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AICN COMICS: Q&@ is our new semi-weekly interview column where some of your favorite @$$Holes interview comic bookdom’s biggest, brightest, newest, and oldest stars. Enjoy this latest in-depth interview filled with @$$y goodness and be sure to look for more AICN COMICS as we gaze into the future of comics every week with AICN COMICS: SPINNER RACK PREVIEWS every Monday and then join the rest of your favorite @$$Holes for their opinions on the weekly pull every Wednesday with AICN COMICS REVIEWS!
Q’s by Mr. Pasty!
@’s by CHARMED’s Paul Ruditis & Raven Gregory!
Greetings from the land of paste and honey! Mr. Pasty here and I’m happy to report that something Wicca this way comes. Sure, you’re Forever Charmed, but who doesn’t miss the bewitched beauties from their days on the WB? Not to worry – the power of three will set them free. I’m talking of course about Paul Ruditis, Raven Gregory and Dave Hoover, the lucky trio responsible for revisiting the CHARMED universe in a new comic book series from Zenoscope Entertainment.
Paul Ruditis (PR): I don’t know what the early conversations were between Zenescope and CBS, but once things started moving forward, my name came up as someone familiar with the series. I’d written or contributed to about a half dozen CHARMED books in the line that Simon & Schuster published. By the time the project came to me, I was told that we would be continuing the story of The Charmed Ones after the end of the series and asked to come up with a way to do that. This was a lot of fun and a bit of a challenge because the show wrapped up on a strong note of finality. I had to find a way to work with that and around it. Once the ideas were approved, Raven and I teamed up to translate those ideas into comic books. We’re having so much fun working together building on the initial concept. At least, I am. I guess I shouldn’t speak for Raven.
MR PASTY (MP): How did the idea of a CHARMED comic book series come to fruition?
Raven Gregory (RG): Having a blast. It’s not often I get to co-write a series with another writer. Having someone to bounce ideas off of and really collaborate with in the initial stages. The whole experience has been some of the most fun I’ve had working in comics. As for how the comic came into being, the guys at Zenescope are huge fans of the show and had been going after the series for quite some time as they thought it would be a perfect fit for the company.
MP: Talk about the overall tone of the book. Comedy? Camp? Drama? All of the above?PR: I see it as a comedy with very strong dramatic elements at the core. I think there were definitely campy moments in the show, but it never veered too far into actual camp. I guess you could say we’re going to be telling some serious, dramatic stories filled with characters that tend to find the humor in the situation, if only to keep them sane.
MP: What style of art do you have planned for the series?RG: Dave Hoover (WONDERLAND ANNUAL, and GRIMM FAIRY TALES) is handling the art for the series. He does such a wonderful job of capturing the characters and really bringing them to life. And unlike the show, which had a limited budget, we are literally only limited by what we can imagine as Dave can draw just about anything and do it exceptionally well.
MP: Describe the creative process in choosing which stories from the CHARMED universe you’re planning to explore.PR: It’s a combination of things, really. As I said earlier, it was decided before I came on that the series would follow The Charmed Ones after the finale. This wouldn’t be a spinoff like “The Charmed Sons” or suddenly all about Billie, who was added in the eighth season. The fans made it pretty clear in that final season that CHARMED is about the sisters. So, we will be telling their story. From there, we had to look at how the series ended. Certain truths about the future were established in that episode that needed to be addressed in the comic books before we could move on. Then it just became about taking what we felt worked for the series and continuing that in the comic books while moving forward with our own ideas.
RG: And what ideas they are. We have some big things planned that I think will have new readers and fans of the show talking for some time to come.
MP: What point in time will you start from with CHARMED? Are you doing an “origins” type arc in the beginning?PR: The comic book picks up almost a year and a half after the series ended.
MP: How will you address the many changes in the CHARMED universe (cast changes, styles changes, etc.)?PR: By fitting in the things that will fit naturally and leaving out the things don’t work. How’s that for cryptic? We definitely bring the history into the series in the first books and plan to continue doing that as the story evolves.
RG: Trust me when I say we are both bursting at the seams to spill all the details but then where would be the fun in that? ;)
MP: How much creative input (if any) do the CHARMED ones have?PR: I’m not sure what the studio’s connection with the actresses is regarding the comic books, but we’re not in touch with them as we create the stories if that’s what you mean. I did have the chance to interview the actresses while the series was in production for the two episode guides that I co-authored. I feel like I got a pretty good idea about how they saw their characters and the kinds of things they liked and didn’t like. I intend to stay true to that as we write the comic books. So, they’re not really involved in the creation of the stories for the comic books, but their presence is definitely guiding us.
MP: Will there be more emphasis on the supernatural aspect of the CHARMED ones or the relationship between the sisters?PR: We’ll be dealing with both. It’s a balancing act. If you go too far in either direction you’re not being true to the series. There might be more of a supernatural bent in the beginning just because we need to get the story moving and reestablish the show, but CHARMED has always been about The Charmed Ones. It has always followed their relationships as sisters and the relationships with the men in their lives and now their children as well. We will continue to be true to that.
MP: Will there be a correlation between the comic book storylines and the television show?PR: Absolutely. CHARMED developed a very rich history and introduced some really great characters while it was on the air. We will be tapping into that history as we write the comic books and adding new elements as well.
RG: I totally agree. In our minds, and hopefully in the minds of the fans, this series is an extension of the TV show and things from the past are definitely coming back to haunt The Charmed Ones.
