Author Archive

[GUEST INTERVIEW] Gilbert Colon talks with Bestselling Author Greg Cox

Greg Cox is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels and short stories. He wrote the official movie novelizations of Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Death Defying Acts, and all three Underworld films, as well the novelizations of four popular DC Comics miniseries, Infinite Crisis, 52, Countdown and Final Crisis. In addition, he has written books and short stories based on such popular series as Alias, Batman, Buffy, C.S.I., Farscape, Fantastic Four, The 4400, The Green Hornet, Iron Man, Leverage, The Phantom, Roswell, Star Trek, Terminator, Underworld, Xena, X-Men and Zorro. A sample chapter of his latest, the novelization of The Dark Knight Rises, can be read at IGN. Visit Greg Cox at http://www.gregcox-author.com/ for more about his projects.


ADAPTATION: THE NOVELIZATION FROM SCREENPLAY TO FINISHED BOOK
An Interview with Bestselling Author Greg Cox by Gilbert Colon

“Well, I’ve gotta write the book first, John. Then, you know, they get somebody to write the screenplay.” – Susan Orlean in Spike Jonze’s Adaptation.

“Well, they get somebody to write the screenplay. Then, you know, I’ve gotta write the book.” – The Novelizer.

When enthusiastic fans write stories involving iconic characters like Captain Kirk, Spock, Iron Man, or Sydney Bristow, the result is called “fanfic.” When a professional like New York Times bestselling author Greg Cox does it, it is what could be called “franchise fiction” and is published by houses such as Simon & Schuster, Berkley Books, and Titan Publishing Group. One particular form of franchise fiction, the novelization, involves the complicated process of adapting a screenplay into a novel without the benefit of a finished film for reference. It can be a bit like working in the dark, and involves more imagination than it is often given credit for. With The Dark Knight Rises, Cox’s latest novelization, the author takes us behind the scenes to give us a soup to nuts look at the nuts and bolts of this until-now secretive process.

Gilbert Colon: Have movie tie-in novelizations changed since the days they debuted? Since you began novelizing films 10years ago?

Greg Cox: I’ve been doing this for about a decade now, starting with the novelization of Daredevil,and the main difference is that the level of secrecy surrounding the scripts has increased significantly, for which I blame the internet. Nowadays there’s practically a cottage industry devoted to publishing spoilers on-line, so I understand why the studios have to work even harder to keep things under wraps.

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Like Franz Kafka, Gilbert Colon is a civil servant by day, writer by night, and full-time crime-solver in his own imagination. He has contributed to a range of periodicals including Filmfax, Cinema Retro, The New York Review of Science Fiction, as well as the book Invasion of the Body Snatchers: A Tribute (Stark House Press). A guest post of his will soon appear on the author blog Bradley on Film.

Biopics Fantastique: The Biographical Film as Fantasia

“… I want my story back. It’s not much, but it’s what I do.”—Dashiell Hammett in Hammett.

A recent New York Magazine issue showcases John McTeigue’s The Raven (2012) with a sidebar list of supposedly similar biopics that includes Finding Neverland, Capote, Midnight in Paris, Shadowlands, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Miss Potter, Quills, Permanent Midnight, The Hours, and Ed Wood.  But those films are wholly unlike The Raven in that they are traditional biopics, treating their subjects in a purely straightforward manner.  John Cusack describes The Raven as “a mash-up”—“a straight biopic would be boring,” he claims—but that is insufficiently specific.  The Raven is the latest in a long line of unconventional biographical films in which the artist somehow literally encounters his or her art.  In other words, these biopics employ a metafictional literary device in which the character, usually a writer, steps into or inhabits his own created world.  There are enough of these “biographical fantasies,” for lack of a better word, to deserve consideration as a subgenre of the biopic, no matter what we call them (fantasy biopic, biographical fantasia, biopic metafiction, etc.).

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“Well, a guy who dresses up like a bat clearly has issues.” — Bruce Wayne, Batman Begins.

“Time for you to work through some of your issues, Mr. Reese” — Harold Finch, Person of Interest.

