Valiant is on its third year and they have some major plans to reel in new readers. "Valiant First" will unleash six new books, so we visited the publisher's headquarters in New York to talk about these new titles and a whole lot more. We had an hour-long chat with the creative minds behind the company, so if you're wondering why you should finally check out Valiant or if you're a pre-existing fan that's simply craving more info about them, prepare yourself for plenty of details. The conversation includes Dinesh Shamdasani (CEO/Chief Creative Officer), Fred Pierce (Publisher), Warren Simons (Executive Editor), Hunter Gorinson (Director of Marketing, Communications and Digital Media) and Atom! Freeman (Sales Manager). During the interview, you'll notice Dinesh was set on making sure everyone gets their hands on the latest HARBINGER issue, BLEEDING MONK #0 (which we've given a very positive review, so we obviously agree).
COMIC VINE: How'd you come up with the idea of Valiant First?
ATOM! FREEMAN: We're going into our third year. The first year was all about establishing who Valiant was. The second year was about building upon that and going into our third year we have a massive backlist. We have a lot of great stories that nobody's read for the first time, so something like this was necessary; it was time to start bringing in new readers and showing them around a universe that's fully formed.
COMIC VINE: Have you guys already begun forming some plans for the fourth year?
FRED PIERCE: We always have tentative plans for a few years out. It's sort of like flow cart. If this works well, we'll go here. If this doesn't work, we'll go here. And then Warren [Simons] or somebody will come up with something brilliant, so we don't use it at all or we just go in a different direction.
DINESH SHAMDASANI: It's just like BLEEDING MONK #0! You're thinking about time in a linear fashion. We don't at Valiant. It all happened already, you're just in the center of it. [laughs]
WARREN SIMONS: I think you want to layout a basic road map so the guys understand where we're headed and also the creators are able to understand how the universe interacts and how the pieces interact with each other. That's super important from an editorial standpoint. You know, we don't want to be two to three years out and have everything done. One of the great things about Valiant is we only have nine titles, so we can be flexible and we can react. You don't want us to get too frenetic that we don't know where we're headed.
DS: One of the great things that Warren is always telling everybody -- a little piece of Warren wisdom -- is to always trust your guys. I love Warren. He's very open to great ideas coming from people that we've hired. He says you want to trust them; they're the talent. As a company, we pride ourselves on being able to move when great ideas come to us from any direction.
WS: Yeah, we've got some of the best creators in the industry. We've got extraordinary thinkers. Matt Kindt, Joshua Dysart, Robert Venditti... you know, the list goes on and on and on. So when these guys come up with ideas, we want to be able to react to them. When Dysart calls me and says, "Wouldn't it be awesome if Toyo Harada wreaked havoc on the world?" that becomes an amazing thing, but that has an impact on some of the other books, so we like to have fun with it and we like to be able to zig and zag as Dinesh was saying.
HUNTER GORINSON: With all that in mind, we have kicked around a few ideas for what's coming in 2015 and there are definitely some plans in place. There's some pretty exciting things that came out of the editorial retreat that we had late last year.
WS: RAI is set two-thousand-years in the future and is not an imitation, in any way shape or form, of Bloodshot. It really has no overt ties to current continuity, and what Matt [Kindt] and Clayton Crain have done is they've put together this gigantically, huge, idea-driven sci-fi story that shows us what the Valiant universe looks like in the year 4001. That not just builds the tapestry of what sci-fi is, but how this affects our universe, how the entire universe works and interacts. The great thing about Matt is he's driven it home with some really beautiful stories that revolve around a little girl. What we discovered is that Japan has had its first murder in a thousand years and the question is: why is there a murder in this seemingly perfect society where murder has been abolished. Once you begin to tug on this tether of this world where Rai acts as a protector of Father -- who's this character who basically oversees and keeps this society comfortable and happy -- and once Rai begins to investigate this murder, the rest of the society begins to fall apart.
CV: Since this takes place so far in the future, is there a chance we'll see a "future version" of the other franchises in this book?
