Couldn’t make it to the Nerdist Industries Live! panel at C2E2? Well, we’re not saying you missed history in the making (you did), but you missed one hell of an announcement from Legendary Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Schreck: DC Comics Co-Publisher and artist extraordinaire Jim Lee will be lending his considerable talents to the cover of Legendary’s first original series Tower Chronicles this September. Luckily for those of you who can’t apparate into the con floor, we have a preview of the cover and an exclusive interview with Bob Schreck to tide you over until September.
Nerdist: Congratulations on the announcement. Legendary Comics made waves last year with the release of Frank Miller’s much-awaited Holy Terror and this news is sure to create a seismic shock in the comics community.
Bob Schreck: Basically, we’re very very happy to announce that the first cover for our Tower Chronicles is going to be illustrated by none other than Jim Lee along with his usual team of Scott William on inks and Adam Sinclair on color. Tower Chronicles is a brand new IP, a brand new story created by Legendary CEO Thomas Tull and world-built, developed, whatever term you’d like to use, with Matt Wagner, creator/writer of Mage and Grendel.
N: Matt Wagner is something of a cult hero among comic book fans. What led you and Thomas Tull to bring Matt on as the writer?
BS: When I began working with Thomas, he was looking to work with some seasoned professionals in the comics biz to help him and see the project to fruition. He contacted me and asked for someone who was going to challenge him, someone who was going to bring in a lot of fire and energy and I immediately thought, “Oh, Matt Wagner!” Matt Wagner and I have been working on-and-off since the late 70’s. We were actually brothers-in-law for a little bit there.
N: Oh, really?
BS: Yeah, my wife at the time was his wife’s sister, Diana Schutz, the editor at Dark Horse Comics. Anyway, the Jim Lee cover… how could we not be excited about that? Warner Bros., the parent company for DC Entertainment, of course, has had a great relationship with Thomas and Legendary through the films they’ve worked together on bringing to the screen. I, personally, haven’t worked with Jim Lee since 2003 when we did Batman: Hush with Jeph Loeb, which was a really big success. Basically, the concept is that there’s a supernatural bounty hunter called John Tower who’s very picky and choosy about who he takes on as a client. He helps them with their supernatural dilemmas and problems. Things that cannot be explained are making their lives a living nightmare, and they reach out to him to find out how to stop it.
N: Is John Tower a bounty hunter more in the vein of Lobo? Or is he more stoic, like a Boba Fett-type. We know you have former Lobo and 2000 A.D. artist Simon Bisley on-board, so we’re curious as to the tone the book will have.
BS: He’s a pretty buff guy, but he’s pretty stoic and far more serious. Not as over the top as Lobo. There’s nothing wrong with Lobo, but…
N: We know what you mean. There’s a time and a place.
BS: [laughs] Right. It’s a very grim world that he walks in where he’s got to figure out all these bizarre happenings and piece it all together. There’s a lot of supernatural forensic crime-solving.
N: We’ve heard the series described as a “supernatural bounty hunter in the vein of the Bourne trilogy.” In the current media landscape, the supernatural is very much in vogue with everything from The Walking Dead to Grimm to Snow White and the Huntsman coming out. What is it about Tower Chronicles that excites you and will make it stand out in the frield?
BS: Well, that’s one part of the background that we don’t want to reveal ahead of time, but let’s just say there’s a lot more to him. He’s on his own quest. While helping others, he’s also trying to help himself. He’s got his own mission that allows him to fill in the blanks on other scenarios, but underlying all of that is his personal quest.
N: As we mentioned before, Simon Bisley will be handling the interiors. His prior work on titles like Lobo, Doom Patrol, and 2000 A.D. had such a dark, iconic look to it. Is that what led you to go with him?
BS: Yeah, he was perfect. I had worked with him once way back when we put out Bad Boy when I was at Oni Press. When I was at Vertigo, my assistant Brandon brought up his name because he hadn’t done much mainstream work for a while, so we brought him to Constantine and he knocked it out of the park. He’s such a phenomenal storyteller and artist. He’s being joined by Robbie Ramos inking and Ryan Brown coloring him, and the combination, especially the way Ryan is coloring the book, is very much like looking at something that Simon had painted himself. It’s just beautiful. And, yeah, it’s a supernatural bounty hunter story, so there aren’t a whole lot of bright blue, wonderful, sunny days. [laughs] It’s more night-time crawling around.
