After becoming a cult hit on its theatrical release in the US, and now, seeing wider acceptance and popularity as a DVD, Shaun of the Dead is set to become a comic book in June, courtesy of IDW Publishing.
The four issue miniseries will adapt the movie written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (Wright also directed, while Pegg starred as Shaun), expanding on what has already been told with the inclusion of scenes that didn’t make the cut of the film. IDW editor in Chief Chris Ryall will write the miniseries, with art by Zach Howard, with colors by Thompson Knox and covers by Jason Brashill.
"It all started with Ted Adams, out publisher and me, talking about projects with Universal," Ryall told Newsarama when asked how the Shaun ball got rolling. "The Underworld adaptation and subsequent miniseries we did last year was very successful for us, so we wanted to do more. I pushed hard for Shaun, since I loved the movie so much."
Ryall subsequently met with Wright when he was in town, and discusses a potential comic book, and what IDW could do with it. "That meeting went well, and here we are," Ryall said.
All in all, it wasn't that hard of a sell, given that Wright and Pegg are solidly into comics themselves. "I’ve seen Simon praising Robert Kirkman’s great Walking Dead comic in that book’s letters page, and Edgar grew up reading comics, too," Ryall said. "It turns out that British people can read, despite what we were all taught in school. But having both guys be comic guys made it was easy to discuss art styles and what sort of look they wanted for the book."
As for the source material itself, Ryall sees it as a no-brainier in terms of adaptation. "It’s got everything any good piece of entertainment should have—good characters, lots of humor, some violence and some tense scenes… and good use of the C-word, of course. Honestly, even if this comic hadn’t come about, I’d be saying the movie was one of the very best things I saw last year. The dialogue is outstanding, and the relationships between Shaun and his friends and girlfriend are portrayed in a very believable way. It’s just exactly the sort of thing I’d love to see as a comic."
Given its track receod of both film and videogame adaptations IDW has the pattern of producing a comic based on a known property down pat. "once we landed the property, we had to submit samples to Universal as well as to Edgar and Simon. Once they were approved, we were ready to roll. There were some great art samples for the book, but it was Zach who ultimately got the nod. This makes me happy—I met Zach at WizardWorld Chicago last year and instantly loved his stuff. In it, there are echoes of Richard Case, whose work on Doom Patrol was always a favorite of mine—and Mignola and others, and yet his style was also very much his own."
On the writing side, the Shaun miniseries marks Ryall's first comic work for IDW - something he had reconciled within his own mind that would be something small, and that only a few people would see. Lately, however, as the reality of the miniseries is becoming more concrete, the importance of the job at hand has hit him.
"It’s weird—it’s my first comic for IDW, and it’s an adaptation of a movie I loved," Ryall said. "So I feel immense pressure to get this right. So far, it’s been like writing for MoviePoopShoot.com [where Ryall also serves as editor]—like writing in a vacuum where I can pretend that no one’s really reading. Only, now that solicitations will be going around and it’s on the schedule and all of these other things that make it real, yeah, it’s starting to sink in.
"The thing with adaptations is that they seem basic and easy. You just re-write scenes and dialogue that’s already written, right? Except it doesn’t work like that. Some jokes work better visually than they do on paper, and making the action flow from panel to panel and page to page is entirely different than writing scenes for a movie. And Edgar and Simon are allowing me to work in deleted scenes and some bits that never made it into the movie, making this more of a 'director’s cut' than a straight adaptation. So I’ve worked hard to stay true to their movie and also make the book work and stand alone as a comic. It seems to be off to a good start—Simon and Edgar both sent back praise for the script and had no changes. So we’ll see. Ultimately, I want it to add to what they’ve done and offer a bit of a different take than the movie. That and I really don’t want to disappoint fans of the movie."
As Ryall mentioned, while Shaun is at heart, a zombie movie, its humor sets it apart, and that's the trick to making the comic ring true to the film version. "The challenge here is to find the bits that work on the comic page without losing any of the feel that Simon and Edgar brought to the film. I think I’ve struck a nice balance so far—it feels right to me. But of course I’d say that—I wrote it."
As stated, the four issue miniseries will debut in June. "From there," Ryall said, "we’re talking. It gets a little more complicated because while Edgar and Simon trusted me enough to do this adaptation, ultimately, it’s their characters so any sequels or additional stories would be written by them. And with both having upcoming movie gigs, well, we’ll see how that works out. If timing permits, I know we’d love to do more. They did one short Shaun-related story in 2000 A.D., but there are lots more."