Comic-Con 2014: Quentin Tarantino on the Django-Zorro crossover
Director joins panel Q&A on Dynamite’s comic-book sequel to his western – and confirms next project The Hateful Eight
Emma-Lee Moss, theguardian.com, Sunday 27 July 2014 20.42 EDT
The publishing imprint Dynamite Entertainment, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, will publish the first non-film sequel to a Quentin Tarantino movie in November, with a comic book featuring Django Unchained’s Django alongside Zorro, the long-running character from the Dynamite universe.
Senior figures from Dynamite gathered at Comic-Con in San Diego, California, to discuss the Django/Zorro crossover and premiere its artwork, along with its writer, Matt Wagner, Django Unchained’s producer, Reginald Hudlin, and Tarantino, who was the main draw for most.
The panel discussed the genesis of the idea briefly, then opened the floor to questions – mostly from Tarantino fans but with a fair number expressing a particular interest in the crossover and the Dynamite stable as a whole.
Tarantino, using the word "mate" enough to come a across a little pirate-like, was friendly and conversational, dropping hints about future projects, and at one point offering encouragement to a filmmaker fan. He also confirmed that The Hateful Eight, a forthcoming film whose future was in doubt after a script leak, was going ahead.
Here’s the Q&A as it happened:
Who approached who about doing this collaboration?
Reginald Hudlin: Nick [Barrucci of Dynamite Entertainment] and I have been friends for a long time and as Django Unchained was about to come out, before it had even premiered, Nick called me up and said: "I’ve got an idea: Django meets Zorro." So me and Quentin had dinner and I told him the idea, and Quentin said…
Quentin Tarantino: I loved the idea. One of the things that I liked so much, I grew up reading western comics and entertainment in general, whether it was the Zorro comics, or the Disney show, or Zorro’s Fighting Legend. What I thought was such a great idea was taking the most famous fictional Mexican western hero, and putting him together with one of the most famous black western heroes.
RH: They both have O at the end of their name. He said: "Black and brown fight together." What i like about Quentin is we have the same political agenda.
Zorro has met other people in the Dynamite universe, he’s met the Shadow, the Lone Ranger. How is this going to differ? How will you be blending the two atmospheres?
Matt Wagner: They are both opposed to oppression. Django’s approach is a little more personal, a little more deadly. Django is civil war era, and Zorro comes into prime in 1815, so i thought maybe we’ll have a new incarnation. But Quentin shot it down, he said: "No, it has to be old. It has to be your Zorro," and that instantly worked for me. Quentin brought up that after years and year of posing as the fop Don Diego de la Vega, he has kind of become that character. He’s become fastidious and old and he likes cucumber sandwiches…
QT: he’s dedicated to teatime. And his prairie perfumes. But don’t get us wrong – he puts on his costume and kicks ass.
What did Jamie Foxx think about Zorro and Django meeting up?
QT: I bumped into him a few months ago and he thought it was a fantastic idea. He was like: "Can we make a movie of this? I’m their man. Let’s get Antonio. Let’s do this."
Do you have any hand in drawing? I know you’re not a stranger to animation.
QT: Twenty years ago when I was going around the world on movie promo – I was never able to draw when I was younger – but a friend of mine is a sketch artist, and he sort of taught me. When I was going promoting Reservoir Dogs, I started getting into it. I’m only good at drawing caricatures of myself. Like if I was in England, I’d be me and a bobby, or in Scotland it would be me and Nessy. Then it kind of went away.
When does this sequel take place?
QT: They’re both older.
MW: We’re just on the cusp of the civil war. One thing we can reveal is that Django’s not with Brunhilda. He blew up a whole plantation of white people, so he’s had to separate himself from her for her own safety.
QT: He dropped her off in Philadelphia and she’s working for the abolitionists. she’s telling her story to make money.
RH: That was a very real business – people doing lecture tours to make money for the movement. She would have been the perfect poster girl.
QT: Meanwhile, Django is still a bounty hunter.
What is your favourite scene in a movie of yours?
QT: I actually think the best scenes I ever wrote are the Hans Landa and the French farmer scene in Inglorious Basterds, and in the first script I ever wrote, True Romance, the whole "Sicilian" scene between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken. I like all the stuff I’d done after that but I knew I’d never topped that scene. When I wrote the scene in Inglorious Basterds, I thought "I finally matched it". What was weird, once I wrote that I couldn’t write the rest of the story. I had to put it away, but I knew I had to finish it because it was too good a scene to go to waste.
In regards to the Tupac song in Django, are you a big Tupac fan?
QT: Yes, i am, and he was a fan of mine. I remember him and Snoop Dogg were doing a movie company and they did a press conference announcing this and said: "We’re getting Quentin Tarantino to do a movie for us." When we approached Tupac’s mom she said: "Yeah, he loved Quentin Tarantino’s movies, he would be happy as a clam to be in it." In choosing the song, what happened when we met the record company is they put an unreleased song on the sampler, and we called and said: "Can we use that?" and they said: "If you make the deal with us you can, and if his mom says OK."
Reggie, as editor on these comics, are you trying to hold anything back?
RH: My job on the Django movie was actually to make it more crazy. I would go on set and say things like "Django doesn’t look tired enough," "That fire’s getting low – let’s get some kerosene." With the comic books, I’m "editing" ‘cos there’s no producer credit on comics. We knew this would be an adaptation that was unique, so we just had fun. And I told him: we should not stop here, I love it, you love it, let’s keep playing.
I was at the reading for The Hateful Eight. It would make me so happy if can you confirm if you are going to be doing it?
