Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: You recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for a graphic novel adaptation of the renowned opera, Carmen. What was the inspiration behind sharing this incredible story with audiences in the sequential art format?
Alek Shrader: Very simply, it didn’t exist! Well, I thought it didn’t exist. (It did, kinda.) But it didn’t exist with art by P. Craig Russell and Aneke! We all felt it was high time for an accessible comic adaptation of this extremely popular and famous opera, with a timely story. Carmen was the answer.
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with artists P. Craig Russell and Aneke and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou to bring the story to life on the page?
AS: As a long-time opera performer/director but a first-time comic adapter, I can say that I would have failed without Craig, Aneke, and Hassan. Craig was able to wrangle my scripts onto each page in beautiful dramatic style. (I actually rewrote the first 30 pages after his notes!) Aneke evolved ideas from both the scripts and Craig’s layouts into finished, musical art. And then Hass added text following suit, enhancing each character’s emotion, or the required drama of the scene.
BD: In light of the Kickstarter campaign, are there any particular backer rewards that you would like to highlight for our readers?
AS: Yes! We will have limited run art prints from several PHENOMENAL artists. I don’t know if I can say who those ladies are, but there are more than four. And I will have one of each. I’m amazed and incredibly grateful to have them involved. Also, there will be perks directly related to Arizona Opera in Phoenix and Tucson. And additionally, there will be signed copies of the Carmen book, plus personal interactions with me, if that’s your thing. I’ll mow your lawn!
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Carmen: The Graphic Novel will connect with and impact readers?
AS: Comics are all the rage. From a financial standpoint, it’s a huge (and growing) industry. What all that money means is that more and more people are reading the stories. It’s the opposite of most opera houses! And we opera folks would love to join that trend of new audiences. We want to communicate with groups that might not feel included or invited to the opera. This adaptation of Carmen is really for them– the students, the comic readers, the not-yet-opera folks.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about and support the Carmen: The Graphic Novel Kickstarter campaign?
AS: Please visit our page and follow! All the info is there! Tell your friends, tell your rivals, blast it on socials. Our plan for global domination can’t happen without you!