Max Allan Collins to Direct ‘Road’ Sequels
Max Allan Collins revisits the world he crafted for Road to Perdition by signing to write and direct movies based on the prose novel sequels, Road to Purgatory and Road to Paradise.
Collins will be working with Illinois-based JBM Production Company (Leprechaun) and EMO Films (April Showers).
The prolific crime author wrote Road to Perdition as a graphic novel for DC Comics’ Paradox Press imprint and it was subsequently adapted into a big budget film starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. The film, directed by Sam Mendes, won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Cinematography with a nomination for Newman.
The initial story tells of Michael Sullivan, a hitman for he mob, who suddenly becomes the hunted when his son witnesses a murder committed by the son of Sullivan’s boss.
Road to Purgatory will follow the character of Michael Sullivan, Jr., the son of Tom Hanks’ character in the original film, who returns from World War II with a new determination to avenge his murdered father. His quest ultimately leads him to Frank Nitti, whom he is urged to kill on the orders of Al Capone. The second sequel will follow Sullivan’s continued plight.
The original graphic novel, illustrated by Richard Piers Rayner, remains in print as does Road to Perdition: On the Road, collecting the three-part miniseries, illustrated by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Steve Leiber, that covers events concurrent with Perdition.
The novels Road to Purgatory and Road to Paradise were released in 2004 and 2005.
In an extensive interview in the current issue of Write Now!, Collins discussed the origins of the entire project. “Very shortly after I lost the Dick Tracy strip, I was scrambling for gigs, including comics work. I had a meeting with Andy Helfer – sitting in a hotel lobby, I believe – where he told me that he was planning to do a series of noir graphic novels, and wanted me to do one. At that time, I was the only comics writer who also had a straight mystery writing career going (not so now), so I was a fairly obvious choice.
“Andy wanted me to do something along the lines of Nathan Heller, but not Heller, something new but in that vein and with that vibe. I’d been toying with a Prohibition era variation on Lone Wolf and Cub, spliced with the historical story of John and Connor Looney, father-and-son gangsters in Rock Island, Illinois, and informed by my heavy interest in the time at John Woo’s Hong Kong crime melodramas, one of which was another Lone Wolf take, Heroes Shed No Tears. I didn’t have anything on paper, but I pitched it, anyway.
“My original title was Gun and Son, which Andy hated. He despised all my punny, jokey titles (Ms. Tree, mystery, get it?). What can I say, I grew up on Chester Gould. What’s good enough for Charles Dickens is good enough for me.
“The only problem came late in the game. We originally were going to do three volumes of Road. I’d done the first two 100-page books (it was designed to be published in three smaller volumes, though it never was) when Andy called and said the publishing program was being scrapped. I had to finish what had been conceived as a 900-page epic in another 100 pages.
“That was tough. It plays well, but I was not able to do everything I planned to do, which is why I did Road to Perdition 2: On the Road.”
Collins went on to write the prose novelization of the film for Pocket Books, but discovered the producers disliked his embellishments. “I was forced to publish a book that was half the length of what I submitted, and I hope one day to have the real novel published. (I was hired to write the novelization of the screenplay based on my own graphic novel, and then forbidden to write new dialogue or background for the characters I’d created.).”