Jonathan Nolan’s Watchmen: Person of Interest, Batman, and Second Chances

Batman fans, take note — Person of Interest, a ratings hit when it debuted last year, returns for a second season in its original Thursday 9 pm/8 central timeslot this fall on September 27th. Creator Jonathan Nolan, the man who helped bring the Dark Knight back to the big screen, borrows from Batman for a disguised variation on the famous comic-book legend. Brush up on season one available on Blu-ray and DVD now, or plunge in Thursday before Executive Producer J. J. Abrams’ trademark penchant for elaborate mythology kicks in.

In what perhaps best sums up the two protagonists in the CBS series Person of Interest, a comic-book-obsessed boy (“Astro” from The X Factor) tells ex-CIA operative Reese, “You are a ronin … a samurai with no master.” Indeed Reese is, as is the new boss Finch who recently took him under his wing, and while the desaturated hues of Person of Interest bear zero resemblance to a colorful comic-book palette, this grittily realistic crime series has much in common with the recent Dark Knight Trilogy (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises). What is Batman, after all, but a masterless warrior trained in the fighting arts of the Far East?

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[Editor’s Note: The following was originally published in September 2011 issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction.]

The Most Famous Writer You’ve Never Heard Of:
An Interview with I Am Legend Creator Richard Matheson’s Chronicler

by Gilbert Colon

Will Smith battles blood-drinking mutants in Manhattan. William Shatner witnesses a gremlin tearing apart a plane’s wing. A truck terrorizes a hapless motorist in Steven Spielberg’s first feature-length film. Robin Williams goes looking for his wife in the afterlife.

Smith, Shatner, Spielberg, Williams: these superstars are household names, and in the scenes described above they brought to life stories that are a celebrated part of film lore. But the man whose unique imagination produced the stories remains, himself, largely unknown. I Am Legend reaped $585 million at the box office…many of the most memorable Twilight Zone episodes emerged from his pen…his work has been spoofed repeatedly on The Simpsons…a character on The X-Files was named for him…Stephen King called him an influence. Yet he has been laboring in the vineyards almost unrecognized by audiences for decades-until now.

Author Matthew R. Bradley remedies this oversight in his book Richard Matheson on Screen: A History of the Film Works. Recently I had the privilege of asking Mr. Bradley a few questions about his favorite subject.


GC: Richard Matheson is a prolific writer, and almost everybody who has ever watched television or been to a movie has seen a Richard Matheson story: The Incredible Shrinking Man, a Twilight Zone episode, Duel, Somewhere in Time, I Am Legend or, most recently, The Box, yet almost nobody knows his name. Do you see Matheson as an unsung hero?

MB: Absolutely, which is one reason why I started documenting his career, first in interviews, then in introductions to his work, and finally in books. And it was quite a thrill when I was able to write jacket copy for several of his films while working at a Manhattan home-video company! I call him “the most famous writer you’ve never heard of.”
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Gilbert Colon, currently a state court employee, has contributed to periodicals such as Filmfax and Cinema Retro, as well as the book Invasion of the Body Snatchers: A Tribute (Stark House Press). Most recently he interviewed Matthew R. Bradley, author of Richard Matheson on Screen, for The New York Review of Science Fiction.

“…Oh my God — it’s full of stars!”:
The Transcendental Style of Douglas Trumbull and The Tree of Life

“…his soul, overflowing with rapture, yearned for freedom, space, openness. The vault of heaven, full of soft, shining stars, stretched vast and fathomless above him. The Milky Way ran in two pale streams from the zenith to the horizon.” — Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

One of the casualties of this year’s Oscar nominations is Douglas Trumbull, the visual effects artist thrice-nominated by the Academy for his work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Blade Runner. While director Terrence Malick’s 2011 film The Tree of Life garnered Academy Award consideration for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography, it lost the nod for Best Visual Effects to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Hugo, Real Steel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. (This, despite a January announcement by the Academy including The Tree of Life on a “shortlist” of 10 contenders for the visual effects award, among them Captain America: The First Avenger, X-Men: First Class, and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.) While the value afforded the Oscar culture is open to legitimate debate, it remains a disappointment that the visual effects artist who revolutionized special effects and was brought out of a nearly three-decade retirement by Malick goes unacknowledged by industry peers for his most current technical achievement.
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