox forth from my imagination, they followed him... unbidden.

They have remained in essence exactly what they were when they arrived in this dimension. They are anti-matter, they are chaos, they are the void dressed up as human beings for reasons of some cruel joke of the universe that we can barely comprehend.

When I first spoke about them to Ben and Paul the transmission of the idea was disturbingly flawless. They instinctively understood what The Strange Things were, even though I could never really describe them. Perhaps they were always there waiting for someone to notice them?

  • We knew that the Strange Things came when the reality storms struck and we also knew that they were creatures of the night.
  • We knew that they had some power to disrupt reality, reason and the very laws of physics.
  • We knew that they did not kill, but they somehow did something worse to any humans they could catch.
  • We also knew they couldn't go inside the homes of the citizens. They haunted the streets and the industrial zones and the wastelands, but they had no power in the jungle.

The Evolution of The Strange

The early sketches showed faceless hooded creatures, phantoms in urban sportswear. They seemed to hang on to form by a thin thread, always mutating, moving like nightmares.

During the production of "Leo Fox: Nan's Story" I was physically posessed by the spirit of the Strange Things. I learned to move like them and we filmed these movements. Using a process called 'Rotoscopy' we traced the frames of these videos and translated them into 3D animation.

Later, Ben Lycett remixed these movements from real life to create the hypnotic and elegantly disturbing movements of the Strange Things in the final scene of the film.

Now, several years later the Strange Things have evolved, ready for their iminent reappearance in "Leo Fox, The Sick".

The essence remains the same but now the creatures have faces and numbers. They still represent the indistinct fear of an immoral, inhuman, inner-city youth in ghostly hoodies felt by UK surburbanites. They also represent the deeper, more universal fear of the void, the psychological black hole at the edge of the mind, the thought that maybe 'all of this' means nothing and always has.

However, we couldn't rely on movement to supply the atmospherics in the comic book medium so Paul needed a visual re-think.

"Hey Paddy, had a brainwave today. The strange things. Talking about different universes and all that, and how we tried to portray that in video style, I had a root about for CCTV footage as reference for the strange things in the comic. The pictures I found are rather frightening in themselves...[They] perfectly capture the terror of the strange things. Some of them palpably make the hair stand up on the back of your neck."

Paul found new inspiration for the Strange Things by looking at CCTV footage. He created this mood board...

In the end, they came back to us again and posessed Paul one night. He frantically scribbled out the face that has haunted his dreams and mine ever since. We apologise in advance for showing this to you...

We can only hope that Leo finds a way to thwart them, before they leave his world and invade ours.

Thanks for reading.

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