It seems that comic-to-TV adaptations become more and more common, and now some of those involved with making the Walking Dead television show are teaming up with one of the best comic writers, Warren Ellis. In addition, even more comic properties seem to be headed to the small screen as Night Maryand Five Ghosts(pictured above) have been optioned.
Ellis, writer of such things as Iron Man: Extremis, Red, Transmetropolitan, and much, much more, has signed up with Walking Dead produced Gale Ann Hurd and Valhalla Entertainment to create an entirely new television project with Universal Cable Productions. No word on what it is yet, but this is Ellis’ first original venture into television, so it’ll be exciting to see what he comes up with. (more…)
What do a druidic talisman, shape-shifting cat people and Warren Ellis have in common? The answer is Red Phone Box, a fiction anthology currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. Led by Salome Jones and Tim Dedopulos, Red Phone Box features stories from Ellis, comics writer Dan Wickline and 26 others, including myself. Speaking with Tim and Salome, I try to get to the bottom of this unique anthology.
How did Red Phone Box come about?
Salome: It started as a web series. I wrote the first story and put it on my website. I got a few people wanting to write for it right away, but it really took off when Warren wrote a little blog post about it. The best thing that came out of that blog post was Gethin Lynes finding us. I shopped for other writers. Asked for names and tracked people down, asking them to contribute stories. For example, Peter Dawes writes vampire novels in his real life. So when a vampire character came up in the book, I got in touch with him and asked him to write a story about that character. I wanted something erotic, so I sought out a writer of erotica.
The biggest epiphany I had was in realizing that Tim could use his puzzle-making skills to help me weave the stories together better. This was the moment when the story cycle was born. Before this bulb went off in my head, this was just an anthology. It became something bigger when Tim agreed to help me fill in the missing pieces.
Red Phone Box draws on writers from around the world. Where did you find them all?
Salome: I can really answer this in one word: Twitter. This is a novel made possible by social media. Everyone who worked on the book is connected to me or one of the other writers by Twitter. This is what creative collaboration and meeting people is in the twenty-first century. We’re living in the future and it’s really a great place sometimes.
If you mean more specifically where were they found… Well, all over the United States, Canada, the UK – both England and Scotland, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, another mystery country, Australia, and the Middle East.
Limited Edition RPB print by Ben Templesmith
You’ve described Red Phone Box as a story cycle. How do they fit together?
Tim: Story cycles are collections of independent stories that work together to provide some overall narrative or contrast. This can range from very tightly linked material like James Joyce’s Dubliners down to widely-dispersed collections of material, such as Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos tales. Academics argue back and forth about exact definitions incessantly, which makes for a decent career I guess.
In our case, the unifying pivot point is the Red Phone Box itself – and the history (and fate) which are attached to it. The Box is, well, it’s many things, but it’s often a gateway. The thing about gateways is that sometimes they suck you in, and sometimes they let things out…The different stories permit illuminated glimpses through, so you can see a bit of what is going on. So as well as often interlinking and feeding into each other directly, they also give you changing views into the events happening in the background. Bad things are building, and the future is reaching out to the present.
So while you can enjoy the stories as unrelated tales in themselves, they also work as a jigsaw, slotting together to give you a vision of something much larger and darker. It all takes a lot of shepherding, of course. But the end result is something really rather special, I believe.
How on Earth you did nab Warren Ellis?
Salome: Warren and I have been friends for years. When I was a graduate student studying writing in the US, he was my guru. I even dedicated my thesis to him. When you study writing in an academic setting, there’s a lot of bias against writing genre. I really sought out writer friends who called bullshit on that and Warren was at the front of that line of people for me. So when I started this project, he was very supportive. I was a bit terrified to ask him to write for it. I remember trying to come up with a persuasive argument for how it would benefit him. Finally I just asked him. He really is a nice man and in spite of his protestations, quite brilliant.
At this point, the book is funded. Do you have any stretch goals in mind?
Tim: Of course! The Kickstarter goal is the amount we require to fulfill all the pledge rewards and to get the book actually printed. Our next aim is to set up a distribution deal and get the book into brick and mortar stores. There’s quite a lot of hoops to leap through there, many of which take fairly substantial amounts of money. So that’s our first aim. If we cover that, then we’ll consider bribing another big-name writer to join Warren Ellis in the contributors list. We’re looking into possible candidates at the moment, just in case. After that… Hm, we’ll think of something. A Red Phone Box comic cycle, perhaps?
