Today sees the release of Justice League Dark Blu-Ray, the R-rated animated movie from Warner Bros Home Entertainment starring Matt Ryan as Constantine, Jason O’Mara as Batman, Camilla Luddington as Zatanna, Nicholas Turturro as Deadman, Ray Chase as The Demon Etrigan, Roger Cross as Swamp Thing, Enrico Colantoni as Felix Faust, Jeremy Davies as Ritchie, …
Kevin Tanski is a police officer, martial artist, former pro-wrestler, and now an action star.
Tanski talks how his experience being on the set with Christopher Nolan and The Dark Knight Rises motivated him to go after his dreams. He tells us about his major roles in Call Of Duty Undead and Ride the Wanted Trail as well as filling us in on new projects and future plans.
Cosmic Book News: The last time we spoke, you just finished filming on The Dark Knight Rises. Can you give us a quick recap on your thoughts and experience about being on the set in NYC?
Kevin Tanski: It was life-changing; literally. It was my introduction to the wonderful world of film making, and it was the catalyst that made me want to continue to pursue the business. I had became interested at the idea of acting after watching a lot of behind-the-scene video of movies being filmed. I am watching these actors, who seemed larger than life, having such a great time – laughing, messing up lines etc. – just being normal people. I was like, “Man, maybe I can do that!”
When I walked out on The Dark Knight Rises set it was exactly like I imagined it would be. The scenes I was a part of were mainly filmed in NYC on Wall St.; however, when I walked out there, it was now Gotham City. The first thing I saw when stepping out was one of the camouflage tumblers that the mercenaries drove in the movie. I can remember getting right up next to it and just staring. Whoever was sitting in it must have had a good laugh because when he fired up that thing I must have jumped a mile. That sucker was loud! Meanwhile, you had crew creating fake snow and standing around spinning these buckets which were creating fog. It was incredible, and right then and there, I knew I was hooked!
Cosmic Book News: From there, you landed a major role in the Call of Duty Undead movie. Can you tell us how that came about?
Kevin Tanski: Well, as I stated before after my Dark Knight Rises experience, I knew I was hooked, and I wanted more. As soon as I left that set I was already mentally preparing steps I was going to take to try to learn as much as I could about the business. I wanted to know its ups and downs, and what it would take to get rolling. As I was reading every book I could get my hands on about acting and auditioning, as well as attending acting class, I started looking to popular websites for casting calls. I came across the casting call for Call of Duty Undead. There were audition dates listed that I was not able to make, I actually think one of them had passed already. So I responded to the call anyway and spoke directly to the director, Aleksandar Ivicic (editor’s note: catch an interview with Aleks here). He was willing to let me submit a video audition and provided me two scenes in which to use.
I called up a buddy of mine, Andrew Streit, who also was eventually cast in a featured role later on, in which I get to punch him in the face! That was pretty awesome. Together we managed to try to figure out the best way we thought to do this as we were definitely on a time crunch. At that time, I wasn’t quite familiar with how the process for a video audition is normally expected to be done; so what we did is act out the scenes similar to how I anticipated it would be filmed.
I feel that unique submission helped me stand out a bit from others, as I think I may have been lucky in providing the director something similar to what he may have already been envisioning. After Aleks reviewed the scenes, it wasn’t long after that he called me up and said that he loved it, and he had to check with others involved, but as far as he was concerned the role was mine. And here we are, two years later finally seeing the film come to fruition, and now I am being interviewed by Cosmic Book News!
Cosmic Book News: Can you tell us about your character in Call of Duty Undead?
Kevin Tanski: Ahhh, yes. Keith Watzel [laughs]. Keith Watzel is a combat specialist, and part of an elite team known as the Alpha Squad. Keith specializes in two things, kicking butt and impressing the ladies, or so he thinks. It took me quite a while to realize exactly how I was going to portray this character. Thankfully, Aleks gave me a lot of room to play around with the personality. Sure there were general parameters and character traits that were given to me on how Watzel was to be portrayed, but Aleks really allowed me to fill in the gaps. As the filming of the movie progressed, it was becoming more and more clear who this guy Keith Watzel was.
I mean you can read script over and over in different ways and different tones and different speeds and have an idea on how you think you are going to do the lines, but at least for me, it wasn’t until the camera was rolling and all things were in place that my acting choices were made. I really attempt to stay in the moment and not even think about my next line. It helps me when I really listen to who is opposite of me and respond accordingly. This was such an amazing cast to work with and so much fun. We often found ourselves utilizing quite a bit of improvisation on many of the takes to provide choices later on for the post-editing crew. In fact, Aleks, who also wrote the Call of Duty Undead script, was extremely generous in letting me alter his work with improvisation. If I was to sum up Watzel though, I would say he is Stiffler meets Rambo [laughs].
Cosmic Book News: You are going to be featured in a second movie directed by Aleksandar Ivicic. What can you tell us about that?
