History changed in 1989 when director Stephen Herek delivered a time traveling phone booth to a pair of California slackers named Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan. “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” not only ensured that the future saviors of the human race would pass their high school history class, it also helped introduce audiences to two of Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves’ most memorable characters as written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon. An animated series followed in 1990 and a sequel called “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” in 1991.
BOOM! Studios hopes to tap into the fun of the films with their March 11-launching “Bill & Ted’s Most Triumphant Return.” For the six issue series, “Minions” screenwriter and former “Angel” comic scribe Brian Lynch will have the dynamic duo do their best to cheer up the villain from “Bogus Journey.” Meanwhile, in the back-ups, “Adventure Time’s” Ryan North has the boys travel to 2015 to help fix their robot counterparts also from “Bogus Journey.” Lynch is joined by “Fanboys Vs. Zombies” and “Loki: Ragnarok and Roll” artist Jerry Gaylord while North is working with Ian McGinty of “Bravest Warriors” and “Bee and Puppycat” fame.
This won’t be Bill and Ted’s first foray into comics either. DC Comics put out an adaptation of the first film the same year it came out while Marvel hired “Milk and Cheese” creator Evan Dorkin to work on the 1991 “Bogus Journey” one-shot as well as most of the cult favorite 12-issue follow-up series called “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic Book.”
CBR News talked with Lynch and North about the metal head messiahs, and below the pair dig into Bill and Ted’s time travel troubles, getting recruited for Wyld Stallions and their personal histories with the most excellent duo.
CBR News: Let’s start at the beginning. What is your earlier Bill & Ted memory? How deep did your fandom go between “I also love ‘Bogus Journey” and “I have every one of the action figures?”
Brian Lynch: My earliest “Bill & Ted” memory was seeing the original movie on VHS the day it came out.Â I didn’t see it in theaters, for whatever reason, but I kept the tape and watched it over and over again.Â I love “Bogus Journey,” bought Evan Dorkin’s adaptation before the movie came out, devoured it, read it front to back over and over weeks before the movie came out, saw the movie opening day, and then again the next week. It was great.Â Bought the cereal, which came with a little cassette tape holder.Â Have the soundtracks to both.Â Have the scripts.Â Have since seen both in theaters, at a double feature at the New Beverly that also featured a Q and A with Alex Winter, which was fun.Â Have the animated show on DVD. Saw the live action show, but WOW was it terrible.Â It may be the one thing with the “Bill & Ted” name that is just horrendous. I remember seeing some episodes that were played for straight drama.Â
I do not have the action figures, but yes, I am a fan.Â The movies are brilliant and funny and so original.Â As a screenwriter, they’ve certainly been an inspiration.Â I certainly hope the movies I make are half as fun as either “Bill & Ted.”
Ryan North: I remember seeing the movies in theatre and my brother and I talking like Bill and Ted for weeks — months? — afterwards.Â This was before commercial internet, remember, so a lot of what we thought the world was like came through movies.Â I truly believed that somewhere in California everyone talked like Bill and Ted and being Bill and Ted was a viable way to live your life.Â I don’t know why I said “believed” there, I believe it still.
Incidentally, I’d rewatched “Excellent Adventure” just recently because of the “Whoa: The Films of Keanu Reeves” film festival in Toronto — I am not making this up — so I was super-primed for this project.
More recently, how did you each first hear about BOOM! bringing Bill & Ted back through the comics and how did you get involved?
Lynch: BOOM! asked if I wanted to write a back-up story, and I said, “Wow, I am finishing up the ‘Minions’ movie but I can’t say no, I love these characters.”Â I said yes, and then they sent an email saying, “Great, how about writing the main series too?” which was ten times the work. But come on, it might be my one chance to write these guys. I wasn’t gonna say no.Â So during the day, I write movies, play with my 20 month old son Henry when I’m done, and when he falls asleep I write “Bill & Ted.” I am not sleeping, but sleep is boring anyway.
North: I had a similar experience. I had a full plate writing “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” for Marvel, but when the e-mail from BOOM! arrived it was like, “Okay, one: these are my friends asking and two, how can I say ‘No’ to Bill and Ted?”Â I could not.Â I spent the next several days thinking of the different things that could happen to these characters when I was superficially doing other things, like eating, or sharing quiet moments with friends.
Brian, the main story deals with our heroes trying to get “Bogus Journey” villain Chuck De Nomolos to relax before he turns into the villain of the sequel. What’s their plan for accomplishing that?
