Today our special quests are Ryan Schifrin and Larry Hama, the authors of the SPOOKS series.
Gentlemen, first thank you for taking the time to answer some questions today.
Joe Reloaded.com (JR): SPOOKS #4 is out on the stands and SPOOKS Omega Team has been announced, has the response to SPOOKS surprised either of you in anyway?
Ryan Schifrin (RS): I’m always pleasantly surprised when people dig something I’ve worked on – you write to please yourself, and you hope that other people like it as much as you do, but you never know until you put it out there… I find that if I’m my own audience, I’ll choose ideas that I’m passionate about. I’m very proud of how SPOOKS turned out – it’s exactly what I was hoping it would be when we set out to do it. It’s a synthesis of things that I love: Monsters, Halloween, GI JOE, and epic fantasy adventure. So the question I always had was – will GI JOE fans be turned off by the monsters and magic? Will fantasy fans be turned off by the military elements? Will horror movie fans be turned off by the PG-13 nature of it? I’m sure some people were, but I’m really happy that this mix seems to have struck a chord with the majority of the fans.
JR: The mini-series left the door wide open for a “SPOOKS 2” mini-series, has there been any talk of doing a second mini-series to follow the story of Frank, Zach, Gunny and Felecia?
RS: Yes, I’m already working on SPOOKS 2, which continues the story of Zach, Frank, Felicia and Biggs. We plan to have it come out after Omega Team has had some time to get established… especially since they’re in SPOOKS 2 as well. We’ll either do it as a separate mini-series, or just continue it as part of the on-going Omega Team. There’s a lot of story left to tell with those characters.
But before we get to that, right now we’re putting the finishing touches on the trade paperback – we’re putting in a bunch of deleted and extended scenes. What that really means is we’re adding a lot of new content, which will be inserted directly into the story to flesh it out, add more character development, more plot development, more werewolves, and also extend some of the action set-pieces that we didn’t have space to include in the individual issues. I’m so excited that we get to do this – there were things we had to leave out that would have bugged me as time goes by, and things which will foreshadow events that happen in SPOOKS 2.
Along with the deleted and extended scenes, we’re throwing in a lot of other goodies – Geno Salvatore wrote an original short story about Frank’s early days as SPOOKS top field agent, we have new exclusive character bios and a lot of other cool content. We actually exceeded the advertised 144 pages, I think we came in at 153. Also, we have a CD of the SPOOKS soundtrack – you’ve heard part of it on the SPOOKS website - composed by my dad (Lalo Schifrin) and Andy Garfield – it comes out to about 20 minutes of music. We’re exploring the possibility of including it with the trade paperback – without raising the price. Basically, we’re treating this almost like a movie release.
JR: Ryan, this one is for you. With your experience in the movie industry, could we see SPOOKS on the big screen someday?
RS: I’d love to see SPOOKS on the big screen. That’s how the whole thing got started, as a screenplay, which we then adapted into the first mini-series. It was always intended to be a movie. We’re working to make it happen, but who knows? It’s out of my control, which is why I wanted to be sure the graphic novel is as close to my vision as possible, so I can at least know I did justice to the story. But we are definitely working on it!
JR: Looking forward, is SPOOKS Omega Team an ongoing or another mini-series?
RS: Omega Team is an ongoing.
JR: Larry, what can you tell us about the cast of characters who make-up Omega Team? (Names, specialties, etc.)
Larry Hama(LH): Kane is the leader. All-around ruthless bad-ass. Tactical thinker with lots of street-smarts and Machiavellian mind-set. Carries a pair of drum-fed automatic .12 gauge shotguns and a variety of loads including silver flechettes and barrier-penetrating ectoplasmic disorganizers.
Bettina Bolo is an edge-weapon specialist with an M.A. in archeology. She can read five ancient languages and speak three modern ones as well as Farsi, and Urdu. Aside from her collection of cutlery, she packs a 9mm SMG with integral suppressor. Into practical body-building.
DX is the team’s “Thing That Goes Bump In The Dark.” Wears a prosthetic face than houses a vision enhancement suite that includes digital magnification, image-intensifiers, infrared, spectroscopic analysis, as well as sound-enhancement and vapor analysis. Biologist and chemist. Speaks French, German, Russian, Mandarin and Japanese. Is the team computer tech and commo specialist. Carries an M-16 with 40mm grenade launcher.
El Nino carries the squad automatic weapon, which in this case is an electric gatling. Sociologist and Anthropologist. Speaks a number of Meso-American languages as well as Inuit and Tinglit, and of course, Spanish. Expert armorer and pretty good chef.
4, Clinical psychologist specializing in the psychoses of extra-normal beings. Has no language skills whatsoever, dude, but is pretty handy with explosives and improvised munitions. Survival instructor. His name is a homonym for death in a wide variety of Asian languages.
JR: Another question for Larry. How has it felt to be given a book that you basically have total freedom to do what you want with whoever you want?
LH: I don’t have total freedom on anything I don’t create from the ground up. There are always restrictions of one form or the other. The only two comics I had a huge amount of freedom on were Nth Man and Bucky O’Hare. Let’s face it, if I had total freedom, all the characters would be ducks…
JR: It was announced that Tim Seeley will be on art duty for SPOOKS Omega Team, was Adam Archer unavailable, or was the decision made to go in a different art direction for the new book?
RS: A bit of both. Adam did our issue #0, which is the 99-cent special that comes out in July. Adam is very in-demand, as he’s such a talented artist. In order to do a monthly ongoing and keep costs down, Devil’s Due is using their staff artists starting with issue #1… and lucky for us their staff artist just happens to be Tim Seeley! If you look at his style and Adam’s style, I don’t think it will be a jarring transition at all. We definitely plan to bring Adam back in the future, and in the meantime he will still be doing Omega covers. Since this is a different series, and a different grittier tone, I think it’ll be good to establish its own style.
JR: Are either of you working on projects that fans should keep a look out for?
LH: Can’t talk about my other projects right now. But one of ‘em is an original graphic novel drawn by someone I have worked with before at Marvel. ‘Nuff said!
RS: Larry just finished writing the sequel to ABOMINABLE, based off my treatment, and we’re in the process of putting that film together. Matt McCoy and Jeffrey Combs will be starring in it. I have another one that I’d describe as a buddy action horror movie, which is a much bigger budget, but I don’t like to talk about stuff until it is set in stone. I guess you could say I’m superstitious…
JR: Thank you both again for taking the time to answer our questions.
RS: Thanks Phil, it was my pleasure. And thanks to everyone for supporting SPOOKS and allowing us the opportunity to keep exploring these characters and this world. I’m certainly having fun playing in it!
Feel free to discuss below.