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Writer Chanan Beizer and Artist Vanessa Cardinali Discuss Their All-Star Kickstarter, ‘The Golem of Venice Beach’

The Golem of Venice Beach cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz

Superstar artists Michael Allred, Stephen R. Bissette, Jae Lee, Nick Pitarra, Paul Pope, and Bill Sienkiewicz and legendary letterer Clem Robins are teaming up with rising star artist Vanessa Cardinali and debut comic book writer Chanan Beizer to create an all-new graphic novel, The Golem of Venice Beach. This 152-page epic story about the adventures of a 400-year-old Golem spans from 16th century Europe, to the horrors of World War II, to modern day Venice Beach, where the Golem has become entangled in a war between a gang and the police.

In The Golem of Venice Beach, Adam is a Golem, a creature of vengeance and destruction, of violence and death. He was created 400 years ago, a world away in Eastern Europe, but today he lives in Southern California. Adam spends his days adrift on the sunny boardwalks of Venice Beach, pining for release from his lonely existence. His only hope is the clueless Jake Loeb, the sole remaining heir of the Golem’s creator. But when Jake becomes involved with a mysterious tattooed woman and a drug-dealing death worship cult, things get complicated and dangerous for Adam. Golems are not meant to walk the Earth forever. Can Adam make a difference? Can he find peace in the California sun? And can a monster have a soul? 

I was able to chat with writer Chanan Beizer and main artist Vanessa Cardinali about the project, it’s genesis and their influences.

*  *  *  *  *

FOG!: Chanan, your background is in several different areas of media production.  Had you always had an interest in Jewish mythology and what led to the genesis of the book, and eventually, entering and winning the first ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Contest?

Chanan Beizer:  I’d graduated from film school and was living in Venice Beach so the Golem story started as a screenplay set there. At a certain point I decided to turn it into one of my first passions, comic books. I have a great love for comics, film, tv, and Jewish folklore and this was a way to combine all these passions into one. But writing for comics is completely different from writing for film so I took a class at UCLA called “Writing for Sequential Art”, the technical term for comics books. It took a while but once the script for the Golem graphic novel was completed, I noticed that ScreenCraft was offering a new contest for graphic novels. The timing seemed perfect so I figured I’d go ahead and apply. I was very surprised indeed when I actually won.

How did you wind up collaborating and what do you think each other brings to the project?

CB: My editor, Chris Stevens, and I were searching for the main artist for the book. We knew it would take someone special to commit to what turned out to be a multi-year project, especially with a first time writer. Luckily, I found a post by Vanessa and asked Chris his opinion. As it turned out, Chris had seen the same post and we both agreed that Vanessa’s art would fit the book perfectly. Vanessa has such a keen sense of color and creativity that truly brings a unique place like Venice Beach alive.

Art by Vanessa Cardinali

VB: I was looking for a project, and was contacted by Chris Stevens, editor of The Golem of Venice Beach, who offered me to become the main artist of this book. It was a very interesting collaboration with Chanan, who brought great enthusiasm to the project.  There was a desire for the presence and atmosphere of Venice Beach to be felt strong! For each scene I had millions of reference photos so as to be able to recreate those environments and that atmosphere at best and I hope I succeeded!

Eisner-award winning editor Chris Stevens oversaw the project.  How did he get involved and how did it attract the contributions of such legendary creators as Bill Sienkeiewicz, Jae Lee, Mike Alred, Stephen Bissette and Paul Pope?

CB: I knew that finding great artists for a first time writer’s graphic novel was going to be a tough sell. I joined a Facebook group called “Connecting Comic Book Writers with Artists” and was lucky to come across a post by Chris. I then researched Chris’ work and knew that I’d found my editor when I saw the names of the artists he had worked with on his Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream project. The rest happened because of Chris’ relationships with the artists you mentioned. There was no other way I’d have been able to even reach out to any of them, let alone convince them to work on my book.

The Golem of Venice Beach interior art by Stephen R. Bissette

Vanessa, You’re currently the artist of Image Comics’ Slumber with writer Tyler Burton Smith.  Was it intimidating knowing that you’d be sharing a book with these fan favorite artists?

VC: It was very intimidating at first but also very inspiring! Being able to participate in this project with many of the artists that I have always been a huge fan of, has given me a big boost. I spent some time staring at the sheet before starting the first pages but once I got over that obstacle everything was fine!

Yes, I currently work in Image Comics with Slumber, script by Tyler Burton Smith, Simon Robins on colors and Nathan Fox on covers, the third issue has just been released!

The Golem of Venice Beach covers several centuries.  Were any particular time periods especially hard to create?

CB: I wouldn’t say that any particular era was more difficult than another. They each had to hit certain notes, is the best way I can describe it.

The Golem’s creator was a real Medieval historical figure and I wanted to be true to his legacy whether or not he actually created such a being as a golem.

I felt a huge responsibility in depicting the World War II pages in both historical and emotional veracity.

And finally, I wanted today’s Venice Beach to become an integral part of the story, an actual character, you might say.

Map of Venice Beach by Michael Allred

Who or what have been the biggest influences on your work?

CB:  I go back to my memories of collecting comic books as a kid. Even though I consider myself a writer, it was the artists that made the biggest impact on me – such as John Buscema, John Byrne, and George Perez. There have been many writers and other artists that I’ve come to love but it all started with John, John, and George. It really hit me hard with George Perez’ recent passing.

The other major influence on my work is film. I think that I write in a cinematic way that helps me put on paper what I see in my head. I even try to incorporate some film shots in particular panels of the graphic novel. Things like a “rack focus” which is kind of hard to pull off in comic book form. Sometimes they don’t really work in 2 dimensions and I get scolded by my editor when I insist but I keep trying.

VC:  I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, initially inspired by Japanese cartoons with robots, and from there I just never stopped doing it! My inspirations are many, the authors whose work I have followed most over the years are Cyril Pedrosa, Pierre Alary, Skottie Young and without doubt, Moebius.

In a sentence, why should someone back this Kickstarter?

CB: This is a perfect project for Kickstarter (IMHO). It combines new talent with award winning professionals. The quality in the art is definitely there. I just hope potential backers will give a newcomer such as myself a chance. You gotta figure if it’s good enough for legends like Bill Sienkiewicz and Stephen R. Bissette to get involved, why not give it a shot?

VC: Because it is a unique project! The story is a declaration of love for Venice Beach, and there is such a huge amount of superstars involved, that each of them alone would be worth noting this piece!

The Golem of Venice Beach by Paul Pope

To Pledge and Support The Golem of Venice Beach, Click HERE!

 

 

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