SDCC News: SDCC Announcement – The Heart of the Beast
More news out of Dynamite leading up to SDCC
SDCC Announcement – The Heart of the Beast
by Dean Motter, Judith Dupre, and Sean Phillips
Celebrates its 20th Anniversary with New Prestige Edition from Dynamite
July 17, 2013, Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite is proud to announce that The Heart of the Beast, the hauntingly evocative graphic novel written by Dean Motter and Judith Dupré, and featuring lavishly painted artwork by Sean Phillips, will celebrate its 20th anniversary with an all-new prestige format edition.
With the tagline, “Science transformed his body, artistry inspired his soul,” The Heart of the Beast explores the timeless themes of classic horror literature, set against the backdrop of New York City’s decadent art world of the nineties. Sandra, a beautiful and young bartender, meets the enigmatic Victor, a man with strange scars and stranger secrets. A tale of gothic love and modern horror, this graphic novel drew praise from critics and comic fans alike.
“I had just finished writing and illustrating The Prisoner for DC when Vertigo approached me about pitching an original graphic novel,” says co-writer Dean Motter. “After writing Mister X and The Prisoner, I felt a bit ill-suited to do a supernatural story. I thought that what I’d really like to do was a contemporary adult gothic drama. I was a new arrival in New York, living in Tribeca and mesmerized by the local art scene. It fascinated me. My co-writer, Judith, was a curator and art critic living in lower Manhattan at the time. In addition to acquainting me with the wonders of the city, she opened up some of the seedier sides of its art world as well. We crafted our tale from our New York experiences, and our affection for art.”
Regarding the era that served as inspiration for The Heart of the Beast, co-writer Judith Dupré shares, “Soho was the belly button of the global art scene in the 1980s, with collectors coming in from all over the world. They’d snap up entire shows of the artists who were hot. Prices were high and so were the piles of cocaine. Fortunes were made overnight to the tune of Madonna’s ‘Lucky Star.’ Artists without a coin to toss suddenly were buying racehorses. One Swiss collector sent a dealer a perfectly shaped, full-size female leg – made of milk chocolate – to thank him for a painting. For months, we’d hack off chunks of it, gobbling it down like cannibals. There were dark shadows, too. Art that wasn’t even on the market, in some cases not even made yet, was being traded and sold. Mark Kostabi, Warhol’s bastard child, had his 15 minutes of fame, churning out copies of masterworks in a literal art factory. In 1985, the artist Ana Mendieta fell or was pushed from her 34th floor apartment window. That same year saw a sadomasochistic ‘death mask murder’ case involving a well-known 57th Street art dealer and his assistant. AIDS didn’t have a label yet, but stables of artists were dying, their creativity snuffed. Tribeca bars – Puffy’s and Mickey’s – were our shared living rooms. Area, an amazing dance club, had revolving themes – going there was like dancing inside an art installation. We’d creep home from the clubs as the sun rose. Then I’d become a gallerina. I’d sit in the gallery, totally without power but having a front row seat to the comings and goings of artists, collectors, and art world cognoscenti.”
Dupré continues, “Writing The Heart of the Beast was a way to honor those wild, exciting, and uncertain times. It was great fun inventing a new Rembrandt – apparently, I didn’t sleep through all my art history classes. Paging through the book, I get sentimental seeing those things that are no longer new, like ATM cards, or no longer used, like answering machines. Art, though, is a constant. Sean did an amazing job capturing the sultry grit of lower Manhattan.”
“I’m very pleased that this early work is being made available again from the fine folks at Dynamite,” says Sean Phillips. “This was my first major project for an American publisher and it sank without trace twenty years ago. Now people have another chance to read Dean and Judith’s great story and to see me learn to paint in watercolours on the job. I’d like to think I’ve got better at painting since I finished Heart Of The Beast, but I’m not so sure. I’m still really pleased with the work I did on this book and just wish I could remember how to paint like that again.”
Concerning the complimentary nature of The Heart of the Beast‘s story and art, Motter adds, “Sean was the ideal illustrator for the story. Perfectly real without the affectations of urban commentary. The terror of the story comes, not from the conventional horrific tropes of a lesser artist, but from the counterpoint of his masterfully sublime illustrations and mounting unseen dread in our script. I’ve always been proud of this effort and am extremely happy to see it re-presented by Dynamite. I’ve been told it was ahead of its time. I hope twenty years is enough.”
“The Heart of the Beast was one of those rarities from the early 1990s that could only have materialized when it did, because the world was only starting to understand and appreciate the artistry, the depth, and the literary value of the graphic novel,” says Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite. “Dean Motter and Judith Dupré presented an emotional, grab-you-by-the-heart tale, a revisionist take on a creature of classic gothic horror. And the artwork of Sean Phillips is just gorgeous, with paintings so lifelike and emotive, you just knew that he was destined for greatness.”
Eisner Award-winning artist Sean Phillips is one of the most highly respected comic artists of his generation. A professional illustrator for over twenty-five years, he has worked for all the major American and British comic publishers, as well as other clients including Twentieth Century Fox, Sony, Maxim and Island Records. Versatile with both paint and pen-and-ink, he is perhaps best known for his work on such titles as Sleeper, Wildcats, Batman, Hellblazer, Fatale, Incognito, and Criminal. In October 2013, Phillips will receive a career retrospective hardcover with 350 pieces of artwork (including 70 never-before-seen illustrations), entitled The Art of Sean Phillips, published by Dynamite Entertainment.
Dean Motter is an illustrator, designer, and writer best known in the comic industry as the creator of the influential 1980s “New Wave” comic, Mister X, now in its 30th year. Having served at DC Comics as the overseer of corporate and licensing designs for their many characters in the 1990s, Motter went on to create the acclaimed Vertigo miniseries Terminal City and contribute to such titles asHellblazer, Superman Adventures, The Spirit, and the Eisner Award winning graphic novel Batman: Nine Lives, as well as Star Wars Tales, Grendel, and Wolverine.
Judith Dupré is passionate about the built world. A New York Times bestselling author, she has written several illustrated books about art and architecture, including Skyscrapers, the best selling book in the world on that topic; Bridges; Churches; and Monuments: America’s History in Art and Memory. Her books have been published in 10 languages. Dupré holds degrees from Brown University and Yale University, and studied at the Open Atelier of Design and Architecture in lower Manhattan. Her first love has always been the visual arts. After working as a gallerina at several Soho art galleries, she became the curator of the Harry N. Abrams Collection of Pop Art that included works by Warhol, Marisol, Jasper Johns, and Rauschenberg. Dupré lived in Tribeca, where much of The Heart of the Beast unfolds, for 18 years.