Miami. Home of fast cars, beautiful women and a seedy criminal underworld – and Detectives Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs are there to embrace it all. More than 30 years after the original NBC series took viewers by storm, Lion Forge Comics and IDW Publishing are teaming up to publish Miami Vice Remix, written by Joe Casey and illustrated by Jim Mahfood.
Bringing Crockett and Tubbs into the modern day, Miami Vice Remix smashes together Vice mainstays like their Armani-shirt fashion combos and their trademark Black Ferrari with voodoo drug dealers and an army of the undead, all told with Casey and Mahfood’s psychedelic style. With the series set to hit comic shops March 4, Newsarama caught up with Casey and Mahfood as well as their editor, Lion Forge Editor-in-Chief Shannon Eric Denton, to talk about taking a new spin on this iconic television series.
Newsarama: Shannon, just to start off with a question for you -- what made Joe and Jim the right pair for Miami Vice Remix? And what made this the right project for Lion Forge and IDW to partner up together?
Shannon Eric Denton: Crazy, smoking-real talent from Joe and Jim made this an easy decision. Both Joe and Jim are creators I’m not only a fan of but want to be in business with. With Joe, I’ve worked as a storyboard artist on some of the Marvel shows Man of Action have story-edited and was looking for an opportunity to work with him again. Working with Jim was a first for me but he already had a working relationship with Joe as well as he knew our in-house Lion Forge artist, Lorenzo Lizana, from them both hailing from the St. Louis art scene. It made perfect sense for all of us to collaborate on this. After I put the IDW partnership in motion it was a simple matter of everyone at Lion Forge and IDW geeking out over this book. It’s a bold book based off of a great property with great creators. So a big Thanks! shout-out to our CEO David Steward for signing off on this project as our first book, the fine folks at IDW and the team effort on making it all happen!
Nrama: What's interesting about Miami Vice is, as a concept, it was grounded in the flashy but real-life underworld. But now you guys are adding in hints of the supernatural into this story, particularly with Crockett and Tubbs facing off against the undead. What made you guys decide to, well, remix the property like this?
Denton: I’m going to turn this over to Joe and Jim but we already had our great digital series by Jonathan London, Geanes Holland, Derec Donovan, and art directed by Carl Reed. That’s set between Seasons 1 and 2 of the TV series so this was always going to be something different. From the beginning, I told Joe and Jim not to hold back. To keep it true to the spirit of such a great property like Miami Vice but to forge new ground like the show originally did. I think we have a book that shows our love for Crockett and Tubbs and gives you a familiarity but at the same time takes you someplace you’ve never been. Forge On!
Nrama: Underneath all the flashiness, Miami Vice was anchored by its charismatic lead characters, with Tubbs' vendetta against the Calderone family and Crockett's murky past. Can you tell us a bit about what you like about these characters, and any of the personal history that you'll be delving into with Miami Vice Remix?
Joe Casey: A lot of personal history will be dealt with. Maybe not in the way anyone's expecting, but I don't think anyone who was a fan of the show will be disappointed. Crockett and Tubbs are iconic characters but we're dragging them into the 21st century in a big, bad way.
Jim Mahfood: Yes, what Joe said. I like the fact that these two guys both have their own unique personalities and attitudes. I tried to make the redesigns and visuals reflect that, while at the same time giving a wink and nod to the original TV series.
Nrama: For a concept that's as distinctly '80s as Miami Vice, how do you two approach the concept in terms of modern sensibilities? Or on the other side of the equation, what about the concept endures, even 30 years after its debut?
Casey: It's all about the characters. Not to mention, this is a remix. Passing fads or long-lost fashions don't factor into this. We're just taking these characters and the concept and doing it our way. Like Burger King, but tastier.
Mahfood: That sweet black Ferrari endures. We made sure to put that thing in here.
Nrama: Do you each have a favorite Miami Vice episode from the original series?
Casey: The one where James Brown is an alien.
Mahfood: Yeah, the James Brown one is obviously the best thing they ever did. Second to that is the original pilot episode. I remember as a kid all the hype around that. I watched it the night it came on and it just seemed so dark, edgy, and ultra-cool at the time.
Nrama: Jim, you're well-known as an artist with an edgy, evocative style - and Miami Vice was one of those shows that was also defined by its visuals. What bits of Miami Vice drew you in, and what did you feel you wanted to add in visually as an artist?
Mahfood: Basically, I took everything out of the TV universe and put it all through my Visual Funk filter to make it all-new and original for this comic. Like Joe said above, this is a remix. So that's what I'm doing with the visuals... remixing it into my own thing, giving the look its own attitude and flavor for the comic book world that exists when Joe and I work together. There's so much amazing stuff you can do with comics, it would be silly and unoriginal to do a literal visual interpretation of the TV show.
Nrama: Joe, Jim, you two have worked together before, with books like Marijuanaman and Captain Victory and animation like Disco Destroyer. What is your collaborative style like, and what do you two feel the other brings to the table?
Casey: It's always a great hang to work with Mahfood. We've been friends for over a decade but we've only been working together the past five years or so. There's a lot of trust there. First and foremost, I'm a fan of Food's art, so I'm always psyched to see what he does.
Mahfood: This is all very flattering! Hey man, I'm a fan of Joe's as well! This is fun stuff. Joe knows how to write for my drawing style, he knows what I want to draw and how to make the working experience painless. It doesn't even feel like work. I get the scripts, laugh out loud, nod my head in agreement, sit down and draw the stuff, send it to Joe, and then we high-five each other in victory.
Nrama: Additionally, out of the two of you, who would you say is Crockett and who would you say is Tubbs?
Casey: I'd have to say... I'm more like Elvis.
Mahfood: I'm Lt. Castillo. Silent samurai sword destruction!
Nrama: Fair enough. Finally, for those who are still on the fence about Miami Vice Remix, is there anything you can tease that might get them on board?
Casey: On the fence?! Just look at this damn thing! It's over-the-top, hyper-violent Miami mayhem. It's Crockett and Tubbs as you'd never imagined them. Luckily, that's what we're here for and we had an absolute blast doing it.
Mahfood: There may or may not be an alligator. There may or may not.