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AICN COMICS: Q&@ is our new semi-weekly interview column where some of your favorite @$$Holes interview comic bookdom’s biggest, brightest, newest, and oldest stars. Enjoy this latest in-depth interview filled with @$$y goodness and be sure to look for more AICN COMICS as we gaze into the future of comics every week with AICN COMICS: SPINNER RACK PREVIEWS every Monday and then join the rest of your favorite @$$Holes for their opinions on the weekly pull every Wednesday with AICN COMICS REVIEWS!
Q’s by Ambush Bug
@’s by PREDATORS writers Marc Andreyko, Paul Tobin, & David Lapham
Hey folks, Ambush Bug here. The kind folks at Dark Horse Comics sent me some inside info on their new partnership with Robert Rodriguez and crew concerning some comic book related spinoffs/prequel/sequels to Rodriguez’s PREDATORS movie that you’ve all been buzzing about since we first heard about it here on AICN. I had a chance to talk with Paul Tobin, Marc Andreyko, and David Lapham, the writers behind the miniseries and movie adaptation celebrating the return of our favorite PREDATOR to the big screen. Here’s what David, Paul, and Marc had to say…
MARK ANDREYKO (MA): Scott Allie, the editor, and I had been talking about working together for a while and when he mentioned PREDATORS we were both surprised how interested I was. :)
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): How did you get the chance to write these PREDATORS comics?
PAUL TOBIN (PT): Editor Scott Allie and I had been bandying about the possibility of me doing some work for Dark Horse, and one day he came into my studio with a rolled up screenplay, hiding it for a bit, and we went out for lunch and he literally put it on the table. I saw the name Robert Rodriguez on the screenplay and said, "I'm in."
DAVID LAPHAM (DL): I’d been talking on and off to Scott and Sierra for over a year about doing something at Dark Horse. I figured they were just stringing me along for a laugh, y’know. But then they called and said you want to do this so maybe I was wrong. They said we could be best friends, too. Do you think that’s true. There was some blackmail involved, but I can’t talk about that.
BUG: So these are prequels to the film set to be released this summer. How much do they tie into the previous PREDATOR films we've all seen?DL: I’m actually doing a prequel and a sequel, so I get to kind of bookend the thing. What we get to do is expand on the experience. In the movie, you get to see these characters during their specific adventure. In the comics we can really dive further into what makes them tick and why things play out like they do in the movie. And we can show what badasses they were before. Then, on the other end, with the sequel, I get to further expand the concept of the movie and it’s possibilities going forward.
MA: Well, I’m under a “Talk-and-get-executed” N.D.A. here, so I think all I can say is “There are predators in this movie.” :)
PT: I'm the oddball here, because I'm not actually doing a prequel. My contribution is an expanded adaptation of the film itself, except I've taken one of the characters and put everything into her perspective, and also going a lot more in depth about who she is, developing background material that's hinted at in the movie. And there's definitely a connection between her and the original movie, which was a blast. I can still remember watching that first movie... Arnold in the mud, the infrared views, and now to be able to play with that story in a small part, that's been a lot of fun.
BUG: Without giving too much away, what are each of your prequel stories about?MA: Hmmm. At the risk of being coy, they are about people and predators and take place before the new film. Wow. Great answers, huh? I feel like Warren Beatty on that Barbara Walters Special. :)
PT: Mine is about 60% movie adaptation, and the rest of it deals with a past incident in one of the main character's life, and how it led her, in a way, to where she is now.
DL: Mine is about the best and coolest and…well most kick ass of all the characters. My character can beat up their characters.
There’s a reason all of our characters end up in the position they find themselves in, in the film. My character is a mercenary and he’s extremely morally questionable, even for a mercenary. That helps him in his occupation in the prequel but whether he can adapt and evolve from that that will determine if he survives in the film.
BUG: PREDATOR was one of those films that seamlessly tied action, horror, and sci fi all together perfectly. What type of story would you consider your book?PT: That pretty much fits.... it's an action / horror / sci-fi extravaganza. I always like it the best when genres intermix. Stay too true to a certain trope, and you can lose a lot of storytelling range.
DL: I’m just the right age (12) that the original film is part of the fabric of my being. This fit right along with the Aliens movies, Terminator…I really don’t think of a story as having to be one genre. Having said that, my prequel is a total romance. Just lots of love all around. Love between a man and his weapons cache. Love of job. Love of the jungle. Love of killing.
The Sequel, though, that’s a blender of horror, action, sci-fi, and, well, there’s some kissing—But it’s NOT a romance! I think once a Predator is inserted a story automatically becomes a horror, action, sci-fi. Maybe that’s why they’re one of the great movie monsters of all time.
MA: I’d call mine a HEART OF DARKNESS / MOST DANGEROUS GAME mash-up. With a little MARLEY AND ME thrown in. Well, maybe not the last one.
