Tie-in comics tend to be a risky affair. Afterthought marketing materials the production companies only consider well after a reasonable production schedule is possible. They end up being little more than transcribed pages of the script due three weeks ago.
This, Paul Levitz of DC Comics Inc tells us, is not the case with the forthcoming “I Am Legend” comics from DC/Vertigo. The difference here: support, involvement, and interest not just from Warner Bros, but also from creative personal on the film project based on Richard Matheson’s revered novel. Also on board are producers Akiva Goldsman and Jada Pinket-Smith.
The project, overseen by Dawn Thomas, drew a diverse list of talent not only from comics, but from games and the film itself. This group, which includes Bill Sienkiewicz, screenwriter Mark Protosevich, and author Orson Scott Card delivered a comic that does not tell the story of the film, but instead explores its world. Jason Chan, a designer from Massive Black, and David Levy, both come to comics for the first time.
Respect for the material is the unifying theme expressed by the panel. When asked what brought Card to the project, he related the tale of Forrest Gump author Winston Groom, who was never once mentioned during that film’s Academy Award sweep. In Hollywood, says Card, the author is treated as a corpse. In the case of I Am Legend, he says, “The writer was still alive for them.” According to Thomas, Card forms the core of the second I Am Legend book, due in November.
Richard Christian Matheson, son of the I Am Legend author, also contributes to the first book. Thomas says when she approached Matheson, he returned a script in one day, his first venture into the form. Now that he has published at Vertigo, Levitz remarked, “Look forward to Karen [Berger] getting longer work from you.”
For Protosevich, who submitted drafts for the film over ten years, called the comic project “one of the most satisfying creative experience.” This also marks his first work in comics.
Levitz also revealed the project will move beyond the comic into an online format, utilizing the stories, they will presented as animated featurettes at www.iamlegend.com brought to life by the men behind Broken Saints. Levitz then showed one of the shorts, based on Chan’s illustrations of Thomas’s own “Sacrificing the Few For the Many,” which appears in the first book. Of her story, Thomas said, “Isn’t it curious how people die.” The animation is part of Thomas and Pinkett-Smith’s plan to extend the world of “I Am Legend” beyond the film.
As for Richard Matheson, the author of the novel from which all of this derives, according to his son, he thinks, “the whole thing is first class.”