WS: I think one of the great things about the Valiant universe is the way it was set-up initially. There was a present, a past, and a future. All three of them kind of interacted. The things that happened in the beginning would affect the future. The things that happened in the future one day might come back and affect the present. But right now what we're really planning on doing is keeping this as a story that's about Rai. We're keeping this a story about what it's like to be in Japan in the year 4001. Primarily, like what we've done with all our initial launches, is we want to make this an acceptable standalone entry point for new readers. We also want to be in a position where we're really pulling the character out, just like we did with Harbinger; just like we did with X-O Manowar. We want the reader to fall in love with and understand Rai and this world that Matt Kindt and Clayton are building as opposed to necessarily having to rely wholly on continuity for this book to make sense.
CV: If you had to promote RAI #1 in five words or less, what would you say?
DS: Just like BLEEDING MONK #0. I'm not kidding! I'll tell you why. As Warren said, it's a crazy innovative book. This is a book that you're not going to see from anyone else because it's insane. Matt Kindt is doing so many innovative things here; it's not just the art. As innovative and as unique as the art is, the story matches that. There's a small moment at the very end of the book -- when you read the book, I'm curious to see what you think of it -- there's a small innovation that I've never seen before. It's a panel composition. It's a very small moment, but it's something so unique and so different that I think that that kind of storytelling will hopefully grab people. The book is peppered with little things like that. It's very much like BLEEDING MONK in the sense that it's a very strange and unique animal.
CV: How many issues is Clayton Crain confirmed to illustrate?
WS: We signed Clayton to a one-hundred year exclusive!
CV: Just one-hundred years?
WS: Just one-hundred. He actually owes us 40,000 issues. Once he knocks those out we'll be fine.
HG: I believe the plan is for Clayton to draw the entirety of the first arc of this book. He's an integral part of the world that's being designed, and him and Matt have been working on this project for several months behind the scenes before it was even announced.
WS: Clayton's a genius and we're super-happy to be working with him. He did an extraordinary job on the first issue. The first four pages of the second issue are gorgeous. He's doing some visionary work at this point in time. That's not a word I like to throw around too frequently but him and Matt... I mean, the story, the art, the writing... it's really quite extraordinary. When you get to the final page of RAI #1, you see something that I've never seen before in a comic book, and I've read a lot of comic books.
HG: You look at the cover, you look at the trade dress, you look at the interiors on this book -- you cannot help but read this book. It will demand to be read first. Which is part of the reason why we decided to use it as the flagship book of this new publishing rollout that we're doing.
FP: Basically, we've now been around for two years. Even with all of the tremendous success we've had we barely scratched the surface of readers. So, the idea is, if after almost two years you haven't read a Valiant book, we need to do something a little different to get you to read a Valiant book. That's what RAI is and that's what Valiant First is.
CV: Moving onto ARMOR HUNTERS now. That'll be spilling into X-O, HARBINGER, and BLOODSHOT. Would you guys be able to talk a little bit about that? The basic premise, what readers can expect, etc.
HG: Sure. ARMOR HUNTERS will comprise eighteen issues, although the various mini-series and tie-ins will all be stand alone within themselves; you'll be able to jump in at any point. The main flagship title of ARMOR HUNTERS is of course ARMOR HUNTERS – the mini-series, written by Robert Venditti and art by Doug Braithwaite. We'll also tie into new arcs of UNITY; a new arc of X-O MANOWAR which will flesh-out the backstory of who the Hunters are, their role in the Valiant universe and where they came from a little bit. You'll see the effects of the Armor Hunters in the two three-issue mini-series coming in July (ARMOR HUNTERS: BLOODSHOT, ARMOR HUNTERS: HARBINGER). I know Rob has been having a ton of fun building the Armor Hunters team and the ideas the behind them. Dinesh and Warren, can you guys detail the thrust of who the Armor Hunters are and what's going to bring them to Earth a little bit?
DS: Poor Aric. That's all I'm going to say. Warren, why don't you explain what's going to happen to X-O?
