License To Thrill in Greg Pak’s Firefly
Oct 11, 2018
by Vince Brusio
Writing a book for a licensed property can bog down a writer when continuity weighs heavy like handcuffs. This problem, however, is not in Greg Pak’s wheelhouse as he takes on scripting for BOOM! Studios Firefly #1 (SEP181285). Joss Whedon, for the most part, let’s Greg play in his sandbox with hardly any supervision, and for this reason Greg’s character dialogue (among other things) is combustible. Check out what Greg had to say about his new gig in this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview.
Vince Brusio: Joss Whedon says that you bring a “unique voice” to the world of Firefly. How might you deconstruct this comment?
Greg Pak: Ha ha! I will take it to mean I am awesome and you should buy this book! Thank you, Joss! Seriously, though, the material resonates with me for personal reasons, including the fact that I grew up in Texas as a Boy Scout and sci fi nerd who loved Westerns. So I’m doing my best to do something special here that comes from a lived experience. Hope y’all dig!
Vince Brusio: Tell us how you first approached the source material for Firefly. How did you process the material through your own creative filter? What was important for you to focus on so that you got the foundation of the story?
Greg Pak: I just watched the whole series and the Serenity movie, made notes to myself about the things I loved and was intrigued by, and worked up an outline that I hoped would go someplace shiny and new while maintaining and expanding on everything I loved about the characters and world.
Vince Brusio: It’s important to stay true to the original voices that were created for the characters, but if you’re focusing on themes like “the price of redemption,” that implies change could come over one’s sense of worth. Or there’s possibly been a change of one’s moral compass, as a “price” has been levied. This can be a complex task to take on if your vision for a character has them evolve. How do you approach such a task when you’re dealing with a licensed property?
Greg Pak: Firefly is a licensed book, sure, but it’s also a Joss Whedon project, so it’s not like we’re having to get approvals from some faceless corporate entity. We’re just sending our big ideas over to Joss and his team, and if they approve, we’re good to go. And we’re not competing with a current television show for story beats. So real things can indeed happen to these characters — real emotional development and big surprises. We’re just digging deep, thinking hard about each of these characters and where they’ve been and where they’re going and finding real turning points that come out of their history and relationships but still can shock and surprise and thrill.
Vince Brusio: What is it about Firefly that makes writing it a labor of love? How is it a new flavor on your palate?
Greg Pak: One very fun thing about working on a book like this is that the established style of banter gives me permission to really play with dialogue. As a writer, I love words. I love the way people talk and play with language in all kinds of fun ways. But I’ve often worked on stories with very terse characters — heroes who are often defined by how much they DON’T say. I love those kinds of characters and moments, and Firefly has some of that. But Firefly also has plenty of characters who talk and jibe and banter and that’s a huge amount of fun to play with.
But the most fun thing about working on the book is exploring the relationships between these characters. The series worked so well and has won such a cult following because those characters are so dang compelling. Their relationships and motivations and histories are so interestingly defined that you can put any two of them in a room and you have an interesting scene. I’m loving the chance to play with those dynamics — and to take them to new places.
Vince Brusio: How has artist Dan McDaid taken your script and put his own spin on it so that what you originally saw in your mind came back as a HD TV? What is it about his style that make you pump a fist in the air?
Greg Pak: Dan’s got a great, expressive, fluid style that’s full of character. With a licensed book based on a live action show, you could get bogged down in trying to nail likenesses in an almost photographic way. But that can hamstring you, get you stuck in stiff, unexpressive moments. Dan’s the opposite of that — he’s channeling the essence of each character but keeping that line free and fluid so every image is so full of life. He’s hitting all those big action moments, all that subtle character interaction, and all the wry humor. I just love it.
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.