Yesterday we presented part one of our interview with comics creator Rick Remender, who talked about his upcoming Radical Comics title The Last Days of American Crime.
The book is set in a near-future America which has been thrown into chaos over the news that the government is unleashing a mind-control device on its citizens that will prevent anyone from breaking the law. That's bad news to career criminal Graham Bricke, who has been planning a heist with a score that will offer him easy retirement. Bricke is forced to accelerate the timetable for his his scheme, and bring in an untested crew, including a not-to-be trusted Kevin Cash.
Radical Publishing is working on a very unique model, developing their comics simultaneously as film and TV projects, and including the comics creators in those other media ventures. In the previous interview, Remender told us about the book (due in stores in just a few weeks). In this installment he talks about the film prospects for The Last Days of American Crime.
Rick Remender: We just found out...that Sam Worthington has signed on to play Kevin Cash, one of the lead roles [in the movie]. We've got a couple of other big actors in the wings, that may be announced soon, as well as maybe a huge director.
Rob M. Worley for Mania: Is a specific director circling it? Or a number of candidates?
Remender: I'm sworn to secrecy but...if it comes together the way it looks like it might, it would just be amazing. Sam Worthington is the first big, big actor to sign on. There are two other actors that are as good as signed on but they don't want me to announce it or talk about it yet.
I'm writing the screenplay for it concurrently with the comic book. Knowing that it's going to be given the kind of attention that it's already receiving in Hollywood – knowing it's going to get that much attention really forces you to bring your A game and I feel that I have.
I feel like whatever I'm capable of is in this book.
Mania: It seems like Radical's approach of marrying the comic to the film is pretty unique to them. Does that influence how you develop the book, as opposed to some of the ones you've done in the past?
Remender: You know, I'd be lying if I said it didn't.
Something like "Fear Agent", which has big film potential: We thought it wouldn't have film potential because we were going to go so big with it and the ideas were so grand and the visuals were so huge. We just wanted to make a great, great hard-boiled science fiction book.
In terms of ["American Crime"]...before I even wrote one page I knew I was going to be doing the screenplay. So I wrote the comic book in screenplay format, to try and get the first draft done and also keep the pacing down so that the thing would be decompressed and read like a film: lingering on scenes that it needs to linger on than I normally would want to do.
I'm normally very compressed and concise. I try not to waste a single panel. I try to get as much shotgun-blast, high-velocity, fun story, comic-book-style wack-a-mo [laughs] fantasy stuff in an issue that I can.
So it was nice to open up it up a little bit and write the scenes as if they were for film, which they are, so that it had a little bit more room to breath. It's a decompressed approach that I hadn't taken before.
Mania: Was there any attempt to then compress it for comics after you wrote it in a screenplay form? Or does the book remain pretty much paced as the screenplay is?
Remender: The screenplay will obviously be opened up a little bit. But, you know, it's a hundred and fifty page graphic novel when it's all said and done. It's three parts, fifty pages of story each.
I don't feel like it needed to be changed all that much. It's a little longer than a screenplay by a couple, twenty, thirty pages. So I'll probably go in and tighten it up a little bit by the time I do the final draft of the screenplay.
The effect has been great. Because it's unlike what I normally do, the book is airy. It takes its time while really focusing on character rather than just plot. Plot beats move slower than in an issue of like "Punisher" or "Fear Agent" or something that I normally do.
I really enjoyed it. It was a nice change.
-- of pace, as it were.
Mania: Did you say, or are you permitted to say what studio is attached, if any?
Remender: I can't. The big news they wanted to focus on was Sam Worthington and I was sworn.
Producers Michael Schwarz and Barry Levine have been working very hard on this and the people that they're bringing in, Sam being the first of which, the others are of the same caliber. It's all big name Hollywood people and the studio stuff hasn't been announced yet.
Mania: You are an Executive Producer on the project as well. Will that entail any duties or is that a title thing?
Remender: As far as I'm concerned I'm as involved as they'll have me be and Barry, as of this point, has been very inclusive. He is having me do the screenplay, having me do the one-sheet, writing everything out, pitching the thing.
I'm not being treated as if I'm some underling in this. It's been nice in that Barry talks to me once a week and we get frequent updates of where things are at, and we work together on a strategy to move forward.
If the thing, by God's grace, actually happens the way it looks like it's going to, I'd want to go down and be on set as much as possible and be available for anybody who wants my two cents.
Mania: Barry has talked a lot about Radical's approach to including creators in their projects beyond just the comics themselves. It's good to hear that it's more than just talk, that it's actually happening that way.
Remender: You know, there's a mentality in Hollywood where they're turning to comic books for their ideas now, because comic books are not made by committee. It's 20ccs of creativity. It's pure to the intention of the two or three or four people who are involved in conceiving it and creating it.
At the same time they assume that while they're going to turn to comics for their ideas and their characters and for a lot of their big-budget things that they're making now, that they don't also want to turn to comic book creators.
It's nice to see that changing with guys like [Mark] Millar and [Ed] Brubaker and [Brian Michael] Bendis. I've been having a lot of luck with it myself now. [Steve] Niles obviously having a lot of luck with it.
It's good to see that they're not just coming to us for our ideas but also recognizing that we're innovative storytellers.
-- If I don't say so my own self. Hah!
Remender: Hey, put a little hyperbole mark on that one.
Mania: [laughs] What is the hyperbole mark?
Remender: I don't know [laughs]. There should be one though.
Hyperbole aside, we're looking forward to reading The Last Days of American Crime and then catching the movie version. But that's not the only cool comic or movie project Rick Remender has cooking. Tune in tomorrow for the final part of our chat in which we talk about Fear Agent, Sorrow, XXXombies and Night Mary.
Readers who want to check out The Last Days of American Crime are directed to the 15 page preview on Radical Publishing's MySpace page. If you want to pick up the book ask your retailer about it, and help them out by providing the ordering codes for issue 1 (OCT091056 - Alex Maleev cover, OCT091057 - Greg Tocchini cover) and issue 2 (DEC090978 - Alex Maleev cover, DEC090979 - Greg Tocchini).