WS: What's really fascinating about this story is, for the last couple of years, Robert put together a story where the X-O armor is the most coveted armor in existence in our universe -- the most powerful weapon. And now what we're going to discover is it might be a little bit of a poisoned chalice. This is going to be a massive crossover event for us. It's going to be accessible and new reader friendly as well, but it's really a big exploration of X-O's mythology and what we're going to see is this group that has basically made it their mission to protect the universe from this threat... and they perceive Aric to be this threat. They're this group of grizzled, hardened men who are really at the finish line of this vey, very long mission and the only thing that's really standing in the way of completing their mission is X-O Manowar. They're going to arrive at Earth and really cause a massive problem that sets the Valiant universe on its ear and really forces all of our heroes -- and some villains -- to crawl out of the woodwork and meet this threat.
HG: This is really where you're going to see the cosmic side of Valiant stuff and the Earth side really come together for the first time, and see what the presence of having an incredible being like X-O Manowar on Earth causes for a planet so small. The arrival of a hugely powerful alien weapon like this is bound to have consequences for the entire planet. It's going to be pretty exciting and possibly the biggest scope, biggest scale thing that we've done over the past several months. If you loved HARBINGER WARS, the crossover we did last summer, this is very much in the same vein, but with a bigger brush and a broader canvas.
WS: This is going to make Independence Day look like Be Kind Rewind, you know what I'm saying?
HG: We're going to put that on the cover!
WS: It's going to be non-stop but it's going to be fun. We also think that, because Venditti is at the helm of it along with the extraordinarily talented Doug Braithwaite, it's really got a heart. It's not empty action. Robert loves X-O Manowar and he's been writing this book for two years, but that ain't nothing compared to what's coming next.
CV: THE DELINQUENTS. Based on the cast, is it safe to say this will be the most amusing comic book since the big bang?
WS: This is one of the titles we've been really excited about. We kind of saw it coming since we launched ARCHER & ARMSTRONG and QUANTUM & WOODY. You know, it's just kind of the inevitable thing that, every time we talked about, there's a smile on our faces. The brilliant Fred Van Lente and the great James Asmus have put together a hell of a story here. We're excited about what's coming up.
HG: And if you're a fan of either book, this really is a great place to watch these two teams come together and cause some real mayhem with each other.
FP: And I think you'll see that with everything we do, the personalities of the book make sense that we would do something together with them.
HG: James Amsus, I think in the last arc with Ming Doyle's art, he was dropping some hints about some goings-on in ARCHER & ARMSTRONG within the pages of QUANTUM & WOODY. It'll be exciting to see that stuff finally payoff.
WS: Yeah, I think the guys are having a lot of fun with it. They've been chatting with each other; Skyping with each other. Both Alejandro Arbona and Josh Johns, the respective editors of either series, have been working with the guys to make sure there's a seamless transition. Fred made a great point when he said that we feel that, organically, this is a logical place for them to meet-up and hangout.
CV: One thing that you guys obviously do well is makes sure each book has its own unique genre and tone. So, what's DOCTOR MIRAGE going to bring to the table?
DS: DOCTOR MIRAGE is probably what I'm most excited about out of everything we've talked about. It's hard to say since they're all so much fun. What's fun about DOCTOR MIRAGE is it's a chance for us to tell our first story with a female protagonist front and center. But to do it in a way where she's a fully formed character. What's really fun about it is that it’s a personal journey, which is something we don't often get to tell in comics. I mean, we just got done talking about ARMOR HUNTERS which is this massive, consequence-filled, multiple world threatening story. And here we have, in DOCTOR MIRAGE, a story about two people that are just completely in love. One of them has been lost to the other and what lengths Doctor Mirage is going to go to bring back her beloved. And inevitably, that takes her to the darkest, most mystical corners of the Valiant universe. It's really a hellish journey for her. It's real fun; the things we put her through, the places she gets to see, and how far she'll delve into the blackness of the Valiant universe to try and bring back her husband.
