*Reginald Hudlin, a producer on Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” has adapted the film into a miniseries for DC Comics, along with artist R.M. Guera, reports ComicsAlliance.com.
The first issue is on sale now at comic book store sor in digital form from Comixology. Issue #2 will be available Feb. 13th. Hudlin, who wrote the comic book version, sat down with ComicsAlliance.com to talk at length about the adaptation. Read excerpts below:
ComicsAlliance: Talk a bit about how this comic came about. It’s meant to include things that were cut from the final film. What made you, director Quentin Tarantino, and everyone else behind the decision come to the conclusion that a comic adaptation was the right way to tell this story in full?
Reginald Hudlin: Well, it always seemed a little odd to me that Quentin had never done anything in the comic book medium, you know? He’s such a fan, and we spend a lot of time talking about comic books. He likes to publish his screenplays as written, with no photographs, no images, so they kind of stand alone as a piece of literature. But given how many changes we were making to the screenplay while we were making the movie, because we’d say “Oh, this actor has a new idea,” or “Quentin has a new idea,” or something with the location, and we’d kind of change things around. And then of course with the movie we had to cut a lot of things just to get it to the 2 hours and 45 minutes that it was, so we had to cut a lot of scenes that were our favorite material. So the idea of doing a comic book that had all that original stuff just seemed like a good idea. It seemed like a good extra bonus for readers.
CA: Again, you have experience writing comics, with your run on Marvel’s Black Panther and your work on the graphic novel Birth of a Nation. But this was adapting a screenplay into comic form. How has this experience been different from your previous comic work?
RH: The trick is, you know, when you read a Quentin Tarantino screenplay, you see the movie in your head. That’s one of the reasons why he’s not just a great screenwriter. The prose really sings on the page. So the trick is, he’s writing something incredibly cinematic, and so you’re taking something that’s very cinematic, and you have to translate it into another medium, this comic book medium. And there are certain things you can’t do. When he invokes that camera move in your head, well, you know we don’t quite have camera moves in comics. A character can’t nod his head, so he has to verbalize what he’s saying. You don’t have music and sound effects as tools in your toolbox. But that said, sometimes removing tools from your toolbox can increase your storytelling strength, because you have to say “Okay, well, how do I convey this idea?” So the challenge is exciting.
CA: You’re working with R.M. Guera, a very accomplished artist who previously worked on Scalped, a comic that, like Django Unchained, is partially inspired by Spaghetti Westerns. What’s it been like working with him? Were you familiar with his work before this collaboration?
RH: Oh, absolutely! I’m a huge, huge fan of Scalped. It’s a brilliant comic, brilliantly written and brilliantly drawn. We had a number of artists who were interested in the job, and when [Tarantino] picked Guera I was very excited. I think that having the right artist is a huge part of the job. You can just go “Okay, well, if I’ve got a script by Quentin Tarantino and art by R.M. Guera, there’s very little I can do wrong!” [Laughs].
CA: There’s been a lot of critical and commercial success with the film, but there’s been some controversy behind it as well, due to the violence, the language and the subject matter. Has that in any way shaped how you’ve gone forward in working on the comic?
RH: No. Well, first of all, I was working on the comic while we were still shooting the movie. And secondly, we made the decision really early on to make the comic book be the comic book, which is different from the movie. If anything the idea is that people can read the comic, they can see the movie, they can see what we changed, what we left out, what we kept in, and they can decide for themselves if those choices were good or not. We want people to look at the text and really think about those choices and go “Wow I’m glad they took that out, they didn’t need that,” or “Man, I wish they had put that thing in!” That part of the discussion is great.
CA: Any hints as to what we can expect to see that isn’t in the film?
RH: Well, you know, every actor kind of has some of their favorite moments that have to go away for the greater good of the film. But I know Sam Jackson and Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washingtong and Christoph Waltz all had some of their favorite moments not make it. It’s a shame we don’t get to see all of their magnificent performances because they were great every day all day. But at least you get to see a hint of some of the great work they delivered throughout the filming in some medium. I know Sam is a big comic fan himself. We run into each other at Golden Apple on occasion. And he was one to say “Hurry up and get to my scene!” [Laughs]
CA: I’ve heard Samuel L. Jackson is a comic fan, so did he – or anyone else in the cast – come up to you at any point and say “Hey, I know this got cut, so you better put it in the comic!”
RH: [Laughs] No pressure! But I’m always proud that I’m the guy who told Sam “Go to the store and grab The Ultimates because you’re in it!”
CA: Ha! You were the one who first told him that?
RH: Oh yeah. So, you know, we have a great comic book relationship!