The Antarctic murder mystery Whiteout was a wipe-out this weekend, with almost universally negative reviews and a sixth-place debut at the box office. The movie's lousy -- here's Cinematical's scathing report, courtesy of Peter Hall -- but by most accounts the graphic novel it's based on, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Steve Lieber, is pretty good. In conjunction with that, Portland film critic and cartoonist Mike Russell interviewed Lieber (who's also a Portlander -- lots of comic book people here) about the process of drawing the book and seeing it turned into a movie. Russell adapted this conversation into an edition of his "Culture Pulp" comic, which appears occasionally in the Oregonian newspaper and online at Russell's website.

As is often the case with bad movies, the behind-the-scenes stories for Whiteout are fascinating. Wolfgang Petersen (Air Force One, The Perfect Storm) expressed interest in making a film version of the graphic novel way back in 1999, and a script was commissioned. The project stalled; Reese Witherspoon got involved at some point as a potential star; another script was written; Joel Silver came aboard; and finally Dominic Sena, who had made Swordfish and Gone in 60 Seconds, campaigned for the privilege of directing it. Lieber says in the "Culture Pulp" interview that it was clear Sena was a real fan of the book. (I've seen the movie. I'd hate to see what someone who didn't like the book would have done with it.) Russell's mix of cartooning and reporting is fun (check out his archives for other amusing stories, some film-related and some not), and he's posted a transcript of the entire Lieber interview at Ain't It Cool News. Since Russell is an artist, too, his conversation with Lieber is frequently about that aspect of the Whiteout graphic novels. (For example: How do you draw snow?) But since he's also a film critic and hardcore movie geek, there's plenty for him to discuss with Lieber on that topic as well. In any case, you might get a kick out of the interview if you're into graphic novels, filmmaking, or sub-zero weather conditions.