WS: When we were getting pitches in, Jen Van Meter just put together an exceptional submission and she sort of unlocked -- as all great stories do -- this part of the Valiant universe that we just couldn't stop thinking about. Where we're just like, "Oh my God. That's such a cool, brilliant idea. We can't wait to see it on paper." We're super excited about this one.
HG: And not only has Jen put together an awesome story, but we also have Roberto De La Torre on art, who, if you've been reading SHADOWMAN lately, is, like, built to draw really dark, really gritty but totally beautiful mystical landscape type stuff. He's a perfect match for this book.
WS: Yeah, Roberto's been absolutely doing an amazing job on SHADOWMAN. Alejandro's been doing a great job running up the grid and putting together a really compelling, beautiful story with Jen.
CV: You tend to have -- including mini-series' -- 10 or fewer books being published. It's obviously a focus on quality over quantity, but why have you set that specific limit?
AF: As we talk to retailers. One of the things we hear back from them is that our line is tight enough that a fan can still write "all Valiant" on a subscription sheet and the retailer can comfortably say they're ordering all Valiant. We, as a result, get to focus on a tight amount and make sure the quality is good for everything we put out.
DS: And we're a small staff. We have this choice ahead of us -- which is interesting, to be honest about it. We can publish more titles, but then we have to ramp up the staff. The guys you're talking to now, they're the big decision makers in the company and they touch everything. And if we double the number of titles, the quality will suffer because they'll touch everything half as long. We have the ability to, like Marvel did when it started, keep the team touching every single thing that we're doing and keep the quality high. So we're taking that opportunity as long as we can.
HG: We've kind of done the seemingly impossible over the past two years. We launched with four titles,
and, over the course of the last year, we've grown from four titles to eight titles; all of which have been very, very successful and very well-received. As Dinesh rightly noted, there's only so many hours in the day and we only have so many people on staff. The real trick for us is to maintain what we're doing at a high enough level that it comes through in the material and that it makes sense to everyone out there.
FP: I don't believe there's a book that Warren's created, of any of the titles over the two years, that doesn't compare to any of the other books out there. Our line is as good as any line out there.
DS: Especially BLEEDING MONK #0. Especially that one.
WS: Yes, slow and steady wins the race. I think we're just trying to make sure that every book we put out is consistently good. Every page of every book; every panel of every page. We just want to make sure that we're putting out consistently the best books in the marketplace -- or on par with them -- so when someone buys a Valiant book, they know they're going to get a great read.
FP: The comic book reader and the comic book industry has a lot of knowledge of history. And, I think, that when we launched, people had a lot of "how you going to handle this because we know this guy handled it this way." After two years, everybody is saying we're handling it exactly right and, in your mind, you have the history of guys who grew, had initial success, and then grew wrong. We won't.
HG: More importantly...
FP: More importantly!?
HG: Fred, how many books have we published? Like, one-hundred and forty or something?
FP: And every book has hit on time.
HG: Which is almost unheard of.
FP: It is unheard of, especially for a new company. It's a testament to Warren, the editorial staff and everyone that we have not missed a book.
WS: And it's a big testament to our publisher Fred Pierce.
CV: A common theme I see is people saying they want to check out Valiant because they've heard nothing but good things, but their budget is so tight and they can't seem to make room for the extra $3.99 price tag. What would you say to help motivate these people to finally move forward by perhaps dropping that extra Avengers-related or Batman book and give a Valiant title a shot?
AF: From the very beginning, we've tried to present a third option. We have addressed that. We've done $1 debuts, $9.99 trade paperbacks. Actually, beginning this month and for the six next months at least, we're going to be doing something called Pullbox Previews. This will be going out to our top 500 accounts. It's a sixteen-page preview that's going to come out every month. A lot of stores, we've worked to make sure that every single one of their subscribers gets one of those. So, we've made a lot of really great options for fans to try the first book in a low or no cost way. I can see how a fan would have that reaction to the $3.99 price point, but honestly, that is about the industry standard.
