On February 17, BOOM! Studios takes readers on another bogus journey to hell with Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan in search of their friend, the Grim Reaper. Written by Brian Joines and Bachan on art, BOOM! promises this will be another "wyld" four-colored funny book that fans of the series will not want to miss.
Just before the series release, Newsarama sat down to talk with Joines about the boys from San Dimas, their continued appeal, and what fans can expect in this next story about the members of Wyld Stallions and why it’s one for the books.
Newsarama: Brian, what brings you back to Bill and Ted? I know you did a short story with Bachan in the last series - can you talk a bit about how you came to steer the helm of this current story?
Brian Joines: I had a blast writing the short for the previous series and let my editor know that if the opportunity to do more became available, I'd totally be down for it. Fortunately, Bill & Ted's Triumphant Return sold well, and my short was well-received around the offices, so they asked me if I'd like to take a shot at it. Of course, I said yes!
Nrama: What do fans of the movies who haven’t read the previous mini-series need to know to get into Bill and Ted Go to Hell?
Joines: There are a few carryovers from the first series. Basically, Bill & Ted Go To Hell picks up after events of the second movie, with Bill and Ted married to Joanna and Elizabeth and having sons, Little Bill and Little Ted. At the end of the first series, the villain, Chuck DeNomolos, had reformed and settled into life in San Dimas. He's still there when this series begins.
Nrama: Now, the guys were dealing with the afterlife before in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey where they went to hell, so this should be familiar territory for both the characters and the fans in some regards. How does this story vary things up for the audience
Joines: The big difference here is that, for once, Bill and Ted aren't directly at the center of the plot that kicks off the story. That falls to the Grim Reaper, who's kidnapped from his realm by sinister forces. So, Bill and Ted get to be a bit more proactive and organize a rescue mission with a number of their friends, whose own demons will get put on display. But when the boys get there, they'll find they played a greater role in things than they originally realized.
Nrama: I’m sure we’ll see some favorite blasts from the past, but are there new periods of time and personas whom we can expect to see?
Joines: We don't have much in the way of new characters, save for the odd incidental figure. I really wanted the main squad of characters to be a "Greatest Hits" take on the two movies and the first series - kind of Bill & Ted's own personal League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. As far as new time periods go...well, there's one scene in particular that was especially gratifying to write, especially living in Portland, but I won't say any more.
Nrama: What sort of challenges are there writing Bill Preston and Ted Logan, who are products of the early 90s, for a contemporary audience?
Joines: I think Bill and Ted are kind of icons these days, whose character type...the affable, goofy person who gets in over his/her head...is pretty universal and transcends a lot of the original 90s trappings. I'm 44 now, so I was the perfect audience for those films when they were released. So really, once I got a grasp on the mannerisms and speech patterns Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves used, it was just making sure I didn't lean too heavily on 90s references, instead telling a straightforward story where the slang and whatnot was a complimentary element, not a crutch.
Nrama: So you don’t really see Bill and Ted having any difficulty appealing to younger readers today who may not be familiar with these 90s cinematic icons of slack?
Joines: Bill and Ted are such broad, universal characters types, they should be recognizable in some way to most readers, even ones who aren't familiar with the films. And I think, with the book being a comedy, it takes some of the pressure off of knowing every little detail about things.
There are some things that are funny no matter what, even if you don't necessarily understand why they're funny. Mystery Science Theater 3000 made a cottage industry out of that idea.
Nrama: I know you and Bachan will be back together again on this series. What about his work here excites you most?
Joines: Beyond the basic fact that it's, as per usual, ridiculously awesome? For me, its seeing Bachan flourish within boundaries. With Imagine Agents, we were creating that world from the ground up and, when it came to the figments, Bachan got to let his imaginary freak flag fly. With Bill & Ted, there are obvious character/scene designs he needs to adhere to. But, no surprise, he's taken it and blown past every best-case scenario I could've imagined. I couldn't have a better partner on this series.
Nrama: How did you, Bachan, and the rest of the team on this book prepare for putting Bill and Ted Go to Hell together? Did you watch the movies, talk it over, or just kind of tackle your respective parts on your own?
Joines: We tackled our own respective parts. I re-watched the films to refresh myself on that universe, so I could remember things beyond the basics. And I know Bachan went through a number of character designs before settling on the ones we used in the book. Really, the whole thing was put together perfectly by our editor and eternal cheerleader Alex Galer, who is really the unsung hero on this book.
Nrama: Overall, what do you think it is about Bill and Ted Go to Hell makes this a "must buy" for 2016?
Joines: I think we're in the middle of a cultural shift in comics away from a lot of the "dark, brooding, bleeding in the alley" stuff and back towards lighter, brighter comics that can be fun without having that labeled as a four-letter word. Bill & Ted Go To Hell is a perfect example of that type of book. It's big, it's bold, it's colorful, it doesn't take itself too seriously...it's just spending some time with some old friends and seeing what they get into next. It's just pure, fun escapism...which I think, at their heart, comics need to be.