As you know, iZombie was renewed for a 4th season, but as you also know it’s a midseason show, so we won’t get to enjoy it until early 2018. Boo!
But as Halloween approaches, if you are in the mood to find out what your favorite morgue-working zombie and her brain-eating squad will be up in New Seattle, Maddy had a little press room chat with show runner Diane Ruggiero-Wright and the cast including Malcom Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, Rose McIver and Aly Michalka.
We know you’ve been seeing some of interviews over the last couple of weeks from SDCC, but this week, we thought we’d give you a peek at what we were doing when we weren’t locked up in the press rooms at the Hilton!
We talk about The Tick (which starts on Aug 25th on Prime), take you on the IMDboat and to the Graphix & Nat Geo parties, introduce you to Amazon Rapids (a really super cool reading app for kids that reads like a screenplay), talk about the Her Universe Hot Topic Fashion show, ask Qmx about their newest collectables, and you know, other stuff too.
This year WonderCon was in L.A. for the first time. While we are fans of the Anaheim Conventions Center (and not just because they have the best ice cream), it was kind of exciting to try a new convention center out. It wasn’t bad, just a little confusing (as you’ll see in the video, we get lost). But we’re really happy it’s returning to Anaheim March 31 to April 2, 2017!
As you’ve probably seen in our videos over the last couple weeks, we got to meet a ton of really cool people — and don’t worry, we have more interviews to come, but this week you’ll get to see what else we did at the con, like the DC Rebirth press launch, the panels, and the shopping.
Welcome to Part 2 of Maddy’s interview with Rob Thomas, Diane Ruggario, Rose McIver, Robert Buckley, Malcom Goodwin, David Anders, & Aly Michalka from iZombie. It’s in this episode where we find out what they would do if zombies came to their town.
Merry X-mas ComicMixers! Spend Christmas Eve with us, as we review our Christmas lists and give some suggestions on what to binge-watch, read and listen to over Winter Break. You even get to watch us open our first present!
It’s still astounding to me how an art form like comics can, on the one hand, celebrate the creative contributions of individuals while, on the other hand, leave behind a tragic history and rotten track record for its treatment of these creators. The debates on this topic continue to rage on. Recently the appropriate level of recognition for a particular creator, who has long since shuffled offstage, dominated the online comic conversation.
As part of an ongoing series exploring today’s creators’ reactions to their comic creations’ successful crossovers into other media, I caught up with Mike Allred, who along with Chris Roberson co-created Vertigo’s iZombie. It’s a hit series on the CW network and has been renewed for a second season. Fans of Allred have always been delighted with his rich body of work: his brilliantly independent Madman, his innovative, genre-busting X-Statix, and more recently, his quirky FF series and Batman 66 covers. In this interview, I explore his involvement in and thoughts on the popular iZombie series.
Ed Catto: Comics has a sad history of many creators not fully sharing in the economic success of their literary creations. Fans know the tragic stories of Siegel and Shuster, Gerry Conway has discussed issues concerning creator credits of certain DC characters, and Wally Wood’s contributions to the Daredevil character and mythology have been debated. Given today’s realities, do you think current creators are better prepared to protect their own rights, or is it still the same old story?
Mike Allred: Everyone always tries to make the best deal for their own interests. On all sides. It will always be that way. But it’s up to the individual to protect themselves. Despite all the history to learn from, there will always be bad deals. I was lucky with my first major success being something I completely created and own myself.
I couldn’t get a gig with the “big two” starting out, so I was content to create my own worlds. That brought me opportunities and the freedom to choose where, when, and how I play in the wonderful world of comic books. I’m as big a fan as anyone, so I get a big kick out of playing with established company-owned characters, but I do so with eyes wide open knowing that I’ll have to fight for ownership of anything original I bring to the table. I balance that with my own creations. It’s always been clear to me what is mine and what rights I have to my sole creations. Collaborations get a bit more complicated and every contract has its own challenges.
I’m keenly aware of the shoulders I’m standing on and how I’ve benefited. Thankfully, so far, I have very little to complain about personally.
EC: Back when you were developing iZombie and the look of the comic series, what were you trying to create and what were some of the challenges you found working on a zombie/horror story?
MA: Chris Roberson and I were wanting to do something different, something askew. We were eager to do contemporary takes on classic monsters. Priority one for me was to make an attractive, appealing lead character who also happened to be a zombie.