DS: I love that we're having this conversation because essentially the conversation is people are interested in Valiant. They've heard a lot great things; they want to jump in. Now the question becomes how much is it going to cost to dive into that first Valiant book. We talk about this all the time. Warren is always asking what we're doing about this particular problem. We're the only publisher that publishes at least twenty-two pages a book on every single book. We'll often publish more than that. We're very conscious of the amount of storytelling we're putting into the books.
WS: What was UNITY #1?
HG: Twenty-eight pages.
DS: I know X-O MANOWAR #1 was twenty-nine.
HG: It's not even just number ones. You'll see, if anyone wants to go back and count, we have extra pages in some of our books. That's just dictated by story.
DS: Now that we're into year three, one of the things Fred and I have been talking about is playing with prices a little bit. When we launched, the goal was convince people this is going to be good. The second year was convince people we're not going to grow too fast. And now it's convince new readers to jump on board, which is the whole reason of Valiant First. You'll start to see in the second phase of the Valiant First announcements that we're playing with price a little bit.
WS: Obviously we want to be affordable and we want people to give it a shot, but we feel that, from a quality standpoint, the creators and the artists that we're working with are really producing some of the best books in the marketplace.
HG: We hear from fans all the time that if you try one Valiant book, you're in for most if not all of them. We're extremely proud of these books. RAI #1, you read that book and your socks will be knocked off.
DS: Did you guys hear that story about X-O MANOWAR #22? There was a big thing on Twitter the other day. Someone jumped on X-O #22, the last arc of the UNITY tie-in, thinking he won't understand anything that's going on. He loved everything about X-O Manowar. He was like "Where did the suit come from? Why is he like Moses in the desert, leading these people? Who's Livewire? She's such a unique character in comics." He went back and he bought the X-O trade and now he's bought volume one of everything. We see that all the time. Every day we're hearing stories like that.
AF: All these layers of industry complexity aside, I think should not lose the fact of something Fred said: we could lower the price if Warren were cuter. We need to not forget that.
WS: I've been consulting with doctors, but they told me there's nothing they can do.
FP: If you want a quality creative product, it'll cost a little more money. I'm not mitigating it, but it has to.
CV: Let's assume people on the fence are reading this. Right now, what would you recommend for them to buy? Obviously taste will fluctuate from reader to reader, but what can you suggest to help them jump into the Valiant universe right now?
AF: We definitely all have our favorites. I've heard retailers tell me they have three good jumping on points, depending on the fan. It's usually X-O MANOWAR or it's HARBINGER or it's QUANTUM & WOODY. I hear those a lot. But I also hear ARCHER & ARMSTRONG pulling people in and I know SHADOWMAN brings people in from across the room at conventions. Everything that we've done, so far, has been someone's first Valiant comic.
FP: Whenever you do a book, that book will be somebody's first book. If you're going to pick one Valiant book, I generally say if you want humor, pick an ARCHER & ARMSTRONG or a QUANTUM & Woody book. Any issue. If you want more adventure, pick X-O. If you want something that's more of a discussion of what's going on today, I say pick HARBINGER.
HG: There's something in our line for everyone. It's conscientiously built to be that way. That being said, I love all of our children equally.
DS: It's interesting. A couple of publishers have told us that one of the challenges they see for us is that, because all of the books are being so well-received, there isn't a standout. So when someone asks, "I've heard about Valiant. What should I try?" They'll get four or five different responses because everyone has their own favorite. Of the nine books we publish, if eight were mediocre and one was very good, there would be a very clear entry point. So they've expressed to us they see a challenge that all the books are good. My answer is always the same. Whichever book -- no matter what issue number, no matter what title -- take the fancy. Try it, you'll love it. The next thing you know, we'll have you and we'll have all your monies!
AF: Five years from now, when we're having an interview, I think you're going to look back and see that there's an entire generation of people for whom their first Valiant book was RAI #1 or ARMOR HUNTERS #1. Those are going to be huge hits. We just got back from ComicsPRO. We showed off a lot of this stuff to retailers there and they were crazy for it, so it's going to be a pretty big summer for us.
