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Thomas Jane & Steve Niles talk “Bad Planet” & Raw Entertainment

by  in Comic News Comment
Thomas Jane & Steve Niles talk “Bad Planet” & Raw Entertainment

With the announcement Tuesday that the Thomas Jane/Steve Niles project “Bad Planet” will be published by Image Comics this December, a number of questions were left unanswered. For one, it was the first anyone’s heard of Jane & Niles’ new production company Raw Entertainment. Second, “Bad Planet” was announced one year ago and has since changed artists as well as a publisher. CBR News tracked down Jane & Niles to get the skinny on what they’ve got planned.

“Raw Entertainment is Tom and I working together to make medium budget genre movies, starting with a lot of material that I’ll originate as well as stuff we’ll be looking for,” Steve Niles told CBR News by phone Wednesday afternoon. “It’s sort of what I couldn’t do with Creep Entertainment. Creep really was a thing that just me and Rob Zombie were doing. We weren’t looking for submissions. With Raw, on the other hand, we’re looking for submissions. We joke that we want to be the next AIP [the famed horror production company]. We want to be the one to put out some smart, fun horror films, some noir stuff, a biker movie, ya know, a little bit of everything.”

“Basically, Steve makes me want to be a better man. So we decided to form a production company,” Thomas Jane told CBR News by phone Tuesday evening. “Together we are stronger than we are individually. We’re going to be making independent horror science fiction and detective movies. All kinds of stuff like that.”

Jane explained that when the two of them went around Hollywood pitching projects there was a lot of interest in what they had to offer. So much so that Raw Entertainment is already in advance negotiations with a major independent film studio, an announcement of which is expected next week. “Hollywood’s not in the business of giving first look deals anymore, so we feel pretty honored,” explained Jane.

As Niles explained, Raw Entertainment is a different beast compared to his other production company with Rob Zombie, Creep Entertainment. With Creep, all the work originates with either Niles or Zombie. With Raw, Jane and Niles are actively looking for properties to produce and have already begun that process. That doesn’t mean that Raw and Creep might not find themselves working together someday. “There might be some overlap, but it really depends on Rob’s availability,” explained Niles. “We’d love to do something with ‘The Nail,’ which is the perfect example of the kind of movie we’d like to do.

Steve Niles and Thomas Jane at Comic-Con International 2004.

“There’s stuff we’re going to seek out, like things other creators are doing that we’d like to see made into a movie,” continued Niles. “I’ll finally be able to do that kind of stuff. So now I can be one of those guys walking around San Diego with his business card. (laughs)”

Raw Entertainment’s first project will be “Bad Planet” at Image Comics (under the banner RAW Studios) and, in addition to the movie plans they’re already working on, there will be more comics to come in the future. “Tom’s got such obvious entertainment connections and we’ll be pursuing that, but we’ll be doing a lot of comics as well,” said Niles. “We’ve got quite a few things planned. Right now we’ve got ‘Bad Planet’ and this other thing called ‘Alien Pig Farm 3000,'” said Niles. “Alien Pig Farm 3000” is written by screenwriter Todd Farmer and artist Chee has been working on painted samples. At the moment the book isn’t set-up at a publisher. “It’s rednecks versus aliens.” added Niles. “I don’t care what the comic’s about, I just want to release that title!”

Niles noted that one of the projects he’s already got in production with publisher Boom! Studios, “In The Blood,” a story about a young werewolf, is another good example of something that may end up being developed as a Raw Entertainment project.

Moving on to “Bad Planet,” a lot has changed since we last spoke with Jane about the book in November of 2004, most notably the art team and publisher. We asked Jane why the book has moved from IDW Publishing to Image Comics. “It all comes down to quality,” explained Jane. “The kind of books that turn me on are the books with just exceptional quality. As I got into what we wanted to do I found that IDW, as is true with most publishing companies that aren’t Marvel or DC, are working with a limited budget, so they only have a certain amount of money for covers, for an inker, colorists, etc. I found that Image gave me the opportunity to go after the kind of artists that would help elevate the material to where it wanted to be. Bernie Wrightson’s signed on to do a cover for us and we’re going to announce a bunch of other fantastic cover artists as well. Basically, Image just offered us a better opportunity.”

Originally art for “Bad Planet” was to be supplied by Australian artist Chris Bolton, but Jane says scheduling issues kept them from being able to work together. In steps penciler Lewis Larosa, who’ll be inked by Tim Bradstreet. “Bradstreet turned us on to Larosa,” explained Jane. “I’d been a fan of Lewis before through ‘Punisher.’ I called him up, I pitched him the thing and he signed on right away. He’s the kind of artist that other artists like Wrightson, Stout, Stevens…those guys see Larosa’s work and say, ‘Shit, man, that’s real cool.’ He’s the kind of guy who’s dynamite today, and who knows how to stand on the shoulders of the old school giants.”

“Lewis Larosa is fantastic and with Tim Bradstreet inking, (and Grant Goleash coloring) this just totally kicks ass,” added Niles. “It’s a really rock solid team with a really fun story. At first glance it might look like another alien invasion story, but it’s much more than that. Trust me; this is not another War of the Worlds story.”

One might expect that with all this time that’s gone by there may have been some changes to story in “Bad Planet,” but Jane says although it’s grown and evolved a bit, it’s pretty much the same book he described to us back in November about two objects that hit the planet Earth, inside of which are thousands of spider like predatory alien creatures that start eating everything in sight. “We had a pretty solid story from the start,” said Jane. “What happens when you write a book is that characters present themselves in different ways than I’d imagined and back stories start to come to light in ways that are more cohesive. It’s kind of like spelunking– the deeper you get into the cave the more you discover. I know what cave I’m in, I know the story I’m telling, it’s just a matter of exploring different stuff. What’s really happened is I’ve discovered this story is a lot bigger and deeper than I originally thought and I think I’m going to have to do another six issues after the initial six is over. Possibly another six after that because the story is just really rich.”

Jane say’s he’s deliberately forestalled the released date on “Bad Planet” so that he can get the best out of his artists. “One thing I’ve discovered as I’ve been taking baby steps into publishing is that everyone’s always under the gun and has a commitment to come in just under the wire,” said Jane. “That forces writers and artists to adhere to a deadline which might mean they’ll fall back on old tricks to get them through it. So, by giving artists a little breathing room, they’re able to really bring the best of themselves to the work, which means they start to fall in love with it themselves, giving it their best stuff. Even so, it seems like we’re always rushing the wire.”

We asked Niles to describe what writing with Jane is like. Me and Tom writing together is like a food fight. That’s the best way I can say it. Me and Rob, we pass scripts back and forth. Me and Tom, we throw them at each other. There’s a really great energy there.” But do they write together at the same location, or from the comfort of their respective homes? “Tom wants to sit and hold my hand as I write, but I said ‘No!’ We do it all over the Internet.”

In addition to writing the comic, Jane also spent some time crafting a trailer for the book on his Web site, which he put together using iMovie and Final Cut Pro. “I’m always looking for ways to elevate the material,” explained Jane. “I come from a movie background so I thought, ‘Shit, man, I’ve never seen a live-action trailer for a comic book.’ So, I thought, what the fuck, I’ll do it. It’s a sci-fi story and it exists in the real would as if it could happen tomorrow. These things would come crashing down, crack open and there’d be fucking spiders everywhere. I mean, conceivably it could happen!”

When CBR News pointed out that we hope it doesn’t happen, Jane quickly snapped back, “Let’s hope it does! I’ve been waiting for these sons-a-bitches all my life!”

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