QT: Yes, we are going to be doing The Hateful Eight [audience member pretends to collapse]. All for you. We weren’t sure about it but I just decided just now.
Are we ever going to see you direct a sci-fi or fantasy film?
QT: If you had asked me a few years ago I would have said: "Nah, not really, I don’t know." But i have a little idea right now. It’s a little flower, you know, like a bean sprout, but those tend to grow into stalks. So this is the first time I’ll be able to say "maybe". It won’t be a spaceship sci-fi, it’ll be Earthbound.
Would you ever take on an existing franchise?
QT: A series that I would like to put a spin on is the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I want to take it from the pod people’s perspective, so you’re actually rooting for the pod people. I don’t think they’re so bad.
Is Dr Schultz going to make an appearance in the comic?
QT: I actually wrote this one scene, another Schultz arriving in a new town and talking his way out, that I couldn’t put in the finished script, but I always liked it, so when I was talking to Matt I said: "Why don’t we just take this whole scene how I wrote it, and stick it in whole like a flashback?’ There’s also a whole chapter that Brunhilda had, that didn’t make it in the film as it broke up Django’s story. People have this problem with Brunhilda as a damsel in distress, but I say she is. She is the princess in an evil castle, held by an evil kind. And Django is a knight. Brunhilda is a black woman who he loved so much that even when he is extricated from this terrible situation he still goes further than hell to save her. And people need to see that, girls need to see that, boys need to see that.
MW: I don’t see her as helpless at all. In that final silhouette, you see her pick up his gun and prop it on her shoulder. And that’s not helpless.
QT: No, she’s not at all. When he finds her, she is being punished for trying to escape. And at the end of the film you know that the story is far from over, they still have to escape the south. But now you know he meets up with Zorro, so they make it out.
Have you noticed that Django now shares the Dynamite universe with Shaft?
QT: Yes, I expect to see a comic in the future where he talks about great-great-great-grandmother Brunhilda.
Matt Wagner, Quentin Tarantino, me, Nick Barrucci and Joseph Rybandt right after the SDCC Django/Zorro panel.
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New friends, old friends…SDCC had all the above, like this picture of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, who I worked with on the Marvelous Color comic book art exhibition several years ago and is currently editor of the great new DMC comic book series! Edgardo and I had never met in person before but our friendship deepened even more as we joked about the supposed health benefits of pig guts in Latin and Black American cuisine!
The lovely lady in the middle is Marjorie Liu: writer on Astonishing X Men, attorney, novelist and teacher at MIT!
Together the three of us form a rainbow coalition of kickassery!
My man Edgardo and me with DMC, one of the founding fathers of hip hop, promoting his new comic book series. Darryl is a really nice guy, and we have a very animated conversation that amused the crowd that was patiently waiting on his autograph.
If Fellini had stuck to cartooning instead of becoming the cinematic master of neo-realism and surrealism…he would be the Hernandez Brothers. Each so talented and unique (even from each other) as writers and artists. I can’t believe they finally won their first Eisner after decades of great work.
Bucket list: Jim Steranko was a huge influence on me as a young man. His innovative art and writing in Captain America and Nick Fury: Agent of Shield ushered in a new generation of storytelling in the late 1960s. He would combine Orson Welles, Salvador Dali and 60s psychedelica to radically reinvent the medium. His two-part HISTORY OF COMICS was hugely impactful to me both in its thorough layout of the golden age of comics and as an artist who was also a historian. Jim was an escape artist in his younger days, and after comics, helped design INDIANA JONES!
Jim’s recent reappearance in the public eye (especially his hilarious Bob Kane story on twitter) has been a treat to fans. It was a pleasure to finally meet him and thank him for his contributions.
The man to the left taking the picture is storyboardist and all around great guy Warren Drummond with his son, Josh.
Here I am with Milestone co-founder Denys Cowan and Sergio Aragones, he of the great little cartoons in the margins of MAD magazine and the long running Groo comic. Sergio is one of the all time great ladies men. While Denys was telling me about how Sergio could stare at a beautiful woman walking toward him down the street and seduce her by the time they were face to face, a lovely young woman walked up to him and started a flirty conversation.
I was lucky enough to work with brilliant artist Ken Lashley at the end of my Black Panther run, but hope to collaborate with him next year as well. Here he is with his two daughters and Kevin Grevioux, scientist, actor and creator of the UNDERWORLD franchise. I had a better picture of Kevin, but Ken’s expression was good I went with this one. Sorry Kev.
There was also a Milestone panel this year, which focused on the legacy of Afro Futurism (expressed over the decades through artists like Sun Ra, George Clinton, The Wu Tang Clan and Janelle Monae) as well as the history and future of Milestone comics and the curious origin of the Black Panther animated series.
Host Phil LaMarr kept it peppy and lively, while panelists Selwyn Hines (VOODOO CHILE) and Milestone founders Denys Cowan and Michael Davis took turns rocking the mike. I did what I do.
John Sempter is a legendary writer who has worked on the Spider Man, Hulk, Static Shock and Ghostbusters animated series, as well as the Kid and Play movie I didn’t make – Class Act. John himself is also a Class Act!
Bill Seinkowicz and Denys Cowan – legendary artists, great guys, despite Denys’ sinister expression…have teamed up on my new book! I can’t wait till you see it next year! Their collaboration is seamless!
HEF stalwart Sam Wilson represents to the fullest at all times. Thanks for introducing me to Magarie Liu! You, Keith Kopinski and Joe Thomas Jr. hold it down at all times!
Even hardware stores in downtown San Diego are getting in on the act with namesake Milestone characters. Best Comicon ever for me. Can’t wait till next year.
Talk about it on HEF – the Hudlin Entertainment Forum
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