This week at New York Comic-Con, the first ten pages of the upcoming graphic novel Head Smash will be revealed by Arcana Comics and The Vladar Company. What's interesting about this is not only the story about a "pre-apocalyptic" city ruled by a brutal Horde, but that both the comic book and the film version are being developed at the same time.
Vlad Yudin and Erik Hendrix are creating the story of Head Smash, while Dwayne Harris is providing the illustration. You may know Yudin as the director of Big Pun: The Legacy and Last Day of Summer, starring DJ Qualls and Nikki Reed, which has been making the rounds on the cable movie channels of late. Yudin took some time out to talk to Crave Online about what's coming at NYCC, and show us some exclusive art before the con reveal.
CRAVE ONLINE: So, you are creating the "Head Smash" comic book at the same time you're developing the film of that book. How does that work? Are you writing two different scripts at the same time?
VLAD YUDIN: Basically, I came up with the concept for a story, and together with Erik Hendrix and Dwayne Harris, we are working on a comic book. The idea unfolded like a film already, so at the same time, I'm creating a screenplay for an actual film.
CRAVE ONLINE: And I suppose comic books make for really good storyboards.
YUDIN: Absolutely, that's what's so great about it. It's going to work as a great visual piece, and it will give definitely great ideas for when we create the film. A very great visual component as well.
CRAVE ONLINE: It's "Head Smash," and the lead character is named Smash. What can you tell us about the story?
YUDIN: Basically, it's a story of betrayal, revenge and a lot of action. It takes place in the city of Ares [pronounced "AH-rez" - ed.], which is a fictional city. We call it a pre-apocalyptic city. The whole environment is drenched in corruption. It's ruled by different syndicates and gangs and such. The Horde is a big syndicate who took over the whole city. Smash is an orphan who was taken in by one of the leaders of the group – his name is Maurice – and he raises him. One day, he gets betrayed by his own boss, who was taking care of him all his life. The rest of the story is him trying to figure out what really happened. In the midst of all that, his pregnant wife was kidnapped by Maurice, the boss, so he's trying to figure out why she was taken hostage by the organization, why she was basically left for dead, and why they betrayed him. The story really unravels into a big puzzle, a big mystery plot.
CRAVE ONLINE: How does he pick up the name Smash? Is it his birth name, or is it something he earns?
YUDIN: It's a nickname. He grows up in an orphanage, and there, you have to survive to make it out of there. He's known for his aggression from an early age. He's known for basically smashing people's heads in. He's got a lot of strength in him. He doesn't talk too much, necessarily, but when he's pushed into a corner, he knows how to fight back in a major way. A big part of the story is a special serum that Smash discovers, which gives him superhuman strength. He already has a lot of fighting knowledge, but the serum lets him fight a lot of people at the same time – but it has side effects. It's a gift and a curse. It gives him that superhuman ability to fight and defend himself but, like any drug would, it's giving him hallucinations or it's really deteriorating him at the same time.
CRAVE ONLINE: Is this set on a version of our Earth, or some alternate reality, or another planet?
YUDIN: Not a different planet. More like an alternate universe. We don't know exactly what it is, but we can definitely make certain parallels. It can be any city on Earth, basically, but it takes place much, much further into the future, where society is much different than today.
CRAVE ONLINE: Now are you and Erik both writing this together, or is he writing the comic and you'll make the film based on his script?
YUDIN: Erik and I are working as a team. He's taking more of a lead on the comic book side, and I'm taking more of a lead on the screenplay version, but the concept was developed together.
CRAVE ONLINE: What's the creative process like between you two?
YUDIN: It's a lot of back and forth, a lot of ideas that I've written down and he has a lot of great ideas as well. A lot of cooperation, a lot of meetings, a lot of conversations. You go back and forth a lot. Any time you collaborate, you have to hear other opinions, of course. You have to deal with certain criticisms from each other to make sure that you get the right product. That's exactly what we're doing.
CRAVE ONLINE: You're releasing the first issue at New York Comic-Con, right?
YUDIN: Yeah, we're very excited about that, actually. We're presenting the first ten pages of the graphic novel. It's going to be very exciting. It'll give a great backstory to Smash and the characters, and also set up the environment of Ares – the very brutal city where you have to fight for your right to live. It's basically a preview of the story and an introduction to the characters.
CRAVE ONLINE: So it's a stand-alone graphic novel and not an ongoing series, correct?
YUDIN: Yes, exactly. Well, there's definitely potential for an ongoing series, and that's exactly what we're contemplating right now. I feel like there is definitely a trilogy here, and that's what we're going for, but right now, we're focusing on specifically the graphic novel.
CRAVE ONLINE: When is the full graphic novel being released?
YUDIN: We plan to release right at the beginning of the year.
CRAVE ONLINE: And how long after that does the movie go into production?
YUDIN: We plan for it to go into production most likely in the summer of 2013.
CRAVE ONLINE: Where are you in the pre-production process right now?
YUDIN: The script is being done right now – it's a simultaneous process. Obviously, after the graphic novel is released, there will be some tweaks to polish it up, but it's being put together as we speak.
CRAVE ONLINE: I'm sure you're not at this stage yet, but out of curiosity, what kind of actor would you be looking for to play Smash? In a complete dream world, who would play Smash?
YUDIN: You know, it's something that – I'll be perfectly honest with you, I could mention a bunch of different names just because we're talking, but it'd be a good reveal, you know? I hesitate to tell you right now, because we're contemplating a few different names. As soon as it's set, I'll definitely let you know right away.
CRAVE ONLINE: So you're already talking to people?
YUDIN: Absolutely, yes.
CRAVE ONLINE: Nice. And I assume you'll be directing as well?
YUDIN: It's something that I haven't decided yet, but there's potential for it. I'm very passionate about the story, of course. The story's been developing in my own mind for quite some time. We're finally putting out the graphic novel, and I'm very excited about it. I have a great understanding of where the story is heading, so it would be good, but it's still something we have to figure out as a team.