Much like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups combine two things people love into a single treat, “Wynonna Earp Legends: Doc Holliday” achieves a similar feat.
To begin with, the four-issue IDW Publishing series once again combines the fan-favorite personalities of Wynonna Earp and Doc Holliday. On the trail of an abandoned stash of gold, the duo encounter the Pinkertons, a nasty bunch with old ties to both Doc and Wynona’s ancestor, Wyatt Earp.
As if that combination wasn’t enough, Wynonna’s creator Beau Smith and “Wynonna Earp” TV series’ very own Doc Holliday, actor Tim Rozon, are the pair who have combined forces to co-write the action-western adventure, which features art by Chris Evenhuis.
Smith and Rozon spoke with CBR News about their collaboration, Wynonna’s baptism-by-fire mission, the importance of Doc Holliday and the threat of the Pinkertons.
CBR News: Tim, people may not realize that you are an über comic book collector. How much are you geeking out over being part of this medium that you love?
Tim Rozon: I don’t have the words to express the emotion I feel. Seeing myself on TV for the first time was something else. It was cool, but this was just another level. This is the15-year-old me freaking out. This is literally the greatest thing I could have experienced. Did I win the lottery of all lotteries? Look who is taking me on this journey; Beau Smith has been amazing every step of the way. I don’t want to just gush and drool over Beau, but would this experience have been the same with anyone else? Think of the humility this guy has to bring me into his world. He brought me in with not only open arms, but he’s been with me every step of the way, teaching me things. It’s indescribable. How do I express that into words because the emotion doesn’t exist. How do you say dream fulfilled? How do you say complete happiness?
Beau, Doc Holliday wasn’t part of your initial vision for “Wynonna Earp.” What do you feel the character has added to her tale?
Beau Smith: The Doc Holliday character has been a wonderful gift from executive producer Emily Andras, who inserted him into the television series, and Tim to really bring him to life. What it’s brought to me is this wonderful character that is a link to Wynonna’s past with her ancestor, Wyatt Earp. Doc was there when he walked the streets. He had the gunfights that they were involved in together. He’s a living history book.
Talk about the genesis of the series’ story. Where did the idea originate, and how did it become a team effort?
Smith: On my end, I got an email from Chris Ryall and Carlos Guzman, my editor. They were going, “Hey, Beau. How do you feel about maybe having some of the cast collaborate with you on some special issues?” Tim and I had already talked. He’s into comics and I knew Tim had written screenplays and had an inside edge on writing. I was like, “Let’s go with this. This is great.” Part of me was thinking, “Well, let me see if my editors follow through.” Sometimes in an editorial meeting, everything is great. It’s a fun idea and then we get to see who follows through and who doesn’t.
They followed through with this, but then I was worried whether Tim was going to want to do this. Part of me was also going, “Is he going to be able to write?” With comic books, you are limited to 20 pages. You don’t have an hour-long television show. However, Tim and I have just taken off and ran. This could not have worked out better. I have to be honest with you. I’ve only written with a couple of other people over my career. One of them was Chuck Dixon. Chuck and I are brothers from different mothers, so there was never a problem. I had no idea I was going to relive that with Tim.
Rozon: I’m just trying to absorb Beau Smith talking about me. Give me a second, because that was frigging awesome.
I have no idea how this all happened. I keep waiting for someone to pull the plug and say it was a joke. I believe it probably started with an email. “Hey, would you be interested in…” I was like, “Would I be interested?” I sent a bunch of ideas right away. I believe it was Carlos who said, “Maybe do an outline for a story idea.”
Then, Beau and I started talking about stuff. I still didn’t know exactly what I would be contributing, or what my part would be. Even up to the first day of when we were starting to write, I didn’t know what I was doing. Like I said, Beau just took me under his wing and started going. All of a sudden, he was like, “Oh, you’re going to write dialogue, and I need you to write this.” We had an outline, and I’m like, “This is really happening.” It was overwhelming, yet, at the same time, I dove right in. I was so excited to be a part of it. I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know how I’m talking to you about it, but we somehow got there. The best part is, I’m still doing it.
How will this miniseries put the spotlight on Doc Holliday? What kind of story are you telling?
