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This is Blitz! | Fleur Sciortino

Keen to try out something new with their art training while indulging their geeky sci-fi inclinations, writer-artist team Rebecca Portelli and Fleur Sciortino set out to work on ‘The Elis Blitz’ – a web-only ‘motion comic’ blending in traditional comic book storytelling methods with a video-game interface. Teodor Reljic spoke to Sciortino about the project – whose first episode was released on May 20 – which also doubles up as her MCAST dissertation submission

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
19 June 2014, 7:30am
The Elis Blitz by Fleur Sciortino and Rebecca Portelli
The Elis Blitz by Fleur Sciortino and Rebecca Portelli
The Elis Blitz by Fleur Sciortino and Rebecca Portelli
The Elis Blitz by Fleur Sciortino and Rebecca Portelli
The Elis Blitz by Fleur Sciortino and Rebecca Portelli
The Elis Blitz by Fleur Sciortino and Rebecca Portelli
What inspired you to embark on this project, and in this particular format?

For as long as I can remember, Rebecca and I were always coming up with stories and planning to turn them into projects – such as games and comics – though they never really got past the sketching phase.

Being just two people with no programming knowledge to make a game or funds to print and distribute our comic, we were limited in our options. It was still fun to just plan stories together.

We both kept on getting better and faster at drawing and we thought for a long while about starting a webcomic since it’s the best format to start out with. It doesn’t require any funds to make, but even that requires so much work and preparation to maintain it properly.

At some point last year during school, I had an assignment where I had to make something interactive. It was around this time that me and Becky where working on this sci-fi story (eventually becoming Elis Blitz) and whenever I can I find ways to merge personal projects with school assignments and kill two birds with one stone. Around that time I also came across a certain comic online – ‘Space Monsters Space Ships’ – that used this technique called ‘parallax scrolling’, i.e., when you move the mouse across the screen and the layers move at different speeds.

This gave me the idea to make a similar comic with the story we were working on. In a few weeks I released my motion comic called ‘Stadium Love’.

I really liked my final product and I enjoyed experimenting with the medium. I showcased the comic at Malta Comic Con and the response we got was so positive – people were really impressed with this format. The encouragement that we got from the people Malta Comic Con gave us the idea that the future of our project lies with more experimentation like the parallax comic. I also had my dissertation project coming up so I thought it would be a good chance to further expand on the story we had going on and keep experimenting with the medium.

What can you say about the visual aspect of Elis Blitz is set in? What were some of your key inspirations as you set about working on it?

Elis Blitz is a sci-fi story set 500 years in the future. Rebecca and I are really big fans of this genre. We had a lot of fun coming up with what humans would dress like in the future and how they’d style their hair and anything along those lines. We’re also really big fans of sci-fi games like Mass Effect and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and we think you can see a lot of that, both in style and setting.

Could you tell me more about the video game aspect of the project? Why did you set about fusing the two together?

When coming up with the new format for Elis Blitz, I tried to come up with an alternative to webcomics where the amount of artwork can be reduced and more story added – that way you’d speed up the process both in terms a releasing the story faster and the readers having more content to read in one go.

My solution appeared when I came across the video game genre of ‘Visual Novels’; a type of game that is popular in Japan and Japanese culture. In visual novels, you play as a character and interact with other characters in-game, by picking dialogue options and deciding what you wanted to do next.

The format of a visual novel is made up from character portraits that just cycle through some expressions according to their dialogue, a dialogue box where you can read the text of the dialogue/narration and a background which changes according to the setting.

I found this format quite inspiring: the artistic element still comes in, but you’re not forced to draw a new panel each time – you could just recycle the assets.

I adapted the idea but removed the element of choice that you find in visual novels, so we could tell the story we wanted to tell.

Do you think more and more up-and-coming local artists will start embracing multi-media platforms, as you have with this project?

I don’t know how many will, but I encourage them to do so! One thing that was really evident in the research I did for my dissertation, is that the way forward is to think ahead and don’t just repeat what others have done before you.

Technology is advancing very fast and you need to keep up and find new ways to utilise technology to make interesting projects. 

For more information, log on to http://blitzdome.tumblr.com/

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...
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