Lynch: They encounter him while he’s still a teenager.Â Basically he’s the one guy in the universe that doesn’t like them, and they have no idea why.Â They’ve barely met him.Â So when they do meet, they see this little kid who’s out of sync with the rest of the world and set about trying to make him happy.Â Not just because they don’t want him to grow hating them, but because they’re good guys and they don’t like seeing this sad little teenager.Â The future is a very happy place. It’s inspired by Bill and Ted’s music.Â Everyone’s happy and low key and enjoying life, and Chuck De Nomolos is literally the only one not enjoying that. But by the time they’re done, he will be.Â Hopefully.Â Or it could go very very wrong and they’ll make a big mess and have to fix it, which will be fun too.
North: [Laughs] This is my first time hearing what Brian has planned, and I love it.Â Excellent work, Brian!
Ryan, it sounds like your story is its own thing. What can you tell readers about it?
North: Oh, it’s off in its own area!Â My story takes place after the second film and is focused on the Good Robot Usses.Â I love that Bill and Ted have these robot duplicates just hanging out with them: how is that not everyone’s fantasy?Â But there’s a problem with the Robot Usses, and Bill and Ted entirely lack the expertise to fix them.Â So they travel through time, to the distant future of 2015.
Will Bill and Ted encounter any familiar faces in 2015 or will the Usses meet any other robots?
North: Well, their first order of business is to get the Good Robot Usses repaired, so they head into a computer repair store, fully confident that by 2015 “Robot Usses” will be routine in this distant future.Â They are surprised to discover that this is not the case — for some reason??
No other robots, but if I had more pages there would have been so many robots. So many.Â Good Robot Usses, Evil Robot Usses, Chaotic Neutral Robot Usses… the list goes on!
What kind of historical figures can readers expect to see in your stories? Did you have fun looking at those people from a comedic standpoint?
Lynch: Well, Bill and Ted spend some time in the future they help create, so when they return to San Dimas High, the school has access to the time traveling phone booths.Â So Einstein is a substitute teacher.Â They consult with some music legends at various points to get some guidance.Â There are multiple trips with the booth, not just to the past and the distant, distant future but to alternate realities where they have to put out some fires.
Time travel’s one of those tricky story conventions that can lead to headaches. Have those been a problem for either of you?
Lynch: I try not to worry about it.Â If Bill and Ted aren’t going to, I’m not going to.Â Basically Rufus is our Doc Brown.Â Doc Brown is really concerned with altering our timeline, not messing with what already has happened.Â Well, when we meet Rufus in “Excellent Adventure,” he’s literally trying to alter the timeline to save Bill and Ted. If the timeline can be changed for the greater good, they’re going to do it.Â But with this adventure, Rufus doesn’t want to hold their hand, it’s time for them to live their own lives, so they’re in charge…which means they’re going to make some mistakes.Â Some big, big mistakes that will have a ripple effect throughout history.
North: I had originally a different ending for my story that relied on a super big time travel headache — like what you see in the movies — but the difference is the films had two hours to set those up, and I only had a few pages.Â So it wasn’t working and we came up with another — and in retrospect way better — solution.Â But I’m sure both Brian and I have spent weeks in our youth thinking about time travel, so we’re ready for whatever rears its head.Â I spent eight months going through the novelization of “Back to the Future” page by pageÂ so I feel like I’ve earned my “thought about time travel in a deep way” merit badge.
Brian, how has it been working with Jerry Gaylord so far? What makes him the right artist for the job?
Lynch: When BOOM! told me Jerry was the artist on the book, I flipped.Â I am such a fan of Jerry.Â The minute I saw “Fanboys Vs. Zombies” I found Jerry on Twitter and followed him, immediately became a fan. There is such a joy and energy to his work.Â He has captured the essence of these guys and made them big bright comic book characters.Â It really is a perfect match.Â With this book, we needed someone that can do action, humor, sci-fi, historical moments, big sprawling futuristic landscapes, and Jerry can do it all.Â I am thrilled to be working with him.
Ryan, what’s your relationship like with Ia? You and he have both worked on “Adventure Time” comics, but did you ever work on the same ones?
North: Yeah, it’s great!Â I’d see him and Kate [Leth] work on “Bravest Warriors” and I was like, “Man, this Ian guy’s got friggin’ chops.”Â But we’d actually worked before on “Adventure Time,” just once!Â Issue #30 was our ‘zine special, where each character wrote their own minicomic, and Ian illustrated Lady Rainicorn’s story, called “Favourite Kissing Spot.” So we had a tiny one-page collaboration!
Anyway, I thought I should make it my business to work with him again, and then BOOM! made it happen and it’s been, dare I say, most excellent. My script’s not an easy one to draw, and Ian’s been making it look like the easiest thing in the world!
“Bill & Ted’s Most Triumphant Return” #1 will debut on March 11 from Brian Lynch, Ryan North, Jerry Gaylord, Ian McGinty and BOOM! Studios.
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