Through a spokesman, filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have announced their intention to join with Hugh Hefner, Jack Nicolson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicholas Cage, Matt Groening, Jon Voight, and Bill Clinton to form a comics publishing firm known as Studio Comics. Intended to be a Research and Development part of the successful SKG, the new company will gather comics artists and writers from around the world in an effort to create comics material that can be transformed into successful motion pictures.
Comics created for the new company will have small print runs of as few as twenty copies for the purpose of being shown to and commented on by studio executives. DiCaprio, whose father was a successful comics distributor, laughingly told reporters that Studio Comics would be responsible for what he termed "instant collector’s items" that will become a series of Holy Grails" to comics collectors.
Spielberg reportedly came up with the idea for creating comic books within a studio system after a dinner conversation with famed film historian Forrest Ackerman. The one-time editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland complained to the director of Close Encounters that the sales of once-ubiquitous comics were so low that it has become impossible to gauge the success or failure of a new feature by reader reaction. He suggested that filmmakers should go directly to comics creators and cut out of the loop existing publishers and the relative handful of readers from the process of acquiring material that could be transferred to film.
The surprising involvement of former President Clinton is the result of his long-standing desire to see both a comics and movie version of Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s book The Enemy Within. After speaking with Groening about possible artists and writers for the project (and, according to DiCaprio, the shortcomings of Richard Nixon), an agreement was reached wherein Clinton would adapt the Kennedy book to comics form and Groening would do the illustrations.
Similarly, Jack Nicholson has expressed an interest in creating a comics and film biography of the late Mad publisher William M. Gaines. The multiple Academy-award-winning actor wants to direct the resulting movie and to portray psychologist Fredric Wertham, Gaines’s long-time adversary.
Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, who once produced a highly-praised filmed version of Macbeth directed by Roman Polansky, wants to introduce a series of general interest comics and movies aimed at a family audience.
Acknowledging that the majority of Studio’s "publishing" will involve photocopying pages that will be collated and shown to a small group of people, DiCaprio added that most of the comics will also be distributed to traditional newsstands, comic shops, and even movie theaters as promotional material for the films on which they are based.