The idea of creating an original comic book for “Buffalo Bushido” first came about when McGennis was looking to visually provide specific details for his character’s adolescent life. In his mind, he created the antihero “Samurai D” thinking of psychological ways to explain what Davis becomes at the end of the film. At first, the idea was simply to place two Samurai D comic book covers in separate flashbacks to subtly indicate the seeds of the samurai influence. McGennis also felt that it would be interesting to show a physical likeness between Samurai D and Davis in order to reinforce the connection between fantasy and reality. All of these ideas McGennis knew would rely on teaming up with a comic book illustrator to bring Samurai D to life. He looked to Toronto to find a freelance artist capable of expressing his vision. His search led him to Marvin Mariano who has worked with Transformers, GI Joe, Barbie and Star Wars and who boasts an impressive client list that includes Hasbro, Mattel, Marvel Entertainment, DC Comics, DreamWorks, 20th Century Fox, National Geographic, and Lucasfilm. Mariano really took to the project and the first two Samurai D covers were created as if they were pulled right out of McGennis’ head. He was so impressed with Mariano’s work that it became a mission to find a way to take their work on “Buffalo Bushido” even farther.  
  After looking at a rough cut over the winter, McGennis saw his opportunity to expand on Samurai D. With a clearer sense of the “Buffalo” and the “Bushido” themes, McGennis felt that on screen, the comic book covers were not enough on their own to visually connect Davis’ transformation into the samurai. It was around this time that the idea of animation first entered the picture as a possible layer to further tell the story and to let the audience see into the mind of Davis. At first, the inclination was to somehow give Samurai D animation but McGennis knew that this had to be done delicately so as not to diminish the importance of the Bushido theme or to reduce it to a cartoon. He finally saw an opportunity to introduce a third Samurai D comic book in the final act of the film as a powerful way to indicate to the audience Davis’ path of destiny. Unlike the previous two covers that were photographed in flashbacks, this final Samurai D cover would occur in present time and be treated as a visual effect allowing us to see inside of Davis’ head. Combining the talent of Emmy award winning visual effects artist, Jeremy Appelbaum, McGennis saw for the first time how Mariano’s work could be brought to life as a new present layer in the film. The result was fantastic and certainly sparked his desire to find more possibilities for Mariano and Appelbaum. A firm believer that one step illuminates the next, McGennis was not giving up yet on the idea of bringing full animation into the film.  
McGennis soon found his answer by looking in a new direction. Ever since the rough cut, he had been thinking of a surreal way to enhance a nightmarish part of the film where Sadie and Davis relive their haunted pasts. Departing from Samurai D, McGennis thought it would work to create a second comic book with Mariano that was custom crafted to fit into this one scene.  He envisioned that this spin off comic book would actually come alive panel by panel, with Leila Arcieri’s and his From Storyboard to Animation
own voice over, in order to stand alone as a separate animated segment in the film. As writer and actor, McGennis was in a unique position to let the comic book play out in his head as Mariano first brought his ideas to life in storyboard panels. Over several weeks, Marvin would knock out the illustrated panels for the newly created “Demon Comic” before they were turned over to Appelbaum in order to give subtle animated movements. The result is truly the culmination of an idea that, although never written in the original script, sprung forth from McGennis allowing time for his script to evolve into a multi layered film.

From Storyboard to Animation

As to where McGennis and Mariano go from here, well it appears that they intend to take their collaborative work even farther. They have ambitious plans to launch a first issue of the underground comic book “Samurai D.” around the release of the film “Buffalo Bushido". You can check out Marvin Mariano’s amazing work on his website at

Illustrator Marvin Mariano and Peter McGennis