CCI: Zachary Quinto on his Archaia Partnership

At Comic-Con International this weekend, Archaia announced that Before the Door Pictures, the production company founded by "Heroes" and "Star Trek" star Zachary Quinto, will be producing new comics for the publisher. The first two projects will be an original graphic novel titled "Mr. Murder is Dead" by Victor Quinaz, and "Lucid," a six-issue miniseries by Michael McMillan. Artists have not yet been named, but cover art debuted at CCI. CBR News spoke with Quinto and Before the Door partners Corey Moosa and Neal Dodson about their comic projects.

Quinto and his partners credit Archaia Director of Development Stephen Christy with winning them over to the publisher. "We met with a number of comic book companies in anticipation of the Comic-Con announcement, and we certainly learned something from each of those meetings. But there was something in the imaginative and forward-thinking nature of Archaia, specifically Stephen Christy, that resonated with us," the actor said. "He understood the kinds of stories we want to tell, and the company represents the kind of company we want to work with. We felt it was a good time to get involved with them."

Dodson added, "We're big fans of 'The Killer,' that was a really cool book, and things like 'Mouse Guard' and 'Awakening.' We got an early peek at 'Days Missing,' and it's awesome. Because Archaia is on a path of growth, and especially with Stephen coming over to work with them, he's a guy that we really connected with creatively and felt good working with."

Moosa, who described himself as a lifelong comics fan, agreed, saying, "Archaia is producing some of the most interesting work that's out there right now, so it really was a no-brainer that we just wanted to work so bad with these guys, particularly Stephen Christy, who has been just amazing to be working with these past two months."

In contrast to Moosa, Quinto said that, despite starring in two comics-friendly properties, he does not come from a comic book background. "My experience of the comic book world and that medium is rooted in my association with both the show and the movie," Quinto said, referring to his roles as Sylar on "Heroes" and Spock in "Star Trek." "In that, I've met a lot of people and gotten to realize that there is a tremendous amount of imagination, enthusiasm and forward-thinking storytelling in comics. This is really an opportunity for us to explore characters and stories in an environment where there's not a lot of restrictions. As an actor and even to a certain degree as a producer, we're working within the confines and restrictions of a studio system for the most part. That can be somewhat limiting and challenging. So this was really an opportunity for us to tell stories that excited us and that we felt would be a attractive to a fanbase that already sort of understands me and the sort of work I want to do."

Quinto has known his Before the Door partners, Corey Moosa and Neal Dodson, for fifteen years, having met Dodson in high school and having attended Carnegie Mellon University with both. "When I was thinking about providing myself with a structure that allows me to generate opportunities for myself ," the actor said of founding the production company, "it was important to me to include people who have a longstanding creative relationship with." Similarly, Quinto has a longstanding relationship with Michael McMillan and Victor Quinaz, the writers of Before the Door's first comic projects at Archaia. "I know these guys, I trust these guys, and we all share the desire to tell interesting and creative stories. We're all very involved in the evolution of them, we speak to Victor and Michael on a daily basis, and the evolution of these projects."

Describing the particulars of each project, Dodson described "Mr. Murder is Dead" as "a pulp noir story about an old guy who was sort of a top cop, almost a vigilante, back in the '50s." "When he was at the height of his success, he was lionized as a Dick Tracy-esque comic strip. But now he's old and sort of alone, and he's sort of washed up," Dodson told CBR. "His arch-villain, Mr. Murder, has been killed, and the story tells how he investigates the loss of his biggest enemy. It also looks at what it's like when your sort of main purpose is accomplished, what do you next. Victor's a really cool, philosophical writer and he's dealing with some big ideas. He tells exciting tales but he also wants to make sure that there's something more, and I think his story's achieved that."

Dodson then described "Lucid," a six-issue series written by Michael McMillan. "He's also a long-time friend of ours and an excellent writer and, like Corey, a lifelong comic book fan with an insane comic book collection," the producer said of McMillan. "'Lucid' is about Matthew Dee, a descendant of John Dee, who was a real guy from history. He was Queen Elizabeth's necromancer, and he was the basis for Merlin and the basis for Prospero in the 'Tempest,' he would sort of read the tea leaves and things would happen. This guy's the direct descendant of him living in a version of our modern times. It's a time of great political hope, but there's an arms race, almost like a nuclear stalemate, that every country in the world has a necromancer or combat mage. Matthew Dee is the one for the United States. They're at a standstill, and that's when things go awry. It's sort of a James Bondian tale with a strong supernatural element."

Quinto clarified that, in the world of "Lucid," magic is a given factor in daily life and politics, rather than the secretive practice it is often shown to be.

"They're two very different stories, at opposite ends of the spectrum, one being this really gritty, quiet crime noir, the other being set in a political, magical kind of world," Quinto said.

"We're excited about this partnership with Archaia. We're actually inspired by their vision as a company and they've been incredibly supportive," the actor said. "Corey, Neal and I, the aim of this company, whether it's in the comic book world, the film world, or the television, is to have a strong sense of collaboration and it's nice to be able to work with people who are both creative and exciting and also share our work ethic. Can't wait to go down to San Diego for the third year in a row and represent our stories."

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