The worldof comic books these days can be quite complicated. A successfulcomic can lead to many development deals. Toy and movie companies mightbecome interested in your property. Graig Weich is not afraid of a littlecomplexity.
Weich is an ambitious man he already has movies and merchandisein development for two of his characters even though his company BeyondComics has only released one comic. Comics2Film was able to interview Weichviae-mail and talk to him about his comic characters and the movie versionshe is developing of them.
[Editor's Note: Thisinterview was conducted last August.]
Comics2Film: WillBeyond Comics be putting out your the comic books you have planned? Whencan we look for the first issues of Ravedactyl and Civilian Justice?
Graig Weich: We arebeginning to get known for being one of the only comic book companies tocreate new super heroes for the new millennium! Please tell me the last newsuper hero you recall in the last 10 years. Can't? That's where BeyondComics Comes in and why I started the company. My new comic book, CivilianJustice is coming out world wide September 4th, 2002. Ravedactyl,the spin off book, will launch late 2003. Though Beyond Comics is slatedto be releasing my upcoming books after Civilian Justice, I've beengetting some nice offers from some of the other comic book companies forpossibly releasing the comics through them, we'll see how it goes oncethe time comes.
C2F: What are yourplans for the film versions of your comics? Will they be released theatricallyor direct to video? Do they have studio backing or will they be financedand produced independently? How far along are your film projects?
GW: We are currentlyin negotiations with the studios, we've shot enough footage to releaseit our selves if need be or have a studio jump in with a larger budget& go all out, etc., either way, I'm pleased to say it's coming out& you can currently see both Live action Movie trailer that we at BeyondComics shot with our full digital F/X at our web site: www.BeyondComics.TV.
C2F: How did CivilianJustice come about and what is the premise?
GW: I'm a fifth generationNew Yorker and felt helpless after 9-11. I didn't know what I could do.Everything I was doing in the world of comics had lost it's meaning tome. Nothing seemed to make sense any more. I wanted to do something thatwould make sense out of a senseless tragedy. A place to give people a forumto release their anger and hate without actually hurting anyone; hencethe comic book. The first superhero to actually help raise money for theoverlooked victims in real life, kind of like a Robin Hood I guess youcould say.
Civilian Justice isthe story of one person who survives the 9-11 attacks, but loses the loveof his life in the towers. He's driven over the edge and cannot let thememories of his love and the rest of the victims die in vain. After findingan American flag left in the debris, he wraps it around his face like amask and begins his journey...to seek out and stop the hidden terroristcells who remain in the United States. Civilian Justice representsus, the Civilians. He could be any one of us under the mask of justice.
C2F: Who will be writingand drawing the comic?
GW: That would be me(smile). Adam Myeroff helped with the scripting from my plot (Co-Writer).I started in comics as the featured poster artist for Image Comic's Spawnissue #30 and then left the world of comics to open my company and get it set up so I could begin to release mynew heroes. Ravedactyl; Project: Evolution was actually going to be my first release but Ipushed it back a year for Civilian Justice.
C2F: Will CivilianJustice be a limited or ongoing series?
GW: The first bookwill stand alone as a Tribute Book. We have the next 4 stories outlined and will continue it as an ongoing series if the readers want.
C2F: Some would saythe promotional images and statue of Civilian Justice that depictthe character impaling a terrorist with exaggerated Arabic features arecontroversial and extreme. What is your response to this? What was yourintent with these images?
GW: That is a greatquestion. I gave this much thought before releasing it. Though my specialtyis drawing very realistically, I chose to draw the comic in a more "ComicBook-ish" art form and depict the terrorists as the monsters they arewith exaggerated features, and inside of the comic book show the peaceful and innocent Muslims who have nothing to do with this event, lookinglike the neighbor we see everywhere (not exaggerated). This way the youngerviewers of the comic will see the good Muslims in the comic book to resemblethe real ones they see in real life (schoolmates, neighbors, workers etc.) and will not confuse the evil terrorists who appear looking like monsters.
The importance of showingthe difference is very urgent to me! I've been teaching art classes sinceI was a teenager in 1990 and after 9-11 most of the kids thought thatanyone who looked like the terrorists (turban and beard) was one, I knewI must show them the difference so they don't become misinformed and begin racial profilingetc. That is just not acceptable, so I hope thatdepicting this will help. I was unsure about the graphic nature of thestatue at first, but after seeing how many funerals there were here inNY, all the pregnant woman who's babies will never see their fathers, allthe lives taken by these terrorists, that statue represents their frustrationand loss. When we got the write up in Kit Builder's Magazine (issue#41)we began receiving e-mails from the US Marines who saw the statue. OneMarine lost his troop in the 2nd tower of the WTC and thanked me forcreating the character. He said that it gave him and the remaining membersof his troop a feeling of relief. A way for them to feel some sense ofacknowledgment for their loss. This is why I made this character. To givepeople a safe outlet to release their hate & anger without hurtinganyone in real life.
C2F: What typesof terrorist threats will Civilian Justice be confronting? Willwe see him battling domestic terrorists such as hate groups?
GW: All! His missionis to stop as many terrorist hate groups who kill unarmed, civilian children andwoman and innocent people in general! In fact, in his mask, hesewed a message that reads: "if you find this mask, it means I didn't survive,please continue my work in the name of JUSTICE!"
And that says it all. Anyof us can be Justice!
C2F: Will Civilian Justice be examining the causes of terrorism?
