Word went around Comic-Con last summer that Ray Harryhausen’s imagination was going to hit comics, riding a wave of renewed interest in the master’s work. The company that won his heart was one out of Washington state, but not exactly an unknown upstart. For years, the people of Blue Water Comics have been creating titles that you may have some familiarity with: The 10th Muse (which had alternate models between the WWF’s Sable and internet queen Cindy Margolis), The Legend of Isis and Judo Girl. Most recently, those had come out from the Alias imprint, which made a big splash then fell apart.
But you can’t keep a good company down. After the release of their first Harryhausen book, Wrath of the Titans, I sent some questions up to their office. Here are the answers from the Blue Water bullpen, Darren G. Davis President, writer, creator, Scott Davis, Writer, Nadir Balan, Art Director, pencils, Joey Campos, Colorist, Alex Garcia, pencils “20 Million Miles More”
Derek McCaw: How did this project come about?
DARREN G. DAVIS: I met Ray at a signing that he was doing up in Bellingham WA for his new book. Since he was a major influence for me in creating comics from myths, I gave him a couple graphic novels on “Isis” and “10th Muse”. I spoke with his manager Arnold Kunert and asked them if they ever thought about doing comics – and he told me to send him a proposal. Within two weeks we had artwork and stories for Wrath of the Titans and Sinbad. They signed the contracts right after that.
Derek McCaw: Did you have any concerns about Ray Harryhausen’s work and ideas connecting with new fans?
NADIR BALAN: It connected with people before and now since it is a new generation we thought that it was time to bring the tale of Persues to a new audience. We were more concerned about the pre-conceived noticions of what we were gong to do with the tale as far as taking it out of Ray’s original vision. Hopefully, fans of the movie and new readers will get the same love that we got out of doing it.
DARREN G. DAVIS: We are paying an homage to his work. We want people who loved his films to look at what we are doing as new stories. Both Bluewater and Arnold Kunert never wanted to do adaptations of the films. I wanted to take the characters that Ray created and give them a new adventure.
JOEY CAMPOS: ..a good story is a good story. Greek Mythology has survived for thousands of years because the stories are great. Ray’s take on them was responsible for bringing interest to a whole new generation…which I feel these new books will do as well. Especially if they were ever to be optioned into films.
SCOTT DAVIS: One of the hallmarks of a Harryhausen film is that the subject matter is timeless; they are stories for the ages, so translating them into a different medium and making sure they resonate with new fans wasn’t overly difficult. Just like Batman, who was created in the ’30s, still resonates today, Harryhausen’s creations have a similar quality.
When you boil down the concepts you find that it’s good against evil, the hero’s quest, the search for meaning, the exploration of the unknown; these concepts will always connect with any audience.
Derek McCaw: How much influence are you letting the original films have? Or do you feel free to explore the subject matter in your own way?
NADIR BALAN: The world of Ray Harryhausen and the characters in general are found in our new tales as they are in our new work, however specific details and likenesses are our concern and specific details were not taken from the movies.
DARREN G. DAVIS: The movies are just a spring board to what we are doing with the comics. We have a lot of freedom to explore new territory, but the important thing is to keep the vision of what Ray has created. We are staying in a PG world with these titles. I want kids to pick up these books and then ask thier parents to rent the classics.
JOEY CAMPOS: I have a lot of the films for reference when it comes to the colors of the characters and environments.
SCOTT DAVIS: The original films serve as a template. In the scope of Wrath of the Titans you have established characters who are known to have certain personalities. We take these characters and simply place them in new and exciting situations and therefore, they become more defined.
In a book like 20 Million Miles More, the situation of an alien rampage serves more as a backdrop for future events as this book takes place 50 years after the events in the movie. Another example is through Harryhausen’s films we know that Sinbad can’t fly (at least without a magic carpet or supernatural aid), so therefore Sinbad won’t fly in the books. We are creating new adventures in Ray’s established universe. ALEX GARCIA: As for the Ymir I was given some freedom to draw it so I tried my best for make it look cool and not too different from the original and I hope old and new fans like it.
Derek McCaw: Why start with Wrath of the Titans? Do you plan to continue with Perseus as long as it can go, or do you really see this as a finite project?
DARREN G. DAVIS: Since I was a kid I have loved Greek mythology. The story of Perseus was one of my favorite adventures. When they made Clash of the Titans, I was so amazed by it. I loved it more than Star Wars (which I know is not very PC to say). So there was really no question which I wanted to start with. Go with the big guns!
SCOTT DAVIS: Wrath is first because it was one of Harryhausen’s three best known works (along with Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts). From a production perspective, because it was Darren’s personal favorite, he solicited the creative team, myself included, for that project early on.
