80s Miami Vice Gets A Remix Treatment That's To Die For – Talking With The Creative Team
By Michele Brittany, a West Coast Bleeding Cool Correspondent
Lion Forge Comics and IDW has a new comic book series coming out titled Miami Vice Remix and will feature the writing of Joe Casey (Butcher Baker The Righteous Maker, Doc Bizarre M.D., Full Moon Fever), art/lettering from Jim Mahfood (Clerks, MarijuanaMan, Kickpuncher), colors by Justin Stewart (The Changed: A Tale of Zombie Ambition, Prime, An Agreement With Hell), and editing by Shannon Eric Denton (My Lady Zorro and Lady Rawhide, GRUNTS: War Stories, Graveslinger). I recently had an opportunity to chat with Casey, Mahfood, and Denton about the new series coming out in late March.
Michele Brittany (MB): Hello Joe Casey, Jim Mahfood and Shannon Eric Denton, the creative and editing team behind the new Lion Forge Comics' Miami Vice Remix series distributed by IDW. Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves and your start into the comics industry?
JOE CASEY (JC): I'm not sure how I got here. Just stumbled in through a side door, I suppose… whatever, I'm here now.
JIM MAHFOOD (JM): I saved Joe Casey's life back at San Diego Comic Con '97. A crazed fan was about to attack Joe with some super hot chili cheese fried pretzel poppers and I tackled the kid. The whole crowd erupted in applause and since then Joe and I have worked together on anything Miami and/or Vice related.
SHANNON ERIC DENTON (SED): I started as an artist at Image Comics Extreme Studios, moved from comics to work on animated series like the X-Men, Spider-Man, Teen Titans, TMNT, etc and am now editing for Lion Forge.
MB: How did you each come to work together on this series?
JC: Mahfood drafted me. God bless him. He figured we could kick a little ass on this thing and, as usual, he was not wrong.
JM: I like to have fun! The Casey/Mahfood collabs are always fun! We throw the rulebooks out the boat window so that an alligator can eat them and create our own universe for these stories where there are no rules or limitations to anything.
SED: These guys were made for this book!
MB: As writer, artist, and editor, what research did each of you do to prepare for this series? Did you watch any of the original television series to get a sense of the characters?
JC: A shit-ton of meditation. I had to get myself in the zone and I think when readers see the final product, they'll see just how far into that zone I travelled.
JM: I watched the first season of the original TV show and became mildly obsessed with it. But then I discovered break dancing and spent most of my days rummaging through old dumpsters looking for cardboard that I could do back spins on.
SED: I watched this show religiously back when it was on. So I didn't really need to prep, just needed to turn these guys loose and let them do their thing!
JC: Well, I figured including Crockett and Tubbs was essential. From there, we threw in Crockett's pet croc, Elvis, for good measure. And, of course, James Brown.
JM: What Joe said. People are going to read that line up there about James Brown and think Joe is kidding, but he's not. We've got it all in this series!
MB: Was the story always going to be a period comic book series? Were there any thoughts about setting the story in contemporary times?
JC: This story isn't locked into any specific time period. Certainly not the 1980's. I think it's safe to say that MIAMI VICE REMIX is a timeless epic.
JM: Yea, I like that we never say what era this takes place in. It's up to the reader to figure that out…
SED: Joe and Jim did an amazing job of having the readers walk away where some of them are convinced it's the 80s and the rest are convinced it's contemporary. They created a timeless piece of fun!
MB: How did you decide on zombies and the way that people are transformed to zombies? If you can do any reveals, what else is in store for readers of Miami Vice Remix?
JC: Those elements were ripped right out of the headlines, just like they used to do on the old TV show.
JM: Miami is a mystical land of voodoo, zombies, secrets, black Ferraris, intrigue, pet alligators, and boating shoes with no socks.
MB: Were there any challenges with developing the story and art?
JC: The challenge was how far we could push things. Standards and practices are always a bitch but what're you gonna do? We pushed it as far as we could, considering.
JM: I think we got away with what we wanted to do. There was that scene at a nudist colony that we had to entirely get rid of, but other than that we did our thing.
MB: What was it like working on such a popular 80s IP?
JC: Simply put, it was as orgasmic as you could imagine.
JM: We took something cool that was established in pop culture, used the existing special parts that we liked, and then Remixed the thing to exist in the Casey/Mahfood funk universe or psychedelic insanity and groove. People will love it!
MB: Jim, this series seems like a perfect fit for your graffiti style of art. I noticed the color palette includes generous amounts of pinks and blues, which I think have become a familiar trope of the series and the locale. What other colors did you incorporate? What do they signify?
JM: There are no real rules when it comes to color for me. I'm very lucky in that I have a super badass coloring team in Justin Stewart and Steve Chunn. They make my job easier. I've been working with Justin for so long that he just sort of instinctually knows what I want and makes it happen. Same with Steve, he knows how to 'read' the art and respond in the appropriate ways. I'm very happy with my collaborators, they really crushed it on this book!
MB: Can you describe your approach to layout because there seems to be a lot of motion included on every page? Were there any challenges to keep it fresh and interesting for the reader?
JM: I just try and make this stuff as dynamic and exciting as possible. Even if it's just a dialogue scene, it's hopefully interesting to look at. Luckily, Joe put a lot of action and drama in the book so it helps create intense visuals and give the illusion that things are always in motion. Luckily, my style isn't rooted in this 'reality' and I can get exaggerated with anatomy and perspective and make this stuff look unique in it's own weird way…like it's bustin' right off the page.
MB: Shannon, can you tell us about the editing process? Were there any limitations you as an editor needed to be cognizant of since this is an IP?
SED: NBC understood what we were trying to do. This isn't the old Miami Vice and yet it is so true to the original. Pushing boundaries and visuals that are on the edge! After I got the deal with IDW rolling, it became clear to all of us that this book was worthy of being our launch book for Lion Forge. It's all the things I love about comics and with creators I love working with.
MB: Are there any initial plans to develop the series further beyond this first series?
JC: I left my crystal balls in my other pants, but you never know. I can say without a doubt that I'd work with Mahfood and Denton again in a heartbeat. On what, I couldn't say.
JM: The future is so bright I gotta wear shades! Everyone involved in this project is awesome, I'm sure we'll all collaborate again in the future….
SED: What Joe and Jim said!
MB: What's next for each of you? Where can readers find you, ie Facebook, Twitter, upcoming cons?
JC: Long Beach with Mahfood this weekend. I think there's a con happening there. Other than that, diving head-first into the OFFICER DOWNE movie. And, of course, tons more comic books that will entertain, enlighten and offend in equal measure.
JM: I was part of the epic 21st Century Tank Girl hardcover that just came out and I'm very proud of that. My current gig is something at Marvel with Skottie Young that is strictly top secret for now! People can get updates and new art at my Instagram or Twitter @jimmahfood or at my site www.jimmahfood.com
SED: Long Beach Comic Expo, WonderCon, SDCC, NYCC, etc and hopefully at a comic shop near you soon!
MB: Thank you Joe, Jim and Shannon for your time. I sure enjoyed your answers and wish you much success with Miami Vice Remix in the coming months! For all of you who will be attending the Long Beach Comic Expo in Long Beach this weekend, please make a point to stop by and say hi to these cool guys! And look for issue one to drop in March at all your local comic book shops.
Miami Vice Remix #1 arrives in shops on March 18th and is currently listed in Previews World with item code: JAN150433