Faster than a speeding UPS truck. More powerful than DHL. Look, it's a bird, it's a plane - no, seriously look, because that's a delivery specialist from "The Couriers" about to cut into your lane! Many readers know the names Brian Wood and Rob G, the creators behind AiT/PlanetLar's"The Couriers" series of acclaimed graphic novels, and now those characters are coming to life in a big screen film. We spoke with Wood and Rob G about the film and they provided new readers with an introduction to the crazy world of "The Couriers."
"'The Couriers' is a near-future story set in NYC, about two couriers named Moustafa and Special. who first appeared in the pages of 'CousCous Express' back in 2001," Rob G Told CBR News. "They specialize in grey area deliveries, running things like corporate espionage intel, black market pharmaceuticals, large-cash transfers, etc. They appeared in their own title series of graphic novels starting in 2003."
Many events in the series were inspired by Wood's own experiences, something that's added layers of nuance and authenticity to the stories. "They came from my own experiences as a bike messenger in NYC, knowing full well that several of my co-workers were selling weed along with their other deliveries, and also me indulging fantasies of pulling out a weapon to kill all the drivers who would cut me off or otherwise endanger my life," elaborated Wood. "NYC is full of bike messengers, who are a pretty tight-knit community, that have their own slang, their own fashion, their own bars and gathering spots, and a strong 'us against the world' mentality that bonds them. As far as I was concerned, this was material over-ripe for a comics series."
Just as fans often meet their favorite creators for the first time at conventions, it was in San Francisco at the Alternative Press Expo (APE) when the two met in 2001. "Bri expressed interest in working with me on something in the future after seeing my art first in 'Teenagers from Mars,'" said Rob. "I was a fan of 'Channel Zero,' and knew Bri to be a very capable writer and when he presented the idea of 'The Couriers' to me. I was immediately onboard."
Wood added, "Rob and I shared a lot of the same cultural reference points, and we clicked pretty much immediately once we started talking about 'The Couriers.' If I recall, he was hired on a work-for-hire basis since this was a pre-existing property but when I saw how he made the characters his own and added so much to the larger story, I quickly lobbied to get him half ownership."
While the movie is in pre-production, fans of "The Couriers" would love to see more stories of their favorite delivery specialists, prompting Wood to explain, "I think we'd be foolish to not make more 'The Couriers' comics, but it wouldn't be for awhile, I think, because of how much we each already have on our schedules."
Sure, comic book adaptations into film seem to be all the rage these days, but there's one common element: they're mostly superhero films. For every "Road to Perdition" or "History of Violence," there's a handful of superhero films and it makes "The Couriers'" ascension into Hollywood even more impressive. When asked how it happened, Rob G said, "It does seem like a long time coming, I'll admit. Our agent/manager Ken Levin has really put in a lot of work to get this deal to come together. He realized the potential of this property very early on and was very selective in looking for the right people to bring it to, rather than wasting the rights on a company that would either do a poor job adapting it or not have the ambition to see it through or both. We're all very pleased with Intrepid and Kickstart and have the utmost faith that they will turn it into a great film."
For those not in the know, even when a film has been optioned, as is the case of "The Couriers," the production can move at a glacial place. Both creators admitted that it's "impossible" to say when the film will actually arrive in theaters. Rob G said, "IMDB.com has a release date of 2009, but this seems rather arbitrary, unless they have an 'in' with someone with more info about the project than me, which is very possible."
Adapting the "Couriers" mythos into a workable script is Javier Grillo-Marxuach , known for his work on television's "Lost" and "Medium," as well as his comic book work on "The Middleman" and Marvel's "Annihilation" event. "I think Bri and Javi have had more of a back forth than I have," admitted Rob G. "I have spoken with him over e-mail, he seems like a really nice guy, also does incredible work for TV. He of course didn't want to really go into detail about how he was working out the script, but he said he wanted to keep it as true to the graphic novel as he could.
"I would like to see a movie that is faithful to the comics of course, but by that I don't mean that every little thing has to be exactly like the book, a la 'Sin City.' I actually like when a film has its own take on a book, the way 'Akira' and 'Ghost World' are very much like the books they are based on but still a bit different. For 'The Couriers,' I would want it to be true to the book in terms of who the characters are, what they are about, and what they do. And keeping with the overall theme of absurdist comedic violence action."
Wood couldn't agree more. "Not messing about with who the characters are is the most important thing for me," he said. "The books themselves were written to be takes on the sort of action movies I was enjoying way back when, pulpy Hong Kong and Luc Besson-produced French flicks, so I think it would make the most sense to keep a 'The Couriers' film within that framework. Taking something like that too seriously kinda ruins it."
Finally, CBR News invited Brian Wood and Rob G to share their dream casting choices with readers, something they were both happy to do. "Personally I'd like to go with some unknowns," said Rob G. "But failing that…
"Moustafa - Sammy Sheik ('24,' 'Looking for Comedy in a Muslim World') although he may be too old.
"Special - Amanda Seyfried ('Mean Girls,' 'Alpha Dog').
"Olive - My original pick was Michelle Rodriguez, but she might be a bit too old at this point."
And Wood chose, "Moustafa - Kal Penn ('Harold and Kumar'), has the exact level of goofball charm to play Moustafa.
"Special - Rob's choice is good. A few years ago I would have said Scarlett Johannsson, but she might be too famous now.
"Olive - assuming she has a large role, Bollywood actress Neetu Chandra, who is something of a martial arts expert."
CBR's Arune Singh contributed to this story.
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