CV: Valiant First is going to be six books, but if each of you had to pick a favorite, which would it be and why?
WS: If you're asking me to pick which of my six children I love the most, I can't do it. My favorite is trying to make all of these books -- including our current books -- some of the best books in the market place. I'm super excited about what we have coming up. I think RAI is going to be something special. Very excited for ARMOR HUNTERS; Venditti's doing an amazing job on that. There's something in all of them that I love.
HG: Once we get a little more into the stories of the books and we start getting some preview pages out there, you're going to see that the pitch behind ARMOR HUNTERS: BLOODSHOT is actually really, really, really awesome. Bloodshot's going to play a crucial role in this story. The point of all these tie-ins is not to just put as many ARMOR HUNTERS books on the shelf as possible; it's to tell important parts of these stories with some of our biggest characters. What Bloodshot is going to do in this is really a first of its kind adventure for one of our biggest characters. DELINQUENTS as well. I'm also super excited for that. Fred and James are both excellent writers on their own. They're both hilarious writers on their own. You put them together and I think we're going to have something that will really have people talking about. Plus, Kano's art is amazing.
FP: To give you sort of an answer, I think RAI #1 will be an easy entry point into the universe.
CV: Speaking of Bloodshot, we know BLOODSHOT & H.A.R.D CORPS is coming to an end and then he has the ARMOR HUNTERS mini-series. Do you have any concrete plans for the guy after that?
HG: We will be making an announcement very soon about where Bloodshot is going…and it's to a prominent spot in the Valiant universe.
FP: If we're going to be introducing new titles and we want to keep the size we are, we have to adjust the titles a particular way.
CV: Fair enough! Is there anything you'd like to discuss about the current storylines?
HG: Death of a Renegade! Which is probably the most important Harbinger story ever told. It's a three-part story beginning in HARBINGER #22, by Joshua Dysart and Clayton Henry. On shelves in April, I believe. We just got some preview pages in today and they look phenomenal. All of the events leading up to HARBINGER #25 are going to bring everything that’s happened in HARBINGER thus far to a rolling boil.
DS: It's so sad, dude!
HG: Josh wrote one of the most devastating comic book scripts I've ever read in my life.
WS: Yeah, Josh is not playing around right now. He's an exceptional writer at the top of his game. He's putting together some beautiful, beautiful stuff. I'm extremely excited for what we have coming out right now in HARBINGER. I think that X-O stuff that Venditti is doing right now is extremely important. It's going to tie directly into what's coming up in ARMOR HUNTERS. I think Matt's doing an exceptional job on UNITY. The fifth issue just came out. It's very well-received and I'm real happy with the work he's doing. He's just a brilliant writer. CAFU's doing great art right now. I'm real happy with what [Peter] Milligan's doing on SHADOWMAN. They're all my babies. I love all of them.
HG: And there's a very, very amazing new story arc coming up in ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, prior to DELINQUENTS. It's called “American Wasteland,” and it’s Archer and Armstrong versus the Church of Retrology and a cabal of long thought dead celebrities in California. I think this may be one of the highlights of the series so far. Very excited about that.
WS: It's hard to say just what an extraordinarily beautiful job Fred Van Lente has done with this book. He's just a wonderful writer.
CV: How many story arcs does Matt Kindt have in the works for UNITY?
HG: Secret fun fact: Matt is a massive Valiant fan -- of the original universe. Read all of the original stuff growing up, so he has been percolating on this stuff for years. He has a lot of big plans in his back pockets for what he could do for those characters.
CV: The tabletop game was announced the other day. What's being done to push non-gamer Valiant fans to check it out? And why will big tabletop fans have a blast with it?
FP: The game is designed in such a way that people who aren't gamers can play it easily. The Catalyst guys are phenomenal game designers and it's designed in a way that, for somebody who is a gamer, it'll be interesting enough for them to play. If you want to play as characters in the Valiant universe, this will be a very easy introduction.
