Butterfly Effect -- meet the Green Hornet. With the Seth Rogen-helmed Green Hornet film due out in January 2011, Dynamite Entertainment is taking a look at just how Britt Reid and Kato influenced one another to eventually assumed their masked alter egos in the official film prequel Green Hornet: Parallel Lives. As writer Jai Nitz and artist Nigel Raynor unveil their tag-team efforts in July, Newsarama caught up with Nitz to discuss writing for two Katos, how he prepared for the Rogen factor, and how "everything is connected" when it the heroes of Century City.
Newsarama: Jai, can you tell us a little bit about how you got involved with this series? You were working on the Kato series -- how do you feel that bridged to this book?
Jai Nitz: It all boils down to Nick Barrucci and Joe Rybandt. They have been exceptionally good to me over the last year, and they’re making sure I’m busy at Dynamite. The Kato Origins series and Green Hornet: Parallel Lives both were offered to me at the same time. If you looked at my pitches side by side you’d think I was pitching for two different universes -- and I am. Each Kato has a different set of circumstances that makes for different stories.
Nrama: Based on the solicit text, there seems to be a real them here of destiny, or at least of this sort of butterfly effect, with Britt and Kato's actions subtly impacting one another, until they become the costumed duo we know and love. Can you tell us a little bit about where their heads were at, as far as the beginning of this series goes?
Nitz: You hit the nail on the head with the Butterfly Effect comparison. I love Lost, and I love the whole “everything is connected” vibe. Obviously, I have less characters and time to work with on Green Hornet: Parallel Lives, but that also means I get to dig deeper into their past and their relationships. That was one of the big draws of this book to me. I got to read the screenplay and the characters instantly spoke to me. I can really hear Seth Rogen and Jay Chou in my head when I am writing Parallel Lives. That also made it fun to get into their headspace before they donned the masks. But rather than having them be exactly like what you see in the movie, I wanted to take them to some odd places storywise.
Nrama: Considering you're also working on the Kato series, how does Parallel Livesplay off that? What does this series give you in terms of new storytelling opportunities and new angles for Kato?
Nitz: Writing them both simultaneously gives me the opportunity to try a bunch of different wacky ideas but then only keep the best stuff. The benefit for me is that I can take ideas that don’t work in either universe and see if they work for the other. It makes me a more efficient writer. And since each Kato is so different, it makes it easy for me to keep the ideas flowing.
Nrama: Now, you're in an interesting position for this book. It's not unheard of to hear of writers working on licensed comics, or comics set to come out with a movie... but you're doing an original prequel to a movie, for a script that was already written for a Hollywood release. So a roundabout question -- how do you approach this, what seems like a real tightrope walk?
Nitz: I dove into the screenplay and thought a lot about the characters and the tone of the film itself. The characters in the film made it really easy for me to round them out with backstory. I was writing the backstory in my head as I read. The simple stuff like “wouldn’t it be cool if…?” proved to be fuel for my miniseries. I think the script was a great springboard to get my creative juices flowing.
Nrama: It's interesting, because not only are there a lot of masked vigilantes out there, but when it comes to the Green Hornet, there have been a lot of new approaches and angles on the character. For you, what's the appeal of the character of the Green Hornet? And how do you feel your approach stands out among the rest?
Nitz: You have to remember that I couldn’t worry about the other takes on Green Hornet and Kato when I wrote Green Hornet: Parallel Lives. I know that Kevin Smith, Matt Wagner, and Brett Matthews are really good at their jobs, so I didn’t want to compare the movie Green Hornet to their Green Hornets. I was concerned with treating Seth Rogen’s screenplay with respect and care. I’m a big fan of Seth Rogen going all the way back to Undeclared, so I hope he enjoys what I wrote. I think what I wrote is very faithful to the screen version of the characters. That said, first and foremost I’m a comic book writer, so I wanted to make those screen characters sing in a different medium.
Nrama: Going back just a little bit, is the fact that at least at first blush, seeing Seth Rogen as the Green Hornet has a bit of cognitive dissonance when compared to some of the other versions of the character that Dynamite has been printing. Are you taking his, er, "Rogen-ness" into account in your story? If so, how has his particular mannerisms and acting style impacted your work?
Nitz: I sure tried to. Go read the Green Hornet dialogue in my first issue of Kato and the Green Hornet dialogue in the first issue of Green Hornet: Parallel Lives and you’ll see one is definitely Seth Rogen (the other is more like Carey Grant, but that’s another story). I have tremendous respect for Seth Rogen as an actor, but also as a screenwriter. It’s a lot harder than you think to do what he does. In my head, I’m writing this for him, trying to make him proud.
Nrama: You're working with artist Nigel Raynor on this book. What strengths do you feel Nigel brings to this book?
Nitz: I’m really blessed to have Nigel as my artist. His art is really strong and kinetic. It reminds me of the WildStorm heydays. I tried to make each issue cinematic and kinetic and Nigel really captures that and brings great cartooning to the table. That’s why he’s so awesome; he draws what I ask for but he also brings something else to every page. That’s a great artist and collaborator.
Nrama: Finally, for those who are still on the fence about this book, what would you tell them to get on board? Are there any moments you're particularly excited about to see hit the stands?
Nitz: I say the same thing about every Dynamite book (my own, and all the others)… it’s not what you expect. Green Hornet: Parallel Lives is not what you expect. It’s not a paint-by-numbers movie prequel where nothing happens and nothing is at stake. It’s not a cheap laugh book, nor is it an excuse for fluff. It’s a compelling story with laughs and action, just like the movie. And the art is incredible. Give my book (or any Dynamite book) a chance and you won’t be disappointed.