Salome: We plan to do a second book. We’ve signed up some new people to write it. Some of the current crop of writers will be back. We hope to recruit some big names. We’re still looking for good writers. The second book will be a little more planned out. We want it to take what we have and draw to a kind of finale.
This book is very comic book series like in a way, more episodic in the way of a serial like a comic book. It’s more like life than the structured, plotted out novel or film script. That’s one of the interesting things about it. There are moments where you go, “Oh, those are connected.” That’s one of my favorite aspects of story cycle versus novel. But it’s a bit like herding cats to make it do what you want. So for the purposes of giving a big finish that resolves most of the threads, we need to give writers more specific assignments. This whole thing has been a big, gorgeous experiment. The second book will be a different kind of experiment.
Dean Parisot‘s RED 2, the follow up sequel to the hit movie RED, (Retired-Extremely-Dangerous) based on the comic book by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer has posted it’s first trailer. If this trailer is any indication, the sequel is set to be as fantastic a ride as the first. Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, and Karl Urban are all returning with the addition of Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung-Hun Lee, Neal McDonough and David Thewlis.
The gang of clandestine operative retirees are back, wrecking their way across Europe.
RED 2 will blow up theater screens starting August 2nd.
While the flux-capacitor hasn’t been perfected, and we can’t help you fix any past holiday humbuggery, maybe we can help you get this holiday season off to a good…
Now hear this! I am taking back this holiday gift guide in the name of Hannukah! For too long the Festival of Lights has lived in the shadows of other December based holidays. Even Festivus, that ironic sitcom born hipster holiday, feels more celebrated than the eight crazy nights of oil and flame and socks from grandma.
So this year, I am leading the charge to win the war for Hannukah! No longer will we be relegated to endcaps and afterthoughts on holiday lists. This time, we’re taking front and center with these 8 Amazing Hannukah gifts (that you can also buy people for Christmas or whatever else you buy gifts for)!
Night Number One: Give the gift of this awesome Evil League of Evil Shirt and show your team spirit. The shirt is available in 4 different colors in sizes S-2XL and as a baby doll tee as well from T Shirt Laundry. You can buy this splendid gift for $18.00. Check it out here.
Welcome once again to another reliably ridiculously round of Ask the Bastards, the weekly feature where you, the readers, get to ask us, the writers of Nerd Bastards, what we think about all manner of geeky topics. This week we’re talking about the good an bad of Disney purchasing LucasFilm and what it means for Star Wars and Indiana Jones. We share our favorite Nerdy possessions, and provide some electrifying comments about Jamie Foxx as Electro in Spider-Man 2.
Got a question for Ask the Bastards? Make sure to Like Us On Facebook or Follow Us On Twitter. We put out a call for questions every week, so keep your eye out. Also, if you’d like to know what we’ve tackled so far, you can peruse the Ask the Bastards archive here.
I don’t know how he’s been doing it, but Guy Pearce has been on a roll lately. Lockout, Lawless, and Prometheus, he’s been in – or is going to be in – some of the most stylish films of the last few years. So when it was announced the Guy would be part of the Shane Black directed Iron Man 3 the world heaved a collective, “Okay, that’s cool”.
Crappy part of it all is that his role as Aldrich Killian, one of the main antagonists, is only be a cameo. Sucks, we know, but he spilled the beans about his minimal role himself in an interview with Vulture. Comparing his role in Iron Man 3 to that of Peter Weyland in Prometheus Pearce said:
“The main difference was that, when I did The Time Machine, I was pretty much in all of it, so it was a really grueling experience… Prometheus and Iron Man are really kind of cameo stuff, so the experience of shooting them … I mean, on some level, it’s tricky because you feel like a bit of an outsider. You don’t really live the experience that you do when you’re there all day every day with everybody. But at the same time, it can be more fun sometimes because you’re just working in concentrated spurts.”
Yeah, he brought up The Time Machine (made us throw up a little bit too), but it’s easy to see why his role will be so short.
– Spoiler Alert–
According to the original comic series, Killian was created in 2005 by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov. Aldrich Killian is the creator of the Extremis virus alongside Maya Hansen. Killian then stole a sample of the virus to sell to domestic terrorists, but was unable to cope with he did. He later confesses for his crime by leaving a note and shoots himself.
