NYCC '09 - New Projects, New Format: The Radical Panel

Steve Pugh Talks Hotwire at Radical

Shrapnel #1
Shrapnel #1

With Radical Publishing holding its first-ever panel at the New York Comic Con Saturday, the event was an opportunity to both introduce the company’s titles, its philosophies, as well as a few announcements about the company’s future.

In attendance was Radical’s president Barry Levine, vice president Jesse Berger, Hercules cover artist (and comics legend) Jim Steranko, Cholly & Flytrap creator Arthur Suydam, City of Dust’s Steve Niles, Hotwire writer/artist Steve Pugh, FVZA writer David Hine, The Last Days of American Crime’s Rick Remender, and Caliber: First Canon of Justice creator (as well as head of Johnny Depp’s production company) Sam Sarkar.

“It's been a real privilege to be associated with Barry and all these guys,” said Steranko. “I've never seen anyone with more compelling interest in their projects than the people I'm sitting with here…it's pretty damn impressive.”

Steranko’s upcoming series, Hercules and the Knives of Kush, comes off the heels of the original limited series written by Steve Moore. In the panel, Steranko discussed how the new series will join Hercules and his band of mercenaries as they travel to Egypt. Discussing a cover he created for the series, in which Hercules stands with a short sword in a green and black palette, Steranko said “I can't really tell you how that particular image came to mind, except that I wanted you to find something that you haven't seen.”

Meanwhile, when introducing Arthur Suydam, Berger announced that Suydam’s series Cholly & Flytrap would be released in a trade paperback collection.

Steve Niles, meanwhile, discussed how his relationship with Levine sparked his series City of Dust. “Really what City of Dust is is Barry and me went back and forth because I kept coming out with horror ideas -- he said no, no, which was his way of rejecting it,” he said. “I showed him some of the artwork and we started jamming, and it was his suggestion that we start from a different place -- sci fi. We eventually went back to horror but we started off from a different place… I've just been having a blast.”

Hotwire #1 by Steve Pugh, from a story by Warren Ellis

The panel then focused on Steve Pugh, who writes, pencils, and inks both covers and interiors for the series he developed with Warren Ellis, Hotwire. “It's amazing to work with somebody who does it all,” said Berger. “You have your writer, your penciller, your inker -- in the case of Hotwire, it's just been Steve… we don't get to see anything before it all just comes in.” Pugh was appreciative of the company, saying his approach of drawing lettered storyboards wouldn’t have been accepted with any other imprint.

Berger then discussed the success of the title Shrapnel, which he said was drawing interest in a film adaptation. “We'll be able to announce something officially at San Diego Comic Con,” he said. He also discussed upcoming titles such as Aladdin – “this is not Disney’s Aladdin… this is a story about being careful what you wish for: sometimes you have everything you ever wanted and you didn't know it” – as well as Oblivion, a story submitted by Tron 2 director Joe Kosinski which will be an "illustrated novel" rather than a graphic novel.


Moving onto David Hine and his adaptation of FZVA, the writer discussed how this series was built upon an alternate history of America, where vampirism and zombification plagues traveled to America via immigration. Roy Martinez, who collaborated with Hine on Marvel’s Son of M will provide the art. “The art he's doing with me, the talent is really being unleashed here.”

Rick Remender then spoke of his new series, The Last Days of American Crime. The story centers around a “burn-out meth addict safecracker” in a world where the government has built a radio signal that will utterly prevent people from carrying out crime. With the signal to be unleashed in two weeks, the country goes wild. “Everyone knows that there's two weeks left so everyone’s getting out their vices,” he said. “There's a lot of fucking... there's people hunting in zoos. It’s a zombie movie without zombies -- the streets are insane.”

Finally, Radical Publishing moved onto Caliber: First Canon of Justice, which writer Sakar described as “King Arthur as a western.” Berger said that the acquisition of this title really developed the company as an entity, and Sakar agreed that the collaboration came from his long friendship with Levine. Sakar went into detail about the color palette of the piece, likening the blues and greens as similar to House of Flying Daggers.

One of the biggest announcements came at the end of the panel, when Levine announced that Radical, which has both a comics and film component, had built up its discretionary fund enough that it would commission its own writers to adapt their works to film. “We already have our fund, and I want to approach some of our creators, some of our writers who have that ability to adapt their own screenplays,” he said. “How many times do you hear creators, writers, pissed off because they put their heart and soul into something and the screenwriter just dissed it?”


With that, he said, “we're going to be having whoever’s capable -- and we know who's capable and whose work lends itself -- so we'll be having Rick Remender on his book and David Hine for a book that's coming up called Rider on a Storm.” Remender, when asked to comment on the assignment, said “I found the process to be liberating… instead of comic books where you have one action per image, you can’t get into the same kind of flow. The way you work in comics is quick and concise, its moment by moment. In film you get yourself into a flow.” Sam Sarker, coming from his own experience in film adaptation, said, “I think the process of adapting your own work from a comic is doing your own vasectomy -- you might not be the most qualified, but who else are you gonna trust?”

In addition, Levine said, after this Comic Con, Radical would no longer publish 22-page single issues, instead collecting six-issue arcs into three 48-page books. “It's just so much easier for readers to invest themselves in 48 pages rather than 22,” he said. “We'll keep it at $4.99 so it’s cheaper than two issues.”

More New York Comic Con 2009 Coverage:

NYCC '09 Video Page

NYCC '09 Mini-Site

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