Kevin Tanski: At this point, I cannot share a lot about the plot itself, other then it brings in some strong political opinions and some emotional intensity. I was excited when Aleks contacted me about it. I feel it will not only give me a chance to explore my emotional range as an actor, but also gives me another opportunity to work with Aleks. I tell you what, working with Aleksandar Ivicic has been such an awesome experience. I feel like being forced to “grow up” together in this business, as quickly as we had to, has helped create a bond in which we almost knew what the other was thinking. As filming progressed, I found that Aleks was asking my opinion more and more on how I thought a scene was playing out. He was extremely open to any tweaks or suggestions I might have, which is a refreshing attitude to take, as it really seemed to bolster creativity and reinforced passion for wanting to put out the most entertaining film we possibly can. To demonstrate the kind of passion and desire Aleks has for bringing his vision to life, here is a little story:
We were out filming in a huge abandoned factory and Aleks must have been allergic to something he touched or rubbed into his eye. I can remember as the day was progressing that eye was getting more and more red. I kept asking him if he was okay, and he just sternly said, “I am alright. Don’t worry about it.” It was a long day of filming, and we still had another location to go to. By the time we resumed filming at the second location, his eye had swelled shut! I was like, “Aleks how can you continue?” He stated that these shots were very important, and they needed to be filmed in a certain way. Aleks finished out the shoot and immediately went to the emergency room. I can’t recall exactly what had happened, but I believe something got into his eye, and he did not have vision for the following few weeks. The doctor told him that if he would have ignored that any longer, he may have lost vision in that eye completely.
Now that is dedication, and certainly somebody whom I am more than happy to team up with for future projects!
Cosmic Book News: Your IMDb page also lists you as having a role in Ride The Wanted Trail, a Rick Groat film. Tell us about that.
Kevin Tanski: Ride the Wanted Trail is going to be a good old-fashioned shoot ’em up Western. I will be portraying a bounty hunter/killer named Sam Hook, who lets just say enjoys his work maybe a little too much. This film is going to be fantastic, and I am very much looking forward to being a part of it. It is presently in the pre-production phase.
You know, I am really fortunate. Rick Groat is another fantastic director to work with who prides himself very much on putting out a top notch product that people will truly enjoy, no matter how long it will take. So many directors, especially in the Independent film world I have noticed, seem to almost rush out as many projects as possible. When that happens, I feel the quality of the film really suffers.
Cosmic Book News: You have been featured as a police officer in The Dark Knight Rises, a member of a Black Ops team in Call of Duty Undead and a cowboy in Ride The Wanted Trailer. So we take it you like action movies?
Kevin Tanski: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I certainly love acting in action movies, that’s for sure. Like many other children growing up, I loved to run around and do fake fighting with my friends, family and siblings. I am sure I have a few younger cousins out there who can vouch for that! I had many heroes in cinema growing up. Arnold, Stallone, Chuck Norris to name a few. I idolized these guys and how badass they were. I think it’s pretty fair to say that movies started shaping me from a very early age. Those action flicks made me want to learn how to do martial arts and lift weights and get strong enough to beat the bad guys and save the girl [laughs]! I guess that is why I love doing my own stunts! I spent many years learning about different martial arts and even attended professional wrestling school, touring around a bit on the Independent circuit as Tank Tanski. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized I just loved to entertain people and make them laugh.
Cosmic Book News: What can you tell us about your future plans?
Kevin Tanski: I can tell you with certainty that I remain fascinated by movie making and everything that goes with it, from the filming end to the business side of things. I still strongly believe that there is no better place to work than on a set with amazing people who share the passion of wanting to make a great movie that entertains people. To watch a screenplay blossom from a script to a final product is something that is extremely satisfying to me. The relationships I have developed along the way have already lead to several more opportunities, with projects “in the works.” I truly feel that if you are persistent and stick true to what you love, you will continue to align yourself with others that feel the same way, and man, when that happens… LOOK OUT! Movie magic is born!!
Ivicic, a Croatian refugee, recently made the move from Western New York to Los Angeles to live the American Dream.
The 23-year-old director offers updates on Call Of Duty Undead, the transition to Hollywood, his latest projects and more.
Cosmic Book News: Congratulations on recently wrapping Call Of Duty Undead.
Aleksandar Ivicic: Yes. After two years of pretty intense filming, we’ve finally hit post-production. Call Of Duty Undead is in its late stages now, we’re seeking a composer that will really help set the tone of the film overall and a Visual FX crew.
Cosmic Book News: The project is not linked to the video games?
Aleksandar Ivicic: No [laughs]. The project has no relations to the video game franchise or the Marvel comic book series. It’s an original piece of work based on a treatment I wrote back in November 2011 that was simply titled “The Undead.” After a few re-writes and some long discussions over coffee, Jim Clark and myself decided to move forward with the project.
Cosmic Book News: What can you tell us about Call Of Duty: Undead?
Aleksandar Ivicic: The story follows five special operatives investigating disappearances on what is suppose to be their last mission. A lot of the characters make peace with their inner demons, revisit their past and try their very best to not kill each other under all the pressure. Eventually they come face-to-face with Dr. Nicholas Bergman, who is the mastermind behind all of the chaos. There are forces tugging in all different directions that are trying to get a piece of the pie in the film, and ther are lots of surprises in store for the audience. It’s a whole lot of fun! The characters are lovable; there’s some touching scenes that we hope will truly move people and of course, zombies! Maybe even a few other surprises beyond those zombies.
