A comic is coming to comics.
That’s the story out of this past weekend’s New York Comic Con as comic actor Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down, Tropic Thunder) signs up to write the prequel comic to his 2011 film Your Highness. McBride both wrote and stars in the upcoming film, so it’s a natural fit for him to take on this comic prequel.
In Your Highness, McBride plays the role of Prince Thadeous, a royal son and pain-in-the-ass to his family. While Thadeous wastes his time away like some sort of medieval slacker, his handsome brother Prince Fabious (played by James Franco) has become the pride of the kingdom. In this 48-page one-shot comic set for simultaneous release with the movie on April 8, 2011, Thadeous tries to repair his image by setting out to negotiate a peace treaty with the Dwarf Kingdom but finds himself up to old tricks when he discovers the diminutive dwarfs’ magic herb.
Yeah, that “magic” herb.
McBride is co-writing the Your Highness (wait for it...) comic with Jeff Fradley; the pair met on McBride’s film The Foot Fist Way which Fradley worked on as second unit director. Joining the pair to illustrate the book as two stories focusing on the two brothers is critically acclaimed artist Sean Phillips and Dark Horse’s own Gabriel Guzman.
Newsarama spoke with the book’s editor, Patrick Thorpe at Dark Horse, for more...
Newsarama: So Frank… can you fill us in on the book?
Patrick Thorpe: Your Highness, the comic, is really a tale of two brothers--Prince Thadeous and Prince Fabious. Prince Fabious, played by James Franco in the film, is your prototypical fantasy hero. He's brave, lantern-jawed, and well-respected. He's the kind of guy you'd trust to save a princess from a tower. Thadeous, Danny's character, couldn't be further from that. He's rebelling against his father, the King, and resents his brother for being so perfect. You get the feeling that the King only gives Thadeous the easiest tasks so he doesn't screw them up, while he sends Fabious to slay dragons and protect the Kingdom. Thadeous is a royal embarrassment. I'm sure there are some redeeming qualities in there somewhere. I just can't think of any. Well, I'll say this for him--Thadeous likes to party, and Fabious is kind of a stiff. I would definitely prefer to toss back an ale with Thadeous over Fabious.
Nrama: And what is Thadeous up to in this one-shot?
Thorpe: When the comic opens up, Fabious is off fighting an evil cyclops and all the other heads of state are busy, so the king is forced to send Thadeous to the Dwarf Kingdom to negotiate a peace treaty. It should be a relatively easy task. The signature on the treaty is really just a formality between the two kingdoms, but Thadeous has other matters on his mind. It is rumored that the Dwarf Kingdom has some of the finest herb in the world and he plans to partake. Throw in a lovely maiden who is not what she seems, and you've got a recipe for a diplomatic disaster.
Nrama: How does this comic fit in with the movie?
Thorpe: The comic is a prequel to the movie. We are basically getting all the players into place. The movie picks up right where our comic leaves off.
Nrama: Why do you think this movie would be a good fit for a comic tie-in?
Thorpe: We jumped at the chance to work with Danny. He's one of the funniest men in Hollywood, and Dark Horse has some pretty hardcore Eastbound & Down fans. Plus, after Pineapple Express, re-teaming Danny McBride and James Franco seems like a no brainer! You throw Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel into the mix, and you're going to have an amazing movie--one that we'd want to see. We're excited about Your Highness, so we were naturally excited to add story content to that world--build on it to give fans a larger experience that spans two mediums.
Nrama: I’ve seen comics based on movies before, but not one where it’s written by the film’s lead actor and screenwriter. How’d you get Danny McBride onto this? Was it something he pushed to be a comic?
Thorpe: I believe that it was Danny's idea, originally, and he got in contact with us through Universal Studios. That was another huge selling point for us--the ability to work closely with the creators. That way we can give the most authentic reading experience for the reader. We try to do that whenever we are expanding an existing property. For example, when editor Dave Marshall did the Mass Effect comics, he didn't want them to be throw away material, he wanted to make sure they were canonical and interwoven with the Mass Effect Universe, so he teamed up with Mac Walters, the head writer of the Mass Effect games. Dave's goal and my goal with the Your Highness comic, is to make a story that enriches the whole universe where it's set. You really get to know the characters and experience the world that they inhabit.
Nrama: Since this is McBride’s first comic, was there any sort of learning curve for him in writing the script?
Thorpe: Sure, there was a learning curve, but it wasn't as steep as you might think. Danny presented us with two separate story synopses--one for the 20-page Thadeous comic and one for the 20-page Fabious comic. From there, Danny's co-writer Jeff Fradley and I broke the synopses down into pages and panels. After a bit of back and forth, Jeff roughed out the dialogue. We sent it back to Danny, he polished it up, and really gave the characters their voices.
Nrama: Taking their script and turning it into a comic is a pair of real all-star artists: Sean Phillips and Gabriel Guzman. Before I let you get back to work, how’d you get those two onboard?
Thorpe: Danny approached Sean directly and Sean agreed to squeeze this project into his already busy schedule. Sean is doing the cover as well as the interiors for the 20-page Thadeous story and really knocking it out of the park. I thought the story was funny in script form, but Sean--someone usually known for hard-hitting crime drama or serious superhero work--is really nailing these comedic beats that take it to the next level. Gabriel, who is drawing the Fabious story, really fell into our laps. He was just finishing his work on our Predators comic and just killing it. We knew we had to get him on something else as soon as we could. He was an easy choice for Your Highness because I already knew that he could nail likenesses, and he has a really good eye for action storytelling. We also have him working on the new Kull miniseries, Kull: The Hate Witch, which has doubled his workload. Sometimes I fear that his fingers are going to fall off or he'll keel over from exhaustion. Sorry, Gabriel! This is the kind of project that makes me excited to come to work just so I can see if any new pages have come in.