The comic book industry and Hollywood are far from strangers, but thanks to Marc Guggenheim, they're about to collide. As announced at the Image Comics panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Guggenheim is launching a brand new imprint through Image called Collider Entertainment designed to bring some of Hollywood's brightest talent to the comic book industry. CBR News spoke exclusively with Guggenheim about the launch of Collider Entertainment and the first two titles coming out of the imprint, "Utopian" and "The Mission."
Guggenheim developed Collider Entertainment alongside producing partner Alisa Tager, who produced Joss Whedon's "Serenity." Guggenheim told CBR: "We got together and went to Image a year ago and pitched them the idea for an imprint that would take the best writers in Hollywood and bring them to comic books to do really amazing comics that they wouldn't otherwise have the 'in' with the comics industry to do, or the expertise to learn the new medium all on their own."
"In this day and age when everyone is talking about multimedia, transmedia, cross-platform or whatever the term of the year is, Marc and I quickly realized that us having coffee is multimedia," added Tager. "Between the two of us, we've either written or produced across television, film, comic books, video games, theater, concerts and across five continents. I think so often the misunderstanding is that comic books are just a narrow spectrum, but they can tell any story. Given that our goal in Collider Entertainment is to tell stories in the best possible way, we thought about the strongest way to grow our company and starting with the imprint just seemed to be the approach."
Based on the idea of Hollywood colliding with comic books, Guggenheim and Tager view themselves as producers rather than editors. "It's more producorial oversight than it is editorial," said Guggenheim. "Part of what we're doing is lending [the creative teams] my comic book experience. They're telling a story in a medium that's brand new for them. I'm helping them best realize their vision in comic book form."
More than just a producer, Guggenheim is also a writer for Collider Entertainment, co-writing "Utopian" alongside his wife and "Reaper" co-creator Tara Butters. "We saw the 'Watchmen' movie and Tara walked out and was like, 'You know what really interested me? The end. I would love to see what happened next. Once there's peace and love in the world, what happens to all of these heroes?' We started talking about it and that's where we came up with 'Utopian,'" said Guggenheim of the project's genesis. "It's a superhero story exploring what happens when all war and crime and man-on-man aggression is eliminated from the world - what happens to the superheroes when there's no evil left to fight? What happens when the never-ending battle for truth and justice ends? What happens to a character like Batman or the Punisher when there really is no crime left to fight? They'd have nothing to do! That's what we're having fun playing around with."
In "Utopian," peace has been established and the battle for truth and justice is over. Which begs an obvious question: what happened to the villains? "The mystery of where the bad guys went and what caused the new utopian condition on the Earth - and I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying this -Â if the world woke up tomorrow and suddenly everything was sunshine and roses, that's not a natural phenomenon," agreed Guggenheim. "The question becomes, well, what happened? That's where the plot comes in. The one thing I can say is that there won't be any easy answers to the questions raised by the series. We won't be easy on the readers and we won't be easy on the characters."
Another of Collider's initial properties is called "The Mission," a radically different story written by "RED" screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber. "This is a story we've wanted to tell for a long time," Erich told CBR. "It's about a fairly average guy who's one day approached by an angel and told that there's a war going on between good and evil and he's been chosen to play a part. A mission, if you will. But the first thing our hero is told to do is to kill another man. It's a very dark, very realistic world that explores questions of sanity, faith, epistemology, the nature of evil and the trauma of violence on both victims and perpetrators."
"You know how there are these serial killers who commit mass murder because God told them to? 'The Mission' is a story of that kind of person, from their perspective," said Guggenheim. "The ongoing question that we keep flipping is, is God really talking to them? Maybe he's not crazy. What if he really is speaking to God, a la Moses?"
For the Hoeber brothers, comic books always felt like the right medium to tell "The Mission" in. "Both because of the subject matter and because it's full of these small moments of horror and discovery that seem to work so well in this medium," said Erich. "That said, I am sometimes struck at the similarities between writing comics and directing film. In both cases, you're composing a series of shots that tell a story, which is its own special discipline."
Indeed, the Collider team acknowledges that there's something of a stigma when it comes to Hollywood colliding with comics, which is one of the main reasons that Guggenheim wanted to launch the imprint in the first place. "One of the things we said to Image was, 'I feel like everyone and his cousin is trying to marry comics and Hollywood, and they're all doing it really badly,'" he said. "I think the reason is that people are approaching it with a lot of cynicism: 'Let's take this really old spec that never sold and we'll turn it into a comic book, and suddenly it'll get optioned.' What that kind of thinking leads to is you end up taking a bad movie and turning it into a bad comic.' We don't want to do that. We want the comic books to stand on their own feet and just end up being really great comic books."
"[Fans] should be skeptical," Hoeber freely admitted when it comes to the idea of Hollywood and comic books intermingling. "But then you have to distinguish between Hollywood the corporate enterprise and the creative people who sometimes work for Hollywood. Collider gives some of us a chance to do things that we could never do within the studio system."
Through Collider Entertainment, Guggenheim believes that the imprint's story offerings could go a long way towards smoothing over some of that Hollywood stigma held by comic book fans. "Our big thing is, is this a good idea and is it with writers who are good people and good writers," he said. "I feel like we're coming out of the gate with ideas that are very strong and haven't been seen before. That's one of the mission statements of the company, to bring things to comic books that you haven't seen and are wholly original. We're drawing on people who have never worked in comics before and have this fresh perspective."
Collider Entertainment is a new imprint from Image Comics launched by Marc Guggenheim and Alisa Tager. Their first two titles are "Utopian," co-written by Guggenheim and Tara Butters with art by Ryan Bodenheim, and "The Mission," co-written by Jon and Erich Hoeber with art by Werther Dell'Edera.