Cosmic Book News: What was it like shooting the production in Buffalo?
Aleksandar Ivicic: The cast is what makes the film truly spectacular. Buffalo is very limited on the resources available to filmmakers in every field. I’ve only come to realize that fully after my move to Los Angeles, but to put together what we did with what we had broke all of my expectations. I couldn’t be more proud! I still thank Jim Clark to this day for all of his work on the project. He truly helped bring it all together. Probably one of my best decisions during the early stages was having him on board as an Executive Producer and Co-Director.
Cosmic Book News: Tell us about the move out to Los Angeles.
Aleksandar Ivicic: It was a thrilling transition. I made a 5-day adventure out of it. I drove across the country and met some pretty amazing people on the way. On my first week here, I had a sit down with a major studio for a pitch that I’d probably get crucified for discussing, but I managed to walk away from it with some very useful information; that in itself was very motivational way to kick things off.
The scene here in LA is like Heaven and Earth compared to Buffalo. The pool of talents available is outstanding, and the competition is a lot more friendly, I think. Everybody is off doing their own thing, making their own success. Buffalo is so very isolated. It’s hard to climb to the top of the building if the ladder only reaches half-way. Don’t get me wrong, Hollywood is brutal. You’ve really gotta stand out, not just as a talent but as a person, but if you put in the effort, don’t crack under the pressure, do it for the love of the art, you might just get lucky one day. My idea of success is doing what I love and making a living off of it. There isn’t much I miss about Buffalo, but it will always be where I got my start. A piece of my heart will always linger there.
Aleksandar Ivicic & Jim Clark
Cosmic Book News: Do you have any projects currently going on in Los Angeles you can talk about?
Aleksandar Ivicic: Funny you say “can talk about.” One of the biggest differences I’ve come across in LA – that’s different from Buffalo – is how “hush hush” projects can be. What I can say about the latest project I’ve been brought on board for as Executive Producer is that it’s a short film based on a popular and strong female character that is part of the DC or Marvel comic book universe. The project is not a tie-in to any of the major studio TV or cinematic universes, but rather an adaptation of its own. It’s still too early to tell what direction it will go, but it’s catching a lot of fire. We’ve had a total of 227 submissions from our first casting call.
I also have a film I’m in negotiations to direct titled “Point Blank Range.” It’s got a very nice hint of dark humor which I really enjoyed. I know the project is in the process of negotiating a b-list actor for a supporting role. I’m pretty excited to see where that goes! I’ve also got another short in the works titled “The Anonymous” with Kevin Tanski attached as the lead (editor’s note: catch an interview with Kevin here).
Cosmic Book News: What’s “The Anonymous” about?
Aleksandar Ivicic: I had Mr. Tanski in mind for the project during the late stages of shooting for Call of Duty. “The Anonymous” has been brought up many times in conversation. After Call of Duty wrapped, we decided to move forward with The Anonymous, which will be filmed in Los Angeles. It’s very politically harsh. There are two very different characters whose views of the world differ dramatically. The film touches upon a lot of how these two view the justice system the world has set in place as well as their own individual beliefs as to what justice means. It’s a very dark script and will definitely cause some controversy.
With every new shoot, Kevin impressed me more and more. Kevin and I bumped heads many times on set with how we saw things from a creative perspective, and I really enjoyed that. Nobodies perfect, and I don’t know everything; so it’s refreshing to have someone step up and say, “Well why don’t we try this?” Kevin wasn’t afraid to share his opinions with the direction I was taking his character and plot. He added a lot more humor and charm to that character than I had expected, and I remember, very often, the question as to “just who is Keith Watzel?” would come up, and after watching it all come together I was reassured. Kevin Tanski IS Keith Watzel. His sense of character direction was something I needed for a character in “The Anonymous,” and right there I knew he was perfect for the role. I know it’s going to be a blast working with Kevin again.
Cosmic Book News: We also noticed a short film that you recently completed, The Eleventh Hour, can you tell us about that?
Aleksandar Ivicic: The Eleventh Hour is a 24-minute war/drama. The story itself is based on true-events with a little movie magic. So far it’s been very well received. I don’t want to give away too much. It’s currently in film festival submission phase and will have its very first screening on July 7th at 4:30pm at the Screening Room in Amherst. The project stars Jim Clark, Jess Chizuk and Salvatore Sabia with supporting roles by Robert Woodley, Phill Beith and myself. Our producer did all of the casting for the project; he had a very particular vision for the film and after seeing my work with Call of Duty Undead, he left it in my hands to bring that vision to life. I strongly believe the film has a very bright future.
Cosmic Book News: Any other thoughts you’d like to share with everyone about Call of Duty or your other projects?
