The Wild West and robots have both been popular entertainment topics for decades, with many stories being set around each one individually. Occasionally, elements of one topic are worked into the other; with varying degrees of success. So, imagine a story based in the Wild West, with robots as the cowboys in the stead of humans. This is exactly the setting of Far Out, an independent web comic created by Gauthier Langevin and Oliver Carpentier. Set on a distant world, the story of Far Out begins with the narrative of a lone robot walking through the desert thinking of how it enjoys solitude. The story then kicks off and doesn’t let up.
Written by Gautier Langevin, the tale is well paced, easy to follow, and filled with sharp dialogue that builds and establishes the characters without slowing down the pace. Olivier Carpentier’s artwork translates the story into outstanding visuals, with a smooth flowing fashion that a big world without grandstanding. At no point does either story or artwork overshadow the other; rather they work together to deliver a smooth and clean title.
When Carpentier was first hired at Montreal Quebec’s Studio Lounak he felt there was potential for a comic with some of the designs he had been put to work on, so he spoke with Langevin about creating the story based on these designs. “The designs were a kind of mix between the Iron Giant and Warhammer 40K space orcs, with their noisy bikes and weapons.”Carpentier said.
In October of 2011, Langevin called Carpentier from the Toronto Fan Expo and told him he had a story idea and name for the title. The two put aside an existing project and began working on Far Out. Carpentier uses gritty straightforward designs for the ‘cowbots’ (a term Langevin coined for their robot cowboys) rather than choosing to give them a slick metallic look.
“I didn’t want to do high tech robots like in Japanese anime. I really like the bots with their old school look, like old toys. I want them to stay rusty, dirty and noisy. I think that this way, we also stay closer to the western movies that inspired us so much,” Carpentier said of his designs.
This decision works well and gives the book that gritty feeling one expects when viewing desert cowboy stories. The designs are hand drawn, and then scanned for digital ink and color work which completes the classic look Carpentier was aiming for. Working as a team, Carpentier and Langevin create the comic together rather than sending material back and forth.
“We sit together and establish a large story line, we argue, then throw some concepts and ideas we have back and forth,” Carpentier said. “Then Gautier writes the story, page by page, describing actions and dialogue. After that, I make thumbnails of the pages according to the text, but some things I may have to change a little bit so we check every page of thumbnails to be sure that is working with both of us. When the thumbnails are ok with Gautier, I can start doing the penciling, inking and coloring. But nothing is ever fixed. Something in the story will inspire new designs for me that will inspire Gautier with new ideas.”
One of those ideas, and something that they have worked with so far, is to have nothing but robots appear in the story. “We have a precise story line and none of them appears in the first book,” Carpentier said. “Our universe is large and complex, and we wanted to really start with the robot side. The reader is discovering the world at the same time as (main character) Murphy, so we didn’t want to go to fast on showing humans or aliens. Also Gautier was really careful to use a slow pace for the first book to stay true to the spaghetti western.” He also added that they are planning to use a faster pace for the next book.
When asked what advice he would give to first time creators, Carpentier had this recommendation: “Do short stories first! It can be so frustrating to work on a big story that actually never happens. It might not be as glamorous as publishing an album, but you learn so much by doing shorts stories; you improve your skills in all aspects of making a comic book.” Presently, Carpentier and Langevin have no major plans for their title beyond steadily releasing new pages, which they release in both English and French.
You can check out Carpentier and Langevin’s webcomic title ‘Far Out’ through this link.
John Goodale is the author of ‘Johnny Gora’ (available through Amazon.com), and a number of articles here on TMRZoo.com. His monthly column ‘Indy Comics Spotlight’ appears here and through his blog Indy Comics Spotlight