GW: I think it's impliedthat all terrorists want to impose their views on people and kill whoeverthey can to do so. So no, there wont be much examining to the cause asI don't feel there could ever be a justifiable one.
C2F: Marvel'sCaptain America comic is currently examining the issue of Terrorism.How will Civilian Justice be different?
GW: I'm very pleasedto announce that Marvel granted us permission to have Captain Americaappear with my character Civilian Justice in my comic book coming thisSeptember 4th, 2002! It's a great picture. Showing the world's first AmericanSuperhero passing the mantle to the worlds first new one in 60 years (1942to 2002)!
The major Difference betweenCaptain America and Civilian Justice is that Civilian Justice is goingafter the Hidden Terrorists right here in the US, they call themselvesthe Terrorist Cells. Captain America is not. Civilian Justice has no super powerslike Captain America, with his strength serum. Justice is 100% human, he representsthe emotion of our nation's frustrations, as I said before, he is us, thecivilians. Also, Captain America has always been about the red, white and blue,clean cut super hero, as where Civilian Justice was more of a thug/rebelwho changed his ways, born out of the 9-11 tragedy. There is a scene wherehe finds the American Flag, picks it up, looking at it & says: "This never meantanything to me until now".
C2F: You mentionthat a percentage of the profits from Civilian Justice will go directlyto the relief fund. Which groups will you be donating to?
GW: Actually, thegoal is to donate to the non-union overlooked victims of the relief funds.I will update you on which one we go with soon, once we decide.
C2F: What are yourplans for the Civilian Justice film? What will the film be about?What rating are you be aiming for? Who will star?
GW: Rating would bePG-13. The film will be close to the comic, but a bit less graphic forlive action. Most of the information is under non-disclosure as we arestill in negotiations, But you can see the live action movie trailer weshot for Civilian Justice at www.CivilianJustice.com.
Though I created Ravedactylfirst, since I held it back to release Civilian Justice, Ravedactyl willbe a spin off so Civilian Justice will star some of the Celebrities listedbelow as well.
C2F: What is thepremise of Ravedactyl?
GW: One Human willunlock the missing link to a power he has no control over, then a new herowill emerge for a new millennium! In a War, that will forever be knownas...Ravedactyl: Project: Evolution! You can actually see a cameoof Ravedactyl in my upcoming Civilian Justice comic book and will be a spin off book from Civilian Justice.
C2F: Will it be anongoing series?
GW: Heck yeah! I haveenough stories to last me until I'm 100 years old with that one! In fact,I'm not kidding. I've written a whole back story that reveals there tohave been a Ravedactyl superhero in ancient times before the current .Then there is the whole current story of Ravedactyl all the wayto the very last issue! I think the last issue is going to blow people'sminds! I guess I'll have to try and release that before I'm 100. Thehardest thing is to brake up the script into 24 page comic books.
C2F: Who will be writingand providing the art for the comic?
GW: I'm planning tobe doing this one as well, it's my baby, I did my first designs for itwhen I was only 14 years old.
C2F: Who are Ravedactyl'senemies?
GW: Are you ready?!Tricity, Sunder, Gunner, Trench, Maduzor and Raw! You can seeRavedactyl Fight many of them in the live action movie trailer at: www.Ravedactyl.com.As of now, I'm keeping the story pretty hush-hush, but will update youas we get closer to release.
C2F:Is Ravedactyla super hero comic? How does it differ from other comic out there today?
GW: YES, YES, YES!There truly has never been a book like this! All I can say it that Ravedactylis the missing link. It will answer all the unanswered questions we havein life like: Where we come from, why we exists. I have written the RavedactylBible which I've translated to the comic book. Get ready in 2003!
C2F: What areyour plans for the Ravedactyl film? What will it be about? Who willit star? What rating are you aiming for?
GW: I really wantit to be as close to the comic as possible with a PG-13 rating. Ravedactylis truly all your favorite super heroes rolled into one! It's a real headtrip! So far the stars are From Clueless and NBC's Scrubs:Donald Faison, from the new Daredevil movie, Grammy award winningrapper: Coolio, From Star Wars, the man behind the mask of DarthVader: David Prowse. For a sneak peek you can see them now in the liveaction movie trailer at: www.Ravedactyl.com
C2F: How didyou get David Prowse, Donald Faison, and Coolio involved in the film project?Which roles will they play?
GW: I met Dave Prowse(who plays my character Sunder) at a Star Wars convention when I was 6 yearsold. I'm sure he doesn't remember this, but I told him that one day, whenI grow up & become a comic book artist, I will make him into one ofmy character. About 20 years later, it took some convincing, but I madegood on my promise.
The word started getting aroundand I think thatthe celebrities really believe in my projects and want to be a part ofit. With Donald Faison, a couple of years ago, I met up with him when hewas doing some press for his movie Remember the Titans with DenzelWashington. I drew a picture of him as my Character, Gunner and he dugit and wanted in. He's an amazing actorand friend. You can see himas Gunner in the Trailer on my web site.
With Coolio, he is just cool!He and I were on the same wave length and wanted me to make him intoa super villain. I thought him to be perfect for my character Maduzor whoI had created many years ago, so it was a perfect fit!
As you can see Weich is very passionateabout his creations. His work has lead to him developing a superpower of his own, a super human work ethic. Weich said, "I work at least20 hours a day, being up for 2 to of 3 days at a time without sleep &if I get even 4 hours of sleep a night, I feel lucky."