N: From what we know about the Tower Chronicle series so far, it seems like it’s just begging to be made into a film. Is that the ultimate goal, or is the objective to make a solid IP that stands on its own as as piece of comic work and if it happens to be made into a film, then so be it?
BS: Basically you’ve got it right. My job is to make sure that wherever we go with Legendary in the comic book line, it stands four-square strong on its own and is perfect for the comic book medium. If Legendary Pictures were to say, “Hey, this is something that we really see translating over to film or television,” then that’s a decision they make, and then it gets green-lit and away they go. First and foremost, Thomas is a comic book fan and he wants a line of comics that stands strong on their own.
N: As evidenced by your work at Oni Press, you’re no stranger to building a publishing company from the ground up. You’ve also worked heavyweight companies like DC. Can you speak to the process of what it’s been like building a new publishing operation at Legendary? Has working with a large company like Legendary made it easier or more difficult?
BS: Well, it’s been a learning curve for both sides. Having been doing this for as long as I have, some things have been relatively easy – one phone call is all it takes in some cases. It’s been a good run so far. Thomas is committed to this one thousand percent and we’ve got a good crew of people standing ready and getting the promotions and printing – basically every aspect of what goes into making publishing happen. We’ve got a really solid crew. The glitch that we had was we started with the Frank Miller book [Holy Terror]; it takes time to percolate another book after Holy Terror’s release. That’s why we’re going to be launching our stuff later this year.
N: The first volume of Tower Chronicles debuts in September. Is this going to be part one of the entire trilogy or part of the first iteration of the trilogy?
BS: It’s the first of four 72-page books that make up the first arc of the trilogy. It’ll be released bi-monthly starting in September and once it’s done, the reader will have had a really good meal. There’s a real good story arc there. Of course, the story will continue in the next two arcs.
N: Apart from Jim Lee, we understand you have some real A-list talent lined up to draw covers for you. Any other names you can share with us?
BS: I wish I could; it’s going to be difficult to top Jim Lee, but if we don’t top him I think we’re going to be able to look across and say, okay, the next cover’s pretty darn good too. Jim’s just a phenomenal talent and having been able to work with him all over these years and considering how easy it was to get him on board for this, it’s just been a real joy to have him do our first cover.
N: Apart from Tower Chronicles, are there any other projects from Legendary Comics that we can expect?
BS: That’s basically it. We’ve already announced PULPHOPE, the Paul Pope art book. It should be coming out somewhere around the fourth quarter of this year – either November or December. It’s a beautiful book – 98 pages are reprinted and have never been colored before. They’re colored by Jamie Grant and Dom Regan. Jamie did the All-Star Superman color, which was just phenomenal. There’s also a pile of stuff there that Paul Pope has – originally for Kodansha – that has never been released in Japan or here in the States.
N: Most recently, you penned Jurassic Park: Redemption for IDW Publishing. Is there any chance that we’ll see a Bob Schreck-helmed title for Legendary?
BS: You never know, but right now I’m very busy making sure that this line is rock solid. I’m in a lot of meetings and negotiations right now. It was a fun run; I learned more doing that than I care to remember right now, actually. [laughs] It was a crazy run and it certainly informed my job as an editor a whole lot.
N: You must be buried in comics yourself. What are you reading and enjoying right now?
BS: Oh, boy…enjoying comics…I have a very small list that I’m reading. Let’s just say anything that comes out by Jeff Lemire or Craig Thompson – it’s not so much comics, it’s the comic book creators that I follow. If Matt Wagner or Ed Brubaker does something…there’s just so much out there now. Brandon Seifert, he’s a new kid on the block doing Witch Doctor. I’m constantly sampling stuff because I have to, but I run to certain projects. Renee French is a person who I just adore; anytime she puts out a new project, I just run and get it. She’s an insanely good illustrator.
N: One last question: any chance that we could get a Mage or Grendel movie from Legendary?
BS: Well, I think they’re actually tied up with other film studios at the moment. I think Matt has them already tied up. But, since I’ve been associated with Matt for as long as I have, if they come free, you know I’ll be raising my hand.
Without further ado, here’s the Jim Lee cover for Tower Chronicles #1. Ain’t she a beaut?
Tower Chronicles #1 featuring cover art by Jim Lee comes out in September from Legendary Comics. For more information, please visit their website.