Director’s Commentary: the Tale of Brin and Bent and Minno Marylebone
As regular readers will know on the first of every month our own atomic-powered reviewing machine Richard prods the rest of the blog crew with a large poking stick (hand-crafted from finest Lego for him by Adam Cadwell) to choose from the upcoming realeases which comics and graphic novels we really want to get our hands on for FPI’s Most Wanted. One of my recent choices was the Tale of Brin and Bent and Minno Marylebone, a new release from Jonathan Cape, written by Ravi Thornton between wrestling with reality episodes and Andy Hixon when he wasn’t being pursued by the RSPCA for dietary crimes against innocent animals. I’ve flagged the book up on here before, when I first heard about it my special bookseller senses tingled and I normally go with my instincts when that happens because it usually points me to some very interesting reading. I’m delighted today to say that both Ravi and Andy kindly agreed to take the time to be our latest Director’s Commentary guests – here they are to tell us more about this fascinating and unusual looking new work:
Ravi: As the writer of The Tale of Brin & Bent and Minno Marylebone it might be expected that I’d take the lead with this commentary. Instead, over to you Andy.
Andy: Hello Forbidden Planet International and its readers. This Directors’ Commentary will take the form of a conversation between me (Andy) and Ravi, much like a conversation in real life. After a few strong words from Ravi I agreed that this is the best thing to do. I would just like to say that me and Ravi remain good friends to this day although this project really did test our friendship. All the arguing, swearing, shouting, petty name calling, biting and the shoddy grouting job (her words, not mine) that I did to her fireplace really did stretch our friendship to its limit but I truly believe we have emerged better friends, even better people, certainly on Ravi’s part.
Ravi: Firstly, what strong words? Secondly, that wasn’t shoddy grouting, but something else entirely. Thirdly, how lucky I am that I’ve had you these past two years to raise my moral standards. Goodness knows to what depths of depravity I would have otherwise sunk.
Andy: Me and Ravi are perfectionists and are both fairly headstrong when it comes to our work. And I hope that this will show in the graphic novel itself. In the end we created a product that we are both very proud of.
Ravi: It is fairly amazing to be holding the finished article in our hands, and to think ‘we did that’. Far more amazing is that there was no homicide committed along the way.
Andy: Ravi did you ever feel daunted about working along side a talent such as myself?
Andy: The book took me one year solid slogging my balls off every day 9-5 to finish. Bearing that in mind Ravi, how long did it take for you to actually write it?
Ravi: I wrote the original short story over some months many years back. It took me around six months to adapt the short story into the graphic novel script. I then spent several months more working with my agent (Alice Williams) readying the script for submission and finding the perfect illustrator (I refer to the artwork style, here, not the man behind it). I then spent one year solid slogging my metaphorical balls off every day 9-5 keeping you on track. I can honestly say it was one of the most stressful twelve months of my life.
(above and below, concept art for Minno Marleybone characters)
Andy: I feel deeply regretful about several of our (usually booze fuelled) altercations, and I am sorry I stole Ziggy from you. Tell me what you are sorry for?
Ravi: For the benefit of the reader, Ziggy is my retired-racer rescue greyhound, aka the Elegant Hound. Badly treated and in something of a state when I adopted him, I worked patiently and painstakingly for weeks to breakdown several of his trust, fear and dietary issues. Andy (almost) managed to regress him within just half an hour. I’m sorry I ever let you take his lead.
Andy: Ok, I admit I had had a little too much to drink (we all had by this point). But I needed something to eat because I’m a diabetic (something that Ravi cares little about).
Ravi (interjection): Not so. I love it when you get your belly out and stick needle-tipped pens into it.
Andy: I tied Ziggy to the sign outside the takeaway and ordered a burger and chips. When I was in the queue I looked outside and I could see his ribs. So I thought I would feed him a burger like me. It’s a common known fact that dogs really like burgers.
Ravi: Sigh. I’m also sorry that The Tale of Brin & Bent and Minno Marylebone didn’t make it in its original form: that the printers in China refused to print such ‘graphic’ pages; that we had to amend parts of the text and several of the images as a result; and that the addition of an explanatory foreword was necessary. Cape is well known for its publishing of graphic novel biographies that explore difficult pieces of people’s lives. However, until the printing problems that threatened to greatly compromise the project, I hadn’t mentioned the biographical aspect of this tale to Cape, hoping instead that the story would stand on its own merit.
Andy: People can get a bit funny about knickers.
Ravi: As a special privilege to Forbidden Planet readers, here are a few of the censored pages. Perhaps you could buy the book to see how the amended, finally published pages compare.
(above and below, censored artwork for Minno Marleybone)
Andy: Are you glad that we got Steve Nuttall involved to do the titles?
Ravi: Yes. Stephen is a very nice young man.
Andy: Dan Franklin at Jonathan Cape described the graphic novel as ‘The most disturbing thing he has ever read by a county mile’. Do you think we achieved our goal? What was our goal?
Ravi: My goal was simply to tell the tale as beautifully as I could. This is always my goal. All the time. Everyday. I think, with The Tale of Brin & Bent and Minno Marylebone, I probably achieved that goal. Othon’s incredible musical score – a piano and cello masterpiece written to accompany the book – lifts that achievement even further. What was your goal with this project?
Andy: First and foremost I just wanted to create a graphic novel that I would want to buy. I wanted the style of the artwork on the front cover to be reflected right through from start to finish. I really loved your story and most of all I wanted to show the love that Brin and Bent felt toward the end of the book be a stark contrast to the more explicit elements in the book.
Ravi: What are you working on next, Andy?
Andy: Well thanks for asking, Ravi! I am working on my own full-length graphic novel entitled ‘Lucia’ a satirical black comedy story. I have personally poured my heart and soul into this project over the last seven months. I’m really proud of what I’ve produced for it so far and can’t wait to see what people make of it. After that I am hopefully going to be working beside a photographer, delving into the world of 3D body scanning for a series of short stories I’m working on. Apart from that, I’m trying to stay off the internet and computer more. How about you?
Ravi: I can’t see you staying off those sordid little favourite websites of yours for long. They seem to make you so happy. Me, I’m involved in a ridiculously exciting venture right now to do with immersive storytelling. Still a little hush hush, but watch my website for further details. Apart from that I have another text currently with Jonathan Cape, and a number of graphic short story collaborations in the pipeline with some incredible non-feed-dog-burger illustrators: Donya Todd and Chiara Ambrosio to name a couple. Any last words, Andy?
Andy: Only to say that pies were the true fuel behind our creative tsunami. Ravi would leave me in the car with Ziggy and I would try and feed him chewing gum in her absence. Several pies later we would argue, debate, hit and punch each other until one of us gave up. It was usually me, as all I want is a quiet life and Ravi does a weird type of kung fu involving sticks or Kendo or something. I asked her to show me once then almost immediately regretted the decision. I always think it’s funny the people who you end up being friends with.
The Tale of Brin & Bent and Minno Marylebone is available to buy now from all good bookstores, several more suspect places and a number of downright shady emporiums. Or you could buy it from our nice, friendly website.