EC: Were you pleased with how the comic series turned out? And what would you have done differently if you could go back and do it over again?
MA: I’m extremely proud of it. There were two paths. One was sticking with the “brain of the day” template and have each new brain become a new storyline, and the other was going epic and blowing out our world, which obviously is the path we took. There was a part of me that kinda wished we’d stuck with the more intimate stories involving the people whose brains were eaten, but since the TV show picked up that baton I’m completely satisfied on every level.
EC: How did you find out that your iZombie concept was going to be a TV series? How long did it take to reach network television and can you tell us some of your reactions and thoughts along the way?
MA: I’m pretty sure Shelly Bond at Vertigo told me first. She was very much a collaborator in every way on the series. It simply wouldn’t exist without her. Geoff Johns gave me a call too around the same time. He had all the details. It all happened very quickly.
Initially I was a bit perturbed with the changes. Most especially Gwen’s name change to Liv. But I’m a big boy and know that there is no such thing as a completely faithful adaptation of any entity from one medium to another. My immediate concern was that it was good and something I’d be proud to have my name on. Once I saw that Rose McIver was hired as our zombie girl and how the production bent over backwards to make her look how I designed her, my fears started dropping away. When I saw the completed pilot it felt exactly like falling in love. And now I’m thrilled with virtually every creative choice that has been made. Rob and Diane and are the best. All the writers are killin’ it in the best way. Every cast member is the coolest. And Rose is a dynamo rocking a showcase of personality quirks. I feel crazy lucky. This could have gone bad in so many ways and it’s done the exact opposite.
EC: The opening credits of iZombie showcase your artwork. Can you tell us a little about how that came to be and the process behind it?
MA: Rob and Diane thought it’d be cool and wrote it up. I’ve always loved the animated opening titles to the 60’s Batman TV show, so I jumped in with both feet. I drew all the images that they asked for and more, wanting to make sure they had more than needed. I even drew the spiral by putting a piece of paper on a turntable and moving my brush from the center out. Laura (Allred, Mike’s wife and an award-winning colorist) then colored all the illustrations and various layers separately which were then edited to the theme song and… Ta-Dah!
EC: What’s your involvement in the TV series now? What’s your reaction to what they’ve done and what they’re doing?
MA: At this point I’m simply sitting back and enjoying the show for the most part. I’ve never been busier so it’d be difficult to increase my involvement, but I have a nice rapport with everyone and may throw in more if we score a third season.
EC: Are you pleased the show has been renewed for a second season?
MA: Over the moon!
It’s not lost on me how difficult it is to get anything at all produced. My Madman property has been optioned and in various degrees of production since 1995.
So, we leapt the first major hurdle of getting it produced, then on the air, then well received. Lots of great stuff doesn’t find an audience, let alone get a second season. We’re very, very happy.
EC: On Free Comic Book Day, the fans at one of the stores I stopped by started raving about your work on Silver Surfer. The fans collectively said they enjoy the new character you and Dan Slott created, Dawn Greenwood. But is there a different thought process that now goes into creating a character for a company?
MA: There is and there isn’t. I know going in that Dan and I will always have bragging rights on what we’ve created to support a legendary Marvel character. Here it is largely about compensation. I go in knowing that I’ll have little to say in what happens with my creations after I walk away. So it’s important for me to feel creatively satisfied, which I am. I hold no illusions that I’ll be self-publishing a Dawn Greenwood mini-series. It is what it is. I get a sweet paycheck and get to play on this big wonderful stage I’ve loved my whole life. If I want to work on purely creator-owned material I can do that too whenever I want. It’s how I started out, so I’m completely aware of all the circumstances.
EC: What’s coming up next for you, Mike?
MA: I’m having a total blast working with Dan on Silver Surfer, so I’m gonna ride that wave all the way to shore. I’m always planning and working on the next Madman special, where I do my most personal work, as Frank Einstein is pretty much me. And I’ve co-created an all-new Vertigo series, which will be announced at the San Diego Comic-Con.
EC: Last one: Who would win in a fight: iZombie or X-Statix’s Dead Girl?
MA: They would never fight. They’d have a nice lunch and then go to the movies.
