Whether you remember Mr. T from his days as the big man on television's "The A-Team" or from his relatively recent appearance in the "Pass The Courvoisier" rap video with Busta Rhymes and P. Diddy, the image of the behemoth is forever ingrained in your mind. With the release of "Mr. T #1" from APComics on May 21st, the birthday of the real Mr.T, writer Chris Bunting and artist Neil Edwards have brought back the titular hero to old and new fans alike. CBR News caught up with Bunting and the scribe explained how this series isn't what you'd expect- and he pities the fool who stereotypes the comic.
"The opening issue of 'Mr.T' is pretty much a mystery thriller that takes place in more of a real world, very street level setting," Bunting told CBR News. "A lot of strange stuff is going on, including a dangerous new drug. The neighborhood is really falling into decay because of it. Someone needs to pull it out and clean it up, but the only person who can do that is nowhere to be seen. As for what the 'Mr.T' comic is about, it's going to be a comic with a real entertainment factor. It'll be contemporary and will be layered with action, adventure and intrigue. It'll also have depth and substance. And, hey, it's got a sensational star!"
The characters in "Mr.T" are likely familiar to many, but for the new fans, Bunting is happy to re-introduce the diverse world of Mr.T. "The star of the comic is of course none other than Mr.T himself. Now, just about everyone knows who Mr.T is from his starring roles in TV and film to guest-appearances in rap videos and high-rating cartoon shows. But there will still be those that ask, 'what does the T stand for?' Well, the answer will also shed light on his comic character so I'll run through it. The T stands for tender for the good guys and trouble for the bad guys. This is going to be the Mr.T we all know and love -- like they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
"Next up is a guy named Wild Dog. He's a troubled powerhouse, but his connection to Mr.T is a mystery. Then there's Mizz K, bright, beautiful and very deadly. What's her role in all this? Again, I can't say without giving too much away. We also have Doctor Johnson, and the enigmatic character that is Detective Raziel.
"Last but not least is the Padilla crime family."
With the perceived "nostalgia craze" cooling down in the last year or two, it might seem odd for such a genuinely nostalgic character to be brought back in today's comic book market, but Bunting explains that it was his passion for the mythos of the character that got the project rolling. "In a way it was very simple. I'm a comic writer, I'm a Mr.T fan … what was a more ideal plan than a Mr.T comic book? I approached APComics with this suggestion, they loved it and, there and then, they agreed to publish it. We secured the rights to do so, and then came assembling the creative team. I'd met inker Randy Emberlin at the San Diego Comic-Con 2004, a real talent who's worked on such titles as 'Amazing Spider-Man' and 'X-Men.' His style was ideal for what I had planned, so I'd always had Randy in mind as inker for Mr.T. Then we made a real discovery with our penciler, Neil Edwards. Neil had just come off a stint on big Brit comic, '2000AD,' and I guess just happened to be in the right place at the right time. His rendition of Mr.T and his terrific art style meant he was onboard the book in a flash. His pencil pages alone never cease to amaze me, and everyone - including Mr.T! - is so excited by his art. Finally, we needed a colorist. Neil and Randy already made one unbeatable art team so therefore I knew we had to get our choice of colorist exactly right. APComics suggested Don MacKinnon. We've not looked back since. Don truly is one of the very best in the biz. And the biggest hitter on our creative team? Guess."
And if you guessed right, you know that Bunting means the one, the only, Mr.T. "Mr.T is extremely close to the book, so much so that he's actually Creative Supervisor," reveals Bunting. "The reaction from him has been fantastic, very supportive and very complimentary. Mr.T knows that we want to give readers nothing but the very best with this comic, and he's as excited about it as we are!"
Initial reaction to "Mr.T' has been excellent, according to Bunting, and he says that is part sales and part publicity. "It's been great, it really has, from the reaction of fans to the actual pre-orders. 'Mr.T' is already APComics's best selling title ever and it's still so early. I can say with utmost certainty that the first print of 'Mr.T #1' will sell-out very quickly ... so don't miss out!
"The attention on Mr.T from outside of the comic industry has been fantastic too: Dozens of newspapers, radio stations, magazines and websites all reporting on it. We're being contacted by the media and press virtually every day. This can only be a good thing for the comic industry too, which doesn't get enough spotlight."
At this point, you might be wondering just who Chris Bunting is and why he's the man for the job of chronicling the adventures of Mr.T. "I'm a British writer, comics being my biggest love and having always been and likely to be," he says. "Novels and screenplays are great, but there's nothing quite like comics. Besides Mr.T, I also write for 'Action Man' (the British counterpart of G.I. Joe) and 'The Lexian Chronicles.' And I'll have some projects coming out from Antarctic Press too soon.
"It's always been my dream to write comic books since I was a kid, and to be here now, writing such a hotly anticipated comic like 'Mr.T' and chatting away to the renowned CBR … well, I can't complain. As for what's next, I've just agreed to adapt a major novel into comic form, but apart from that I'm not shy -- I'm open to offers!"
With the apparent success of the book so far, Bunting is excited about and encourages reader to try the book before they pass judgment. "Let's be honest, we could let Mr.T's name alone sell this comic book for us, sit back and do some hack work. We're not. We're here to tell the coolest and most entertaining stories possible, featuring this terrific, iconic character. In fact, I truly believe that Mr.T will both reset and start some trends in the comic industry! We've some big plans with this big star!
"Not only do I feel that the Mr.T comic is going to hold its own against its shelf-sharers, but also that it will be a comic that people can relate to. Why? Partly because we live in an age where people will often turn the other way when they see - whether literally or metaphorically - a fellow human being in trouble, rather than get involved. The stories in 'Mr.T' - about a non-super powered man who will take a stand, who will champion the weak and vulnerable - have relevance, maybe now more than ever, and I believe readers will genuinely respond to that.
"Plus we know the bad guys will get no pity from Mr.T…!"
CBR Executive Producer Jonah Weiland contributed to this story.