Griffin Franks may not have been the biggest star in Hollywood, but he did okay for himself, playing cowboys, master assassins, intergalactic detectives and, most notably, Charlie Winner — The Revenger. But times change and even the toughest of men age, and Griffin now finds himself out of the spotlight and on the C-list. He thinks his glory days are behind him and his career has become little more than a joke… until he’s given the chance to get back into the game. A remake of his ’70s film “The Revenger” puts him on top again, and in the sights of someone who wants to make him suffer. Just when Griffin thinks his dreams have finally come true, they are ripped out of his grasp — right along with the flesh from his skull. Now it’s Griffin’s turn to bring his iconic character to life as he satisfies his need for “The Revenge.”
The four-issue Image Comics miniseries debuts next from writer and creator Jonathan Ross and artist Ian Churchill, and CBR spoke with Ross about what kind of vengeance readers can look forward to in February.
CBR News: Tell me about Griffin Franks — he’s a washed up action-hero, but how did he get there? What has his career been like?
Jonathan Ross: I’ve attached his IMDB! I got the guys who own it to mock one up for us. I really want to see some of those films. Especially “the Astronomicon!”
My model for him was kind of based on those rugged actors like Jack Palance, Henry Silva, Charles Bronson, with a tiny drop of Stallone for good measure. What if they’d enjoyed only a small degree of success, just enough to enable them being a selfish asshole? Then they suddenly, late in life, hit it big… wouldn’t they be keen to hold onto it, no matter the cost? That’s what Griffin’s fourth wife Candy hopes. But she has a reason for wanting to inflict pain on him. She is the one who, initially, is out for revenge…
His career has been good enough to keep him in the biz, but not great. Imagine if Travolta had only made the “Boy in the Bubble” and “Look Who’s Talking.” That’s kind of the career Griffin had, until whiz kid director EeZee Johnson remakes his 1970s hit and turns him into a hot property. Again, think Travolta and “Pulp Fiction.”
Why does Candy want revenge on Griffin? And she’s fourth out of how many…?
She’s the fourth and probably last. But I can’t reveal the revenge aspect here. It’s in book one…
It sounds like he reclaims his fame, even though he’s what some people would consider past his prime. This seems to happen a lot in Hollywood, with older actors being able to extend their careers and the audience being accepting of their age. Is that true in Griffin’s world?
Well, yes and no. We are forgiving and accepting to a point, I think. But Stallone is hardly your average 60 year-old! If he didn’t look like that, we wouldn’t believe him in “The Expendables.” So I think image and our desire for stars to stay younger and fitter then is normal plays a big part in this book.
What can you tell me about the attack on Griffin?
The attack is an act of revenge, but also allows the attackers to take everything else away form Griffin, as well as his career and ultimately his life. But unluckily for them, he survives and escapes and…
â€¨Does Griffin become heroic during his quest for revenge, or is his quest for justice serving to right the wrongs done against him?
Maybe not heroic but hopefully the readers will sympathize and support his actions, to an extent.
What makes him a sympathetic character, beyond the attack on him? What do you think makes readers want to root for someone?
He’s trying his hardest to be a better person. Better then he was. So he deserves it maybe for being a dick in the past. But he’s really trying to make amends.
Has your television career influenced or informed Griffin’s story at all?
Not overly. But I am writing a book about a comic book-loving talk show host who spends a lot of his money in developing a super powered alter ego. Imagine Jay Leno or Letterman or Jimmy Fallon in an Iron Man suit and you get the idea!
This title marks your art debut, correct? How has it been?
I’ll always butt in on the art to the point where I am sure I irritate the artists I work with. I have specific ideas of how people should look. Ultimately though, I’ll go with the artist’s choice. I only drew one cover, and to be honest it was a bunch of sketches and a layout that Ian then made look pro!
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How did you come to work with Ian Churchill?
[Image Comics publisher] Eric Stephenson suggested we get together. I knew Ian’s work, mainly from “Marineman,” which I loved. But it’s been an absolute ball working with him. Could not have had a more fun or easier time. And seeing as we have already finished the first three books and he is halfway through the fourth we can guarantee no delays!
â€¨“The Revenge” has gone through some changes, including the title. What can you tell me about that?
Well the movie that Griffin made was called “The Revenger.” I wanted it to sound like those pulp novels of the ’70s: “The Vindicator,” “The Eliminator” and so on. But then I found out some guy had already copyrighted it — even though I don’t think he’s published anything. So we switched. But in the comic our character is still called the Revenger.
What is the scope of “The Revenge?”
It’s a four-issue miniseries. But a sequel is possible. However, I am writing a bunch of other stuff for other people so maybe not too soon. But then if people like it and want more then we will oblige!
“The Revenge” #1 is released February 26thâ€¨