As we are assuredly living in the golden age of superhero TV, it was a clean jab to the jaw to watch the trailer for the forthcoming CBS Supergirl show. In only six and one-half minutes, my optimism – once high and mighty – was sucker-punched and left waning in the gutter.
Flash and Arrow are running at a breakneck pace, unyielding in showcasing how comic book shows can be both inspiring and hopeful, as well as dark and gritty whilst still being network-appropriate. Gotham, while no means as good as its CW counterparts, had flashes of brilliance in between the scenery chewing and trope-filled set-pieces. Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter both delivered period-appropriate ass-kickery, and more than one jaw-dropping moment. And while I’m not much on the whole zombie thing, iZombie and Walking Dead have both popped up in my Facebook feed as being well-produced and good fun for the fans. While nary a single one of these shows appeared to be as brilliant as they actually turned out to be, there was always enough there to see the greatness to come.
In contrast, Supergirl not only showed me nothing to be excited about, it made me worry for what will make it to screen, come the fall.
After a decent setup on Krypton, we’re whisked away to Metropolis by way of Devil Wears Prada. The prototypical rom-com workplace is our setting du jour. Really? Cat Grant, once a dirt-digging reporter and gossip columnist is now a low-rent she-devil running her own tabloid. While I might dig the girl-power aspect of giving Grant the power of the rich and famous, her screen time is given only to insult her employees and undercut women by celebrating girls. And she also calls herself hot, which I think must be a given – as her face looks to be comprised mostly of space-age polymers. But I digress.
Our titular Kryptonian is shown as a dichotomously dipsy dolt one minute, and a boy-golly-gosh-gee-howdy hero the next. It’s Super then it’s it’s Syewpah. Kara’s rocket ride through the cosmos apparently crash landed her on the set of Leave It To Beaver, and frankly it’s a shame. In the wake of Arrow and Flash, we’ve seen how our silver age heroes can exist in the modern era without being overtly cheesy. As presented, our heroine only seems to act appropriately when there’s actual trouble afoot.
And what of that trouble? By the trailer’s end, we’re introduced to the super serious black guy who informs us that all sorts of bad guys are just pilfering and plundering all over the planet. Luckily, I guess, Kara is here now to fight one each week.
It’s not that I don’t understand and accept the procedural portions of our pulpy wares when translated to serialized television. It’s just that based on what it set to tease us for the coming season, we’ll be whisked away to a doppelgänger universe where morts-of-the-week will be presented for super-punching. Given how closely Arrow and Flash run their shows – with home bases chock full of wonderful technology, and happy-to-help friends with no personal lives – it’s hard to find excitement in another retread of the same ground. Even if it’s on another network. And even if our protagonist wears a skirt.
But let me clear: I still hold out hope for the better. The half a dozen episodes of Birds of Prey I once watched prove my mettle. In between the quirky-peppy-girl-next-doorness of Supergirl, there were hints of something better. While my eyes are already set to roll every time we get this close to seeing He Who Shall Not Get A Credit, I will celebrate the fact that this show shouldn’t need him if it can match wits with the scarlet speedster and liberal archery master. And while it would be too much to hope they would eventually share the same universe, no doubt those counting the ad buy-ins would sooner spin-off something else to create a multiverse of superhero television empires.
Ultimately, Supergirl must be far more than the sum of the parts put together for the up-fronts. When the fans clamor for heroines that need not always be saved by the boys, Kara may be only a tiara behind Wonder Woman in terms of being the most widely recognized lady of comics. With the world ablaze in Avengers fever, and TV viewers DVR’ing anything that even sounds vaguely metahuman, Supergirl has the potential to be that bridge-gap nay-sayers need to come join the rank-and-file of the nerdy.
But if instead of a leading lady who shows that heroism is gender neutral, we get a dork who only gets hot when she’s showing off some CGI super powers… I’ll gladly continue to hold my breath for Agent Carter‘s second season instead.
It’s amazing to see the many ways comics, and by extension geek culture, have so thoroughly infiltrated the entertainment and marketing landscape. Comics-based movies and TV shows continue to be fruitful and multiply, while brands try to keep up and in an effort to engage fans in authentic conversations.
