Interview: Creator Joko Budiono Discusses TEDDY-1

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Joko Budiono is a man with a vision. A vision for an original graphic novel showing appreciation for firefighters, EMTs and rescue workers around the world. The story is silent, focusing on telling the tale through imagery and Budiono recently took time to answer a few questions about what readers can expect from TEDDY-1.

Aaron Long: Can you discuss how you came up with TEDDY-1?

Joko Budiono:  It started as some studies that evolved into an exercise of story telling.  I did a series of rough thumbnail story boards and it just kept going and went kind of long. The next thing I know, I had a complete introduction in rough drawings.  The introduction is a decompressed style, similar to some Japanese manga where a whole book can be a story taking place in a span of 5 minutes.  Without really intending to do a story, I found myself with a complete introduction of the characters.  I love old James Bond movies where sometimes the first 10-15 minutes is just the introduction of 007 and sometimes had nothing to do with the whole story. At that point I decided to do a full story.  Then I had to figure out the meat of the story,  but to tell you the truth, I still did not know what these characters would become. I wanted my characters to face some kind of challenge, and at the beginning of the second chapter, the story could really go anywhere.
AL: TEDDY-1 is a silent graphic novel, in that there is no dialogue. Why did you choose to have no dialogue in the book?
JB:  There was a freedom in not having a dialogue or written narrative, but it also introduced a lot of challenges.  It’s a different kind of story, I had to simplify and focus on how to use the visual experience to make the story move in a way the reader could understand and establish clear relationships and associations for the reader to build upon, similar to watching a silent movie.  The reason why I did not use any word balloon was because for me it is easier telling a story through illustration than trying to write the dialogue.  I am an immigrant. English language is not my strong point and I’m more of visual person. For example: several times this happen to me: I tried to use a copy machine at the place where I work. The machine was not responding. So I went to the receptionist to ask, “is there something wrong with the copy machine?” She replied, “Did you read the big note taped on top of the machine which says ‘BROKEN’?” So I responded “Oh come on. We’re a bunch of visual artists here. If you put a skull drawing and a big X , than we understand.” :) Sorry about that tangent.

The quietness of the story allows the action to build for the reader.  And the atmospherics are different without words, as it gets more exciting it draws the reader in and becomes more believable.  At least that is my aim, hopefully I am successful with the visual storytelling, but will know more once I start to get reactions from readers.
AL: You mention online that TEDDY-1 is about emergency workers like firefighters and EMTs. Why did you choose to focus on those professions?
JB: Why do I chose firefighter? It’s because of my wife. She hates glamorizing war.  If you look at the initial studies, the machines were made for war instead of firefighting and emergency rescue:

She drag me kicking and screaming away from a war or fighting comic which made me decide to tell a story with a different kind of hero.  I wanted something that would still have tension and thrill.  Instead of the conflict being human versus human, it’s humans being challenged by nature and circumstance. This evolution to the story was a good accident, and I was able to continue to mix reality and fantasy by making a story about firefighters and rescue workers and in the process raise them to a comic book hero position.
AL: TEDDY-1 is a Kickstarter project. Can you describe the various rewards people can get when they support TEDDY-1?
JB: For a pledge of $30 you will get the TEDDY-1 book: 128 pages, 7″x11″ hardbound.

If you are an artist, I would say pledging $60 is the best for you. You’ll get TEDDY-1 and my previous book “The Thousandth Thumbnail” which is a book with thousand and thousand of different types of thumbnails and ideas.
If you are an original pencil drawing collector, I recommend you to consider the $400 pledge. It includes an 11″x17″ drawing from my pencil originals for TEDDY-1, plus the book.
If you are an original watercolor collector, take a look at the $1000 pledge.  You will get the original pencil drawing also. For the last chapter, I draw on bristol paper 11″x17″ in full value. Then I photocopy that drawing to another 11″x17″ bristol paper which I watercolor on top. You will get the 2 original art works and the book.
Or if you just want to support me without breaking the bank, for $5 pledge, I will put your name in the thank you section to my supporters in  www.facebook.com/teddy1graphicnovel.
AL: Any final words for Comicosity’s readers about TEDDY-1?
JB: If you have a friend or a family member that seems not to share our love for comic books, this might be a book to lure them into our world. For me, I think of TEDDY-1 as a graphic novel with the spirit of a children’s book.
The Kickstarter for TEDDY-1 can be found here.
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