Aleksandar Ivicic: Just that I hope everyone finds some entertainment or a lesson to be learned from the projects I work on. I always try to do everything I can with what’s handed to me and try to keep an open mind. I love movies, Hollywood and Indie alike. Everyone I’ve worked with so far has believed in me and my work. I’ve been given so many opportunities to bring my ideas to life, and I hope that someday I’ll be able to do that for other people. And to all of my fellow artists, keep on entertaining, keep on building worlds, keep on fighting. The creative arts are a beautiful thing, and there’s really nothing else like it in the world. We’ve been gifted as a species with the minds to do amazing things. Why let it go to waste?
You can find more information on Aleksandar Ivicic and his upcoming projects on IMDb.
Michael Bay’s next blockbuster hit, Transformers: Age Of Extinction, introduces an enigmatic intergalactic Transformer bounty hunter by the name of Lockdown.
Not much is known about the character, so Cosmic Book News went straight to the source and caught up with Mark Ryan, who lends his voice to Lockdown.
Mark Ryan is a veteran actor and voice actor having played parts in Robin Hood, the new Starz series Black Sails, and Ryan previously voiced Transformer characters for Michael Bay including Jetfire and Bumblebee.
Mark Ryan shares his thoughts on Lockdown, the voice acting process, Black Sails and more.
Cosmic Book News: Regarding Lockdown, what did you think when you were asked to voice the role? Was it an immediate “yes” because you worked with Michael Bay before or did you need to know details about the character and script?
Mark Ryan: It usually starts onset as the script elements are revealed during shooting. I try various voices as we run the dialogue during filming knowing some will be discarded or covered by various other V/O actors in post-production. But it gives me chance to throw in a wild card and try something new and previously unheard in the franchise. Michael will sometimes ask for something more aggressive or something with a specific sound or accent if he has a particular character aspect in mind. This process is a lot of fun and we play around with a lot of vocal tones even in post. In that post process I usually do a scratch-track for editing purposes and sometimes a voice from the set will stick in Michael’s head. This time I’m happy to say it was Lockdown![[wysiwyg_imageupload:15995:]]
Cosmic Book News: How would you describe Lockdown?
Mark Ryan: As Michael has stated previously I think Lockdown is a very interesting, mysterious and complex character. He roams the galaxy freely and is focused and dispassionate about his mission. He doesn’t really want to take sides at all and to him it’s all just business. He has absolutely no interest in the future fate of humanity whatsoever. Lockdown’s ship has epic history and there’s a lot of backstory about that ship and it’s origins in the Transformer’s mythos yet to be revealed.
Cosmic Book News: We recently got a listen to Lockdown in the “Villain” spot (see below) for Transformers: Age Of Extinction, how did you approach the character? How is approaching the voice of Lockdown different than your versions of Bumblebee and Jet Fire?
Mark Ryan: I decided to go for a more Hannibal Lecter/Anton Chigurh tone for Lockdown on the set. Very calm, amoral and sociopathic to match the dialogue, yet contrast the massive scene of mayhem and merciless carnage going on all around, and it stuck!
Cosmic Book News: Can you describe the process of recording the voice for Lockdown? Was Michael Bay present for direction? Did you record your scenes prior to filming, during production or post-production? Were any of the other actors present? Were you provided with any footage as a reference?
Mark Ryan: Michael is totally involved with every aspect of the V/O process throughout production and we usually work very closely together. It’s a very creative process and we have a lot of fun. During filming I get direction and cues from Michael as we’re riding the dialogue and camera moves. I’m usually watching Michael’s monitor and Amir’s to see the actor’s close-ups and where the cameras are going. I’m listening to the actors through a sound link and doing the dialogue through a radio-mic. It’s very live and kinetic. We’ve reworked and refined the actual “on-set” process quite a lot over the last seven years and have it down to a fine art now. Michael was very smart to have a live “reactive” element to the acting process on set, and I usually get to work with all of the actors during shooting. I have spoken to other pals working on CGI type projects and it’s one of the most difficult aspects, acting to a dead green screen or light-pole with no actor there to actually bounce dialogue and drama off. This onset flexibility gives him and the actors a chance to deliver lines with various emphases or pacing and keeps it spontaneous!
Cosmic Book News: What are your thoughts on voice acting compared to live acting?
Mark Ryan: I’ve been a Merry Man, and honorary Knight of the Round Table, a pirate quartermaster and several giant alien robots! That’s not counting the theatre roles I’ve played. Obviously there is a huge technical difference in both disciplines and both have their own artistic fulfillment aspect, as does sword choreography. They are all still part of the same dramatic process though, and I get tremendous satisfaction from all three mediums. I don’t think I’d swap with many folks. I did enjoy playing Gates very much as it was like slipping into a well-worn and comfortable pair of old boots. Very easy to step into and comfortable to wear. Again Michael Bay in the form of his production arm, Platinum Dunes, brought the scale, vision and VSFX to make the show epic and ground breaking. So Nasir and Gates come a very close second and third to being associated with Bumblebee, Jetfire, and Lockdown.
Cosmic Book News: You have a pretty long and varied resume before the Transformers franchise. So is there another project you’ve done that you perhaps wish more people would have seen, or that you think you did particularly well in?