MP: Is there creative autonomy for this series despite being a licensed brand?PR: We can’t just do whatever we want, but CBS is very open to letting us explore the CHARMED universe. I’m not involved in the art approvals, but on the writing side of things we’ve only had one incredibly minor request to change something that was pretty inconsequential to the story. Everything else has passed through without a question. I don’t see why that would change as long as we’re true to the show. Of course, we haven’t really pitched anything outrageous … yet.
MP: What are some of the challenges you’re facing in creating this book? For instance, CHARMED fans are sure to be overly critical since they may already have a set notion as to what the CHARMED universe is (or should be).PR: I wouldn’t call the fans a challenge. They’re the reason we’re able to do this comic book. We intend to serve that community as well as we can, but we’re going to do that by telling the best stories possible. That’s all any fans want, really. It’s all about telling good stories.
As for actual challenges, the fact that the show has such a long history and has introduced so many characters is a reality that we have to contend with. We’re going to have to work to tell new stories, so that we don’t rehash what’s been done on the show or contradict it. There are also a lot of characters to consider. The comic books will always be about The Charmed Ones, but we can’t forget their husbands, their kids, their friends and other family members, both living and dead.
RG: It’s definitely something you think about and you do have to be considerate of the fans who have invested so much of their time into this universe but knowing that you can’t please everyone is a very freeing thing. At the end of the day all you can really do is tell the best story you possibly can and leave the rest in the hands of the fans and hope they enjoy it as much as you enjoyed writing it.
MP: Is there a learning curve for non-CHARMED fans or does this book have a universal appeal?PR: I hope it has universal appeal. There’s definitely a lot in there specifically for the fans, but we’re approaching it in a way that if you’re not familiar with the show you should be able to dive right in. The series ended four years ago, so even the hardcore fans could probably use a little refresher. I think we’ve created a story that weaves in the eight years of exposition without dragging down the story. But that is one of the challenges I was talking about.
RG: We also have an issue 0 coming out prior to the first issue that offers a quick and full recap of the characters and what has occurred in the past seasons, as well as the occasional spell or two ;)
MP: How far ahead have you planned for this project?PR: That depends on your definition of the word “planned.” We started out with an initial arc of five issues that were pretty set before we even wrote one page of the first comic book. But we hope that arc is just the beginning of something bigger. We have plans that can take us in several directions depending on Zenescope’s and CBS’s approvals; the fan response and what we decide will ultimately work best for the line.
MP: Why will CHARMED fans want to buy this comic? What about comic book enthusiasts who don’t watch the show?PR: Well, that’s really a question for the CHARMED fans. We’re writing it for anyone interested in continuing the story. Especially the fans that weren’t ready to let The Charmed Ones go. As for non-CHARMED fans, I hope that so long as we’re telling a strong story with a unique look there will be more than enough to draw them in.
RG: Ummm, The Charmed Ones? That’s enough for me :)
MP: Describe the unfortunate position you’re in to be saddled with the terrible burden of centering a comic book around three insanely hot women.PR: I think that’s more of a question for the artist, Dave Hoover, than it is for us. I realize that your question is somewhat tongue in cheek, but it is kind of a real issue in making sure we’re treating these strong female characters with respect. Not that I consider that a burden or a challenge. It’s actually kind of easy since we’re already starting with great characters. I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to write for strong female characters before in the licensed fiction I’ve written, including the women in BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, Sydney Bristow in ALIAS, and The Charmed Ones themselves. Writing for them has never really been a problem.
RG: That’s one of the great things about having just come off the Wonderland trilogy is that I’ve been writing a strong female lead for the past three years so jumping over on to this seems like a pretty natural transition.
MP: Your favorite CHARMED episode of all time is…PR: So many episodes stand out for different reasons. I liked “Déjà vu All Over Again” in the first season because it established that anything could happen in the series when Andy died. It meant no one was safe. “Morality Bites” was intense and I loved that such an important message for the characters revolved around such a simple little twist at the end. “Something Wicca This Way Goes” was also a great pseudo-end to the show.
On a more personal note, I have fond memories of the “Oh My Goddess!” episodes and “Vaya Con Leos” because I was lucky enough to be on set doing interviews for the episode guides while they filmed those episodes. So, now when I watch certain scenes, I can be like, “I was sitting in the dining room when they filmed that.”
RG: It’s hard to choose as they are so many great ones. My favorite is the alternate future/reality one where Phoebe married Cole. It had an almost “Days of Futures Past” vibe to it which I absolutely loved. I’m personally fond of the first season as a whole just because it’s amazing how quickly they fleshed out these three characters in such a short time and really brought the sisters to life and established that beyond the demons, magic, and incredibly beautiful women, that at the heart of the story, it really is all about family and to me that is just an amazing thing.
MP: Now that the CHARMED series is underway, what other projects do you have coming up in the near future?PR: I'm working on a few projects that haven't been announced yet. I can say that one of my alter-egos is writing for a young adult licensed novel series coming out this fall for a certain science fiction franchise that recently experienced a bit of a resurgence.
RG: Well, we just finished the WONDERLAND trilogy a few weeks ago and my creator owned series, THE WAKING, comes to a close later next month with issue four. In June I have a story in RED SONJA #50 and we just recently announced that Zenescope will be launching a brand new ongoing GRIMM FAIRY TALES series that I will be writing. I'm also working on a new creator owned book called FLY that's a cool fresh new take on the superhero genre but done in a horror like vein. Eric J, from REX MUNDI and JSA, is handling the pencils on that and it should be out late this year or early next.