Preview Artwork for Freemind #2. Click thumbnails for larger images.
"All hewanted was to be normal."
That's the adline for Freemind, a modern day superhero book created by veterancomic creators, with a concept strong enough to hook Hollywood interest withjust one issue published. Last week FutureComics announced they'd entered into deal with Energy Entertainment to bringtheir new concept to the big screen. Less than two months after their firsttitle's launch, Future Comics is proving to be anything but normal.
Comics2Filmspoke with Future Comics principal Bob Layton and Energy Entertainment's DanielAlter about the comic company, the Freemind comics and the moviedeal.
When Layton andpartners Dick Giordano and David Michelinie set out to create Future Comics,they wanted to develop a sound business model for the new company. Employingstrong business backgrounds, Layton and Giordano determined that one way forFuture to operate in a cost-effective manner is to distribute their titlesthemselves.
The main thingthey hope differentiates their comics from competitors is clear storytelling.Titles published by Future are intended to be accessible to readers who don'twant to get bogged down with years of complex continuity.
"We'retrying to create a world and characters that, although they are fantastic andhave powers and things like that, they're in a very credible environment,"Layton explains. "The characters can stand alone and be read byanyone."
First up in thatregard is Freemind, the preview (#0) issue of which was publishedin late August. "We kind of took-off during the middle of the storyline...just to give people some kind of idea of what was to come," Laytontold us. "With the first issue, which will be out this week, we start fromthe beginning and we see the origin of the character unfold over a three-issuerun."
Layton foundinspiration for the story in a real life hero. "Oneof my childhood idols was Stephen Hawking. I've always admired him and read hisbooks," Layton told us. "So [Freemind is] kind of, 'whatif Stephen Hawking could make himself into a super-hero?'"
The Hawking-esquehero of the book McKinsey Flint, is a scientist who develops a method to beamhis intellect into an android body. In doing so he gains access to the ninetypercent of the human cognitive capacity that theoretically goes untapped.
Alter, a fan ofMichelinie and Layton's work from the Iron Man days, was intriguedby the character. "He's trying to achieve a scientific breakthrough inorder to allow him to live a normal life," Alter told us, "but he gets180 degrees away from that with all these extraordinary super powers that areendowed upon him."
Although theconcept is very science fiction, Layton told C2F that the key to the bookis it's emotional grounding. "Go to the Spider-Man movie andwatch that. What really drives it? Is it the fight stuff or is it Peter Parker'scharacter," the comic creator asks. "It's always the characterizationthat draws people into the world of the fantastic. That's what we're trying todo here."
Alter agrees,citing similar components driving cinematic hits like RoboCop and Terminator2. "What makes those films really work is the emotion. With RoboCopit's all the flashbacks with his wife and kids. With T2 it's therelationship that the cyborg, Arnold, builds with young John Conner," Altersaid. "In Freemind, he's in this android body but he's reallyhuman and the emption is there ten times more so."
Flint's yearningto be free of his wheel chair is just one of the interesting character hooks."It's really kind of a selfish act, at first, to develop this technologyand its side-effects," Alter said. "Then the weight is on hisshoulders to use his powers responsibly. If the technology were to fall into thewrong hands, it would be very dangerous."
Plans are tohave the movie follow the comic story as closely as possible. Layton told C2Fthat there's been an ongoing exchange of information with Energy, sharing withthem story bibles, model sheets and much of the background material that wentinto creating Freemind.
"Daniel isextremely creative, and helpful. He already had something in the works before weeven signed the deal," Layton said.
"We'regoing to take the concept and hit the ground running with it. The film take willbe very much a 'balls-to-the-wall', genre, comic book movie," Alter toldus.
The FutureComics crew is currently developing artwork for the movie pitch. Alter sees theconcept as a "full-fledged franchise." Word is that the project hasalready attracted some significant, name talent.
As for the comicbook business, Future continues to focus on strong story telling and developingtheir unique relationship with retailers.
All Futurecomics ship on the same week, a move designed to save retailers postage costs.Of course, fans will have to be extra-diligent in asking their comic store toorder the books, because they won't find them in the usual distribution catalog.
Freemind#1 is due in stores this week. Issue #2 is due out at the end of November, alongwith the first issue of Metallix, featuring artwork by Ron Lim.