ALFRED JODOCUS KWAK
GUTEN MORGEN/PIERROT 2
The opening-doublepage of the comic.You have to see them next to each other.
I'm still rather fond of the starfighter crossing the picture. That idea came up , when I was working on the storyboards for the first episode.
After Herman had written the outlines for the 52 episodes and Hans and I had done the characterbible, the japanese studio did the first version of the storyboard, and it became clear, that they had a complete diffrent understandng of the stories and the Kwak-world, than we had- to put it nicely. All the characters were walking on all fours and were much more animal-like in their general behaviour, it looked more like an episode from "Kimba, the white lion", which was no coincidence. Saitosan, the director, had in fact been also the director of "Kimba" and got cast for "Kwak", based on his good reputation from that production. But, what had worked on Kimba, wasn't working on Kwak, they just didn't get the idea, that our animals were humans in an animal body.
I had a hard time, putting things straight without being allowed to say "no" in a meeting, because it was considered a huge insult to a person of that high reputation. I was on my own at that time in Tokyo, the only "surviving" member of the creative trio, we had been there together before, mainly to get to know the team, shake hands and have good food. Now Herman was back on his tour and Hans, if I remember correctly , had moved on to the PreVis team of "Beauty and the Beast", already.
The only solution was to do the storyboard myself overnight in my hotelroom. A meeting between the director and me was set up, with an interpreter as the only witness, where I was supposed to explain our ideas to him, without his team watching how he was told, what to do, so he wouldn't loose his face. A couple of days later, he had redrawn by board,inversed ileft to right as his own contribution, and presented it as his own to the team- of course everybody knew, but that's how things work in strange faraway countries. Another big issue was, that, in the first episode, Kwak's family leaves it's homeland, because a theme park is build , where they are living. That, in Japanese understanding, is despicable, behaviour, it was considered "treason", no heriodeed, whatsoever. Serving your country, under which circumstances whatsoever, is a much higher value , than your own personell freedom and individuality. Quite different from our understanding. I spent long nights and days, talking and explaining about Hitler, apartheid, drugs, whaling and other subjects.
Anyway, I still wasn't 100% happy with the finished episode, regarding charme and humor and most of all, speed. But the comicstrip gave me a chance to set things straight.
Back to the starfighter: I introduced it, 'cause we openend the first episode with spring coming to Greatwaterland, blossoms opening and stuff and I wanted to break the athmosphere right away, showing that this was not your ordinary happy-go-lucky-world, there's conflict. I remember spending days in meetings about that starfighter, it came up again and again, "Who's flying it?" "Humans?", "No, there are no humans", "Is there a war?", "Is it a contemporary starfighter , or a vintage one?", etc, etc, etc...