Mark Ryan: Robin of Sherwood and Nasir was obviously a huge part of my life for the last 30 years and we just celebrated its anniversary with a huge gathering in Chepstow, South Wales where we filmed many scenes. RoS seems to have picked up a whole new following with a younger generation, as it’s still the definitive show about the Robin Hood legend. It was the launching pad for many careers both on and off the screen and started a whole new way of making TV. It was groundbreaking then and still holds up now in style and depth.
Cosmic Book News: We see you are also starring in the Starz series Black Sails, which is executive produced by Michael Bay. What can you tell us about the series and your character Gates?
Mark Ryan: Gates is a blue-collar guy who is in a position of power with the crew. In those days, it was very democratic onboard ship. The pirates could vote people in and out of office, including the captain. So Gates is juggling all of these different cultural, racial and spiritual elements within the crew, and trying to focus that energy to put it behind Flint. The role offered a whole array of different facets to a character that Gates has to have. You have to be funny; you have to be charming; you have to be able to be a disciplinarian. You have to understand different cultures and the drives of human beings.
When I read the part, I realized straight away that I knew this man and I knew this character. Jon Steinberg and I were just chatting and he was telling me a little bit about the show, and he said, “Now, will you tell me what you know about this character?” And I said, “I know this character because I’ve done this job.” I was a non-commissioned officer in the British Army and their role as middle management is to take orders from the office and get the men to carry them out, sometimes in dangerous and nasty situations. I said, “The officers give the orders, but it’s the sergeants mess that carries them out and makes things happen.” And he went, “I get it, that’s the character.”
I think Jon [Steinberg] also said something that was very insightful and interesting; he said, “Everybody thinks they know this universe, the pirate universe.” But really what you get is either a cartoony sort of history, or a false idea of what it was like because of the pirate films of the ’30s and ’40s — whereas the history is very different, and actually much more interesting and intriguing.
The background to how the pirates became pirates and outlaws, it’s fascinating in itself. The period is at the turning point of upheavals where it’s not long before the American Revolution; it’s not long before the French Revolution. It’s not long before the British Navy basically becomes the commanding force on the surface of the planet. But the pirates were rebelling against all of that traditional and royal control and against households and corruption. They were the privateers originally hired by the royal household to fight on behalf of their country, and were then outlawed by the very people who had hired them. The privateers felt their own country and their rulers had betrayed them.
The production built one full size boat and a half a ship, so you could see into the decks. They were fully rigged with gun decks and storage areas. It was quite an amazing set to work on. It was in a couple of acres of water that were fifteen feet deep. The town itself, Nassau, where a lot of the action takes place looks amazing. Whichever way you look you see pirate camps, brothels, taverns, storehouses, and we had the fort. You were literally in that universe with a beach and the water and the waves. And that’s what you expect from a Michael Bay show; production values that are rich, beautifully shot and on an epic scale.
Cosmic Book News: Care to share or tease anything else that might be coming up that you are involved with?
Mark Ryan: Watch Lockdown’s facial expressions. You might see a few piratical looks and a bit of familiar eyebrow acting thrown in there! I’m also looking at presenting a TV series about various historic, esoteric figures that’s in development and my biography will be released sometime in late July.
“Transformers: Age Of Extinction” is currently in theaters starring Mark Ryan as the voice of Lockdown; Catch Season 1 of “Black Sails” on Starz, with Season 2 coming soon.
Catching Up With The Comic Book Men
“Cryptozoic Man” & “Come Book Men” Season 3 Debut This Week
By Matt McGloin & Byron Brewer
With Cryptozoic Man coming out this week from Dynamite Entertainment and the third season of Comic Book Men kicking off on AMC this Sunday, Cosmic Book News decided now would be a good time to catch up with Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson.
Crytpozoic Man, written by Johnson with art by Flangan, is available today in local comic shops. The four-issue series centers around Alan Ostman, a middle-aged husband/father, who sees his life quickly unravel when his daughter goes missing on a camping trip in the Pacific Northwest. After Gray aliens abduct him from a roadside bar, he learns that the fate of the world is dependent on trapping some of the world’s most legendary and enigmatic creatures.
Season 3 of Comic Book Men premiers Sunday at midnight and promises more from Kevin, Walt, Bryan, Mike, and Ming. The comic crew are back behind the counter and in front of the microphone talking all things pop culture in addition to episodes featuring special celebrity guests, such as Lou Ferrigno appearing on Sunday, and more.
Cosmic Book News: How has it changed your life going from the guy behind the counter to being in front of millions and being the voice of comic fans everywhere with AMC’s Comic Book Men?
Walt Flanagan: Life has changed very little for me. I’m asked to speak more than I’d like but otherwise it’s pretty much the same.
Bryan Johnson: I’m more the guy behind the guy who’s behind the counter. For awhile in the ’90s I managed the Red Bank Stash then tried my hand at it again in the mid-2000s when Kevin needed someone to manage the Stash in Westwood, CA. Turns out I don’t have the disposition required to work in retail. However, I DO have the disposition required to tease and torment customers and my friends alike and get paid for it, so I would say my life has changed for the better.
