Monday, May 9, 2011

Midtown Comics Book Club: Madame Xanadu with artist Amy Reeder

I attended the April Midtown Comics Book Club with artist Amy Reeder and surprise guest editor Brandon Montclair to discuss Madame Xanadu: Volume One.  This book club was expertly moderated by Thor Parker and ZoĆ« Gulliksen. 

In case you haven't read Madame Xanadu, it features the origin of the famous seer. We get to see how she transformed from a naive forest nymph, Nimue, to the powerful seer of the DC Universe.  Throughout her journey, she is followed by the Phantom Stranger, who manipulates events to the outcomes he deems necessary.  As Reeder sees it, Madame Xanadu wants to so badly to do what's right. This is a coming of age story. 

Reeder was asked about her transition from manga.  Montclair brought her in to Vertigo; they had originally met at Tokyopop. Reeder originally wanted to change manga to be more homegrown but it didn't work out. They didn't like her in Japan because she wasn't from there so it was not considered true manga.  She felt like she didn't have to change her style but she had to get used to working with color.  Color means needing more detail.  While her art didn't change much, her work style had to. Reeder had to learn to collaborate with others on projects. She had to make sure that the directions she gave were what she wanted.  It must have worked because this team is still working together.

With the constant changes in the era throughout the book, tons of research was needed. As Reeder put it "Everytime you figure it out, it changes."  It did get easier closer to modern time.  In order to prepare, she watched a lot of movies from each era and built a library of screen shots to use.  The Xanadu kingdom was difficult because no one knows what it looked like. 

Photo taken by the Amazing Ron "Spidey" Gejon

One of the fans asked about who Reeder thinks should play Madame Xanadu in a movie.  While the fan voted for Kristen Kreuk, she pictured a mix of Natalie Portman and Jennifer Connolly.

The funniest part was learning about the Easter Eggs that Reeder drew in the book.

1) There is a hidden X in the first few issues to hint to her new name.  Make sure to look closely at the branches of the trees.

2) Faeries are hidden in the forest in the first few issues. She didn't tell the inker so they kept missing them.

3) Phantom Stranger disappeared a different way each time.  When he disappeared in the Gobi desert, the sand is shaped like the Chinese character for love.

4) Madame Xanadu writer Matt Wagner is drawn into the crowd in the Marie Antoinette death scene.  He is the one in the front drawing.

5) In the last issue, Spectre is written in the city lights right before he appears from the water.

6) The lantern that Marco Polo receives in Xanadu is actually representing the Green Lantern.

The second and third volumes of Madame Xanadu are out and the fourth volume is out this August.  

Next month, the Midtown Book Club is reading Too Cool To Be Forgotten with creator Alex Robinson.  If you are in the NYC area, make sure you join us!