As Boom! Studios launches its upcoming line of comics based on Disney/Pixar properties and The Muppets , the company's new editor Paul Morrisey will be guiding the new line.
Before joining Boom! last month, Morrissey was a senior editor for Tokyopop, where he edited titles like Fruits Basket, Undertown, and Pantheon High. In his new editorial position, he'll be overseeing the roll-out of comics based on properties like The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and The Muppet Show.
Newsarama talked to the editor to find out more about the Disney deal and what this means for comics fans.
Newsarama: Tell us a little about Paul Morrisey, and from a career standpoint, what does this move mean to you?
Paul Morrissey: Well, I've always been a comic geek ever since I was a little kid. I loved comics, and I loved visual storytelling. And even though I worked at Tokyopop for about five or six years, I was never a massive manga fan before I started working there. I've always been more into indie and mainstream comics. Of course, I've learned to appreciate manga art styles and manga storytelling. But I'm excited to be here at Boom!, where the stuff they publish is more in line with the things I'm really interested in reading. And I'm not just talking about the Disney/Pixar/Muppets comics, but their whole line of comics -- all the great genre stuff that I'm really into. And they work with a lot of people that I've always wanted to work with.
Working with Mark on the Incredibles book is going to be amazing. Mark is someone who, I read his stuff before I was even in the comic book industry. And to get to work with him now is pretty awesome.
NRAMA: You don't just get to work with him. You get to edit him!
PM: Yep! Which is surreal to me! A lot of what we did at Tokyopop was finding up-and-coming talent -- both writers and artists. And what I like about Boom! is the chance to work with people who are really established, whether it's established in comics or established in Hollywood, or people who have a lot of film or TV experience. So that's going to be really fun.
NRAMA: Let's talk about Pixar. Were you a fan of the films before you came to Boom!?
PM: Definitely. I had seen all of them, and I was a huge fan. And I'm thrilled to be working on this stuff. It's going to be a blast for me. And when I mention these projects to artists and writers, they get so excited. They all revere and adore the stuff that Pixar has done. And they want to play with those toys. So I think it's going to be really exciting, because their enthusiasm will come through in the stories, and readers will see the results.
NRAMA: And there are six properties you'll be dealing with initially?
PM: The first thing we're talking about is Incredibles, with Mark writing and Darwyn Cooke doing covers. That book is going to be great. People who like Mark's work and Darwyn's work should check that out. The other top-tier Pixar project that we're working on is Toy Story. We don't have any other creative teams signed up just yet. We're waiting on approvals from Disney and Pixar. We've got a lot of cool story ideas and a lot of really amazing artists that are going to be working on these projects. I think people are going to be really impressed.
NRAMA: What's the timing of the roll-out?
PM: We're going to launch the first wave of books in the Spring of 2009. We're going to launch with The Incredibles and Toy Story. Cars, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc and Wall-E will follow shortly after that. Those are the titles we want to concentrate on initially.
NRAMA: What about future Pixar projects?
PM: The film next summer is a movie called Up, which is going to be really, really cool. It's kind of a departure in a lot of ways. And we want to coordinate a simultaneous release with the film and the Up comic. So I think that might happen next summer.
NRAMA: When reaching out to the kids market, from an editing standpoint, what kind of things do you have to keep in mind, and what's your approach?
PM: Well, the great thing about the Pixar movies is that they appeal to more than just kids. They're not dumbed down, and you can be an adult and go to those movies and really enjoy them. The approach is to have really great stories that will appeal to everybody.
That being said, I think kids will really respond to the art in these books. Obviously, the Pixar movies all have a distinctive computer animated look, and that's very difficult to recreate with hand-drawn art. The trick is to hire artists who have a fresh, dynamic style that's still on model.
NRAMA: How will these be collected?
PM: We want to do four-issue story arcs, and those will be sold into the direct market as floppies, and then they'll be collected into trade for mass.
NRAMA: Let's talk about the Muppets comics. Is that roll-out going to happen at the same time?
PM: Yes. We want to do the first Muppets book also in the Spring of '09. We're going to do a Muppet Show book that is going to be very much in the same vein as the show. It will be really funny, with a lot of skits and gags. But we do want each book to have its own story. And there will be a narrative through-line. It's going to be a four-issue arc as well. The first book is going to focus on Kermit, the second will be on Fozzie, the third book will be a Gonzo book, and the fourth book is going to be a Miss Piggy book. And the stories will all kind of connect to each other.
NRAMA: Do you know what might come after the Muppet Show book?
PM: We're going to do another Muppet book besides the Muppet Show. It will be a parody book, similar to the Muppet movies everyone loves. So expect to see Muppet Robin Hood, Muppet King Arthur and the like very soon! The approach is basically "a kid-friendly Monty Python."
NRAMA: So many of kids comics that you see out there are what we call in the comics industry, "done-in-one." Why would you want to do a four-issue arc as opposed to the single issue stories?
PM: Each story will be able to stand alone, on its own. But when you read them all together, it's going to tell a bigger story. It will connect in some way. It may not be something major. There aren't going to be any cliffhangers or anything like that. But thematically, it will be of a piece. And I think if you read Issue #3 and you haven't read the first two, you're going to be OK. You can join the party and enjoy it. But when they're collected together, you'll get a greater appreciation for the story as a whole. There's an extra pay-off if you read them all together.
NRAMA: How closely are you working with Disney? Are they approving everything?
PM: They have to approve everything--story and art. They are very much involved. The Disney/Pixar team is very committed to quality, so they're going to make sure we stay true to their properties and make sure we bring something new and unique to their worlds and characters.
NRAMA: With the Pixar comics, where do they take place in the movie continuity? After the movie? Or within the movie? They're all original stories, right?
PM: They're all original stories; we're not doing any adaptations. Why do a comic book adaptation when you could just watch it on DVD over and over again? So they are going to be all new stories. Creatively, this is a very welcome challenge! Some might be prequel stories, like with Wall-E, since he was on Earth for 700 years. There's a lot of time there to tell a Wall-E story that takes place before the movie. Everything else is pretty much a sequel. Of course, it all depends on whether or not they approve what we want to do. I'm hoping that, with Monsters Inc., we get the story concept approved, because my plan is to take Boo and make her 7 or 8 instead of a toddler, and have her be a more active protagonist. Right now, we're cooking up a lot of cool story ideas.
These books are going to be truly special. It's an honor to help create new adventures for everyone's favorite Pixar characters. Just like Pixar, BOOM! is committed to a high level of quality, and I have every confidence that our stories, featuring characters that everyone knows and loves, will really resonate with fans.