BUG: How were you able to tie all of the elements from those genres (action/horror/sci fi) together for the prequels?MA: The world Robert Rodriguez sets up for this movie is so rich that all I really had to do was pick up some of the cool toys and play with ‘em.
PT: In ways that are awesome, but also must remain secret at this point. So... just remember: awesome.
DL: Yes, to echo Paul’s comment our lips are sealed under penalty of having that blender of genres unleashed upon us. We’re writers, we write tough, doesn’t mean we actually are.
BUG: Were there any guidelines Robert Rodriguez gave you going into this project? What was your interaction with him like?DL: My interaction was just through (editor) Scott Allie. But it seemed to go extremely well. My impression is that he doesn’t just want to ape his movie. He wants us to bring the creativity and add to the Predator mythology.
MA: We had some character guidelines and some suggestions of story direction, but that’s to be expected. All in all, it’s been a fairly pain-free experience. And unfortunately, I have never met or spoken to Mr. Rodriguez. Maybe if he likes the comics, I’ll get a call. Hint. Hint.
PT: We ran our ideas past him, via Dark Horse, and made sure that everything was cool with him, that we were helping to expand his vision, rather than stepping outside of it. He's actually been amazingly easy to work with.
BUG: Have you read Rodriquez's PREDATORS script or seen snippets of the movie? What do you think? Will fans of the original be happy?DL: I’ve read the script. In my mind it’s faithful to the feel of the original but brings new surprises and expands significantly on the possibilities of the concept. I think the fans should be very happy. You can now imagine a rich universe beyond the movie. Fans should love it, unless they just can’t imagine the Predator without Carl Weathers. Then—well actually, I have no idea of the whole cast, maybe Carl’s in there. Is he? Maybe I shouldn’t talk yet.
PT: That's an easy one to answer, because I'm myself a fan of the original movie, and I was quite pleased with the screenplay. It has a number of great characters... very entertaining personalities, and the overall threat level has been amped way up. Fantastic and inventive moments, but streamlined and smooth. Too many sequels focus on the "sequel" part, and just plain forget to make a good movie.... but Robert and the rest of the film gang have really brought out a solid script.
MA: We all got to read the script so the tone was consistent with the film. I really enjoyed the script a lot. It has everything you want from a PREDATOR movie – action, scares, blood (of the red and neon green variety)…and well, lawyers from Fox are staring at me, so I will say no more.
BUG: Were there aspects of the Predator that were difficult to translate on the printed page? The voice parroting and morphing camouflage effect of the Predator seem like they'd be tough aspects to translate in comics.DL: No. I didn’t come across anything like that. And there’s very little that can’t be shown with a proper drawing and if those fail we can use narration captions to clue everyone in. The bigger problem in comics is space. We’re really packing a lot into these comics. It can be tricky to condense, and not make it feel that way.
MA: Luckily, they are not hard to write. Now, drawing them may be another story, but, alas, I am but a writer.
PT: The camouflage aspect had its pluses and minuses. It worked well, I think, to bring out the tension, but the voice parroting was somewhat problematic. There was one scene that I had to change around for the comic medium. Of course, in the comics, we can delve much more deeply into the character's themselves, even during the action scenes, so we had a leg up there.
BUG: What were you able to do in your comics that you think may be more difficult to do on screen in a film?MA: Well, we can use interior monologue, which allows more insight into characters and motivation that might be shown in an action film. After all, this is PREDATOR and not MY DINNER WITH ANDRE. :)
PT: The comics medium allows us to freeze the action, and that in turn allows us to expand it in ways that's just not possible on film. Want to know what a character is thinking while they're dodging pulse rifle fire and throwing grenades and screaming out orders? Cuz we can do that. No problem.
DL: What Paul was saying is true. We can show the same things but give a different perspective on it. We can show what a character is thinking. We can give you a lot more background information seamlessly.
BUG: Last chance, why should everyone and their alien mother get to their comic shoppes to pick up the PREDATORS Prequels when they hit the stands this summer?DL: It’s the Predator, for God’s sakes. It’s more of what you love. Well, maybe not YOU, but you, you, you, you, and you. And, like I said, it really is more. We’re not just aping the movie. It’s not a repeat. Everyone involved from Robert Rodriguez on down to the guy who sweeps the floors (which in my house would be me) is trying to bring you and your alien mother a brand new experience.
PT: Predator. Guns. Things going boom. Great characters that are both amazingly fun and horribly grim. We're getting to play with all these wonderful tools, so it's been really easy to be personally excited by the work, and I always feel that if the creators are having fun, there's a good chance that translates into a damn fine read.
MA: These are not movie comics of old where you simply got an adaptation. These stories matter in the PREDATOR movie universe and were directly shaped with the filmmaker’s input. If you read these comics, either before or after, it will enhance the experience as a whole.
Thank, and they are a helluva lot of fun!