Smith: We have a villain in these two issues — I’m not going to say his name, but Tim found this villain who is based on a real person from that time period. I’ve been studying the Old West since I was a kid, and somehow I’ve missed this character. I was stunned. I told my wife Beth, “Oh geez. Tim has found a gold mine.” This idea in my head started turning. Tim and I started talking about this character and how he would be in this time period. Right off the bat, Tim comes into this relationship, and it’s like a house warming party. He brings a really nice bottle of wine.
I decided to write with Tim how I did with Chuck [Dixon]. We did an outline. “Your stuff. My stuff.” That’s what we call it. It’s listed. “Here’s your stuff.” We usually decide X-amount of pages. Then my stuff. We go back and forth, so we kind of know what we’re doing, yet you leave some cliffhangers for each other. I’ll get Tim’s script and go, “Ohhh…Okay.” It’s this healthy competition of making each other better. We just keep doing it with each sequence that comes in. That part is truly thrilling. With this bad guy, since Tim brought him to the table, I’ve done my best in writing him. But, 99 per cent of that character’s dialogue is going to be coming from Tim’s head.
Rozon: At the end of the day, it is Doc heavy — but it’s a Wynonna story. I feel the Doc aspect of it helped Wynonna get to another level. I’m a fanboy that gets to read all the stuff Beau sends me. He’s been writing a lot of the Wynonna/Doc stuff. To watch the transition for Wynonna has been one of the cooler parts than even Doc. There’s great stuff with Doc, but the book is Wynonna Earp. To have that character grow in the way that she’s been growing over these two books — that’s been more fulfilling to me to see that happen. It’s the growth of our heroine. This whole little world we have going on is super cool, and people are really going to dig it.
These two issues that Tim and I are doing are the darkest issues that I’ve done with Wynonna. It’s also a key tipping point for her. When you read issues one and two, it’s like episodes one and two of the TV series. This is Wynonna — flaws, warts and all — starting out, and stumbling her way through, sometimes. With Doc’s help, this is a tipping point for her to start to turn into what she will be. You get to see a major growth spurt in Wynonna Earp.
She doesn’t lose the sarcasm. She doesn’t lose her levity of how she deals with situations. But this is her first field mission where she’s in charge. You also get to see how Doc is not only her link to the past, but we show in the regular comic book world that he presented her with Peacemaker. He’s the one who gives her these continual links to Wyatt Earp’s past that will help her grow. In the comics, he was a dedicated friend to Wyatt Earp. Now, he’s decided to continue that same dedication to Wynonna. It’s a really interesting relationship and I hope with these issues that Tim and I can show that to the readers and give them even more depth of character.
Can you introduce us to the Pinkertons and explain why they’re gunning for Doc Holliday?
Rozon: The idea that appealed to me the most was who would be after Doc back in the day that could possibly still be after him now. You go with the Wynonna Earp theme of the lawman chasing down the bad guy. Back in the day, there was noone better than the Pinkertons. They weren’t good men, but they were doing a good job. They were the lawmen. If you had a really bad guy and you needed someone to get them, you would call in the Pinkertons. I thought of everybody who could be a Pinkerton. We actually found this one guy who existed, named Charlie Siringo. He was one badass mofo. Who better to be after Doc Holliday than the baddest of the bad Pinkertons that ever existed?
Smith: There are a lot of twists, turns and reveals in these two issues. We can’t give them away. It’s a gift. We’re waiting for the birthday to unwrap.
Tim, you’re used to working on television sets. In comics, there are no budget restrictions. How fun has it been letting your imagination run wild?
Rozon: That’s the key. Beau pointed this out. There’s no budget. He said, “If you can think it, put it on paper.” Then he gave me the best advice I could ever take away as a writer, and that was, “What does your character want? As long as you know that, as long as you write that and can deal with an unlimited budget, you’ll always stay on course.” That’s the one thing that has kept me grounded throughout this whole process.
Have the two of you discussed collaborating more in the future?
Smith: I’m going to be honest with you: Collaboration-wise, whatever Tim wants to do, I’m in. No questions asked. No matter what character, even if it’s not “Wynonna Earp.” This does not happen often. Chuck Dixon and I had it. Tim and I have it. I’m ready to relive that, any time, any day, all day long.
Rozon: I literally copy, paste, bold, format bold, italic and exclamation mark that. Would I work with Beau Smith on anything else again? Yeah, of course I would!
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