The journey Team Red Star has taken over the years has been an interesting one. Six years ago this week, CBR News first brought you word of “The Red Star,” a fantasy sci-fi epic that told an alternate history of the USSR, a futuristic world filled with technology and sorcery. While the story may have cemented fans interest in the title, it was the art that first caught everyone’s eye. Creator Christian Gossett and his team wowed readers with a digitally rendered world that was unlike anything seen previously in comics. Sure, digital comics existed before “The Red Star,” but they were really more of a novelty at the time. “The Red Star” featured 3D computer generated imagery with a coloring sensibility that knocked readers socks off. It was an immediate hit.
The comic debuted at Image Comics in 2000 and remained there until the Spring of 2002 when it made the move to CrossGen. Unfortunately, the move didn’t work well for Team Red Star and less than a year later with only two issues completed, they ended their relationship with CrossGen and chose to self-publish the book under Archangel Studios. Despite the changes in publisher, the future still looked bright for “The Red Star” when in June of 2003 a video game based on the series was announced, to be published by Acclaim. Unfortunately, the future turned dark when in September, 2004, Acclaim closed its offices for good. This was a huge set-back for the team, who had planned on starting up “The Red Star” engines once again to coincide with the release of the video game.
Since Acclaim’s shuttering, little has been heard about “The Red Star,” until earlier this year when word came that a film based on the property had been set up at Universal. It was an announcement that took many by surprise considering the comic hadn’t seen publication since early 2004.
The roller coaster ride Gossett has taken is gaining speed once again and is headed back to the top of the tracks this summer when “The Red Star” finally resumes publication from Archangel Studios. Gossett will write and draw the series once again and brings with him a surprise addition to the team – the Weta Workshop. That’s right, the same Weta Workshop of “The Lord of the Rings” and “King Kong” fame will collaborate with Gosset by handling digital painting duties on the latest Red Star chapter. We caught up with Gossett right before he caught a plane for New Zealand to get all the details on the return of the series and the addition of Weta to Team Red Star.
Gossett’s relationship with Weta began with his work on last year’s “King Kong” feature. He spent a lot of time in Wellington, New Zealand, getting to know Richard Taylor and the gang at Weta, which ultimately led to their involvement with “The Red Star.” “I’m honored to be working again with my friends at the Weta Workshop design team,” Gossett told CBR News. “They are all incredibly talented artists, illustrators, concept designers, and if you’d like to see the quality of their digital painting, just pick up a copy of ‘The Art of Kong.’
“Having the Weta Workshop design team join us is still sinking in, really,” continued Gossett. “When I was working with them on ‘Kong,’ I saw firsthand the passionate care and fun they bring to their designs; most if not all of which begin as digital paintings. In the ‘Art of Kong’ book, you can really see what natural storytellers they are. Every image is a moment of epic drama frozen in time. I couldn’t help but hope that I could bring ‘The Red Star’ to that level.”
As we mentioned above, the Weta Workshop design team will be handling all of the digital painting duties on “The Red Star,” with 3D rendering to be handled by longstanding Team Red Star member Paul Schrier, whose first issue was part of the “Nogorka” story arc. “Paul’s first major contribution was in ‘The Red Star’s’ first annual, ‘Run Makita Run,’ a 42 page tour de force that was the origin story of the title character,” explained Gossett.
The next chapter of this series is an original graphic novel called “The Red Star: Sword of Lies.” “It not only picks up where the story left off, but it is also very much the origin story of the main villain, the sorcerer Imbohl, who was once the savior of the lands of the Red Star,” explained Gossett. “This story arc reveals the tragedy of his corruption. ‘The Red Star’ has always mainly been about the heroes. This story really gives our readers a look into what the evils believe they’re fighting for.”
Gossett’s excited about “The Red Star’s” come back, but things looked pretty dim following Acclaim’s bankruptcy. “Acclaim owed us a boatload of cash when they died (Acclaim filed for Chapter 7 liquidation before releasing ‘The Red Star’ game). When that money vanished into thin air, we had to stop the bleeding somehow. But just because we stopped releasing books didn’t mean that we had given up. It’s like running a sports team. Sometimes a money player breaks his leg. At that point we had to lay low, take the hit, and prepare for the future. The cool thing is our back orders have been very consistent since our last release (‘The Red Star’s’ third TPB, ‘Prison of Souls’) and our online sales are amazing. You take the good with the bad and stay tough.”
“The Red Star” was, or rather is, a comic designed in a completely different way than the majority of comics. This led to a lot of delays during it’s initial publication. And when a book ships late, often today’s fans bail and don’t return to the series. Gossett says he and his team have learned a lot about publishing comics over the past six years, which is one of the reasons why they’re releasing the next chapter of “The Red Star” as an original graphic novel (the other being Gossett prefers the long-form format for telling these epic tales). Gossett says keeping “The Red Star: Sword of Lies” on schedule is of the utmost importance.
But what about the video game. It’s finished. Have they found a new publisher yet? Gossett says they’re closer than ever on making an announcement, but nothing can be said quite yet.
Finally, Gossett’s excited about the potential of the film. Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov (“Night Watch”) will direct the film, but other details like a screenwriter or product budget are still being kept quiet by the studio. “My manager Ken Levin and lawyer Karl Austen saw the potential of ‘The Red Star’ as an intellectual property, and their tenacity got the books where they needed to go. I’m really excited about it, and I apologize for being cagey, but that’s all I can say at the moment.”
Look for “The Red Star: Sword of Lies” to be solicited for release this August from Archangel Studios.