Following the success of their critically acclaimed graphic novel, R.E.M., creators Ryan Colucci and Zsombor Huszka proudly announce the launch of their hand-drawn animated film, Orient City: Ronin & The Princess.
Orient City: Ronin & The Princess is a samurai spaghetti western that mixes the characteristics of the American Wild West and Feudal Asia. An unforgiving place, Orient City is a vertical tangle of rock and skyscrapers interconnected with waterways and cable cars. The poor, quite literally, dwell at the bottom. At the center of it all is Boshi, a fallen samurai who has sworn to protect a young girl whose family has been assassinated. Together they head to Orient City for one thing… revenge.
We speak to Huszka to see how we can help get this unique film made.
How did you come up with the idea of creating a setting that combines the American Wild West with the architecture of Feudal Asia?
Two worlds that I just love. Probably the work of Quentin Tarantino inspired it the most. I have always loved how he picks a genre or a type of movie and lifts all its elements into his movies. Then he exaggerates everything, even its flaws.
And western movies just reek of schemes that are begging to be exaggerated.
On the other hand, as far back as I can remember, I was always drawn to Asian martial arts and the culture around them. I have vivid memories of drawing ninjas at a very young age. My subconscious most likely mixed these two together. I used to fence for the Hungarian national team, so I took my love for swordfighting quite literally. And I still train jiu-jitsu every day.
If you had to pick, who is your favorite character in Orient City and why are they your favorite?
Obviously Boshi is the original character of Orient City. He existed before we even came up with the idea of the film. This image was the one of a few that inspired us to go down this road.
My other favorite would be Nessa. She is completely Ryan’s brain child. And I know his personal experience that made him create her. I think her character and her role in the movie is what separates Orient City from being just pointless blood splatter.
Why did you decide to make this a hand drawn animation rather than a comic book?
Ryan and I are both huge fans of high-quality animated movies. It was always my childhood dream to make animation, or cartoons. I can’t give you a specific reason why, but when we started brainstorming this project we both assumed it was going to be 2D animation from the very beginning.
However, we do plan on turning this to a comic if we reached a certain stretch goal in the Kickstarter campaign.
The Kickstarter mentions you can do roughly 20 key-frames per day. What is the process of creating a key-frame like?
I think about the choreography of a motion in my head and I break it down to key moments. I capture those moments and sketch them down. Then I clean up those sketches into line arts. Then I add a shadow and shade layer, then a color layer. There are other steps that give my characters a final look, but those are my little secrets.
The key to doing that many frames per day possible is that my sketches and line arts are pretty close to each other. I like to keep some level of sketchiness in my line art. I think that is one of the aspects that defines my style.
What is the number one reason you think people should back Orient City?
In my mind people look at it and think: “Holly sh*t! I want to see this movie!” As simple as that. It doesn’t have any other purpose but entertainment.
Of course, to me it means much more. But I can’t expect other people to pledge for that reason.
If someone won’t get excited of an idea of a samurai western but they can appreciate a work of art, I can promise them that I will do my best to make every single frame a piece of art that one would want to hang on their wall.
What advice do you have for people trying to break into comics?
Well, I don’t consider myself someone who has broken into the industry. I still have a long way to go. But for anyone on basically any field I would say find your passion and practice it diligently. Work hard and always find your happiness in it. Sometimes it may not be enough, but that is all you can do.
Specifically for the comic industry I would say look for any smaller opportunities at first. They might lead to something great and they make your resume longer. Many people think breaking into the industry is sending your submissions to DC or Marvel and they will buy your idea or just have you draw Batman. It could happen, but there are many people out there looking to collaborate with a great artist… I found Ryan like this and now we’re making an animated film together.
What advice do you have for animators?
In this kind of art you have to put many hours of labor in before you even see the tiniest result. It can be break you down sometimes. Patience is everything for an animator. But when you see your character come to life, you forget all the struggle you went through.
Kickstarter for the film.
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