Find Something You Love And Run With It – Chris Hunt On Music Memoir The Wonderful World Of Perfecto

by Hannah Means Shannon

The Wonderful World of Perfecto: With Paul Oakenfold and Friends tells the story of Oakenfold’s own rise as an innovative DJ and the many musical and pop culture celebrities he’s interacted with over the years ranging from Hunter S. Thompson, to U2 and many more.

It’s a semi-autobio “not quite true” story told through the work of several different comic artists, and also through music with an original Oakenfold soundtrack. Artists on the book include Tyler Boss (4 Kids Walk Into A Bank), Chris Hunt (Carver), Ian McGinty (Welcome to Showside), and Koren Shadmi (Abaddon).

Chris Hunt, who’s best known for his critically acclaimed original graphic novel Carver: A Paris Story joins us here today on Comicon.com to talk about his journey collaborating on The Wonderful World of Perfecto.

[Cover by WOODnLeG]

Hannah Means-Shannon: What parts of Oakenfold’s story did you illustrate? What was your reaction to hearing about the project, then learning which part of the story you’d be working on?

Chris Hunt: When I first heard about it from Z2 I have to say I was pretty excited. I handled the opening part of the book, where Paul is at a crossroads in his life that leads him to Ibiza and ultimately finding his path. The other artists got some more exciting characters and stories to draw but I was delighted to tell the part of the story that was the launch point for it all.

HMS: Telling any kind of memoir in comics has that strong narrative through-line that’s different from many other types of comics storytelling. But then again, everyone is the hero of their own story. How does this project compare to the other types of “characters” and stories you’ve worked with in comics?

CH: This was the first time I’ve ever been a part of telling a flesh and blood person’s story. In my book “CARVER: A Paris Story,” I’m working through a lot of my own personal traumas and experiences, but they’re masked by the character and the overall narrative. I have complete control over the sandbox, so to speak. There’s an awareness I have for what is personal and truthful, but I know that for the most part I’ve protected it, and buried it under fiction. As an artist, or artist/writer you know that at some point, real people are going to be reading and assessing your work, but it’s a totally different experience realizing that the actual people you’re rendering will be reading it. It was challenging for me to let go of my concern for what Paul would think about it, and how would it compare to what had happened and how he recalled it in his mind’s eye.

HMS: How would you describe your own art style and preferences? Did you find you needed to adapt them in any way to this type of storytelling?

CH: This was the second book I’ve drawn digitally, the first being Murder Ballads earlier this year which was also for Z2 and also one of their music books. I wanted to try something different stylistically and I think that just attempting to play to the strengths of that medium created a slightly different style from what I developed using ink and brush over the past decade or so.

I’m starting to think I may be something of a luddite when it comes to comics, if not naive. This isn’t about ink versus a computer, or print versus digital. I mean to say that I don’t have any other compulsion than to tell my own stories through the comics medium and survive off of it if I can. Even though on Paul’s book I was just one of the artists on it, what I admired about Paul’s intention behind it was that he simply wanted to make a comic book. He didn’t want to make a movie from it, or launch a career. That’s more or less the narrative of the book; he found something that he loved–something that stirred him, so he ran with it and it was that love of his medium that took him to the literal top of the world. Ironically, this will be my last freelance work for a while just because it reminded of why I do this to begin with.

HMS: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that an artist who has worked on this book is probably one who has a particular interest in music and music in pop culture. How did the musical aspects of this story engage you, or knowing that the graphic novel would come with a soundtrack album?

CH: Well back in high school, when I knew I wanted to make comics, but I wasn’t sure how I’d accomplish it, I had a group of friends that were obsessed with the burgeoning field of digital video. We were crazy and just felt like we could do everything we set our minds out to do. We were getting videos onto MTV that we’d made; it was just bananas. We once shot a car chase between two BMW M3’s for a homecoming video because we were obsessed with “The Hire” series BMW put out starring Clive Owen.

I mean, we were illegally coordinating chases on active city streets with dummy cars going slow, people at either end of a mile long stretch with walkie talkies to spot cops. It is just NUTS that we got away with this. In the evenings ,we’d head to my friends Kyle’s house, to his dark room over the garage, and while I was storyboarding and he and our friend Brandon were editing on Final Cut, Paul Oakenfold’s mix “Tranceport” would be on a loop while we worked. They’d be talking about how they wanted to go to Ibiza some day and see him perform there. So when Z2 contacted me about this book almost 20 years later, it just felt right ,knowing that things had come full circle.

HMS: It’s easy to convey some degree of mood in comics, but hard to be very specific in that mood, in my opinion. A lot can be suggested with color and the style of linework. How did you approach bringing your artwork into a musical context?

CH: Josh Frankel of Z2 and I had a number of conversations about this. I chose to keep my section grounded in a visual sense as it serves more as a launchpad for the rest of the story. It isn’t until the end when Paul steps in to Ku for the first time that the visuals begin to take on any surreal element, and that was all the colorist, Kizzy who did an amazing job of supporting the lineart throughout the book. I’m much more a literal artist in general. My focus tends to be on the characters, their body language and expressions to convey any emotional element. I’m envious of Ian McGinty, specifically, who I think did an exceptional job of “cartooning” in the truest sense of the word. He was able to use a more surreal approach at times to nail the tone of his section.

HMS: If readers find this book really appealing, could you recommend other music-related comics they might dig?

CH: Well I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention “Murder Ballads” which was Z2’s launchpad for these kinds of books. Gabe Soria, who was the writer, was able to bring his friend Dan Auerbach on board to produce a meta album for the book, which not only serves as an actual soundtrack to the story, but also is meant to be listened to as the “in story” album produced by the two brothers, Donny and Marvell.

Many thanks to Chris Hunt for joining us today to talk about his comic art.

The Wonderful World of Perfecto: With Paul Oakenfield and Friends is currently available in shops from Z2 Comics.