It’s been a big year for Louie Del Carmen, director of Cartoon Network’s new series “Dragons: Riders of Berk” — based on the 2010 DreamWorks animated feature “How to Train Your Dragon.” He is also a story artist on the studio’s upcoming animated feature “Rise of the Guardians,” due in theaters Nov. 21. And he debuted the second installment in his comic series “Steel Noodles” at Comic-Con International this summer. Though Del Carmen began working in animation more than 15 years ago — his credits include “Rugrats,” “Kim Possible” and “Kung Fu Panda” — his entry into the world of comics has been fairly recent. Hero Complex caught up withDel Carmen to talk about “Steel Noodles,” which follows an old man and a mysterious girl who must evade would-be captors and survive on a desolate planet.
HC: How did “Steel Noodles” come about? Where’d you get the idea for such a desolate world and compelling (and lovable) characters?
LDC: “Steel Noodles” is a synergy of several different things. I love intricately plotted, large-scale stories with over-arching characters and conflict. But what I really love are minimally told stories by complex characters. I also love interactivity between the story and the reader. Reading between the lines and the subtext is part of what makes stories so fulfilling. Along with that, I also gravitate to underdog, “one person against the (blank)” stories, where the individual is dwarfed by the oppression of the forces of antagonism. Then one day, I just started drawing these characters — the girl and the old man — and the more I drew them, the story seemed to start writing itself. I’m a big fan of science fiction, so I knew the world was being set in that genre. So I set out to write the entire world of “Steel Noodles.” I had to know from the inside out what made this world work. I had to be able to answer my own questions, because inevitably this would be what other people would ask. Ultimately my goal was not to reinvent the wheel; my story was going to be archetypal but minimal. It just needed to answer the questions it asks philosophically, and emotionally. I want it to be familiar but not banal. Old but fresh.