Comic-Con International: San Diego is a big place: for a fan, a creator, and even publisher with several years and titles under their belt. Radical Publishing, who last year was named best new publisher by comic distribution company Diamond, has their biggest year yet planned for the convention.
“This is our third visit to Comic-con, but only our second year as a full publishing company,” said Jesse Berger, VP of Radical, a few days before the event kicked off last week. “Last year were debuted our comics, as well as having creators on hand to interact with the fans and have real signings.”
“2009 is a validation of what we’ve been doing and how hard we’ve been working,” said Barry Levine, Radical’s President.
“The first year we were here, 2007, we had a small 10x10 booth. In 2008 we expanded to a 10x20, but this year we decided on the much larger 30x30 booth,” said Berger. “We also operated to move our booth location towards the interactive companies like Hasbro, SquareEniz and the motion picture folk. The idea was because our company while our company’s core is in publishing, we’re extending far cross different mediums. We wanted out company to stand apart from others.”
On Friday, popular Hollywood commentator Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News moderated Radical’s Creators Panel. The talk ranged from their comic books to movie news, with celebrated director Len Wiseman (Live Free & Die Hard, Underworld) announced to helm the feature film adaptation of Radical’s Shrapnel series.
Shrapnel, created by Zombie Studios CEO Mark Long and sci-fi novelist Nick Sagan, debuted as a 3-issue miniseries subtitled “Aristeia Rising” which is scheduled to be released as a collection in August.
“We make no qualms about the kinds of directors we choose to work with: Peter Berg, Bryan Singer, Antoine Fuqua, and now Len. For each of them we reached out to them, presented them with a package including the scripts, and made a real effort to forge a collaborative partnership,” said Levine. “In the case of Shrapnel and Len Wiseman, he actually came to us."“As Len tells me,” Levine said,” he was in a comic store where he first came across Shrapnel. He bought it, read it that same day, and then called his agent to set up a meeting with us. He came in on a Tuesday, send about three hours with me and I could clearly see his interest and vision for what Shrapnel<. could be.”
Levins explains the Wiseman has tentatively planned to Shrapnel after he completes his current film, Gears of War.
This joins previously announced productions of other Radical titles such as Hercules which was optioned by Spyglass Entertainment and Peter Berg’s Film 44, and Caliber which is under Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil shingle.
With the first Shrapnel limited series scheduled to be collected in August, this Hollywood announcement could surge interest in the property. “The book stands on its own, and we don’t sacrifice the quality of a book for the sake of making a movie,” said Berger. “There’s elements of the book that Len particular loved, but there will probably be things he reinforces and embellishes on in this collaborative process.”
Work is already underway on a second Shrapnel miniseries, with co-creator Nick Sagan stepping in to pen the series himself.
From comics to the big screen, and from the big screen to comics as director Darren Bousman (Saw 2, Repo: The Genetic Opera) is bringing his newest creation to the comic page thanks to Radical Publishing. The project, titled Abattoir, chronicles a real estate agent whose task to clean out a mansion for re-sale after a massacre, finds that the horror those walls saw isn’t completely dead.
Radical’s relationship and eventual partnership with Bousman came by way of Clive Barker. Right, horror novelist Clive Barker.
“I met [Darren Bousman] at Clive’s house during a party several years ago,” said Levine. “We talked about doing projects at that point, but eh went away to do another film first.”
Abbatoir isn’t just another story for Bouseman according to Levine. It’s something personal.
“Darren looks at Abbatoir as his own franchise. He did great with the Saw sequels, but it wasn’t his own,” said Levine. “So we made the commitment, and brought in some great people to flesh out the project. We have a great writer and artist we’ll be announcing shortly.”
Although the Abbatoir cover has already been released, the comic itself will probably wait to debut in 2010. “We don’t want to rush it out too fast,” said Berger. “The painted style that has become Radical’s calling card definitely takes longer than a traditional comic book.”
“What really sold us on Darren’s project was the passion he had for it,” said Berger. “You can tell who wants to write a book only to turn it into film, and then someone who’s passionate about getting a story out there living and breathing. He was so passionate in explaining the story – he walked us through the characters, their motivations, and the larger themes of the story.”
“It was a no-brainer,” said Radical’s Vice President.
Radical rounded out their new announcements with word on the comics front, as they’re finished negotiating with Random House to be their mass market distributor for the United States and Canada. “It’s a landmark for us to be in a position to see our books in airports and the like, and penetrate those markets,” said Berger.
Radical also announced that it had cemented a relationship with European company Dargaud to translate and distribute their books for France. The first book, Caliber, is planned for release “in the next 8 months”.