Jim: Zuda, which continues to defy my understanding in many ways, never fails to challenge me.
Trying to figure out what would be the perfect Zuda pitch is constant source of inspiration. A while back, after a conversation about The Secret Saturdays and Challengers of the Unknown, I got an embryonic idea for a zuda pitch...here's what I came up with.
Our story begins in the 1950's where a Santanic Cult in New Mexico opened up a portal to another dimension. The portal grew to about a mile in diameter and then stopped.
For the most part, the portal is dormant, but occaisionally, horrible creatures emerged to terrorize neighboring towns. The government's response was two fold. They controlled rumors of such creatures by funding the sci-fi monster movies of the 50's like the The Wasp Woman or Them. Then they also used a specialized strike team to dispatch the creatures.
The government funded strike team consisted of seven WW 2 vets (5 guys and 2 girls) who had fought together during WWII. The media dubbed them the Destroyers of the Demonic.
The vibe of the series was intended to be sort of Ultimate Challengers of the Unknown with the 70's pychedelic flair.
At this point, I wasn't really sure what direction to take, so I sent the idea to Trey (Planet X, Bronze Age Spotlight) to see what he thought of it...
Trey: That was in late October, sort of timely, with Halloween approaching. Anyway, I liked a lot of thing's about Jim's idea, and they spurred me to think on two different (intially unrelated) tracks. I emailed Jim back:
The whole concept just screams to be Wild Bunch/Dirty Dozen/Inglorious Bastards - inspired comic done by Atlas-Seaboard in the '70s. I see there being a team archetypes: the Leader (a George Peppard-ish cigarillo smoker), the Black Guy (Jim Brown, of course), the Ladies' Man,and the Woman, and the Crazy.
One could always be dropped in favor of splitting the Woman into The Smart Woman and the Badass Chick. Think of things like The Professionals...or The A-Team.
The other thing was setting it in another time period. I felt sort of like the fifties and the seventies had been overplayed lately in comics. Having already thought of the Wild Bunch, and recently having been on a Spaghetti Western kick, I suggested it be set during the Mexican Revolution--probably 1913 or 1914.
Jim: As you might guess, Trey's A-Team analogues really appealed to my old school aesthetics, so I was sold on that suggestion right off the bat. I also liked the idea of goosing the concept in a more Wild Bunch direction. Like most people, the level of violence in your average Stephen J. Cannell produced television show feels a little quaint in this age of 24 and Sopranos.
What I wasn't sold on was the time period. Trey, why did that time period appeal you versus a more established western period like post-civil war era wild west?
Like I said, its the era of the Wild Bunch--but also its the era of the so-called Zapata westerns--Companeros, A Bullet for the General, and Duck, You Sucker! A somewhat lawless era perhaps (at least in Mexico), and perhaps a more idealistically charge one than the traditional West.
More importantly for the purposes of this story, it was a place where you could really see the old west becoming the modern world. There are still bandits on horseback, but the Great War looms. The southwest still beckons, but to oil barons and foreign spies, not ranchers and cowpunchers. The iconic pistol is still a Colt, but its the .45 automatic, not the Peacemaker.
And did I mention it was a place of extreme violence? Watch The Wild Bunch, or for extra credit, read James Carlos Blake's novel, The Friends of Pancho Villa.
Jim: So at this point, we had a setting, a premise and a cast of characters. We decided to call the project hell-bent.
The next thing we needed to do was look for an artist. Pierre was tied up with Kharon, so we went to digital webbing and placed an ad for an artist interested in working on a Western/Horror title.
We got a ton of great responses which left with the task of finding one out of the bunch. How we did that was an interesting process in of itselft.
We'll cover that in another post.