Not sure if they go the same route in the feature film, but he’s still going to kick the bucket in some way. Iron Man 3 hits theaters May 3rd, 2013.
So, everyone here knows that I basically revere Warren Ellis as a god, right? If not, look back through the archives of this column (anything tagged “Comics Rewind”) and bear witness to my worship. Well, it’s time for another Ellis book this week, one in which he not only twists the superhero genre into his own particular brand of awesome, but makes huge quantities of fun of it along the way. Welcome to Nextwave.
(Welcome to Comics Rewind, a weekly column devoted to discovering – or re-discovering – great comics published some time in the past. Here you will find looks back at comics published in every era, from the Golden Age to the Modern Age, as well as retrospectives on the work of important comics writers, lists of “essential” comics, and evaluations of important works, as well as works worthy of a second look or a wider audience. Enjoy!)
If you follow superhero movie news at all, you’ve no doubt heard the title Iron Man: Extremis thrown around in the last few weeks in reference to Marvel’s forthcoming third Iron Man flick. The plot seems to be shaping up to bear a great similarity to the comic that Warren Ellis and Adi Granov launched Iron Man Volume 4 with for Marvel, and though we don’t yet know just how expansive the adaptation will be, we do know that the concept at the heart of Extremis is exceptionally intriguing. My interest in Extremis pre-dates the Iron Man 3 news because, as faithful readers (all seven of you) will note, I have an unhealthy obsession with Ellis’ work. But now that this movie is taking shape around this comic, it seems appropriate to look back at Extremis itself, and note that not only is it one of the best Iron Man stories ever told, but that it’s already left its mark on the movies.
Today it appears that Chinese movie star Andy Lau is joining an impressive list of new talent – including Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce and Jessica Chastain – to appear along side Robert Downey, Jr., Gwenyth Paltrow and Don Cheadle in the soon to go before the cameras Iron Man 3.
Lau, who may be familiar to American audiences from his roles in Infernal Affairs, House of Flying Daggers and Detective Dee, is in negotiations to play “’an old friend of Tony Stark’ who enlists China’s own armored heroes – I didn’t even know they had any – to help fight The Mandarin,” according to Neon Punch (via Twitch). If Neon Punch is to be believed, this is the most overt mention of the character being the prime villain in the upcoming Iron Man film.
On the other hand, previous reports have said that the film, which is being directed by Shane Black, is based, at least in part, on Warren Ellis’ Extremis arc; a fact that was confirmed when Pearce was cast as Aldrich Killian. The Mandarin, however, is not in that story, so has screenwriter Drew Pearce changed the Extremis story to suit Iron Man’s main nemesis? I guess we’ll find out when Iron Man 3 starts rolling sometime later this summer.
Tim Miller of Blur Studios has been creating visually-stunning special effects for some time now. In addition to his well-known intro sequence to the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, he had his creative hands involved in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, the X-Men films, Daredevil and Tim Burton’s version of Planet of the Apes. Though Miller has proven himself time-and-again to know his FX magic, he is set to make a directorial debut in bringing legendary writer Warren Ellis’s ‘Gravel’ comic to the big screen.
For those that don’t know Warren Ellis, he is the genius behind such titles as Transmetropolitan, The Authority and a vast number of other titles. His writing credits read like an encyclopedia of some of the most popular comics in the world.
The creation in question, ‘Gravel’, is a horror comic that follows the adventures of Sgt. Major William Gravel, a soldier in the British S.A.S. Being skilled in the dark arts of magic, Gravel decides to make a few extra pounds (that’s Brit-money) by hiring himself out to fight crazy supernatural monsters.
Unfortunately, Ellis will not be putting the screenplay together, as he has quite the busy schedule. Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell have that pleasure, though Ellis has expressed that he’s not upset about it and is happy with whom the studio has chosen to helm this project.
Miller was also set to direct the much talked about X-Men Origins: Deadpool film, though no one seems to have heard anything more about that since last year. Looks like another one bites the dust.
The adaptation of ‘Gravel’ is being produced by Legendary Pictures and Rick Alexander. Legendary is known for being the production company behind 300, which means Miller may have free reign to go ape-shit wild with the effects on Gravel. If the screenwriters can keep the story strong, movie-viewers may have some serious awesome waiting for them just around the corner.