Tyrese Gibson - Laying Down a Little Mayhem at Image

Gibson Gets Into Comics with Mayhem

Mayhem #1

From music to television and onto the big screen, Tyrese Gibson is a bit of a renaissance man. He’s starred in some of the highest-grossing movies of all time, and had several chart-topping musical albums and has scored numerous awards in both. With the release of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen coming near, Gibson is now entering a new arena: comics.

In August, Gibson is debuting a three-issue miniseries entitled Mayhem. Published by the bastion of creator-owned comics Image, Mayhem is a Los Angeles-based crime book featuring a masked vigilante called Mayhem.

Mayhem is about a modern-day Robin Hood,” says Gibson. ”Mayhem is a vigilante who steals from crime bosses to fund his campaign against crime. His arch-rival is named Big X, and he has a chokehold on the underworld of Los Angeles and his corrupt activities reach every level of society there. Mayhem is on a mission to take out Big X, but at some point in the series we’ll reveal a dark secret that links Big X and Mayhem together.”

“So it’s about just revealing, slowly but surely, bits and pieces that will encourage people to keep flipping the pages of the comic.”

For the titular character of Mayhem himself, the writers have invested a lot into what’s going on both outside – and inside – his head.

“Mayhem has a lot of self-doubt. He’s very courageous, but in trying to do what he needs to do for his city he has a lot of self-doubt. He does what’s right out there on the ground, but he beats himself up about things a lot.”

Mayhem #1, page 1

An admitted newcomer to comics, Tyrese Gibson’s interest in comics originated from the warm reception he had at a recent San Diego Comic-Con while promoting the movie Death Race.

“I want to go on record for your readers to say that I am no comic book veteran; I don’t have a twenty year history with reading comics,” confesses Gibson. “But I have a great deal of respect for the comic world. It blew my head off to visit San Diego Comic-Con with Jason Statham to promote Death Race; Comic-Con got me into comcs. The convetion was so unreal – after that trip I was explaining the experience to everyone I came in contact to trying to relay the enthusiasm I saw there.”

Since then, he has immersed himself in comics with help from his friend and Mayhem co-writer Mike Le and Will Wilson.

“Tyrese and I went down to Meltdown Comics in L.A., and we told the manager to give him the best out there,” said Le, who is also Vice President of Tyrese’s company, Headquarter Entertainment. “Tyrese has been reading, and the more he reads the more he’s realizing how much there is to comics.”

“I’ve been reading through The Punisher and Batman,” said Tyrese,” and comics really appeal to me for the visual aspect of it – and that’s something I want to make sure Mayhem represents.”

And although this is Tyrese’s first foray into writing comics, he’s got a good track record of writing another form – movies. “I’ve written seven screenplays, and sold about four of the seven to studios already,” Said Gibson. “Even though the format of writing comics is much different than writing a screenplay, in both I enjoy molding the storyline and figure out everything that’s going to be in the story’s world.”

Mayhem #1, page 2

Working with Tyrese to bring this comic to fruition is the aforementioned Mike Le. In addition to co-writing Mayhem and heading up Tyrese’s production company, Le is already a comics creator. In 2007 he launched the webcomic Don’t Forget to Validate Your Parking, based on his experiences as a screenwriter working in Hollywood. Birthed out of free time during the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike, Le garnered significant attention from Hollywood insiders about his frank – and funny – portrayal of working in Hollywood but soon broke mainstream with a post on the website Boing Boing.

“I’m a huge comics fan,” said Mike Le, Mayhem co-writer and Vice President of Gibson’s production company. “The first comic I ever read was the Marvel Comics’ adaptation of Star Wars, which I bought at the concession stand of a movie theatre. That changed my life, and I’ve been a comics fan ever since. When I started running Tyrese’s company, I had hopes of publishing a comic through here. “

On the art side of things for Mayhem is comics veteran Tone Rodriguez. Rodriguez has done a lot of work around comics, starting with Violent Messiahs, a comic adaptation of Escape from New York, in addition to comics about both KISS and The Simpsons.

“It’s been an honor for me to work with Tone,” Tyrese says. “There’s a lot of different styles of artists out there, and Tony really embraced and understood the direction I wanted to go in with Mayhem. He’s done some really powerful images.”

“When we first sat down with tone,” Le says,” his portfolio blew Tyrese away. His initial sketch of our character – originally called Enforcer – was amazing.”

Putting together a comic is just like starting a business, and in that it involves research. For Tyrese and his collaborators, he wanted to see how comics came to be.

“About a week and a half ago, I went down to Long Beach where the comics are docked. I met the whole staff of Diamond Distribution – including my man Nash – and they showed me all sorts of information about their whole process in distributing these comics to everyone around the country and even overseas. I Was at Diamond for about 4 hours – talking, signing t-shirts and really getting to know the place.”

“I’m all about grassroots promotion and key to that is really understanding the world of comics so I can hopefully contribute something to this world that’s been around for so many years.”

Mayhem #1, page 3

Tyrese has become a veteran of promotion after countless album releases, television shows and movie premieres. And for comics, he’s partnered with a local comic book store to stoke the success of the book.

“For the launch of the Mayhem miniseries, we worked with Gaston at Meltdown Comics here in Los Angeles where he takes pre-sales,” said Gibson.”In the first two weeks he’s had over 5,000 pre-sales, and that’s just at Meltdown.” The unique pre-order partnership with Meltdown Comics resulted in over 60,000 hits to their website in the first ten minutes of ordering – with good reason: the first 200 copies will be autographed by Gibson, and the first 30 will also receive a personal phone call from the star.“Everyone was overwhelmed by the response, so we’re going to bump up the number of autographs for the fans who’re supporting us.”

Through it all, Tyrese became acutely aware of the scope of the comics world and how one wrong move could ruin things.

“Real comic book fans can smell bullshit from a mile away. When we were doing this I made sure to connect with people like Jeff Katz, Avi Arad, Robert Kirkman and Eric Stephsenson to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes as I adventure into this world.”

“Robert, Eric, Todd and the whole Image Comics family have been really supportive of us. When I’m out promoting the second Transformers movies – I’m about to head out for international press to 9 different countries – and throughout every interview I’m mentioning Mayhem. I’m trying to take advantage of the that stage and make August 5th, the release of Mayhem #1, really special.”

Mayhem #1, page 4

Tyrese’s schedule for the summer is busy – between the release of the second Transformers movie on June 24th and the comic’s debut on August 5th, he’s got a full schedule. But he’s not missing San Diego Comic-Con, which started him thinking about comics in the first place.

“We’re definitely going to be at San Diego Comic-Con this year,” said Le. “We’ll be at the Image Panel which I believe is on Friday, and we’re working on having a big launch party for Mayhem

With so many projects going – a movie being released, more in the works, a music career and a new comic book venture, life has no signs of slowing up for the California-born talent.. But that’s the way he likes it.

“What I’m feeling at this point is that my momentum for Mayhem is indeed that… mayhem.”

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