SCALPED Director's Commentary: Part One

With the fifth issue of SCALPED out this week, completing what will be the first trade paperback collection, I thought it was a good time for Guéra and I to do something like a "Director's Commentary" and talk about some of the movies, books and songs that have influenced our work on the series. First up, here's Guéra talking about a couple of films that have had a profound influence on his style.


Looking at SCALPED as a reader, Jason & me are trying our hardest to make our statement of it. But as Scalped artist, I say that possibly the best thing about that is that we maybe don't know it. It must be consequence & not the objective.

Because it is only then it does happen.

Who has time for statements anyway, we worry about this word inside that dialogue, about that boot, shirt, violence level, hairstyle. Life itself gives material impossible to spend (not in one lifetime, anyway). In creating something, honesty is the best.

Second best is (all) the rest - and most of it are other artists work: music, books, lyrics, movies, etc. Admiring them & wanting to be like them is how we all started. I also think that there's honesty in letting those influences flow through our work.

Here, I'll say one about movies. Regarding SCALPED, mine are westerns.

There are (too) many of them that could represent at least some part (each) of my drawing aims in SCALPED. WILD BUNCH, THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE, HUD, MCCABE & MRS. MILLER, but also SEVEN SAMURAI and THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (as maybe the strongest black/white statements I ever saw), or relatively recent THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, UNFORGIVEN... God, the list could be endless. Their feel (whatever this could mean - it's definitely existent in me) is deep inside & I love them all, but are there ones that could represent me? Myself.

I mean is that possible, knowing I'm not the one who made them?

Yes it is. Two.

First is made on Elmore Leonard's book, scripted by Irving Ravetch & directed by Martin Ritt.

HOMBRE is the movie that changed me. It's where I understood how to "be what I am", at the same time respecting what others are. Things come and go, but the ones that change you, they stay. With years I'm more & more positive about it.

It's a movie from '67., tho I first saw it pretty late (I simply dunno how did I miss watching it before, but of course it's NEVER too late for things like these): at New Years Eve party of old '84. to new '85. People all around, loud music, I still don't know how did it hit me that hard in that ambient, but it did.

I hated the party, I suppose.

Besides one of the purest storytelling sense I ever saw (unstoppable simplicity), - Martin Ritt has no "big" visual style, and it fits simply perfectly the main character played by Mr. Newman. In other words, this film is as it's hero is, & as a consequence of this fact, it's really close to be called perfect. Calmed, but no nonsense. Strong even when humored. Real life aimed all the time. Direct. Wonderful.

Once really inside of you, there's no cure for it.

Second is made on Alan Sharp's script & directed by Robert Aldrich. Based on true events.

ULZANA'S RAID also made changes in me. Made me forget lots of next New Years' eves in times to come. When you (are ready to) face maturity in art you "consume", lots of things lose their urgency & importance.

And this one hits forehead directly.

Mr. Lancaster never looked as believable as in role of McIntosh (to me, he's like William Holden in "Bunch" - right now Pike Bishop is simply impossible to imagine performed by somebody else. He is Pike.), and Ke-Ni-Tay's face lines (actor Jorge Luke) - if looked closely - echo pretty clearly on Dashiell Bad Horse.

Last 5 minutes of this movie STILL are difficult for me "just to see", better put - NOT to feel. Even today, even after seeing it so many times. And I'd really like to avoid words about it's last 30 seconds & one small peace of paper there.

This film (as a whole) - to me - can be only compared with Kurosawa's heights (or, if you want it more inside the family, with RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, by the master himself). It really unites all elements I ever liked in (all) other westerns. Subject, dialogues, aesthetics, rhythm, sequences as a whole - first time seen it, I had this blush feel that it spoke too much about my own secrets. The ones I considered as mine only, as my invisible strength & if I once let the world see full light & energy of those - it'll be conquered & won.

I really was ready to mature, wasn't I?


These movies definitely are not the genres-best I've seen, or the most this, or the magnificent that. No. What makes them closest to me - is intimate thought they're above categorizations. If you really understand them, you don't care one bit about categories. You have the feel they're for you - whoever you may be - and THAT is what they're helping you understand.

So, if (my) SCALPED visuals succeed in showing richness out of average, or in avoiding spectacular about real, or if they simply show it as it is - it'll help me achieve two things. One is returning some from what I got from those two above, & second, the beginning of this all: honesty in work.

This is the aim alright & if I ever succeed, one of you please tell me.

Thanks. (especially to you Jason my bud, for generously inviting me

R.M. Guéra
April 2007
Barcelona, Spain


Craig Zablo at: 8:17 PM said...

More of these types of posts please.

By the way.... I have been reading and talking up Scalped since before it hit the stands [based on the preview]

Jason Aaron at: 8:22 PM said...

There will be more posts like this, so stay tuned.

And thanks so much for the support, Craig.

Patrick Herman at: 9:25 AM said...

Jason and R.M.,

I definitely want to see more posts like this. Anything that provides some background to the creative process just makes me like the book more.
R.M., do you have an official website? I'd like to be able to see some samples of your work pre-Scalped. A few months ago, in another post here, I told Jason how much I wanted to see European reprints of your work translated into English. Has there been any interest from American publishers in doing so?
I wish you both the best with regard to your respective careers.
Bye for now.


RM Guéra at: 2:51 PM said...

THANKS (big) for being with us (!);

-thanks for kind words & interest;
-no, I don't have web site but am more & more aware of it's necessity. This year I suppose (although it is warm here, in Jason’s tipi);
-I think that publishing my Europe stuff in States is a question of proving to publishers that readers would like to see it (to BUY is the word). Scalped will hopefully help that. Jason & me REALLY believe in this serial & if nothing else , time "should" be on our side...;

-If you wanna see (read) more of my stuff, click here(comp translate from French is pretty accurate & luckily understandable):

…on the same page you also can visit mini site of my European pirate serial (“Howard Blake” - link on the left, I think);

Thanks again to both


Jason Aaron at: 6:23 PM said...

Here's a clickable version of that link from Guera's post

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