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Alek Shrader Uses Comics to Celebrate Opera and 'Carmen'

We chat with the opera singer/director about jumping into comics and how the mediums can inform each other.

This week, we bring you another Creator Cranny conversation (click HERE to listen) exploring how one artistic medium informs another artistic medium. Opera singer/director Alek Shrader joins us in the Love Nest to discuss his graphic novel adaptation of Georges Bizet's Carmen, collaborating with comic book titans P. Craig Russell and Aneke. How can you possibly lose when you have such titanic weight backing you up?


As we recently discussed with Rantz Hoseley, music and comics fold easily into each other. Shrader and the Arizona Opera troupe hope this unique relationship will draw new eyes to their beloved art form. It's an enthusiastic outreach, and based on their Kickstarter success, the first stage in their mission is complete.


"This book could be appealing to young high schoolers," says Shrader, "or late-soon-to-enter-high-schoolers who might think this is something risqué, but we're also giving them this high art. We're giving them the opera in a graphic novel. It's not like it's scandalous or anything like that. It's just a little more mature but it's definitely not gonna ruin any young minds. On the contrary, I hope that it entices them to to explore opera stories."


Shrader is a comic book geek going way back, and we spent a good portion of this conversation squeeing over P. Craig Russell's involvement. Plus, yes, we discuss his comic book obsessive origin story, and it's fairly similar to Brad's four-color beginnings. Also, Lisa being the opera-head she is, digs into what the comic book form cannot do that only the opera can achieve. Any guesses? You can probably figure it out.


"The first person I thought of was P. Craig Russell," says Shrader. "I just reached out to him on social media, and I got a response. Not only did I get a response, he wanted to set up a phone call! I quickly made a list of everything I could possibly ask him. I read literally every single How To Write Comics book that's available, so I was ready to pick his brain for all of the information I could get. To my shock and surprise, he wanted to talk opera most of all. And then he randomly, very casually said, 'Oh, why don't I do the layouts myself.' I was like, 'Yeah, yeah, that would be great!' So, suddenly that burden was gone."


With that stress relieved, Shrader could dive into the creation process. The experience was utterly invigorating, and he hopes to explore it further in the future. But before he can do that, we need to jump on the Carmen comic asap.


Be sure to follow Alek Shrader on Twitter HERE and bask in those gorgeous Carmen: The Graphic Novel pages. They're truly stunning.


And, of course, follow Comic Book Couples Counseling on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter @CBCCPodcast, and you can follow hosts Brad Gullickson @MouthDork & Lisa Gullickson@sidewalksiren.


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Podcast logo by Aaron Prescott @acoolhandfluke, podcast banner art by @Karen_XmenFan.