Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: You recently released a series of illustrations inspired by the sci-fi film, Ex Machina. Which aspects of the film inspired you to take on this project?
David Flores: Initially, it was the imagery. Because of my indirect connection to the ad campaign of this film, I was exposed to the feature months ago. Immediately, I was captivated by the atmospherics of the setting and of the robotic design of Ava, the heroine of the film. I'm a devout Stanley Kubrick fan, as well as Ridley Scott -- in particular Alien and Blade Runner. It reminded me of their style of filmmaking, and then I discovered that Alex Garland wrote and directed it. I'm a fan of the screenplays he's written, which include 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go, and Dredd. (I've seen Dredd repeatedly -- it's both operatically violent and strangely beautiful.) Based on that, I was intrigued to the point of inspiration. I wasn't commissioned to do these illustrations. It was simply just me exploring the elements of this film that fascinated me.
BD: As a writer and an artist, do you feel as though you easily connect with film, given its visual medium?
DF: Comics have always been a part of my DNA, but I primarily connect with film. I went to school for film, and I'm a screenwriter. I like and love a bunch of movies, but I don't always connect with those movies. I appreciate them for what what they are as, in some cases, just disposable entertainment; however, there are those few that leave a lasting, indelible impression long after the final credits roll -- films that inspire and fuel my imagination. I believe Ex Machina is one of those films.
BD: How many illustrations have you completed for the project, and with which medium(s) did you utilize for the artwork?
DF: I’ve done a good amount for someone not affiliated with the film. Maybe about twenty -- which is just a loose guess. I did more than I ever expected to do, which became more of a compulsion. Here, I was in the throes of doing illustrations that served no other purpose than fan art at the expense of using that precious time to finish Issue #4 of my comic series, Dead Future King. That's the maddening allure of inspiration; it grabs onto your consciousness and drives in unexpected directions. Thankfully, the balance has returned, and I'm back on track with DFK. As far as mediums, I danced between analog and digital; I used pencil, Sharpie, and ball point pen (Bic pens create great lines.), and Photoshop and Manga Studio 5 EX. (This application has great brushes and pens.) The idea was to just experiment and try different things. Sometimes, I would just do loose sketches and stop there, and, in other cases, I pushed further, creating illustrations tight enough for print.
BD: Did you have a specific approach or intent for each of the illustrations as you were creating them?
DF: It was mostly exploratory. At first it was me goofing around with a pen, doing some random sketches -- mostly of Alicia Vikander (who plays Ava in the film). Aside from being breathtakingly beautiful, there was this winsome/wistful quality in her eyes (Ava's eyes) that I wanted to capture. That led to the fascination with the robot design but in a more graphic design approach. Before long, I was drawing the other characters like Nathan (played by Oscar Isaac), which I had fun drawing. Nathan is a multifaceted, complex character that isn't who he seems, and yet again that was something I wanted to capture. As I was doing a few of the earlier drawings, it occurred to me that I should post them, so that in some small, miniscule way I can spread awareness about this film. And, in doing so, I decided to post them on Instagram day after day as a countdown to the nationwide release of the film.
BD: What do you hope that your audience will take away from the illustrations?
DF: I hope they convey my excitement about the film, and in doing so inject those who look at them with a bit of that enthusiasm, as well. From what I see, there are those who are taking a liking to them; most notably the three actors from the film: Oscar Issac; Alicia Vikander; and and Sonoya Mizuno (Kyoko). They've done me the honor of clicking Likes for a few of my illustrations along with A24 Films, which distributes Ex Machina — that's been a cool highlight.
BD: What are your hopes for Ex Machina once it has been released, and how do you anticipate that it will be received by audiences?
DF: I hope it has a successful theatrical run rather than measuring its success based on cult-status acclaim. As much as I enjoy pure-adrenaline commercial sci-fi, I love sci-fi that delves into deeper, more profound themes. Ex Machina is a great mixture of both commercial and independent sensibilities -- its solid, straight-forward storytelling with a more refined, elegant, and nuanced texture. I believe audiences will respond well to it because of that mixture.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
DF: I am VERY close to completing Issue #4 of Dead Future King which I published digitally by Alterna Comics. There are a couple of other graphic novel projects that I'm developing, as well!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information regarding your Ex Machina illustrations and your other work?
DF: I’m always posting artwork like Ex Machina on davidrflores.tumblr.com – there you’ll find a lot of sketches and random doodles, as well as at DeadFutureKing.tumblr.com. There’s my comic book series, Dead Future King, which is available as a digital download published by Alterna Comics (www.alternacomics.com), through ComiXology, or as a trade paperback (Issues #3-4) published by Golden Apple Books and AuthorHouse.