Pleasing The Fans – Gaffen And McVey On Writing Grimm For TV And Comics

The television series Grimm is a hit and has built a loyal fan base. So when Dynamite Entertainment started putting together the creative team for a comic book series based on the show, they did the smart thing… the got two of the show’s writers to do the scripts. Marc Gaffen and Kyle McVey sat down with Jim Zub to talk about the Grimm Universe, writing Nick Burkhardt’s adventures and keeping the fans happy.

JIM ZUB: What themes or characters draw you to Grimm?

MARC GAFFEN: The biggest draw for us is that Nick’s story is, at its root, a simple fish-out-of-water story. The idea of a hidden world right in front of our faces has always been a fascination.  And it leaves us with a lot of room to pull from history and bend it to our will.  “Oh you thought Ancient Egypt was weird before, let us tell ya a little something about that.“  It’s fun.  From Fraggle Rock to the X-men, the discovery that things aren’t always as they seem and a character trying to make sense of the insanity always resonates with people.

JZ: Are there any favorite episodes that spring to mind?

MG: I think we both have a great fondness for an episode from the first season called “Tarantella”.  It introduced the the Spinnetod creature.  The creature wasn’t just some senseless monster, but someone that has to kill in order to survive. You feel for the Spinnetod because death is a necessary part of their life cycle. That kind of conflict has become the lynchpin for this latest season of the TV show and we hope that we’re bringing that same sense of dimension to the characters in the comic books.  Drama resides in shades of grey…and we love that.

JZ: I know fans of these properties can be sticklers for detail. How often do you find yourself re-watching episodes as you’re working away on a script?

KYLE MCVEY: Oh boy, you just mentioned one of the biggest fears any writer/genre writer has.  People love the material so much that they have far longer memories than us when it comes to the little details.   Make no mistake, in that regard the Grimm fan base are no slackers.  They know their stuff.  So we are always very cognizant of that fact.  We want to give them something new but have it be informed by all that has come before us.   It can be tough to keep it straight.

JZ: Do you worry about making a comic like this appealing to a casual reader, someone who hasn’t watched the series before?

KM: We talk about this all the time.  It can be tricky pleasing the hardcore Grimmsters’ thirst for a growing mythology while providing new readers with a welcome entry to the series.  At this point in the run, we’re doing a couple really exciting, self-contained issues that play just like an episode of the show. They’re a great entry point for new fans before we go off the rails for Nick’s next globe-trotting arc.  But we do try to tow the line and let the reader know what’s going on in each issue.  Give them a little taste of what this world is all about before we toss them in the deep end.

JZ: This issue seems to be playing with superhero-comic tropes more than the typical fantasy ones of the show. How did this story come about?

KM: We both grew up HUGE DC/Marvel comic book fans and here we’ve been given this world to play in where there are people hiding among us with secret abilities.  Sound familiar?  So it was nice to ditch the fairy tale set up and tackle the Grimm world from another angle. We live in a society where we’re constantly inundated with super hero’s in the media and in some cases (ie. The Rain City Superhero Movement) people have actually taken it upon themselves to live out their super hero fantasies.  Imagine being a young Wesen, inbued with these amazing abilities, how could you resist the urge to suit up?

JZ: How tightly do you write your comic stories – Are they full script with panel counts and detailed descriptions or more outline-style for the artist?

MG: We tend to be very detailed when we write a script.  We specifically describe the shots we’re looking for. But at the same time we always tell the artist he has free reign if he has a better way to visually get the panel across. Comics are a highly collaborative medium — with the artist, inker, letterer, and our editor — and in the end the best idea, no matter where it comes from, wins.

JZ: Do you have any particular writing habits or routine?

MG: Kyle and I are actually complete opposites when it comes to writing habits, but it is also very beneficial.  I’m a morning writer, all my creativity runs from 8am to 3pm — but after 3 I usually become brain dead. While Kyle is a night writer.  So we break the outline of an issue or an arc together, then I’l work on the script in the morning and send it off to Kyle in the afternoon, where he’ll work at it all night.

JZ: What other projects, comic or otherwise, have you got on tap for 2014?

KM: Besides the comics, we have a couple things we’re really excited about next year.  We currently have a film called “ReEnactment” that is in preproduction and slated to film next Spring.   It’s a horror comedy in the same vein as “Evil Dead” or “Slither” that revolves around a bunch of Confederate Zombies that come back to life seeking REVENGE!  Come on.  Admit it.  You know you’ve always wanted that movie.  We’re also in the midst of writing an episode for “Grimm” that should be airing some time in March.   And if we’re lucky, we’ll get to keep writing comics.  It’s been a hell of a lot of fun so far.

Grimm07-Cov-Parrillo Layout 1 Layout 1 Layout 1 Layout 1 Layout 1

Grimm #7 goes on sale today.

JimZubJim Zub is a writer, artist and art instructor based in Toronto, Canada. His current comic projects include Samurai Jack, a new comic series continuing the award-winning cartoon, Skullkickers, a sword & sorcery action-comedy, and Pathfinder, a comic series based on the best selling tabletop RPG. He can be found online at www.jimzub.com or on Twitter at @jimzub.

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