Tyrant: The Movie!
Dreams Do Come True…
“I’ve been dreaming of this since I was four years old,” grizzled Tyrant creator Stephen Bissette said just after his 55th birthday this year. “From the time I first conceived of this story, I saw it primarily as a movie — in my head, of course, it was the ultimate Ray Harryhausen movie!”
With negotiations quietly kept under wraps since 2008, it was announced today that this complicated South Korean/Belgian/Brazilian/Canal+ co-production was indeed underway and Bissette had approved the initial animation tests, which were presented to him in his Vermont home earlier in March.
As with the recent international animation sleeper The Secret of Kells, such elaborate coproductions are becoming the way in which non-Hollywood animated films are being made. Though The Secret of Kells was made in Ireland, it was an international coproduction that took over four years to complete.
“What they’ve done with my characters, and with these expansive Late Cretaceous landscapes and creatures, is just astonishing,” Bissette said, rubbing his beard sagely. “Every scale, every dewdrop, every dragonfly, every vein of every leaf and every drop of blood looks utterly alive, and Tyrant’s birth is as vivid as that calf birthing I saw when I was six years old, in the Sherman Farm barn.”
[Bissette's original artwork from his celebrated comicbook series is being referenced by animators every step of the way. ©1996, 2010 Stephen R. Bissette, all rights reserved.]
Details of the production are still being kept secret, though it was also announced that Phil Tippett, Roger Avary, Sir Kenneth Branagh and Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud are among the talents involved in this lavish international coproduction.
The production is being supervised by famed South Korean filmmaker Hyung-rae Shim, whose earlier films include Yonggary (1999, released in the US as Reptilian) and the global hit D-War (2007).
“I insisted on the involvement of certain key individuals whose own work has been important to my own,” Bissette said, “and the producers have surprised me every step of the way. They’ve managed to get just about everyone, and I’m delighted.”
Shuttling between Vermont, Uruguay and South Korea, Bissette has managed to keep tabs on every step of the process since work began in 2008. “When they initially approached me about doing this, I was pretty skeptical,” he said. “But thanks to high-speed internet access and the willingness of the producers to involve me completely, this was been a remarkable experience so far, and I’ve no reason to expect things won’t continue to go swimmingly.”
The production has also tapped the original paleontologists who helped Bissette with his comicbook series, to ensure absolute fidelity to the fossil record. “That was important to all concerned,” Bissette noted, “though we will have to occasionally invent things, as I did in the comic, where there’s simply no fossil record to answer our questions. For instance, there are still no Tyrannosaurus rex nests that have turned up, so that entire aspect of the narrative is necessarily extrapolated from what little we do know.”
The one caveat the producers insisted upon was a narrator. “We were all agreed that there would not be any human voices put to these magnificent animals, the dinosaurs themselves,” producer-director Hyung-rae Shim said from his South Korean studio. “But we could not have a feature-length movie comprised entirely of snarls, growls and roars.”
“I couldn’t stomach their initial idea of using songs by the Roche Sisters to tell the story,” the shaggy cartoonist grumbled. “I like the Roches and all, but it was too Land Before Time for me. After shooting down the Indigo Girls and Lady GaGa, I pushed for John Goodman, Don Van Vliet or Steve Buscemi, but that didn’t fly, either. Finally, the powers-that-be were insistent upon using Sir Kenneth Branagh, because they knew he could carry a dinosaur feature.”
Bissette sighs with satisfaction, already seeing and hearing what the proposed feature will be. “What can I say? After watching Walking With Dinosaurs for the 48th time, the only voice I could hear providing the narration was Branagh’s. I mean, he is the voice of the Late Cretaceous, as far as I’m concerned.”
S.R. Bissette’s Tyrant® is a registered trademark of Stephen R. Bissette, all rights reserved; all artwork ©1995-96, 2010 Stephen R. Bissette.
[April 2nd note: The above was indeed an April Fool's Day post -- and it worked far, far too well!]