Sometimes an image can spark all kinds of ideas and inspiration. Boaz Lavie and Hanuka brothers used a breathtaking and iconic photo as inspiration to collaborate on a riveting graphic novel that explored the imagery they felt while viewing the photograph. The Divine graphic novel is the result of that and The Gr1nd got with Boaz to have a chat about his foray into the comics industry, working with the brothers, the making of the comic and its publication.
The photograph you based the story on is iconic, what about it made you want to do a graphic novel?
Tomer saw the photo in 2007 and went on to read anything he could about the real story behind it. Both Asaf and Tomer were deeply affected by their story – by the facts they supposedly had super powers, that they were twins, and that their childhood was so radically different than our own. In 2009 I joined the project as its writer and we started working on it together, with the plan of making a graphic novel, inspired by the real story.
A lot of the images are surreal and very impressionistic did you come up with the concept for the story or did the art come first? Explain.
It was a combination. Some early concept art was created, mainly by Tomer, before any writing was done, and it served as inspiration as well. Most of it had to do with the twins themselves, and their surrealistic environment. Once the story was more developed, there were many ideas in it that called for more fresh concepts and art, so it was actually a dialogue between the art and the writing.
Is this a stand alone graphic novel or is therefore to come?
It was created as a standalone graphic novel. One complete story.
What was it like working with not one but two artists who are brothers?
We had known each other for more than 20 years. We’ve actually met during our army service. So our relationship is very rich and complicated as friends, even without doing such a huge project together. Our work together was very organic, in this sense. There were many ups and downs, and many fights actually, but all along we kept going at it as a group of friends who’re doing something they love, together. A dream project, if you will.
How did you come up with the storyline of the bad American and the good one?
Asaf had taught me that when illustrating comics, it’s very important to be able to define your characters very quickly, in simple artistic terms. People should be able to recognize them easily so many times during the story, you can’t get too tricky about it. So in creating the characters in the story, I kind of took the same approach. I think there’s much more into both of them than just the “bad guy” and “good guy”, but they do represent something deeper about American culture and its different aspects.
Where did the idea for the giant soldiers from the figurines come from?
Tomer had researched South East Asian culture and we came upon similar images of local gods. That was the inspiration.
Also the brothers power where did the inspiration for that come from?
There’s a one big theme in the book and it is “birth”. There’s a spoiler here, but the brothers’ power is their ability to “get things out of things” – trees out of the ground, internal organs out a person’s body, etc. It’s basically playing around with the same theme, only on a different field.
You mixed an iconic image and a real story with fantasy and fiction to come up with a fantastical tale, explain the creative process?
We treated the iconic image as an inspiration. When I joined the project in 2009 I wanted all of us to agree that we’re going to build something that is 100% fiction. It’s not going to be about the real twins, or their story, not even about a real place. I’ve invented this country, Quanlom, in order to distance ourselves from reality. So there’s a mix here of real historical background, and wild imagination. The real story was just a starting point, for us.
You can order this amazing graphic novel here-