CBR News spoke yesterday with BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief Mark Waid about the publisher's new line of comics based on the hugely popular films of Pixar Animation Studios. Waid himself will be writing the line's first title, "The Incredibles: Family Matters," which debuts in March.
Other titles in BOOM!'s Pixar line include "Cars: The Rookie" by Alan J. Porter and Albert Carreres ; "Toy Story: The Mysterious Stranger," written by Dan Jolley with art by Chris Moreno; "Monsters, Inc." from writer Paul Benjamin. BOOM! will also be producing comic books based on other Disney properties like "The Muppet Show," written and illustrated by Roger Langridge.
Editing the Pixar titles is Paul Morrissey, who sat down with CBR News to talk about the line's inaugural titles, working with Disney and Pixar, and what additional titles fans can expect in the months ahead.
CBR: Paul, tell us about the stories BOOM! will be telling in the first Disney/Pixar books.
Paul Morrisey: Our first three titles come out in March. In "The Incredibles: Family Matters," Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) really learns what it means to be a family leader. Along the way, we meet a really cool villain named Futurion, and the Parr's get some new neighbors. Hmmm... That's all I'm allowed to say right now! Trust me, though-there's plenty of laughs and action. And if you're really nice, maybe Frozone will make an appearance, too!
The incomparable Roger Langridge brings his surreal brand of humor to "The Muppet Show"-and it's a match made in heaven! Longing for the swamp, Kermit forlornly plucks his banjo, while the gang tries to jolly him out of his funk. Packed full of madcap skits and gags, "The Muppet Show" is sure to please old and new fans alike. Issue #3, by the way, features a great Gonzo story, which is going to be a classic!
"Toy Story," "Finding Nemo," "Monsters, Inc." "WALL*E," "Muppet Robin Hood" and "Muppet Peter Pan" are just some of the titles that will soon follow!
What are the challenges you face in bringing the tremendously popular Pixar properties to the comics page? How does BOOM! insure the tone and message of the films translates?
You're right. It is a huge challenge bringing these Pixar properties to life on the comic book page. Audiences already know and love these characters, and they certainly expect the tone of our comics to be similar to that of the movies. So, there's a lot pressure to execute each title flawlessly. In order to do that, I've done my best to work with writers and artists who are passionate about the characters and stories they are telling.
Mark Waid on "The Incredibles: Family Matters" is a great example. Who can write a mix of action, comedy, drama and super-heroics better than Mark Waid? He was born to write this comic! And I have a pretty good hunch that the Pixar staff is full of Mark Waid fans, especially the team that worked on "The Incredibles." By the way, Waid and artist Marcio Takara knocked the first issue of the park! It really looks like a 2D cell-animated Incredibles movie, no small thanks to the amazing colors supplied by Andrew Dalhouse.
We're also getting a huge assist from Disney and Pixar. They go over every story pitch, making sure that each concept meets their high standards. I feel like I have a safety net working with them. If we push the envelope too far, they always reel us in and keep us on the right track. They also sign off on all the artists we work with, so the look of each Pixar comic will have their seal of approval.
The Pixar films are certainly all-ages in nature. Are these BOOM! books also considered all-ages?Â When working with the writers of these series, how do you help them craft stories that will appeal to both a 12-year-old and a 45-year-old, as the movies do?
Yes, these books are absolutely all-ages. We want to make comics for kids again! In order to do that, I've tried to hire experienced writers that have written for both kids and adults. For instance, Dan Jolley is writing our first "Toy Story" arc. Not only was Dan nominated for an Eisner Award for his "JSA: The Unholy Three," but he has recently written children's comic book stories based on "Warriors," the novel series by Erin Hunter. Likewise, Paul Benjamin, who's writing our first "Monsters, Inc." arc, has recently written a 12-issue run on "Marvel Adventures Hulk." And Roger Langridge, who's writing and drawing our "The Muppet Show" comic, has a huge artistic palette to paint from, from "Fred the Clown" to Marvel's "Fin Fang Foom" So, hopefully, I don't have to help them too much!
As is true with any licensed comic, changes are made at the request of the licensor. What sort of changes have Disney asked for?Â Has their focus been more on the story or the visual representation of their characters?
Working with Disney and Pixar has been a very collaborative and rewarding experience, but they have final say. They are the guardians of these properties, and we take their suggestions with very open ears. They are very story focused, and we have really put our story pitches through the wringer, making sure that each plot point and story beat is approved by them.
Surprisingly, they have been very open to artistic stylization. They actually love seeing their characters depicted in new ways-just as long as we capture their essence and heart. So far, the changes have been minimal. If we get a certain characterization wrong, they'll flag it. If a color scheme is off, they'll let us know. Hopefully, we've done most of the heavy lifting at the story pitch stage. I'm sure they'll tweak some dialog here and there once the pages get lettered.
While it's always hard to play favorites, we've got to ask -- do you have a favorite Disney book yet?Â
Oh, gosh! You're putting me on the spot! Each project is really fun and unique in its own way! Since everyone is expecting me to say "The Incredibles" (which is amazing), I'm going to throw them a curve ball and say "The Muppet Show." As a kid, I loved "The Muppet Show." I watched it religiously. And Roger Langridge is really channeling the madcap, subversive spirit of the show! So, that has a particular soft spot in my heart.
Which of these projects have surprised you the most, and how?
Of all the projects so far, "Cars" has been the most challenging to pull off. Alan J. Porter pitched me a story chronicling Lightning McQueen's origin, and Pixar loved it. That actually surprised me quite a bit. So, we get to play with some fun back-story. It's very difficult to make the comic book as dynamic and as full of kinetic movement as the film, but I think we've succeeded. My hat goes off to artist Albert Carreres, who has to draw entire comics full of nothing but cars. Not an easy feat!
Can you tell us how BOOM! plans to reach audiences outside the direct market?
I can't go into too much detail here. Needless to say, we are very committed to selling these books in the mass market. They have such broad appeal. Sure, "The Incredibles" will do extremely well in the direct market, but I think titles like "Finding Nemo" and "Monsters, Inc." will really perfom in the mass market.