Announced today at Comic-Con International in San Diego, IDW Publishing has acquired the license to the popular Speed Racer series. The timing couldn’t be better as the 1960s Japanese animated series is set for a major revival, with a live-action feature film in 2008 to be directed by the Wachowski Brother’s (“The Matrix”) with mega producer Joel Silver attached to produce. This is on top of a new animated series, also in 2008. With new and old comics to come from IDW, Speed Racer fans will truly be able to shout “Go, Speed Racer, Go” in style. While the deal has just closed and details are somewhat sparse, CBR News caught up with IDW’s Editor-In-Chief Chris Ryall for a quick chat about their plans for the license thus far.
For Ryall, getting the “Speed Racer” license was a no-brainer. “I can never resist that classic literary theme of ‘Man and Machine vs Nature,'” Ryall told CBR News. “But really, I think Speed is just perfect for comics, and always has been – you’ve got classic comic book-type characters and vehicles, and I think we can take something that might be thought of as a nostalgic property and show its relevance, like we’ve done with the Transformers. And the coming new animated show and Wachowski Brothers move will bring the show back in the public eye, too, so it makes sense to tackle comics now. Also, I love the idea of having a good property that can appeal to all ages.”
First up from IDW will be reprint collections of previous “Speed Racer” comic books published by the defunct Now Comics and more recently produced by Wildstorm. “We’ll be presenting those as is – mostly because the work that was done on them at the time doesn’t need retouching. Both the Now comics and the Wildstorm books had some great artwork, and it’ll be nice to get those back out there in good trade paperback editions, too.
“Now’s run was notable for the painted artwork of Ken Steacy, and both Tommy Yune and Jo Chen did some amazing work on the Wildstorm run in the late ’90s.”
But it’s not just the old comics IDW will publish. While they’re still in the early planning stages, IDW currently plans on publishing two different series based on the cultural icon. “We can, and will, do comics based on both the older show and the new animated show, so it’s nice to have those options of doing both. We’re looking to launch everything in early ’08, February or March, and will be able to talk more about it all soon.”