Derek McCaw: How much hands-on participation does Harryhausen have? Are there moments you just stop and think, wow, this is Ray Harryhausen?
NADIR BALAN: Yes of course working with Ray is a good experience and it is a honor to to have him not only helping us create the property but approving my artwork.
DARREN G. DAVIS: Ray Harryausen and Arnold Kunert have to sign off on all the artwork and stories. We also make sure to give them the final okay on the book. Arnold is a really good copy editor as well! We are also using Ray’s original artwork on the cover of “20 Million Miles More” and you will find more of his original stuff inside all the books.
The moment for me was sitting at comic con and doing a signing with Ray. I was thinking how cool it was to be sitting next to one of the people that was my inspiration. Sitting there with him for a couple hours was amazing and he is such a nice and humble man.
SCOTT DAVIS: Ray has final say on all scripts and story lines. One of the most gratifying moments was when I met Ray face to face last year and he told me “I like what you did with the Ymir.” How cool was that? Here’s a guy, a virtual legend in the SF&F genre, who has read my script and says this passes muster. Without Harryhausen there is no Lord of the Rings movies, no Pirates of the Caribbean…it’s an honor to be part of his legacy.
ALEX GARCIA: I remember watching Clash of the Titans or Sinbad when I was a kid, but in that time I didn’t read the credits of the movies (laughs). When I was told about the gig I searched a little information on the internet about the movies and Harryhausen and I was surprised to see who he was and the movies he had worked on. I really loved those movies when I was a kid
Derek McCaw: Why the decision to go colors directly over pencils?
NADIR BALAN: This style lends itself to more of a fantasyland type of book and the old style movies. Inks are always specific; with this style we can be more ethereal.
DARREN G. DAVIS: I have become a fan of this style for some of the books we’re doing. I know that my friend and Art Director Matt Wieman kills me for not using inkers as much as I should – because he is an inker as well. I love how the book came out. Joey and Nadir make a great team on the book. Toss in Chris Studabaker who letters and it really is perfect!
JOEY CAMPOS: On Wrath– I guess it’s because it gives it a more painterly style..kind of like the new CONAN stuff, which I feel works well for a classic story like WRATH.
Derek McCaw: What are some of the other Ray Harryhausen projects you have lined up? You’ve included some concept sketches so…will we see those developed?
DARREN G. DAVIS: We are launching Sinbad, Rogue of Mars in September. We are also doing Jason and the Argonauts: Kingdom of Hades, Back to Mysterious Island, and a traditonal Sinbad story. We are also talking with Arnold about moving forward with some new properties. They are going to be really a cool part of the Ray Harryhausen Presents line. Scott has already mentioned 20 Million Miles More which is going to be on the DVD re-release of the original film in July.
SCOTT DAVIS: Bluewater will be producing multiple waves of Harryhausen-related projects for the foreseeable future. At our current size and rate of production, we can produce 5-6 mini-series events per year. This year starts off with Wrath, 20 Million Miles More, Sinbad Rogue of Mars and Jason and the Argonauts: Kingdom of Hades. Hot on those heels, probably starting in early 2008 you can expect new productions of Mysterious Island, a Wrath of the Titans sequel, a traditional Sinbad adventure and another surprise or two.
Ray has quite the catalog of fascinating titles from the dinosaur-cowboy epic Gwangii to Earth vs the Flying Saucers and dozens of unrealized projects. And pen-willing, each could eventually find its way to your local comic shop.
Derek McCaw: You’ve also got the Legend of Isis coming, so Blue Water is about more than just paying tribute to a creative master. Is this the same Isis that came out of Alias (is that the right publisher?) a couple of years ago?
DARREN G. DAVIS: Legend of of Isis was the 1st comic I ever wrote and the 2nd one I created after the 10th Muse. I love this character a lot and she will always be a part of the Blue Water line. We published Isis as part of the Image Introduces line at Image Comics, then over at Alias we did 10 issues.
SCOTT DAVIS: Over the past seven years, Bluewater has developed a reputation of putting out quality books. The Ray Harryhausen Presents line is just another in what we hope are a long line of successes. Bluewater will continue to develop new and interesting projects from a variety of genres.
Derek McCaw: What else does Blue Water have lined up?
DARREN G. DAVIS: We are launching a sci-fi line in 2008. We have just signed a deal with Legend Films to develop PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, Missile to the Moon and She. We also are bringing back the 10th Muse, Judo Girl, Blackbeard Legacy. As part of the tradional Bluewater line we are also putting together a couple of new stories, NINTH ORDER, KID GLOVES, GEARZ, INSANE JANE and WATERBURY. There will also be some more from Ray Harryhausen!