“What if you could take a drug and never have to fall asleep?”
That sounds like a handy pharmaceutical to have if you’re attending the New York Comic-Con, like thousands of other comic fans this weekend. CBR News has naturally been covering the “madness,” and we were fortunate enough to sit down with actor Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli of “Heroes”) and his producing partner Russ Cundiff (“It’s a Mall World”) to discuss the comic they will be publishing with Devil’s Due – “Rest,” which hypothesizes what would happen in a sleep-deprived world.
The story of the comic will focus on the dangerous tale of a man drawn into a conspiracy between a malevolent pharmaceutical company and the U.S. government. The design of the main character is inspired by Ventimiglia’s likeness, and the story itself comes from the mind of screenwriter Mike O’Sullivan, which is where we begin our interview.
Milo Ventimiglia: The story was based on a script written by Mike O’Sullivan. It’s something our company – Divide Productions (of which Milo and Russ are partners) – was working on. We took it out to Devil’s Due and they just freaked at the idea and thought it would be a great tentpole for our company – something they’d want to collaborate on with us.
They brought on Mark Powers (“Drafted” and a former editor of “X-Men”) to pen the comic and Roger Robinson for the first artwork (the poster with Ventimiglia’s likeness), and they’re helping us assemble our comic team.
So, your first exposure to “Rest” then was a feature proposal?
MV: It was a feature script and it had this amazing idea. It was something we optioned and looked at to work on. It wasn’t quite ready to send out (to movie studios) though, and we had this odd idea to pitch it as a comic. Then it really turned into Devil’s Due – and Stephen Christy (Manager of I.P. Development) and Josh Blaylock (DDP founder) – and those guys being super-excited by this idea and understanding how it could fit into the comic world.
Ultimately, we had started down the road of a TV show or movie production, but, when we look at it now, we just want to make a great comic.
You have a few comic experts on the “Heroes” staff…
MV: Just a few. [Laughs] Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale…
Did you try talking to any of them to get some feedback before this initial foray into comics?
Russ Cundiff: Well, Jeph gave us his blessing…
MV: Yeah. Jeph – he’s so prolific in the comic book world, and it’s like, we’re small time. First-time book, you know? We always thought it would be great to work on something with Jeph, but Jeph is a Marvel guy – and Marvel has big superheroes. This story is more reality-based.
The story is relatable to anybody and everybody. So, when we were talking to those guys, we were just picking their brains about the process as opposed to diving into creative details with them.
Is there any artist yet on the book?
MV: Not on the book yet. We have a couple of people who are super-stoked on the idea and guys who we’re big fans of their artwork, but nobody’s been locked in just yet.
And how did you end up at Devil’s Due?
RC: They were the most excited about partnering with us. We like to work with good people that enjoy being around the office, and Steve and Josh – they’re great.
MV: They were the most enthusiastic about it. After that first meeting where we pitched two to three ideas, Christy was just calling every other day, like, “Hey, what’s going on? How are you doing? You guys want to do this?”
It just turned into his excitement and the company’s ambition to make this great book, and we saw that and understood it. We just wanted to make sure we had great partners.
How familiar were you with the comic book publishing world before coming into this?
RC: The publishing world? Not so much. But as for being comic book fans…
MV: Yeah, I was a huge comic book fan since I was a kid, and Russ had his favorites too…
RC We’re just big readers in general, whether it’s comics, graphic novels, or books. We’re just constant readers. And you – Milo – your favorite comic was Batman, right?
MV: Yeah, I always loved Batman, Sub-Mariner and just random things like Ralph Snart. I was totally a Ralph Snart fan…
RC: And I want to give a big shout out to Aquaman and the Atom. They’re my favorites.
Okay, CBR’s fans will give me a swift kick if I don’t ask this to Milo: can you tell me anything about the upcoming season of “Heroes”?
MV: It’s going to melt your head. Heh, I ‘m totally ripping off that line from Russ…
So, have you started filming yet?
MV: In two weeks. Two days ago, actually, I got the script for the first episode and I was blown away. It really went back to that great sentiment and feeling of the first season. I’m so excited – sooo excited.
Devil’s Due plans on releasing a $0.99 introduction to “Rest” this summer. For more information about “Rest,” visit http://www.devilsdue.net.
Now discuss this story in CBR’s Independent Comics forum.