Yesterday, we announced that Dynamite Entertainment, together with MGM will bring RoboCop back to comics. Today, we spoke with Dynamite President and Publisher Nick Barrucci who expounded on the property, and named the writer for the upcoming series: Rob (Cla$$war, Indiana Jones: The Tomb of the Gods) Williams.
Newsarama: Nick, you've been collecting and developing licensed properties for years now and have amassed a very broad collection. What led to RoboCop? Was it part of another deal, or something you went after specifically?
Nick Barrucci: RoboCop we went after specifically. It is quite possibly one of the greatest sci-fi movies of our generation. Almost everyone I know of my age group grew up on RoboCop.
So much has been influenced by this movie and this is a passion project. We've actually been able to work with our writer who, I should name since we are fortunate to be working with him, Rob Williams, who really is very excited about writing this. Rob was one of our top picks and we approached each possible writer we were interested in one at a time, and actually the first writer who we approached (who ended up not being able to add this project to his plate) suggested Rob, who was on our list, which encouraged our thought and really reinforced his being in the top five.
NRAMA: We’ll get back to Rob in a minute, but in terms of the property, why? In terms of heat, RoboCop isn't the hottest thing on the block. What do you see in it that, frankly, makes you think you can make your money back and then some?
NB: Well my "tea leaves" aren't working today so there is no guarantee (laughs) but again it goes back to RoboCop being such a great movie, and it had so much "magic" in it - everything about the first movie was so right, so that is where we wanted to build on. It was the beginning of the character, the right creative draw, and this was it, and we're hoping we're right. When it comes to publishing everything is all about making the right "bet" and you can easily make the wrong one. It's faith, an ability to believe in ourselves, an ability to believe in our creative team and a roll of the dice. There are no guarantees.
NRAMA: Fair enough, but how about the next version – “why now?” At the time it hit, RoboCop encapsulated a lot of the inner city fear, the gentrification, as you said in the press release, the fear of technology and more. Does that all still work now, or are you looking to tweak things to make it more of a fit for today?
NB: Honestly that's more of a question for Rob Williams. Seriously I don't want to give too much away and we have faith in Rob which is why he was one of the people we approached. Do I think Robocop works? Absolutely. The backstory from the first movie? Today, more so than in while.
NRAMA: With many of your other licenses, you've taken them back to their roots and rebuilt them on the fundamentals of the characters, which aren't always the most popular part of the character, but are still true to the original vision. Is that the plan here? Will the opening arc be a revisit of the origin of RoboCop?
NB: You know, if I answer this question I take away from Rob's answer, so, without saying too much, I will say that going to the root of a character is usually a good idea, building on that, taking away some of the layers that were built over the years – while it's the most difficult thing in the world picking and choosing what is cannon and what isn't. You make decisions and hope you're right.
NRAMA: For its time, the original RoboCop movie was shockingly violent, which became something of a hallmark of the property, though it was quickly toned down. Do you see the violence of RoboCop integral to the story, and will it be something that you're going to continue?
NB: Without a doubt. I think that that I can come out and say that without the violence, the cutting edge shockingly violent nature of the first movie we wouldn't be talking about RoboCop. We want the first RoboCop movie, that's what made it so great.
NRAMA: Over the years, RoboCop was moved into many, many different media and in different forms. In your view, what did the television series, couple of goes at an animated series do for the property?
NB: I think one of the thing that it did was just remind us how great the first RoboCop movie was. Every movie, every television series, each animated show did what it was supposed to do, which was create, and each vision was it’s own building, but the original is the original and that's where I think our focus should be.
NRAMA: You’ve been talking about him for a while, so here’s the question you’ve been dying to answer - why Rob Williams for writing? What was it about his work that made you think he was the right guy for the job?
NB: What made me think he was the right guy? How about everything from his work on Cla$$War to Star Wars to Wolverine? How about Judge Dredd? How about . . . he asked? He reached out to us before we reached out to him (in general, not about RoboCop) and again he was in our top five list, and when someone outside of our group suggested him, it just felt like it confirmed our initial gut feeling for it.
NRAMA: Finally, you've said that you will be launching a new ongoing series - does the license also include reprint rights to the previously published material? Will we see new collections?NB: Yes, yes and yes.