Crockett and Tubbs are back, and they're even cooler than they were in the 80s.
Fans of iconic undercover detectives Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs will be pleased to learn that these characters didn't float off to re-run heaven when the show ended. In fact, Lion Forge Comics has resurrected the pair in a new graphic novel series.
Created by writer Joe Casey (Adventures of Superman and others) and artist Jim Mahfood (whose work includes several Marvel Comics Spider-Man titles), the first release finds Crockett and Tubbs dealing with a new designer drug that turns users into zombies. It's not the Miami Vice of the 1980s - but it's certainly a fun ride.
We spoke with Lion Forge's Jesse Post to get the full run-down on Miami Vice: Remix and here's what we learned.
Pnc: Obviously the original Miami Vice remains - even when parodied - the epitome of "cool." But this graphic novel appeals to a much younger audience than those who watched the original series. Why bring Crockett and Tubbs back now?
JP: I think the series had a much longer-lasting effect on pop culture than just the cool '80s style (though that was pretty epic!). It was the first popular "cop drama" on primetime TV, and the first to feature (slightly!) more realistic crime scenarios and crime-solving techniques. I think most would agree there's a direct line from Vice to Law & Order. The crime genre is seeing a resurgence in comics today with hit noir series like Fatale, and it made sense to go back to a primal source for our contribution. It was really Vice's strong genre legacy and authenticity that first attracted us when we found out it was available for licensing. In terms of the younger fans, we kept the essence that made the original so great (so older fans will still enjoy it), but the "remixed" aspects will hopefully win over the younger readers you mentioned who don't know the show. They'll appreciate a wild, fun story and maybe be inspired to give the original a chance.
Pnc: How does the collaboration between Casey and Mahfood work? Are they ever actually in the room together? Does Casey write with an eye toward Mahfood's illustrations - or is "the story the thing" while the artist interprets it without input?
JP: They are in the room together! They've been friends and collaborators for years so they have an excellent creative flow. Joe likes to loosely outline each issue, focusing on things he knows Jim will love to draw. That approach leads to the incredible visuals you see in the book. They usually sketch out ideas in a brainstorm session together before getting started on script, and Joe's major contribution (in my eyes) is the brilliantly imaginative twists and turns the story takes. He once told me that there's no point to "doing it straight" since you can literally do anything you want on a comics page. That's why we have art, in my opinion, and Miami Vice: Remix is definitely a work of pop art to be reckoned with.
Pnc: How long did it take to write and illustrate the book?
JP: It typically takes 4-to-6 weeks to complete a single issue of a comic (which amounts to a chapter in the final graphic novel -- this one had five chapters) if you have a team of artists. In this case it was all Jim with the help of his studio so it might have taken slightly longer.
Pnc: Sonny still has his signature rolled-up sleeves and Rico is as suave as ever. Considering the fantastical new plot-line, was there ever talk of drastically changing the look of the characters?
JP: Joe and Jim wanted to be free of minute constraints that would hamstring the narrative, meaning little things that complicate most licensed books like actors' likenesses. If every fin on the Ferrari and every hair on Don Johnson's head had to be perfect, Joe and Jim would have likely grown bored very quickly. NBC was incredibly supportive of this approach and we're forever grateful for that. But with that said, we wanted the book to be instantly recognizable, so no drastic changes were called for. As you pointed out, Sonny's rolled-up sleeves immediately tell you who he is. Miami is obviously Miami, filtered through Jim's sketchy neon craziness. Everything is just amped up. It's all the individual elements that make Vice what it is -- the clothes, the passions, the cars, the bad guys, the beach -- just thrown in a blender.
Pnc: Any initial reactions from fans of the original show?
JP: So far the reaction from fans of the original series seems to be split into two options: either they immediately get it and love it, or they're skeptical until they give it a shot and come around. It's definitely a departure from what they know, but die hard fans who read the whole book see what we're doing here. Joe introduces important backstory for a character that died in the pilot episode. Elvis lays low for a teasingly long time before Joe brings him back in a big way. The plot plays off the original Calderone storyline without being convoluted. There's even a James Brown cameo, and again, true fans know what that's about.
Pnc: How will the series roll out?
JP: We actually have a separate Vice Classic series that's already complete and available on digital comics platforms. That will become a print graphic novel with a few other short stories early next year. That will read more like continuing episodes of the original series -- still freshened up and exciting but a little closer to what fans might have been expecting the first time. As for Remix, the response to this has been wildly positive -- well beyond our expectations -- so we at Lion Forge would love to do a follow-up. We just have to hope Joe and Jim get together over some Mai Tais soon and reignite the creative fire!
To learn more, or to purchase this or any of Lion Forge Comics' offerings, visit LionForge.com or Amazon. PnC