Cosmic Book News: I know it’s “reality,” but can you give us any hints at all as to what is coming up in Season 3?
Walt: We have some very memorable people popping up at the The Stash this season. Some iconic ’70s faces as well as the ’90s.
Bryan: I loved shooting this season. Our Executive Producer, Brian Nashel, who came back from season one after missing out on season two due to a schedule conflict is a Jersey guy, too. Right outta the gate he shared our sense of humor and understood the tone of the show which went a long way in terms of a smooth and extremely productive relationship. This season there is a slightly looser structure to the show. We spend more time with transactions, conversations about comic related stuff and in the podcast studio.
Cosmic Book News: Will the Dynamite Entertainment Cryptozoic Man comic book mini-series rear its head again?
Walt: Yes, the Cryptozoic Man comic has an episode geared around it. Look for it in your local comics shop October 9th!
Bryan: C’mon, let’s not be silly. Can you imagine if people weren’t given a follow-up to the Cryptozoic Man pitch from season two? There would be rioting in the streets. The president would declare martial law. A wave of mass suicides would overtake the country. Walt and I would hate to be held accountable for something so tragic. We decided it was easier just to revisit the storyline in season three of Comic Book Men and avoid all that bad juju.
Cosmic Book News: As your show is kind of a humorous take on the comic book world, what do you think of the current crop of comic book movies being so serious?
Walt: I really love the deadly serious tone of the current crop of comic flicks. I would love to do a 100% deadly serious episode of Comic Book Men just to freak people out.
Bryan: Anyone who watches Comic Book Men knows I’m not really into comics all that much (I know, the irony), so I don’t see many comic book movies. I tried to watch The Avengers but just couldn’t get into it.
Now, if someone decides to do a movie based on Peter Bagge’s Hate, Garth Ennis’ Preacher, or Joe Hill’s Locke and Key, my butt is in a seat.
Cosmic Book News: How would you compare the comic books of today with those you grew up reading?
Walt: It’s hard to compare them. They’re so different from when I first started reading. It was so easy and cheap to get everything that came out when I was young. The storylines weren’t so dense, and the creators were creating the books for kids to young teens. Nowadays comics are mostly created for adults; it’s really like comparing apples and oranges.
Bryan: I feel like the stuff we read growing up was kind of deserving of the rep comics got as being “for kids” and not having much substance. Today, the writing and stories are so well developed and mature in theme. When you have writers like Alan Moore Neil Gaiman, Brian Wood, Grant Morrison, Brian K. Vaughan, etc. out there, it’s impossible for anyone to dismiss comics wholesale. These guys are true literary masters.
Cosmic Book News: Does Ming get picked on that much really, or is that just for the show?
Walt: I’m convinced Ming just wants attention — be it positive or negative as long he’s the topic of discussion, he’s happy.
Bryan: I know this may sound crazy, but I don’t feel like Ming gets picked on. Only bullies pick on other people and since neither Walt nor me are bullies, the only reasonable explanation is that Ming asks for it -nay – demands it. If you watch the show carefully, he brings most of the ridicule on himself. That being said, I love Ming, and he’s been one of my best friends for well over a decade now. Strangely, if anyone else gives Ming crap, I get very protective. I don’t like it when anyone outside our circle messes with him.
Cosmic Book News: Bryan, how did you get involved with writing and how did you choose comics as your medium? What comic book writers were your favorites as a fan?
Bryan: I’ve loved writing and telling stories as far back as I can recall. When I was twelve, I wrote a story about a substitute teacher who wasn’t all that nice to her students. The offended kids tricked her into going to the cafeteria where they proceeded to lock her in, but only after they had extinguished the oven’s pilot light and filled the room with gas. This was 1980, so unless you were clearly insane you got a trip to the principle’s office rather than the school shrink for that type of behavior. Three detentions later I wrote a story about a substitute teacher who was drugged and buried alive underneath home plate on the school baseball field. These clever students had rigged a system to deliver food/water/oxygen, so whenever they wanted, they could visit home plate and taunt the teacher for months to come. I honestly don’t know if it was my fault, but that particular sub never came back after that.
I feel like comics chose me rather than me having chosen the medium. I got into writing comics simply by wanting to work with Walt whose art I’ve loved since we met back in 1978. Sometime in the late ’90s I’d written “Karney“, a movie script that tonally is along the lines of Tod Browning’s Freaks. After I was assured by several people in the film industry that it couldn’t be done on a low budget, I adapted it into a comic book format. Now, for those who think Walt and I got only got published because we’re friends with Kevin — nope. Knowing Kevin has absolutely opened doors, but many times those same doors hit us on the butt on our way out. We had been turned down by EVERYONE and were on the verge of self-publishing when visionary and all-around good dude Chris Ryall from IDW Publishing called and told us he dug the material and wanted to publish the book.
Cosmic Book News: Walt, how did you get involved with drawing and how did you choose comics as a medium? What comic book artists were your favorites as a fan?
Walt: As a kid I always dreamed of drawing comics; it’s really rewarding. As far as creators who inspired me? The list could go on and on but a few off the top of my head: George Perez, John Byrne, Gil Kane, Don Perlin, Tim Truman, the Buscema brothers, Ross Andru, but like I said I could list hundreds whom I adored as a kid and made me want to pick up a pencil.
