Not only does the long-awaited remastered edition of Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel’s acclaimed graphic novel, Breathtaker, have a scheduled 2020 release date from Titan Comics, it’s accompanied by a brand new comic book, a museum-quality traveling exhibit, and now a music video as well. The vide debuts on Diamond Comic Distributors’ PreviewsWorld YouTube channel on Thursday, March 12, and goes into wider release after that.
Wheatley and Hempel co-created the ground-breaking graphic novel and many other projects over the years, and as it turns out they’re still breaking ground with new ideas associated with Breathtaker. As Titan gears up for the highly anticipated release of the graphic novel and a brand new comic book, the Breathtaker music video has just been released. Not only did Wheatley write and record the music, he also animated the music video.
“I love the possibility the Breathtaker track and music video represent: creatives leveraging technology (and their own talent) to spread their storytelling, in this instance beyond the pages of the original book but with the same impulses. Cinematic, lush, with tragedy lurking just below the surface, Breathtaker the song is the perfect companion piece to Wheatley and Hempel’s visionary approach to Breathtaker the story, as well as a soaring, prog-rock anthem that stands on its own,” said Feast of the Seven Fishes writer/director Robert Tinnell, whose own music video experience ranges from directing Paula Abdul’s iconic “Straight Up” to rising alt-country singer Charles Wesley Godwin’s “Coal Country.”
“I have been recording music for longer than Breathtaker has existed,” said Wheatley, “In fact I turned down offers from two major recording labels for multi-album contracts to concentrate on creating comics and illustration.” Shortly after he began his first monthly comic book series, Mars (also created with Hempel), the demo tapes he had been submitting to the music industry for about five years finally resulted in offers from Capital and Columbia A&R reps.
Listed on page 369 in the March edition of PREVIEWS from Diamond Comic Distributors [item #MAR202123] is the remastered, hardcover Breathtaker collected edition, Breathtaker: Make Way For the Man #138 (with choices of the Marc Hempel cover [MAR202124] or the Michael Avon Oeming cover [MAR202124]), the first new Wheatley-Hempel collaboration in more than two decades.
The Breathtaker music video is a theme song for the graphic novel, running just slightly more than four minutes. Between the visuals, animation and the music, the tune introduces the extreme conflicting emotions that Chase Darrow, the Breathtaker, is faced with during the story of the graphic novel. From the lows of death, loss of love to the highs to be found in the power of new love. And after all, Breathtaker has always been about love, death, sex and power. In many ways, Breathtaker was a pinnacle of Hempel and Wheatley’s earlier original collaborations. With innovative projects like Mars, Jonny Quest, Tarzan, and Blood of the Innocent already behind them, writer-artists Wheatley (Radical Dreamer, EZ Street) and Hempel (The Sandman: The Kindly Ones, Gregory) turned their attention to this project in 1990. They never dreamed they would revisit it and find the spark of new material in it 30 years later.
Their resulting creation, Chase Darrow, was a dynamic woman, sought after by many men, and seemingly lethal to all of them, causing them to age rapidly and die (though to be fair, they died happy). Originally serialized as a four-issue, Prestige format mini-series, Breathtaker became an highly-praised, best-selling trade paperback for DC’s Vertigo imprint. And it contained story elements that lent itself perfectly to the new musical effort.
“I had really wanted to agree to release some albums of my music, but I had already signed contracts for monthly comic books. And that takes more than all your time. Over the years since I’ve worked on a few professional recording gigs, recording soundtracks for TV ads, radio, etc. But most of my music skills have been dedicated to presenting Insight Studios projects,” Wheatley said.
Beyond the graphic novel and new comic from Titan, and the music video, Wheatley and Hempel’s Insight Studios Group will mount the “Breathtaker Exhibition,” which will initially appear at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. The exhibition explores the creative and physical processes that were undertaken during the original production of the comic Breathtaker in the 1990s, as well as how the work was re-adapted, tweaked and in some cases reworked by the artists during the preparation stages for the Titan Comics re-release.