Interview conducted by Blu Gilliand.

Below is part one of Horror World’s three-part interview series with the creative talents behind the motion book adaptation of Clive Barker’s seminal Books of Blood.  You can view a sample here at Madefire’s website, and read the other interviews  with Mark Miller and Ben Meares posted over the next two Fridays.

Christian Francis is a writer and digital painter whose talents have been utilized time and time again in adapting Clive Barker’s work in different forms. In addition to writing stories for the Hellraiser: 14Bestiary comics anthology series and contributing to the restored Director’s Cut version of Barker’s film Nightbreed, Francis has been helping bring Madefire’s Motion Books adaptation of various Books of Blood short stories to life. Francis recently took time to answer a few questions about that particular project for Horror World.

HORROR WORLD: Tell us about your role in adapting Clive Barker’s Books of Blood for Madefire Motion Books.

CHRISTIAN FRANCIS: My role is of the Madefire builder. At its basest level I am the one who gets the art, the music and the script and puts it all together to be a motion comic. For the last issue of Book of Blood, Gareth Barker (Clive’s nephew) was the builder, so I have some big shoes to fill to match his awesome work on that!

HW: What are some of the challenges you face in putting together a project like this?

CF: As it is a new technology, I am still learning what is, and what isn’t possible. So each panel I have to put into motion is a fresh challenge. But each challenge means that the further I get, the smoother the process becomes.

HW: Describe the collaborative process between you, writer Ben Meares and artist Sam Shearon. 

CF: By the time it gets to my part of the project, the script has already been written by Ben and the panels are in process of being made. So from this script I see the direction of the scene, and what motion each panel is intended to have – the page by page as I get Sam’s artwork, along with any addition motion ideas he may have devised, and I digitally construct this as a first draft within the Madefire program.

After that begins the tweaking process between Ben, Sam and I, where we may decide to cut something that doesn’t work, or emphasize something that could work better – all to make it as effective and fluid as possible.

When we have a version of each page we are happy with, we send it to Cris Valesco to compose and produce the score… And each pages music is done, we tweak the relevant panel more to ensure that everything is as perfect as we can make it, or if Cris is unhappy with how it fits, tweaks his score. But with what we have come up with, this collaboration works damn well!

With Ben’s brilliant script adaptation and great direction, Sam’s phenomenal art and Cris’s awe inspiring music – not to mention Clive’s genius original story – I sure feel like the fake amongst the real artists!

HW: How long does it take for your to complete your part of the process?

CF: Each page for the initial build takes about six to eight hours. But the tweaks on each page can take many days!

HW: What kind of contact/input have you had from Clive Barker while working on this project?

CF: Clive trusts Ben implicitly with handling his story with upmost integrity, and ensuring it is the best it can be – so I have not had any direct input from Clive regarding the build of the motion comic itself.

HW: How do you keep from making the “motion” the star of the show, rather than an enhancement to the storytelling process? From what I’ve seen so far, you’ve done a very good job of finding the right balance.

CF: It’s difficult because the Madefire program is so in-depth, with a huge range of features, that you could easily get carried away and make something that is just too much, with lots of effects and transitions that deviate from the story. I think the balance is kept purely because of Ben. His knowledge of comics is frankly worrying, but this gives him a perfect vision to be able to direct this whole project. To know what would and what wouldn’t work for the audience. Not to mention our collective adoration for Clive’s work, which gives us a great guide to follow in terms of tone, and effect.

HW: What other projects are you working on?

CF: There are so many projects! Let’s see, I have just finished writing on a new horror film, going into production in a few months, called The Entwined along with Clive and Mark Miller (who are also executive producing). I have also just finished some new audiobook covers for a couple of Clive’s upcoming releases. The Hellraiser: Bestiary comic (for which I wrote some of the stories) has just ended its run, so I am deep into writing a new comic by Clive along with Mark Miller. Not to mention I also have just adapted Clive’s story “The Departed” for stage, which will be part of the Sci-Fest LA later this year.

As for what more there is to come? I can only say A LOT! 2015 will be a very busy year!