Cosmic Book News: Do you guys ever visit other comic shops?
Walt: I love visiting other comic shops. I wish I had more time to travel to see other ones.
Bryan: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve begged these guys to let me fire-bomb the competition, but they’re sorta squeamish when it comes to stuff like that.
Cosmic Book News: Walt, what do you like most about Bryan’s writing?
Walt: I love Bryan’s subtle weird dialog as well as when he goes all-out weird and subtle is out the window. He really is great at doing the disturbingly twisted stuff.
Cosmic Book News: Likewise, Bryan, what do you like most about Walt’s art?
Bryan: Hands down, the originality and creativity. I know if I hand Walt a page with action as general as “Hordes of monsters descend on our hero,” every single monster on that page is going to be unique. It’s like there’s an endless procession of fucked-up creatures parading through his mind at all times.
Cosmic Book News: What’s your favorite comic book today and who are your favorite artists and writers today?
Walt: Scott Snyder, [Brian] Bendis, [Geoff] Johns are some of today’s writers whom I dig. Artists of today? Wow, so many: Jim Lee, the Kuberts, [Bryan] Hitch. I love a book called Bullet Proof Coffin by Image as well. So fun. Like a dream put to paper.
Bryan: I recently bought the hardcover collection of Locke and Key and loved it. I’ve read all of Joe [Hill’s] fiction stuff, and it’s fantastic. You really have to hand it to a guy who goes into the industry with the type of comparison he’s facing. Sure, he used his pen name to avoid that, but in today’s world that stuff doesn’t stay secret for very long. My father is Stephen King? I’m not going anywhere near a laptop. I couldn’t deal with everyone and their grandmother’s blogs opining about my work relative to my father’s. I’m glad he braved those waters though, the fiction world is far better for it.
Cosmic Book News: Is Kevin Smith working on any new comic books or films?
Walt: Kevin is working on a new film called Tusk. It sounds amazing. Cannot wait to see it. It’s gonna be brilliant.
Bryan: A few months ago Kev texted me asking me to read a script he wrote called Tusk. It’s based on a story he read about a guy who was deserted at sea for a few years and befriended a walrus. Eventually, he was rescued and once back on land missed his former companion and wanted to hire someone to live with him and act as a Walrus for a few hours a day. This entailed wearing a realistic walrus costume, making walrus noises, eating whatever the hell it is walruses eat — the full nine.
The script is phenomenal. So bizarre. It’s David Lynch meets Rob Zombie meets Kev. There’s no way it can possibly disappoint.
Cosmic Book News: Any changes coming to Comic Book Men in Season 3?
Bryan: We meet up with a few more notable guests than in past seasons but for the most part it’s pretty much the same. Lots of ball-breaking and blathering on about important stuff like “who was finer, Marcia Brady or Laurie Partridge?”
Cosmic Book News: Are you involved in any comics projects you’d like to mention?
Walt: Right now I’m drawing issue 4 of Cryptozoic Man. After that? Not sure.
Bryan: I’m presently finishing writing the fourth issue of Cryptozoic Man and after that I’m collaborating on an untitled project with my friend Jason Mewes who is completely consumed with Game Of Thrones and wants to do a comic in the same vein.
Cosmic Book News: How many more seasons would you like the Comic Book Men series to continue?
Walt: I’d love to see Comic Book Men get into Simpsons territory regarding seasons.
Bryan: I thought I’d be satisfied after we got season two thinking it would shut the mouths of the naysayers who ragged on the show and said it would get cancelled after season one. Well, season two wrapped and those same negative nellies were POSITIVE that there was no way in hell we would get a third season. I guess I want it to last as long as it takes to shut every one of their goddamn critical mouths. I don’t care if, after season 19, those same dopes are saying “C’mon, season 20?!?! NO WAY is that happening!” I’d do it just to spite them.
Cosmic Book News: Any parting thoughts?
Walt: Check out my and Bryan’s multiple award winning podcast “Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave!” on iTunes. We do it with Brian Quinn of tru TV’s Impractical Jokers. It’s free. People seem to dig it.
Bryan: Check out Comic Book Men on October 13th on AMC and listen to “Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave!” TESD is near and dear to my heart and the podcast that Comic Book Men is primarily based upon. Oh yeah, follow me on Twitter a @tellemstevedave. Ming has more followers than I do and it makes me nauseous.
“Cryptozoic Man” #1 hits Wednesday, October 9th! “Comic Book Men” premiers Sunday at midnight on AMC!
Joshua Williamson is quickly making a name for himself at Skybound where the first two issues of his latest series, Ghosted, have sold out. Originally slated as a mini-series, Ghosted has recently been announced to be continuing as a monthly ongoing title with the publisher.
In addition to writing for Skybound, Williamson’s work can be found at Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse. His all-ages graphic novel, Dear Dracula, was also adapted as an animated show for Cartoon Network.