CV: Have you guys had a chance to test it out?
DS: I have. I have to admit I was skeptical. It's really easy to learn; it's a lot of fun. One of the reasons we did this is because we bring a big fan base to this. We want to make sure this isn't just attracting tabletop gamers, but it's easy to play for Valiant fans who are like me and have never played a tabletop game before. I think it definitely will be.
HG: We're also going to be sure to have a Valiant game night here at the office sometime. With pizza and soft drinks for everybody.
AF: Plenty of Mountain Dew.
CV: You've obviously been doing a big push with merchandise. Glasses, plushies, etc. I know you can't reveal some things just yet, but is there perhaps anything you can tease?
FP: There are certain products that take a longer time to develop. Things that might require somebody to sculpt them. We haven't been around long enough for those to be released, though they may be in the works. If you remember, we're only around for not even two years yet, but it takes over a year/year and a half to sculpt these things. You might see something like that down the road. Anything you're thinking, hopefully you'll see soon.
CV: Is anyone here making a big push for a Bleeding Monk statue?
WS: Dinesh is going on and on about a Bleeding Monk statue that actually bleeds and does not stop.
CV: I know you guys previously announced you're making an X-O Manowar statue of that great Marko Djurdjevic cover. How's that coming along?
DS: They sent us pictures of the in the works statue the other day. It's big, it's awesome and it's super detailed. It's still going to be awhile before we get that out. It's also super detailed. I'm excited but I'm trying to keep it out of my mind since it's so far down the road.
CV: So, I've got to ask... Ninjak, what are the odds we'll see him get his own ongoing series down the road?
DS: You know, Gregg, there were three titles that we were going to expand the Valiant First announcement and include the next three months' books. And I'm not saying he's part of them, I'm not saying he wasn't. I'm just saying it would be really interesting to see what the Comic Viners think those titles would have been.
CV: If it's alright, I wanted to ask a little about the movies. With so much competition, what are you guys doing to make sure these movies will standout instead of being just a skippable comic book movie?
DS: One of the things we do is we fund our own script development, and we work on the scripts before we bring Hollywood into it. That allows us to do the same thing we do with the comics. It allows us to tell the stories we want to tell and make sure the characters are the same characters that people are in love within the comic world. It allows us to take chances as well. We found that we'll take chances and break a lot of the "Hollywood rules" and we'll go out there and show it to people in LA. They'll get excited very excited and we'll get a lot of traction. We've got a lot going on on that side of the company. We don't really like to talk about it too much because that side of the company is much slower. There's more cooks in the kitchen, so things are less certain. We like to announce things once they're very certain, but rest assured, we'll have a big announcement I think later in the year. It's really exciting for us but we want to wait to get a little more certainty in there before we announce it.
We have a script that went out this week to one of the top three directors in the business and initial reactions were very strong about the script we developed. Obviously Matthew Vaughn is on board with Bloodshot, which is at Sony. We've got a lot going on there but it's not our primary focus. Our primary focus is telling great comic stories like BLEEDING MONK #0. Bam! Back to BLEEDING MONK #0!
CV: Is there anything else you'd like to add about Valiant First?
HG: We called it Valiant First not just because it's first issues, but because we feel like these are books that demand to be read first. When you head to the comic book shop and you grab one of these, it is a perfect chance to not only dive in and discover your first Valiant comic, but the quality and the caliber of both the storytelling and the creators that are going into these books is such that they are going to be the first thing you want to read when you get home from the comic book shop.
WS: The fans have told us a lot at conventions... they kept coming up and kept saying to us that Valiant was the first thing they read on their stack, so it really had a nice ring to it. We heard that over and over and over again, no matter what books they bought.
DS: It's become our goal. We're not a company that says don't buy BATMAN and don't buy SAGA. We buy BATMAN and SAGA ourselves. We want you to buy BATMAN and SAGA, but we want to make books that are so good that, when you get home, you're most excited to read our books first.
RAI #1 goes on sale May 7th.