How MacGyver Came To Comics by Tony Lee

How MacGyver Came To Comics by Tony Lee

Tony Lee writes for Bleeding Cool;

So, since I've returned from the San Diego Comic Con, a ton of people have been contacting me regarding the news that I'm doing a five part MacGyver series with creator Lee David Zlotoff, and the Eisner winning artist extraordinaire Becky Cloonan. Many of the emails , tweets and texts have been from people in shock, stunned that such a thing could happen. I mean, it's been about twenty years – how did I succeed where others failed, in bringing this back into the mainstream?

The answer's simple. I asked.

That's really it. Over the last few years at conventions, I've not been backwards about coming forwards on my love for the TV series. I own the T shirt. I own the seven seasons on DVD. I even have, hanging under my calendar, the 'Phoenix Foundation ID' of MacGyver, made a few years ago when I went as the mullet-haired icon to a fancy dress party. And, at these conventions, when I've been asked who I'd love to write for? MacGyver was always the answer. If Doctor Who was my #1 all time dream job? Then MacGyver was running a very close #2.

Fast forward to May 2011. I'm at the MCM Expo, a comic / movies / anime convention in London, and late on the Saturday night I'm in the bar with a few people including Becky Cloonan. I mention in passing that I would write a MacGyver book for free if the opportunity arose. To my surprise, Becky chimed in with 'And I would draw it!'

Because Becky's as big a MacGyver nerd as I am.

Of course, we never thought anything would come of it, but nevertheless, I contacted Stephanie Johnson, my LA manager and asked if she knew who had the rights. And, as I've always known, she's damned good, because within a couple of days she came back with 'it's Lee Zlotoff, I've spoken to him and he's happy to talk to you next Wednesday about this.' In shock, I checked with Becky if she was still on board. She was. So, that Wednesday I spoke to Lee, who turned out to be nothing like I imagined from stories of 'Hollywood writers' that you hear – in fact he was easygoing, enthusiastic and very open to suggestions. By the end of the discussion, not only had he agreed that we could write a MacGyver comic without paying him any money for the privilage, but he would actually come on board, with John Potter, the original 'MacGyverisms' creator.

So – we had a comic, a team, but no publisher. An email to Eric Stephenson that pretty much said 'Me. Becky Cloonan. McGyver. Interested?' solved that; after Eric found himself surrounded in the office by people running around yelling 'MacGyver!', he knew he had to go for it. I emailed long time Manor Club Productions associate and MTV's Agent Mom colourist Ciaran Lucas about colouring it, and we were pretty much sorted. Lee and I worked out a basic premise for the story, called Fugitive Gauntlet, a five part where MacGyver gets a call from someone with an axe to grind with him, who decides to play a game. MacGyver has to live out a week while every hitman in town is after him. A seven million dollar bounty is on his head, and every day it drops by a million. So the hit men have it in their best interests to kill him quick, and he has it in his best interest to run out the clock. But at the same time, he has to find out why this person wants him dead and what the true story is here. With the bare bones laid out, we created a teaser image to be run at San Diego, passed it to Image and sat back.

Less that two months, kids. From first thoughts to announced project. I don't think I've ever done anything that fast before.

MacGyver: Fugitive Gauntlet won't be a nostalgic 80's fest, we're going to update the character for a contemporary setting – in our eyes he's an iconic character like Clak Kent, or Bruce Wayne, and doesn't need to be tied to any time zone. The mullet is being changed, the logo is redesigned, but the story, the character, the penknife will all stay as we remember.

This isn't a MacGruber. This is a solid return from a character I loved as a child. And when you see it, when you see Becky's amazing art when it comes out in 2012, you'll be stunned.

Mac's back. And he's bringing everything with him.

How MacGyver Came To Comics by Tony Lee

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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