Cosmic Book News M.E. Byron Brewer caught up with Joshua Williamson to discuss the Ghosted ongoing and more.
Cosmic Book News: Congrats, Josh, on Ghosted going from a mini to an ongoing. How did this come about?
Joshua Williamson: Thanks. You have no idea how excited I am that we made the change. This started with a simple “Ocean’s 11 in a Haunted House” and has built to be so much more.
A bit before issue one came out Skybound and I started talking about what we wanted to do if we could continue with the series. Once the numbers started to roll in we knew it was an option and that if we were going to do it we needed to act fast. I went in for a meeting to chat about a few different projects and laid out my plan to keep the series going. Skybound liked what I had to say and gave us the green light.
Which I’m super happy about because I love Ghosted. I could write this book forever.
Cosmic Book News: Tell us, for the uninitiated, the long origin story of the Ghosted project.
Joshua Williamson: For a long time I had it in my head that I really wanted to do a Haunted House comic. I love the idea and the visual of haunted house. Been a bit obsessed since I was a kid. The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland is one of my favorite things ever. Along side that I knew I wanted to do a crime comic, eventually I combined them. At first it was just “Steal something from a haunted house.” And I kept thinking “what would you steal? What are exclusive to haunted houses?” That’s when it hit me. A Ghost.
I pitched it a around a bit with no bites when I finally got a great response from Skybound who loved it and we were off to the races. Goran was attached from day one, and I couldn’t have been happier. It’s been a long time coming but well worth the wait.
Cosmic Book News: A lot of genre mash-ups in comic books today. How do crime and horror go together?
Joshua Williamson: They can both have seedy characters and be grounded in the real world. Horror and crime, to me, are like peanut butter and jelly. The best horror is about the people. The unseen, not the monsters in the dark. It’s the same with crime, its not about the caper but how the crime changes the and manipulates the people. I think crime and horror lead themselves to some of the best character pieces in genre fiction.
Cosmic Book News: For your master thief Jackson Winters, is it all about the challenge or all about the money?
Joshua Williamson: Neither. It’s about freedom, and his personal obsessions. Jackson just wants to be left alone, but things keep happening to him. BUT one of the things we explore in the next arc is… do these things keep happening to him? Or does he let them happen? Does Jackson invite them?
Cosmic Book News: Your third issue is about to come out. In this brief time, which for you really hasn’t been that brief, is there one character that has caught you by surprise?
Joshua Williamson: Trick. At first Robby Trick was sort of a throwaway but became one of my favorite characters to write. The guy has such a nasty personality that it’s fun to continue that story.
Oh, and Anderson. The response to Anderson has been rad. It really caught me off guard how many people online have talked about how much they like Anderson Lake.
Cosmic Book News: Josh, can you tell us to what inspiration you look for the crime aspect of your book (you once mentioned Oceans 11), and to what inspiration do you look for the horror? Is there one genre you enjoy over the other as a writer, crime or horror?
Joshua Williamson: The crime aspect appeals to me more, but it’s like Sofie’s Choice, y’know? BUT I think I was a bit more influenced but by the horror aspects.
With the inspirations. Crime, is a lot of TV shows like The Shield, Breaking Bad, and a lot of comics: Criminal, 100 Bullets, Gotham Central, Preacher, Y the Last Man. With horror it was Preacher, again, Locke and Key, Walking Dead, Outlaw Nation, The Shining, Hell House, Psycho, and Silence of the Lambs.
It wasn’t until didn’t recently that I realized how much Ghosted was influenced by Hellblazer. Jackson has a lot in common with the sleaziness of John Constantine.
Cosmic Book News: How important has the Haunted House been to Ghosted?
Extremely. It’s its own character. The setting and the basis for the whole book, y’know. Like I said earlier the visual of the book all started with the idea of a Haunted House. I’ll miss it as the book goes on.. but eventually we’ll get back to it.
Cosmic Book News: Why is Goran Sudzuka the right artist for this mash-up book? Big fan of his?
Joshua Williamson: Goran is amazing. Been a fan of his work since Outlaw Nation. Goran has the ability to bridge the gap between crime and horror. Couldn’t do this at all without him. His character work and his talent to add the creepiness to the world around then is crucial. So great.
Cosmic Book News: What has been the most difficult thing about the book’s first arc?
Joshua Williamson: Keep the story contained to just five issues. There were times that I wish we had more pages in each issue. In fact issue five clocks in at 26 pages.
Making sure that both sides of the crime and horror are represented has been challenging but also one of the main highlights for me personally.
Cosmic Book News: Josh, any other projects current or future you would like to mention?
Joshua Williamson: Mostly I’d like people when they get Ghosted to check out Captain Midnight from Dark Horse. It’s a very different kind of book but still a lot of fun. Then my digital comic Masks and Mobsters; a very important book to me. Those three are the books that I focus on right now.
In the future, I have another Skybound book cooking, and another thing planned with Dark Horse. Can’t wait to share them. Oh, and Mike Henderson, the artist on Masks and Mobsters, and I have something else planned that we hope surprise people. 2014 is going to be interesting.
“Ghosted” #3 hits this Wednesday, September 11th!