It's great hearing studios continuing to show interest in comics for the big screen. Another comic property headed is a creator owned character from Daniel Corey. Corey is the writer of MORIARTY, first released by Image Comics back in 2011. It was announced during Comic-Con that his recent comic, PROPHET, has been acquired by Outlier, the Los Angeles-based production company founded by Twilight producer Mark Morgan and E. Thompson.
What is PROPHET about and what else can we expect? We asked Daniel a few questions to find out.
Comic Vine: First of all, how would you summarize PROPHET?
Daniel Corey: You could call PROPHET a supernatural Spaghetti Western. You could call it a mystical “Mad Max.” You could say it’s “Fistful of Dollars” meets “Constantine.”
Basically, we have a lone-wolf gunslinger living south of the border, in an unspecified time period. This killer-for-hire, who is to become known as Prophet, is the best in the business. He works for rival drug lords, picking off lieutenants and bagmen and such.
One day, he receives a mysterious brand on his right palm, and begins having mystical visions. He can see into the hearts of men. He knows who is evil and who is good – i.e., who really deserves to be off’ed.
So, Prophet wants to set his life right, put the biz behind him. But to do that, he must eradicate all the bad guys. He decides the best way to do this is to stop a major drug shipment from crossing the border. So, with the aid of his mentor, the Preacher, and a femme fatale from his past, he plays one side against the other, forming and breaking alliances with politicians, generals, government agents and other various gangsters.
Prophet comes to realize that he is the latest in a long line of mystical warriors, and that the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Will he be up to the task? Is he willing to bear the burden of the world, or will he just fight for himself?
CV: How did you come up with the concept?
DC: My love of Westerns and Clint Eastwood, particularly those three “Man With No Name” movies Eastwood did with Sergio Leone (of course, he actually had a different name in each movie).
Those films were so infused by an other-worldly sensibility, you almost expect to see angels and demons appear alongside those three guys in the graveyard at the end of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” My simple thought was: Why not actually show the angels and demons?
In our case, Prophet is the angel - of sorts. He is the force of good, who wields a supernatural ability to sort out the bad guys. And he’s fighting drug cartels and corrupt agents, but his real war is with The Demon. Because of his heightened abilities, he is the only one who can see The Demon and its influence.
CV: Did you have this idea before or after MORIARTY?
DC: Yes, PROPHET was the first comic that I wrote. I actually wrote the first version of the script years ago on my breaks while working at a theme park in Florida. I came up with the idea for MORIARTY as we were finishing up the PROPHET trade.
It’s funny how life can work. It was probably at least 12 years ago that I started writing Prophet, six years ago that Anthony Diecidue started drawing the comic. And then just one month ago, we announced the film deal. A friend of mine who is a producer, Mike Jacobs, Jr., is always saying how this business is a marathon, not a sprint. Truer words have never been spoken, I tell you what.
After PROPHET, it took about three years of hard work to get MORIARTY out. The first issue of MORIARTY debuted from Image Comics in May of 2011. We just released the MORIARTY Deluxe Edition Hardcover in June of this year.
CV: You've worked on and written several plays, is there a different approach when you write a play vs a comic vs a novel?
DC: The approach to crafting a story is always the same, but you have to adapt to different media.
Just think of a basic hero story: Your hero starts off in a humble place, nowhere to really go in life. Then he’s met with an extraordinary circumstance that requires him to spring into action. But things complicate along the way, causing him to question his mission, so much so that he must cross an emotional divide and enter a dark night of the soul. He will only emerge from this darkness if he finds new resolve, squares his shoulders and faces his enemy.
That story can be told as a play, a novel, a comic, a movie. You just have to pick and choose the type of moments you want to portray.
In a novel, you can spend pages telling us the emotional state of the hero. In a play, the writer can rely on a good actor to bring the emotional weight and express those pages of dialogue in two or three well-played moments.
Plays and novels can unfold with a naturalistic, real-time pacing. Film is written in cuts. In his great book “Adventures in the Screen Trade,” William Goldman said “screenplays are about structure.” What I take from that: Since film is such a bath of visuals, music and sound, the overall pacing and doings of the story itself forms the overall meaning it will have for the viewer. So, for the film writer, there is a heavy emphasis on pacing and visual storytelling. The more the actors can express the story without speaking, the better.
I think of comic writing as a close kin to film writing, but the difference is you have to narrow down the moments you want to portray to four or five panels per page. This, of course, is accomplished as a collaboration with the artist. As a character works their way through the page, you want the audience to get a clear-cut idea of where they are and where they’re going based on those four moments per page.
CV: What made you decide to go the self-publishing route with PROPHET?
DC: I got to tell the story the way I wanted to, and hang on to all the rights. This proved to be an important thing.
At Comic-Con 2007, we went to PetCo Stadium to see a screening of 300 on the jumbotron. Before the movie started, Frank Miller came out onto the field and spoke these simple words: “If you want to do anything in comics, OWN it. If you do, THIS can happen.”
CV: How did the movie deal come about?
DC: I met producer James Cotten a few years back at an L.A.-based networking group called Comic Book Sunday. He had just directed and released a film called “La Linea,” which starred Ray Liotta and Andy Garcia. It was a south-of-the-border, drug cartel-hitman story. I told James, “Hey, I have a supernatural version of that.”
James read PROPHET, and he loved it. We spent a few years talking over the possibility of working on a movie together. When James’ company Dark Highway Films ended up partnering with Mark Morgan and Eric T. Thompson at Outlier, it became a reality. Outlier is a force behind such franchises as Twilight and Percy Jackson.
The Wrap broke the news of the movie deal two days before San Diego Comic-Con on July 16th, 2013. (Check it out here: http://bit.ly/14WXtJ3).
CV: Will you have any consulting or screenwriting involvement or do you get to sit back and watch it happen?
DC: I will be writing a script. Ultimately, all the major decisions will be made by the major decision-makers, but I at least get to contribute a draft of my vision for the film.
CV: Is there any sort of production or release date set?
DC: It’s too early to say just yet. Movies take a long time. Marathon, not sprint.
CV: Is there any more to the PROPHET story?
DC: Prophet himself? Yes. Many more adventures can be told about this guy. I have an entire mythology and backstory set up, and I hope to be able to tell those stories in the coming years.
As for the property itself, we’re currently working on a video game pitch. I have wonderful 3D model of Prophet made by recent Full Sail grad Juan Castillo.
CV: What's next for you?
DC: I have more comics coming out. Be on the lookout for more announcements around the last quarter of the year.
Also, the MORIARTY stage show is still gestating, a collaboration with composer Raymond Schnurr. We hope to get that on its feet and workshop it sometime in the near future.
Check out PROPHET by Daniel Corey. You can purchase issues HERE to see what it's all about (for only $0.99 a book). Here's a few more pages to check out as well.