If there’s one thing I don’t really cover at the annual San Diego Comic Con, it’s comics oddly enough. With so many film and television-related panels going on these days, the launch of comic titles or labels themselves often get lost in the milieu of sound bites from a geek-exalted filmmaker or visiting major celeb who let slip quotes about their next project whilst helping the studio pimp out their current one.
The main reason though is that Dark Horizons is a film, and to a lesser extent a TV, DVD & Blu-ray site. Video games, technology, comics or fandom in general doesn’t fall under my purview unless there is a film-related component. This year however one such opportunity presented itself – Radical Studios.
Back in early July it was announced that Sam Worthington, the hunky Aussie thesp who has become an international household name faster than you can say iPad, had formed the production company Full Clip Productions with his fellow Australian cohorts Michael and John Schwarz. The trio had also signed a deal with LA-based Radical to team on comic/film related projects.
What was interesting though about the deal was that it wasn’t about just straight up adaptations of existing titles from the growing Radical Publishing library. Rather the aim was to discover and cultivate properties they were all excited about and develop them into whatever form suits it best be it comics, one-off graphic novels, etc. and eventually films in certain cases.
More importantly though the guys seemed very adamant about getting good quality stories and original properties developed properly and not as a vehicle for any future film/series/game spin-offs. Their mission statement is to make Full Clip & Radical a place for good ideas rather than vanity projects, and with the deal they have in place they have the time to develop properties in a natural way that will help them flourish to their full potential.
At the time of the announcement there was a small press conference at the Radical offices in early July where all three talked about their general plans for the label to select genre press. Sadly I was still in Sydney at the time and missed the opportunity to participate. A little over a week later though I hit the ground in Los Angeles and San Diego, and on the second full day of Comic Con I was offered the opportunity for a one-on-one with Michael Schwarz.
Navigating your way through the 130,000 strong crowd of the convention center is as hard as it sounds. Walking down your average laneway, I passed by a Stan Lee impersonator on the left, and the real Stan Lee and his entourage on the right. After brushing past various people who really shouldn’t be wearing spandex, and a male model in a “Tron Legacy” bodysuit giving me a downright unsettling stare that would’ve gotten Jeffrey Dahmer aroused, I arrived at the surprisingly spacious Radical booth.
A quick chat with Radical’s marketing director led me to Schwarz himself. Relaxed and affable, the fellow Australian was making his second sojourn to Comic Con after his first trip last year lead to him meeting contacts, such as film producer Barry Levine, which played a big part in forming Full Clip. Of the trio, Michael is the one with the greatest knowledge of comics and admits he was the one that got Sam into comics in the first place, a field the “Avatar” actor has become much more familiar with since that introduction.
It all began with “The Last Days of American Crime”, an existing Radical title that Schwarz found at last year’s Comic Con and began to develop into a film adaptation with both Radical and Levine. During development, Schwarz pitched to Levine an original title he and his brother came up with a few years beforehand called “Damaged” and Levine suggested an ‘imprint deal’ which would allow the Schwarz’s to create up to three titles a year that Radical would pick up and publish. Soon after, Full Clip was born.
“‘Damaged’ is the one moving ahead fastest” says Schwarz. The first title in their deal, the six-issue series “Damaged” follows two cops, one of whom becomes a vigilante. There’s also themes of redemption, brotherhood, paternal family drama, etc. all set in a “violent, noir-style world”. “Stray Bullets” creator David Lapham is helping write the comic, and the first issue is currently scheduled for release next February.
“Patriots” is the second title which was created by Worthington himself and is still in early stages. Currently seeking writers, Schwarz admits one of his favourite authors had just signed onto the title though he couldn’t reveal who just yet. He describes the story as “massive in scope, deals with big big questions and issues”.
A stand-alone graphic novel, “Patriots” posits the idea that one of the world’s continents must be sacrificed for the rest to survive and how people deal with that decision. Upon hearing the concept I immediately say that it’ll always be us (Australia) that’ll get the chop which Schwarz laughs at.
Asked about Worthington’s involvement in the process, he says Sam is “very very heavily involved.. he doesn’t know how not to get involved”. He adds that Sam’s fingerprints are all over “Damaged” just as he and his brother are heavily involved in “Patriots”, “I think he felt a bit left out with ‘Damaged’ so we had to let him get involved” says an amused Schwarz.
The third title they’re working on is an illustrated novel by Jeannie Schwarz described as very “Coraline”-esque and more kid-friendly, something his nephews can read. They’re also acquiring other properties but can’t really reveal which ones presently as the deals aren’t locked down yet. Despite Sam’s involvement on the comics front, he won’t necessarily be involved in the film spin-offs or adaptations that come from these properties.
Asked if there were any famed comic writers he’d love to get onboard on titles, Schwarz cites Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison and Joshua Dysart amongst his favorite authors and hopes to some day get to work with them. For now though their current titles are keeping them quite occupied.
Outside of their Full Clip deal, Radical Studios itself is pushing hard and fast with other film related comic adaptations including Sam Raimi’s “Earp: Saints for Sinners”, Joseph Kosinski’s “Oblivion”, “Shrapnel”, Infinitum Nihil’s “Calber”, Darren Lynn Bousman’s “Abattoir” and Imagine Entertainment’s “Legends” all in active development. For more information on the complete Radical lineup, check out RadicalPublishing.com.