Comic Cons stole my life!
Blood Night is a creative labor of love put together by skilled photographer David Jaffe, owner of Lift-Off Studios in Charlotte, North Carolina along with friend and avid comic book fan, Mike Powell. It is an intriguing photo novel based on the fan favorite comic book character, Punisher and is a fantastic combination of imaginative writing, cosplay and masterful photography. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jaffe in person this past year at New York Comic Con (NYCC).
Blood Night: A Novel Approach to Comics
Creativity Collides: Meeting Mr. Jaffe
It is no secret that I have a bit of an obsession for seeking out unique artwork and a deep appreciation for great photography. I was thrilled to get the best of both worlds upon meeting David Jaffe as he was assisting and photographing a favorite artist of mine, CJ Draden, during his time at NYCC 2016. David is a personal photographer for CJ and thankfully I was able to spend a few moments speaking with him about photography, artwork, conventions and cosplay; that is when he told me about Blood Night. I was immediately intrigued with the idea of how David combined several passions into a single project to be shared with fellow fans. With New York Comic Con being the bustling environment it is known for, my time in speaking with Mr. Jaffe was limited. He kindly gave me a copy of Blood Night to take home and I am so glad he did. After reading it and reading about how it was it was put together, I contacted him immediately; I just knew I wanted to feature this in an article to share with fellow comic connoisseurs.
Driven to be Different
The concept for Blood Night began in 2014 and uses photographs rather than drawn artwork to tell its tale. Mr. Jaffe is a big fan of science fiction and had been wanting to put together a photo novel for quite some time. He spoke with friend Mike Powell about the idea and he loved it. The biggest obstacle to overcome though was in getting the project funded. It was Mr. Powell that suggested the unique idea of using cosplayers set in local areas to act out the scenes, therefore cutting costs and enabling them to get the ball rolling.
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The Real Deal
Something else I found completely intriguing is that fact that Mr. Jaffe does not use Photoshop unless absolutely necessary; it is all practical effects and his own technically creative skills used to capture his vision. Blood Night consists of 84 full color pages with 236 photographs that took 18 hours to shoot, over 100 hours to layout and almost an entire year to complete. I say his efforts were hugely successful! Please visit the Lift-Off Studio Blood Night webpage for even more details regarding the background of this amazing project. David was also kind enough to send me a link to a wonderfully informative Film Fervor podcast he did with Justin Kincaid. This cool podcast offers even more insight as to the inner working of Blood Night and its follow-up project, Kill Them All.
The Man Behind the Magic
I always feel it’s important to understand the creator behind any great project and to get their personal input regarding its purpose. David Jaffe was no exception. He was kind enough to address some questions I had for him…
Linda: What drove your passion for photography? When did you know it was what you wanted as a career?
David: My grandfather loved photography, I have 13 of his old cameras and I do shoot with his old Roliflex once and while for fun. I went to Europe in 2006 for about a month and came home with over 4,000 photos and I knew I had a new addiction. I went part-time professional in 2009 and then full-time in 2013.
Linda: What do you love most about photography?
David: Light! I love shaping light, natural is nice, but I love working with artificial light and creating dramatic scenes where nothing existed.
Linda: How & when did Lift-Off Studio begin?
David: Lift-Off started as a joint venture with a fellow photographer I knew at the time in 2013, barely a year later due to creative differences and goals he left. I went on with my goal of specializing in commercial work which I love and I find to be a great challenge. And thanks to some very large clients and having managed a few projects that took weeks of planning and days of shooting, it also gave me the experience I needed to plan and produce Blood Night without pulling my hair out entirely.
Linda: When did you start attending comic conventions. What is your favorite aspect?
David: It started in 2013, my first convention was Hero’s Con in Charlotte, NC. This was also when I met CJ Draden. The people! I love engaging with people so passionate about something. And the Cosplayers are amazing to see in person, they put so much into their creations.
Linda: Do you have a favorite con? Why?
David: New York Comic Con, because of the shear mass of it. You meet so many fans of so many different things!
Linda: How did the idea for a photo novel begin? Why based on The Punisher?
David: I got into doing some portraits for local cosplayers and after going to major comic cons for 3 years as a photographer for an artist I work with I wanted to do something different… something more than just a cosplay photo shoot… SO I thought about it and decided to combine the format of a graphic novel with photography, keeping true in every way to a graphic novel, just using photographs instead of drawn artwork.
The idea being fan based around the Punisher was just a coincidence from working with star of it, Mike Powell, who also did the dialog for the novel. I had done a few photo shoots for him of his cosplays and we got along great. When I told him about my idea he was excited and threw out the idea of his Punisher cosplay… I like the Punisher, he loves the Punisher so we went with it and over a year later Blood Night was produced.
Linda: How did you pick your (other) cosplayers?
David: I kept Blood Night all local to Charlotte as a tribute to Charlotte’s cosplay scene. They are all people I knew from previous photo shoots or that Mike (Powell) knew.
Linda: I believe one the coolest aspects in the making of Blood Night is that cosplayers were used to portray the characters. Anyone ever having attended a comic convention can attest to the fact that cosplayers are some of the most fascinating and creative people you could ever meet. Also, It seemed they loved working on this project as much as David did in bringing it to life. Bugz Bugbee (aka Mr. Sharpe) had this to say about David Jaffe and Blood Night…”Working on Blood Night was fantastic. It’s not every day you are allowed a behind the scenes look at the creative process as it unfolds. From the story to the production, it was exciting to see the project come together. David was great as a director, pushing the characters to deliver emotion in which he was able to translate with his photography. I did ruin a shirt and destroyed a watch in our fight scenes, but it was totally worth it.”
Linda: What has been the overall fan response to Blood Night?
David: Great! I sold out of printed book at Charlotte’s Heroes Con for its debut! On a side note, the printed books are sold at print cost, keeping the entire project zero-profit because we believe in fan based content for free since we are fans creating it for fans.
Linda: I love the idea of this project being done by fans, involving fans, for fans. It is truly inspirational to reach out toward a dream that has the capacity to touch so many other people. To quote from Mr. Jaffe’s website ” It’s all about the fun and creativeness that these comic books inspire in all of us!” It is completely not for profit and is available for free download as an online book. The free digital download can be found by clicking here, Blood Night digital download and the print books can be found by clicking here, Blood Night print.
Linda: What is your primary source for promoting Blood Night?
Linda: What is the timeframe for sequels? Is this a project you see long-term?
David: We have a sequel written, but we need funding as it is much larger in scale because we are both crazy. But, I have original content stories ranging from Super Heroes to Sci-Fi to Suspense that I would like to produce first because they can be profitable stories and I can use that profit to create more fan based content.
I would like to personally thank Mr. Jaffe for sharing his passion, Blood Night, and for taking the time to answer all my questions and for sending me so much useful information. Our paths are sure to cross very soon at upcoming conventions and I look forward to hearing all about future projects. I wish him well with ALL future endeavors and eagerly anticipate Frank Castle’s return in Kill Them All. Well done David, keep up the great work!
Keeping You Comic Con-nected!