Bestselling authors George R.R. Martin and Chuck Palahniuk and director Quentin Tarantino, along with their respective comics publishers Avatar Press, Dark Horse, and Dynamite Entertainment, generated a lot of attention at the recent Comic-Con International about their forthcoming comics projects. But according to executives and editors at the comics houses, hiring celebrity authors isn’t easy—it can take years and lots of paperwork to launch such projects.
In August, Avatar Press will begin a six-issue miniseries based on Martin’s sci-fi novella In the House of the Worm, which chronicles a planet in peril. This is Martin’s third comics series with the publisher. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, best known for the popular novel A Game of Thrones, was adapted by Dynamite Entertainment in 2011. In a panel at Comic-Con, Avatar’s CEO and editor-in-chief William Christensen explained that he and Martin have been talking about comics for years.
“A lot of stuff takes a while to come to fruition,” said Christiansen, noting he met Martin more than 10 years ago. “I’m like the little microbe in his pond. I’m thrilled with whatever time and effort I’m able to get. I’m not HBO, which is where his focus should be.”
In the wake of releasing A Game of Thrones comics, Dynamite has drawn some focus away from screenwriter and director Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino and comics writer Matt Wagner are cowriting a series that follows up on the events of Tarantino’s Django Unchained, a film about a slave-turned-gunslinger named Django Freedman. Slated to begin in November, Django/Zorro is a six-part, monthly series in which Django teams up with the classic Mexican hero Zorro. Esteve Polls will handle art for the series.
Dynamite’s CEO Nick Barrucci told PW that he pitched the Django/Zorro idea more than a year ago to Django Unchained’s comics producer Reginald Hudlin, who had already produced a comics adaptation of Django Unchained for DC/Vertigo. Dynamite had to acquire permissions and contracts from Tarantino, Hudlin, and others.
Tarantino met Wagner and started plotting the Django/Zorro story arc a year ago.“There were a lot of parties involved, so these things take time,” Barrucci said, noting the piles of paperwork and conversations needed, all of which, he says, was worth his time.
Looking ahead to 2015, Dark Horse Comics recently announced that author Chuck Palahniuk is writing Fight Club 2, a comics/graphic novel sequel to his 1996 novel Fight Club, which was adapted to film in 1999. Cameron Stewart and David Mack will handle art.
Dark Horse editor-in-chief Scott Allie explained that getting Palahniuk on board took more than a phone call. Dark Horse is based in Milwaukie, Oregon, just south of Portland, where Palahniuk lives. When Palahniuk announced at New York Comic Con last year that he was working on a sequel, Allie started pursuing him. “It became a process of me trying to find my way to him through some mutual friends, and then just pitching Dark Horse to him,” he said.
Allie said his pursuit of Palahniuk was unlike pursuing Joss Whedon, writer and director of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, as well as other shows and movies. When the series was running from 1998 to 2003, Dark Horse was publishing a number of Buffy-related comics, a few of which were written by Whedon. Allie said that Dark Horse had to go through layers of licensing people at 20th Century Fox Television and Whedon’s company, Mutant Enemy Productions.
When the show was cancelled after seven seasons. Dark Horse wanted Buffy to continue as a comics series, starting right where it left off. The comic Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight debuted in March 2007, with Whedon writing.“When we first started doing the Buffy comics, there was no connection with Joss,” Allie said. “There was a long process of building trust.”