A slight Deviation for the Blog today.
Fans of Forever, whilst dilligently campaigning like Whirling Dervishes for the return of their beloved Show have been much blessed in the meantime by the arrival on the Fan-Fiction/Graphic Novel scene of a fan written project entitled;
Forever and Ever.
Two chapters are already out, but on the eve of a new Chapter being published, I caught up with Jeff Sack and Brian O'Mara the two creative minds behind the project to find out how things are evolving.
First plotter and spinner of tales Jeff Sack.
E: Hi Jeff! A little Birdie tells me that you and Brian have been very busy and Chapter Three is going to be an extra special treat for your ever burgeoning fanbase. Tell us about that?
J: Emma, Our characters investigate what at first appears to be an open-and-shut murder which proves to be far more complicated. A familiar name once again resurfaces as a connection to Morgan Industries emerges. The story we came up with far exceeded our allotment of pages for a regular issue. So rather than sacrificing portions of the tale, we've decided that Chapter Three will be split into two separate issues. The first part debuts on Tuesday March 29.
E: Have you had to revisit the show to capture the distinct tone or cadence of each character's Speech as your story has developed?
J: I guess I had a bit of an advantage on that front, having recapped all 22 episodes for NJATVS. I watched each episode at least twice, before I started my recap, so I had a pretty good handle on the accents and rhythm. I have however found myself reading aloud in the characters voices to make sure it sounds like one of these incredible characters Matt Miller created.
E: Which of the Characters from the show have been the most enjoyable to give voice to ? (From a Personal viewpoint I cannot wait to see what is in store for Mike Hanson and Perennial favourite Lucas! )
J: Each have their own allure. How can one be a Word-Smith and not appreciate the eloquence and old world charm of Henry Morgan? Lucas would like nothing more than to be Henry's best friend, but he's in a constant state of awe. That can lead to him making some awkward statements, but Henry's helped to ease that situation and a bond between the two of them is growing.
There's been talk for decades that there aren't enough strong female-role models in the Movies or TV. I submit to you Detective Jo Martinez, a person who I'd feel comfortable watching my back in any situation. She's a total professional and can be hard-nosed when she needs to be. However she's not allowed her job or life to harden her. Lieutenant Reese is the world-weary Mama-Bear although I wouldn't want to be a suspect getting interviewed by her.
We have three characters that can fill the comic-relief role, but come through when they're needed in Lucas, Abe and Detective Mike Hanson. Hanson and Henry's son also are great examples of how accents vary from borough to borough in New York City. Abraham was likely referred to as "Brooklyn" when he served in Vietnam, as his accent couldn't originate from anywhere else. Mike however is about thirty-years younger and was raised in Queens. The accent's a bit less harsh to the unfamiliar and lacks that Tommy-Gun cadence that Abe has.
E: In your imagining of how the show should have continued, Henry and Jo are now exploring being a couple. Without revealing too much that might spoil future Chapters, how far is their burgeoning relationship informing the way you tell the story?
J: I think perhaps the word comfortable might best describe their relationship at this point. Speaking from experience, any great romance needs to stem from a strong friendship. We watched that friendship evolve last year, now they've acknowledged their desire to be more than friends. However we've watched the chemistry disappear between countless fictional couples that developed their relationship too quickly. By keeping the flame on simmer instead of boil we're hoping to avoid that.
E: Obviously Henry's supernatural longevity is a as yet untapped resource of Gems in term's of scope for plot . I think already fans can see a story Arc forming in his familial past. How much fun has it been expanding the Forever Universe?
J: Morgan Industries entered our Universe when they were linked to the murder of Assistant District Attorney Sean Moore, the husband of Jo Martinez. The multi-billion-dollar corporation has also figured prominently in Chapters Two and Three. Abe using the genealogy skills he honed after finding out the identity of his birth-parents, discovers that Henry and the family that run Morgan Industries share a common ancestor. Family patriarch Isaac Morgan, founder of Morgan Fishing which had evolved into Morgan Shipping when Henry's father ran the company.
Henry believes that the company's tied up in scores of illegal and illicit ventures and that they've dragged the name of Isaac Morgan through the mud. In order to obtain as much information on the Morgan's as possible, Abe and Henry are using a form of reverse engineering. Starting with the birth of Isaac we've watched a young man born in poverty build a small empire. This evolves into a tale of the rise and fall of England's finest families and then rise from the ashes with an agenda that scoffed at the principles set down by Isaac. This all eventually leads to the present day Morgan's that run the corporation.
