After making his Marvel debut with Disney+’s “Moon Knight,” Oscar Isaac produced a graphic novel of his own.
Partnering with Legendary Entertainment, Isaac led a Kickstarter campaign for “Head Wounds: Sparrow,” a noirish tale about a Louisiana detective named Leo who is torn between the battle between good and evil…quite literally.
Isaac, alongside longtime friends and fellow members of on-and-off ska band The Worms John Alvey (co-story writer) and Bob Johnson (creator and co-story writer), detailed the cinematic inspiration behind the graphic novel, featuring artwork by Christian Ward and story by Brian Buccellato.
“I grew up really loving movies in the ’70s, where the antihero took center stage,” Isaac explained during a Q&A at Barnes & Noble Union Square. “‘Serpico,’ ‘Taxi Driver,’ ‘Dog Day Afternoon,’ these are some of my favorite films. I think you’re allowed to see more of the gray areas of life. It feels a bit truer to struggle with doing the right thing and often doing the wrong thing, and so I think there’s often an opportunity to show a greater range of humanity in situations.”
The “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” voice actor added that his favorite comic book is “Spawn,” and he even tried to copy the style of artwork when he first discovered the graphic novel. “I loved that it was a person of color as well,” Isaac said. “You didn’t see that so much.”
Isaac was immediately drawn to illustrator Ward’s style, saying that Ward’s approach to storytelling “often reminded me of Pedro Almodóvar and other filmmakers where I was like, ‘What? How is he telling this story?'”
“I became keen on him pretty quickly,” Isaac shared of Ward, noting that the art design of the angels, demons, and “Purgatorials” portrayed in “Head Wounds” has a “Lynchian” quality to them, harkening back to David Lynch’s surreal concepts.
The origin of the “Head Wounds” world began with creator Johnson’s Stage 4 cancer diagnosis, an “invisible wound” he was battling much like Leo carries. Isaac also likened the allegory of the title to Leo’s determination to find redemption.
“The idea is that a sparrow is like a rat, it’s the lowest of the low,” Isaac said, citing the biblical scripture. “And if God can care about when a sparrow falls, but the idea that caring for the lowest — and sometimes the lowest is the lowlife, like Leo — I think that’s even more of the magic that we talked about. You can get someone who really is the worst of the worst, and if there is redemption for that, then there must be for all of us.”
Isaac compared Leo’s journey to the closed-mindedness of felony rehabilitation and the American prison system.
“It’s not what we do in this country. It’s much easier to lock them away, put them away, there’s no idea really of rehabilitation. There’s no chance. It’s much easier to dehumanize,” Isaac said. “It’s the same as getting out of prison and trying to get a job, having to check that felon box. It’s a similar idea. There’s no chance, how do you even find anything?”
“Head Wounds” hails from Isaac and wife Elvira Lind’s Mad Gene Media, which has a first-look deal with Endeavor Content.
Isaac said of the graphic novel medium, “There’s something that’s particularly intimate about comic books because you fill in everything between the panels, so there’s a really interesting conversation that happens between the creators and the reader. You’re building the story together, so I think that is a pretty special idea.”
And while the Q&A moderator pointed out lead character Leo’s uncanny physical resemblance to Isaac, others saw a direct comparison to Pedro Pascal, Isaac’s real-life friend whom he previously told Variety he would like to work with “sooner rather than later” on a Mad Gene production. So, could a limited series based on “Head Wounds” be in the works?
“I really have no idea,” Isaac said. “I think whatever it is, it has to happen organically. I think you can feel when something gets forced. I’m just so excited to be interacting with an audience with this medium and to see where it can go. And if that naturally leads to people getting really excited about another form, then we will explore it. I just want people to have pleasure when they look at this art and read the story.”
“Head Wounds: Sparrow” is now available from Legendary Comics.