WW PHILLY '08: Blackbeard Meets The Blair Witch Creators

Blackbeard Meets Blair Witch Creators

Edward Teach is about to step back into the land of the living, and back into comics.

Yeah – “Edward Teach” is about as compelling as “Nestor Lesbit” when it comes to compelling names, but you already know Edward by his other name: Blackbeard, famous for doing such things as lighting candles and matches in his beard on fire when he attacked his enemies.

The pirate will be the star of a coming comic book series from Dynamite Entertainment, with The Blair Witch Project’s/Haxan Films’ Eduardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, and Jamie Nash, along with Robert Napton steering the metaphorical ship.

We spoke with Dynamite President Nick Barucci for more on the project, which will debut later this year.

Newsarama: Nice, you first announced that you had this property a while back around the Baltimore Comic-Con, I believe, but didn't say much about it then - why was this/is this a property that you want to develop?

Nick Barucci: One of the reasons we didn’t say much at the time, was because we were not 100% sure where we would fit this in the schedule. We had signed the agreement to work on it, we had the overview, but did not have much more than that, so chose to hold off on giving any more than that. Blackbeard: The Pirate’s Legacy [working title], is one of the most unbelievable stories in history. There is so much richness, and Eduardo, Gregg, Robert and Jamie really delve in to it. They are passionate about the project, which makes the team at Dynamite passionate about our publishing it. Honestly, from what I’ve seen, this is like Garth writing The Boys. The overviews and scripts are so perfect, we haven’t had to add one note yet.

And I have to say, an exciting part for me, is that these guys have a movie and marketing career outside of comics, are taking Blackbeard to the big screen, yet want to tell the tale as a comic first. To me, that says volumes about our medium.

NRAMA: What kind of approach are you going to be taking with this? Obviously, he was a real person, but he's surrounded by legend. Where will your stories with the character tread?

NB: The stories will be all real-life. This is the truest telling of his tale. That was part of the passion that Ed, Gregg, Rob and Jamie bring to the table. This is where the excitement builds. Let me tell you, I’m a bit of a history buff. Not great, but know the little things that I think are cool, and threw out two little known facts about Blackbeard, and they not only knew what I was talking about, but went in to so many nitty gritty’s, I was loving it. These guys will show you that the truth is stranger than fiction, and some of the legend.

NRAMA: How do you see the character fitting in with your other characters and properties?

NB: He’s classic, he’s iconic, and he’s being told by creators who feel an absolute passion about the project. I would say pretty darn good.

NRAMA: Looking at the larger picture of where this fits in to the Dynamite Entertainment “family” - you've got cowboys, zombie fighters, a barbarian warrior, heroes of myth and legend, and now a pirate...have you been trying to develop a pulp-style house all along, and the final pieces are coming into place?

NB: Wow! Maybe sub-consciously, but had not thought it out. We’re just trying to tell good stories, and in genres we like. We’re doing that. I would say we will tell just about any story that we feel is compelling, and that fans want to read. We won’t please everyone all the time, shoot, we won’t please most of the people most of the time. What we hope to do, is anyone who picks up our comics, pick up a comic that they feel was enjoyable. What’s coming in to place is that we’ve built enough of good-will, that we can launch more titles - when we have the right title.

NRAMA: On a property like this at Dynamite - how do you develop it? Do you have the core idea? [Editor] Joe Rybandt? A committee? Or do you turn it out to prospective writers and ask for their takes on it, and go with the best one?

NB: There is no cookie cutter answer. Every project is different.

NRAMA: Your writers - Eduardo, Jamie, Gregg and Rob...how did you get them hooked on this? No offense intended, but it sounds well...not like something you'd expect to see the writing team of The Blair Witch Project working on...

NB: We did not get them hooked, Ed, Jamie, Gregg and Rob came to us. I was honored. We all were honored. Keep in mind; these are the guys who came up with the premise and the marketing for the first Blair Witch, which was a phenomenon, both in story-telling and in marketing. I believe the second Blair Witch was not something that they were fully involved in (and as you can see, the results were far less than satisfying), and I do not believe it’s my place to ask what happened with the 3rd one that was bantered about. But I digress.

Basically, I am close friends with Robert Napton, and he asked if I would be willing to meet with them, and I said yes, and they came to our offices with five projects. We had a great conversation as they showed us the different projects, and literally, Blackbeard was their last one, and I just saw the art they created and said “that’s the first one. Let’s start with Blackbeard, build up a following, and then we can work on the other projects”. And that’s how it went. It’s been over a year and we’ve been developing Blackbeard, and we’re getting there. We’re almost at the point that we feel it’s time to get the word out.

NRAMA: These guys are pretty much known for their horror leanings and chops. Are you looking to them to bring that sensibility to Blackbeard?

NB: I’m asking them to tell their story about his life story. It’s the only way to go. In my mind, these guys are like Frank Miller. They do what they want and when they want and they do it well. Anything I do or say gets in the way. My only regret, is reading everything as it comes in. It’s going to be such a treat for fans to read this for the first time. I’m jealous. If there’s ever anything that my job does that I regret, it’s that I cannot enjoy comics like a fan, when it comes to our books. But, all things being equal, I get to work with all of the great creators at Dynamite, and now with Ed, Jamie, Gregg and Rob, so life is good.

NRAMA: Long term – what are your plans for the property? As you said, a movie is in the future, correct?

NB: Ed, Jamie, Gregg and Rob already have much of the funding they need for the film. Between their contacts and the contacts we’re building, it’s going to be an easy lift to get it to the film medium. The exciting part is that these guys trust us to market and produce their comic well, which is (and I’ll use the word again), an honor. The long term plans are to put out the best damn comic ever on Blackbeard, and to allow the guys to tell their story as pure as possible, and to keep this bad boy in print. The movie will happen, and it will take longer to happen than any of us want, but what we control 100% is the comics, and they are going to be, well, Dynamite!

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