Writer Chanan Beizer and artist Vanessa Cardinali’s new graphic novel The Golem of Venice Beach is a visual feast for those that love comic art. Cardinali is joined by notable comic artists such as Michael Allred, Stephen R. Bissette, Jae Lee, Nick Pitarra, Paul Pope, and Bill Sienkiewicz for Beizer’s new take on the ancient Golem of legend, in the sunny confines of Venice Beach, California of all places.
Learn more about the “Giant of Venice” and his journey out of gothic legends in our exclusive interview with Beizer and Cardinali (currently available to back on Kickstarter).
Chanan: Where did the idea for The Golem of Venice Beach originate and why do you think the story works well in the comics medium?
Chanan Beizer: I was heavily influenced by my film background and the neighborhood of Venice Beach, where I was living at the time. Venice is the perfect place for certain cinematic tropes in film noir and its cousin film Soleil. The dangerous, mysterious shadows at night versus the sweaty, unrelenting heat of the sun by day. Plus, I’ve always loved the concept of the uncontrollable berserker that I’ve enjoyed so much in comics. Think Wolverine or Sin City’s Marv. I figured this story of the Golem would fit in perfectly as a comic book set in Venice Beach. The contrasting visuals between night and day will look amazing on the page.
Vanessa: How did you become involved in the project?
Vanessa Cardinali: I was contacted by Chris Stevens, the editor, who offered me to join the project. He explained to me that I would be the main artist, along with all the comic superstars who would collaborate. I was very honored to be a part of it!
Chanan: The golem is an ancient creature of legend. How does this type of monster work in a 21st century story/setting?
Beizer: I had to make a significant change to the concept of the Golem – he had to appear human. He may be a very large human, but he couldn’t look like a stone creature shambling about modern day Venice Beach. He had to blend in with the locals. But even in a 21st century setting he creates his own mystique as residents have nicknamed him “The Giant of Venice” or as some people know him, “El Gigante”.
Vanessa: How did you approach the art style of the comic based on the various time periods that the story takes place in and the golem himself?
Cardinali: My part was all in the present time so the only artistic choice, I was trying to keep a clear distance between the sunny and bright scenes of the day that had to give the Venice Beach vibe, comparing to long shadows and flat colors for the night scenes that automatically become darker and more mysterious.
Chanan: The golem is a monster usually used in a horror context, but it seems like your comic is a mix of genres. Is this correct?
Beizer: Yes, it is. The classic Golem of legend didn’t start as a horror creature. It can be traced back to stories of the Maharal, a 16th century rabbi in the city of Prague. The two most famous works influenced by the Golem have definitely been horror based – author Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein novel and director Paul Wegener’s Der Golem series of films. But what I hoped to create is more noir than horror, set in the back alleys and shadows of Venice Beach. I even have a few archetypes such as the anti-hero and the femme fatale.
Vanessa: Which character did you enjoy designing and/or drawing the most?
Cardinali: The character I most enjoyed drawing was undoubtedly Adam, the golem! He has an imposing and massive physique associated with a very peaceful expression and this was very interesting to feel in the scenes!! Also the gang members with all their tattoos were a lot of fun though!
Chanan: You are working with some real legends on this project. How did you assemble such an all-star cast and what was it like working with them?
Beizer: I have to give credit where credit is due and state that most of the artists were corralled by my editor Chris Stevens. Of course, I was familiar with much of their work. Bill Sienkiewicz’s Moon Knight, Jae Lee’s Namor, Michael Allred’s Silver Surfer, Stephen R. Bissette’s Swamp Thing, Paul Pope’s Battling Boy, Nick Pitarra’s Manhattan Projects – just to name a few. These were all comics I’d read and collected for years. Add to that a fabulous newcomer in Vanessa Cardinali, fresh with vitality and energy to do the largest portion of the book. I couldn’t ask for a better roster. It gave me such a thrill every time I saw a completed page. Another step closer to the full realization of the book.
The Golem of Venice will be available to back on Kickstarter until Friday, July 1. Check out Sienkiewicz’s wrap-around cover (and the artist also contributes a seven-page prologue to the story), as well as interior spreads by Allred and Pope below.