We’ve worked with a great many classic TV stars in relaunching their brand to the public in some fantastical comic book form. But this is not about name dropping, but rather a peek behind the curtain as to why and how we work.
I’ll admit, as a kid, I was addicted to TV. Now this was the 70s, so my after-school was filled with the reruns of Batman, Star Trek, Gilligan’s Island and Twilight Zone; And my after-homework time would have been filled with everything you currently see on the retro-TV channels (looking at you Me-TV ). So when I approach a personality like Adam West or Dirk Benedict, it’s partially out of fan-boy love that I want to create something that adds to that legacy. I’m not alone here; these are some of the easiest titles to recruit talented writers, artists, colorists and letterers.
But let’s look at this from a business standpoint. There has always been a market for nostalgia. It’s just the way we’re designed, I suppose. I also truly enjoy working with subjects that meant something to me as a kid.
More cynically, the cost of establishing a new brand is infinitely harder than recycling a once-popular older one. Hollywood and the comic book industry recognize this. How many times have you said to yourself, they are creatively bankrupt and completely bereft of new ideas. Yet, you flock to see Jurassic Park, Star Wars franchises and gush over the “new” X-files or await new episodes of Arrow (a character that first appeared in the media in 1941). Marvel and DC have fallen into this hole too with their endless universe reboots. However, when interesting new things come out on the market, they struggle to find an audience.
BUT, this is not a rant against the creativity/or lack thereof from the makers of dreams and the inkers of books. Rather, why would I choose Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Galactica, The A-Team) as the central character of a comic book series? Because it’s fun! I suppose that’s bottom line, however, the creativity is a two-way street. Dirk thought it was fun too; a mash-up of the fictional characters he’s played along with a fictional non-fiction persona. Part camp; part nostalgia, but an opportunity to try and create something new, fresh, yet familiar. The movie Galaxy Quest did this well. And in the meta-universe we live, they are currently looking to reboot this franchise as a TV show!
So the key is to use something familiar to create something fresh. I think we have achieved that with The Misadventures of Adam West and Dirk Benedict in the 25th Century. This also includes The Secret Lives of Julie Newmar. Most of these titles are done in similar fashion. We pitch the idea to the personality and then we take their feedback to the writer. I make sure the writer, the artist and the personality are in constant contact so that the end result is not simply the licensing of a name and likeness, but a collaborative effort that captures the fun and feeling of being 12 years old and watching them on TV!
Also with several icons, we need to walk a fine line between Actor A and their persona and any copyright or trademark issues that are owned by very litigious studios. This is why Adam West comic book character can wear a cape and cowl, but not the Batman insignia. It’s why Dirk Benedict can’t be referred to as Starbuck. Despite those limitations, we still put out fun and entertaining stories.