Meet Ralph Norman and Jeff Lee, two fanboys who embody the worst aspects of the stereotype — bitter and opinionated, they believe their creative talent beats that of all the top comic and movie creators combined. For most fanboys, that’s wherethings stop, but not for Ralph and Jeff. They realize that the only way to get their amazing ideas out there is to take action, seize the day — and kidnap Kevin Smith.
That, in a nutshell, is the plot behind writer/creator Chad Blakely’s appropriately titled original graphic novel “Kidnapping Kevin Smith,” where the writer/director is a character and the two fanboys actually succeed in taking him hostage, forcing him to write a screenplay based on their ideas. Of course, even fictional Kevin Smith isn’t without a few tricks up his sleeve and half the fun is in watching him outsmart his captors. To top everything off, the OGN features a cover by “Madman” creator Michael Allred.
CBR News spoke with Blakely about “Kidnapping Kevin Smith,” his villainous protagonists, the actual plot to kidnap one of geekdom’s favorite directors and how the real Smith feels about the project.
CBR News: Chad, give us the rundown on “Kidnapping Kevin Smith.” What’s the general plot of the graphic novel and how did it come to be?
Chad Blakely: The basic plot is, you have these two ne’er do well comic book store employees that decide to abduct Kevin Smith and force him to write movie for them. The seed for the story was planted years ago when Kevin Smith did his Q&A thing at the University of Wyoming, during which I gave him a View Askew themed painting. After the show, I waited around for him to see what he thought of the painting. All of my friends gave me grief, saying I was stalking him. That sparked an idea and I did a minicomic entitled, “Stalking Kevin Smith: A Sorta True Story” in which I join a fraternity of Kevin Smith fanboys, it wrecks my life, I write a comic book about him and in the end, he sues me. Doing that book gave me the idea; Kevin Smith is pretty accessible celebrity, what if some undesirable people took advantage that? That idea was floating around in my head for a couple of years when I watched “Misery” one day on TV and the story took shape!
Tell us about the heroes (or in this case, I guess, villains) of the story, Ralph and Jeff. What’s their deal and why do they so desperately want to kidnap Kevin Smith?
Jeff Lee and Ralph Norman are two bitter fanboys; the type that have an opinion on why everything sucks and how they could do everything better than the creators that make movies, comics, etc. However, they never have the initiative to stop complaining and start creating. It’s easier to tear down someone else’s work than make your own. Everything changes after seeing a double feature of “Misery” and “Ruthless People.” They decide to kidnap Kevin Smith and force him to write a screenplay, for which they’ll take credit for writing.
â€¨What’s the general idea behind the screenplay that Ralph and Jeff want Kevin to write and direct? How do they plan to coerce him to do so?
These guys are not the creative type, so they leave the writing to Kevin Smith. If you ever listen to Smith and Scott Mosier’s SModcast, they’ve talked about this fictional religious figure, “Baby Eternity.” Smith’s screenplay [in the graphic novel] is based on this idea. As far as “motivating” Smith to write, Ralph and Jeff simply threaten him and tell him he can’t leave until the screenplay is done. Like I said, those two are not very creative!
It seems like an obvious question, but why Kevin Smith as opposed to otherâ€¨geek-centric directors?
Kevin Smith is a filmmaker that is very polarizing, either you love him or you hate him. And the folks that hate him are very visceral. In the case of Ralph, he hates Smith and doesn’t like his films. However, he realizes that some people like his work and fund his films. And, like I said before, he is very approachable and accessible to people, making him an easy target for these bad guys. Plus I love Kevin Smith’s work and this kinda my way to pay homage to him.
How did Michael Allred end up providing cover art for the project?
I simply backed a boat full of gold and original Toth art up to the Allred house and Mike said yes! All kidding aside, over the years I have become friends with Mike through his message board, e-mails and interactions at different comic events. He is a very genuine and kind person, so it’s easy to build a relationship with him. “Kidnapping Kevin Smith” is a self-published book, and I knew I needed to make it stand out on the shelf. Mike and Laura Allred’s work is always eye catching and stands above many books out there. I contacted Mike and asked him if he would consider drawing the cover to my book. Much to my excitement, he said yes and asked me to sketch up some ideas. He took my scribbles and turned them into a great piece of art, then Laura added colors, which are like french vanilla ice cream on an already delicious piece of apple pie!
Out of curiosity, since this has been solicited, has Kevin Smith responded at all to the idea that you’ve written a book about kidnapping him?
Before I started this project, I e-mailed him and asked for his permission to do this story. He said to go for it! Last year at Comic Con , I gave him a copy of the work in progress, he said it looked good. And then a few weeks back, on his and Ralph Garmen’s podcast “Hollywood Babble On,” they talked about it. So, while he hasn’t personally contacted me and said what he thinks of it, he is aware of it and said it looks cool.
How is Kevin Smith characterized in the book?
I listen to Smith’s SModcast, Jay and Silent Bob Get Old, and Plus One podcasts every week, and after doing so for a long time, you kinda get a feel for his personality. In the book, he’s laid back and easy going. He tries to make the best out of a bad situation. And he smokes a lot of pot!
It says in the solicitation blurb that Kevin is able to reach out to his fans to free himself — how do the fans respond to the idea that the director has been kidnapped?
Kevin Smith’s fan base was a big reason I wanted to use Kevin Smith as a character and not a generic, Smith-type character. Kevin Smith’s fans follow his rants on Twitter, listen to hours upon hours of podcasts, stand in line forever to ask a question at an appearance; they are dedicated. So, the fans in the book react the way a dedicated fanbase would — they take action!
“Kidnapping Kevin Smith” is solicited in the June issue of “Previews” with the Diamond Order Code JUN111215