Fans attending the Radical Publishing panel at New York City Comic Con today heard major scoop.
The Hollywood oriented publishing startup announced their new title, 'Oblivion' is to be from a story by 'Tron 2' director Joseph Kosinski and written by Ian Edington with art by Tae Young Choi. The book is not a graphic novel, but rather an illustrated novel that will be available next year.
Radical Publishing chief Barry Levine (who calls Kosinski "the next James Cameron") spoke with Mania in an exclusive interview in which he revealed new info about the company's various initiatives in comics and film.
Levine told us several things differentiate Radical from other comics publishers, and have allowed them to attract top-shelf talent like Steve Niles, Warren Ellis, Rick Remender and many others into the fold.
"We give them a lot of freedom," Levine told us. "I give them kind of a frame of reference of what I want to do, but they have a lot of freedom in creating the world that they want."
Radical also affords its creators participation in the property beyond the comics, both in terms of sharing earnings and sharing the development of the property.
"When a writer comes with us and an artist comes with us we take care of them on the back end. If we're making money, they're making money. If we sell a film, they get a piece of what we're going to get," Levine said. "Even if they're work for hire, we still do that."
In terms of format, Levine says they invest heavily in the artwork making sure books are painted either by brush or digitally. Radical also launched all titles with 48 page first issues, to ensure new readers have a clear idea of what the comic's potential is right out of the gate. The company has started with a slow build, publishing one title a month and increasing that count to two. Starting this spring, fans can look for that number to increase to anywhere from 4-7 titles
Perhaps the most appealing things for creators is that there's no agonized, don't-call-us-we'll-call-you waiting period. You're either in business with Radical or you're not.
"There's not one project I have where I didn't immediately go, OK, we'll do that. Some of these guys will pitch 3-4 ideas and out of the 3-4 ideas there'll be one that I really gravitate to. Either way they get an answer right away."
That confidence is backed by a discretionary spending fund provided by Storm Lion Studio, their partners in Singapore.
Armed with development capital and a host of talent, Levine has been able to hit the ground running with titles like 'Caliber', 'Hercules' and 'Freedom Formula', all of which have movie deals. The Radical formula is not just to approach Hollywood with high concept pitches on paper, but to actually start the film development before they meet with studios.
"We go in with a script and a whole presentation, we're known for our huge presentations, and we attach a director as well," Levine explained.
"As you can see a lot of the property that we've been lucky to work with studios on are director driven. A script is great and its important for us to have our own identity and our own independence so we can walk in without our hat in our hand and say, 'here's our package.' But it's really important to walk in with a visionary.
"I mean, what would '300' have been without Zack Snyder? He had a specific stylization that definted what '300' was. That's what we do. We always look for the director that can embellish our comic, that can embellish our concept and give it a taste. "
Which is not to say the creators of the comics are left out in the cold.
"Some of the creators that are writing the comic books, who are capable of being screenwriters, they get first shot at writing the script," Levine said, "like Rick Remender, he's gonna get the first shot at writing a draft of 'The Last Days of American Crime'. Steve Niles had his shot at 'City of Dust', but he was so busy at the time he couldn't do it. He's my producing partner on the project so we've moved on to another writer."
Mania can exclusively reveal that the screenwriter on 'City of Dust' is tyro scribe Peter Frederico. "He just did an amazing job on it. He just nailed it," Levine enthused, and the hunt is on for a director attachment.
Levine tells us that 'Freedom Formula' a sort of 'Fast and the Furious' meets 'Robotech' may have a major studio announcement soon. The project has Bryan Singer attached to produce and possibly direct.
Other projects are moving along as well.
"'Hercules' is basically the '300' meets 'Braveheart'," Levine said, noting that that movie is set up with Peter Berg ('Hancock'). He continued, "'Aladdin' we reinvented as well. We hired a screenwriter named Siavash Farahani who just wrote 'The Shadow' for Sam Raimi.
"For the Warren Ellis, Steve Pugh piece, 'Hotwire', we're hiring Jamie Mathieson, an English screenwriter. We're also pitching on of his screenplays and turning it into a graphic novel."
Also unveiled at NYCC is the prolific Rick Remender's new comic. "It's an amazing piece. It's called 'The Last Days of American Crime'. It's a dark piece about how crime, in 13 days from a certain date, will cease to exist. So everyone in America is doing everything they can before the authorities are able to stop them once and for all."
Levine promises more big announcments from Radical Publishing throughout the year, with some major reveals happening at Comic-Con. We'll be reading along with them!