E: The more beady eyed reader will see more than a little bit of real Historical event being used to bed the storyline in fact. How much real History have you been able to incorporate into the story you want to tell?
J: I make no bones about being a History Geek and so far I've been able to sprinkle some nuggets into our story. The home that Isaac and Sara live in when they first get married is Kelburn Castle and actually is the official residence of the Earl Of Glasgow. When Jo asks Henry if he's ever been to Japan he replies that he actually died in that country. After dreaming of exploring the country for years, Dr. Morgan's arrival coincided with the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. The quake actually was Japan's worst natural disaster for decades.
E: Very Clever, on a similar note, Henry is a bit of a celebrity name dropper in the show, his personal interaction with some of the Greats of Art and Literature is another reason the Show was so much fun and so popular with the more discerning viewer. Do you and Brian have any plans to drop a few more " names" into the melting pot?
J: Given the span of Henry's journey so far plus his aristocratic bearing, we believe that Dr. Morgan's been at least on the periphery of some historic events and has broken bread with greats and near greats. Henry as many times as not will talk about historical figures with great disdain, referring to the telephone as A.G. Bell's infernal parlor toy! He also tells Abraham that perhaps Mr. Bell was destined to invent the phone as he had the worst breath of anyone Henry's ever come across. However he has nothing but admiration for the name he drops in the first part of Chapter Three.
E: In terms of the actual writing Process, what are the biggest Challenges when converting a TV series into a Graphic medium?
J: I'm constantly telling Brian O'Marra that I have the far easier job. I just have to come up with these stories, he then needs to find the images that bring my words to life. He told me when we first started working together to not be afraid to challenge him and he's pulled off some graphic magic that amazes me. I keep waiting for that e-mail or phone call telling me I've gone too far, but I've yet to receive it.
E: The project has been incredibly popular with existing fans, what message would you like to give them about your aspiration for Forever and Ever?
J: Brian and I knew there was still a vibrant Forever community out there and we knew we could never come close to duplicating the magic that Matt Miller and his writing team and an incredible company of actors brought to life for 22-episodes. We've tried to capture some of that magic in our series of Graphic Novels and the response has been overwhelming positive. Matt Miller has expressed his support for our project and Brian's gotten word from Donnie Keshawarz saying he's enjoying the series as well. Getting praise from those you are paying tribute to feels pretty darn good!
To get a little bit of a clearer sense about Brian's contribution as the creator of the visuals upon which the plot is hung, I posed a few questions about how he approaches his part of the project. The skill of fitting static images to storyline with ever burgeoning narrative threads would be complex for someone in the industry, but Brian is an enthusiastic amateur so his work on the illustration is admirable.
E: So then Brian,Tell me about your process, How do you decide what cells to use?
How do you edit them to create the comic -style cells?
B: I'll pick cells for a zoom in or zoom out. For this and the other chapters, I’ll pick a cell to capture the mood of the character in the moment. This chapter Jeff and I are going for a film noir look. We are dealing with a lot of personal angst with Henry so this works very well. I am able with special filters, to create a certain mood for the character.
E: Do you discuss what additional characters should look like? Or do you have creative autonomy over that?
B: Jeff writes the characters in general. When I use the show for source material, I am picking scenes that will flow to the next section of Jeff's story that maintains a continuity with the way the characters are dressed for example.
E: No mean Feat! What has been your favourite part of the process so far?
B: Working with Jeff. Collaborating with him. He has a gift for storytelling. As he mentioned last interview, I wrote most of Chapter One and he was a wonderful guiding hand. But, I would never want to do this without him writing these great stories!
I set Brian the same question, what message would you like to give fans about your aspirations for Forever and Ever?
B: Our desire is for the fans to see their show and cast continue. It was called Forever for a reason. As long as there is support and as long as we can keep this going, we will! Jeff always says, "Onward and upward!" That is how I feel also!
So there you have it, it only remains for me to sincerely thank both Gentlemen for their time and their willingness to answer my questions.
I cannot say how very much I am looking forward to reading the continuing adventures of Henry and the Gang. The time and effort Brian and Jeff have expended to give us a quality product is admirable.
Great Characters like these deserve to exist in the public consciousness longer and whilst in a perfect world we would get more Shows, I am grateful to Jeff and Brian for taking the time to keep on telling interesting tales in the real spirit of Forever, giving the fan favourites authentic voices and giving the Show the longevity that is it's due.
Forever now available on DVD in the USA, Canada and much of Europe and on selected On Demand services Worldwide.
Chapters One and Two of "Forever and Ever" is available on Facebook with the first instalment of Chapter Three hitting the ground on 29/03/2016.