Amidst the continuing and exciting expansion of comics-based entertainment, I thought it might be interesting to try to understand this growth from a creator’s point of view. Anyone who has ever let a friend drive their new car, or sent a child off to school knows what it’s like to let go of something you cherish. And more than that, you fully recognize the cringe-worthy reality that the thing you cherish might come back changed. There’s always that worry that your car might be returned with a dent, or your child might come home from school with a vocabulary sprinkled with a few new #$@% words.
Sadly, comics do have a long history of creators not being rewarded fairly or sharing in the ultimate success of their creations. So I was especially curious how the newer breed of creator feels about letting others take charge of their creations. How do creators approach it and plan for it in 2015?
I reached out to Chris Roberson, a brilliant comics writer who’s created adventures for a wide range of characters (everyone from Superman to The Shadow), has created his own characters and leads the charge for creator-owned comics, along with Allison Baker, at Monkeybrain Comics. At DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint, Chris and artist Michael Allred created the iZombie series, which is now enjoying a new life, resurrected as a hit series on the CW network. Ed Catto: Can you tell me a little bit about what you were trying to create with your iZombie comic series and provide some background?
Chris Roberson: I’ve always liked the zombie genre, but had begun to feel like it was unnecessarily locked into a post-apocalyptic setting. I wanted to try setting a zombie story in the modern day, with society still up and running, but with strange things happening in the shadows. And to take it one step further, to have the zombie be the point-of-view character. Everything else kind of followed from there!
EC: Were you happy with how the comic series turned out? And what would you have done differently if you could go back do it over again?
CR: Oh, definitely! I’m really proud of the work that Mike and Laura Allred and I did with the series. My only regret was that we never got a chance to get a giant kaiju monster on stage. That would have completed the set!
EC: What was it like when you found out that your iZombie concept was going to be a series? How long did it take to reach network television and can you tell us some of your reactions and thoughts along the way?
CR: I think the first we heard about the series being in development was late summer or early fall of 2013, and by early 2014 we’d been sent a copy of the pilot script to read. We visited the set last spring, met the producers and some of the cast, and in general were really impressed with everyone involved. Over this past winter we were sent rough cuts of the first four episodes, and were just blown away by how fantastic they were!
EC: What’s your involvement in the TV series now? What’s your reaction to what they’ve done and what they’re doing?
CR: I like to say that we are “informed but not involved.” They have kept us in the loop at each stage of the process, and are happy that we’re pleased with the way the series has turned out. But otherwise, I’m just a member of the audience! (Though one with a proprietary financial stake in the show…)
EC: Comics have a sad history of many creators not fully partaking of the economic success of their literary creations. Fans are well versed on everything from the tragic story of Siegel & Shuster to Gerry Conway’s recent posting about being excluded from creator credits of certain DC characters. Here’s the question – do you think today’s creators are better prepared to protect their own rights, or is it still the same old story?
CR: I think it depends on the creator. Sure, many of us know to walk away from a bad deal, but there are always going to be hungry young creators who are more than willing to sign away all their rights in return for far too little. But I think that there’s a difference, too, between work-for-hire and creator owned stuff. When I do a work-for-hire project, it’s usually because I want to work with those characters or concepts, and will happily surrender rights that I would never dream of giving up for an original property of my creation.
EC: As a follow-up question, can you tell us a little bit about how you’ve organized your publishing endeavor, Monkeybrain Books & Comics?
CR: It’s pretty simple, really. We only license the digital rights, and only for a period of five years. All the other rights are retained by the creators. Which is why you see print editions of Monkeybrain titles coming out from IDW, or Dark Horse, or Image, or what-have-you. The creative teams are free to make whatever deal suits them best.
EC: What’s coming up next for you?
CR: I am doing some amazingly cool work-for-hire stuff for Dark Horse that hasn’t been announced yet, but which is keeping me VERY busy. My bucket list is getting very short!
They aren’t your cable zombies, which might be what makes The CW’s version of the hit Vertigo comic, IZOMBIE, so appealing. EP Rob Thomas and star Rose McIver talk about all the ways they strive to keep it both fresh and centered on the comic series. Plus thanks to the success of AMERICAN SNIPER, more Americans that ever are aware of the challenges facing today’s veterans. Now a new documentary explores that further and you can see it for free.
In a few days, we sit down with former HAPPY ENDINGS star, Eliza Coupe, and get a sneak peek at her new indy movie project.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.