Double Take is launching in the most unprecedented way. They are putting out 10 #1s at the same time. All of them in a shared universe that uses the George Romero classic Night of the Living Dead as it’s starting point. The company is founded by former Marvel president Bill Jemas, who I will be interviewing for Bleeding Cool Magazine in the next couple of days… but to find out more about the company and the shotgun style launch I talked with the company’s sales and marketing coordinator Gabe Yocum.
GABE YOCUM: I have a sales background and in my previous job I had met Robert Meyers our managing editor. He used to work for Valiant and through some of his connections there was introduced to Bill Jemas. Bill brought him in to Double Take and then Robert spent a couple of months bugging me that they needed a sales guy and kept saying, “its comic books and really cool”. When I finally came in and spoke to Bill about the job, I noticed a copy of Ultimate Spider-Man and it all clicked. That was the book that brought me back to comics, that and Ultimate X-Men, when I was 17 years old. So it all felt like kismet. It’s been good times ever since. It’s a dream job.
DW: Since you are the PR guys for the company… what is Double Take? What makes them unique in the industry?
GY: A couple of things. There is this tendency in the industry to go with the proven formula. Innovation doesn’t matter as long as units are moving. We are trying new things. Like launching ten new titles in one day, our Super Pack. The idea came from going to Mid-Town Comics and looking at the new release rack which is almost a city block long. We knew we could do three or four books a month like everyone else starting off… or we could try and make a real impact.
We also believe that comics should be cheap, so our cover price makes us different. And we are in a unique position that we have a parent company, Take-Two Interactive Software, that is very large and does very well. And they also keep their hands off when it comes to the creative. It also allows us to print a little bit higher print run giving us the ability to do the $2.50 cover price.
GY: The decision to do that predates my joining the company, but I’m told this is how it happened. Double Take has been in existence for nearly two years. They were going through different creative routes to create original I.P.s and the idea of a cohesive universe came into play early on. But those early attempts lead to getting back concepts that were somewhat uninspired. So they started going through the public domain properties which Night of the Living Dead is in. When they put out the idea of using the film as the center, what came back was much more inspired and focused. As a backbone to what we are doing it has inspired a lot of creative work, plus it’s something everyone can relate to. Zombies are the hot thing right now and with the film in the public domain, we can explore what happens there and then expand out and create a new universe. Expanding on characters that are from the film, some that are just ancillary and even moving forward in time to see what happens as the world reacts after that night.
DW: We’ve talked about the creation, how about we talk about the creators. Who are some of the folks you have working on the books?
GY: It’s ten creative teams. Michael Coast our story editor has had a hand in most of the stories and Bill has many story ideas. Then we have Jeff McComsey who did Fubar: Mother Russia who is writing Z-Men for us which tells the story of LBJ [President Johnson] finding out what’s going on in Western Pennsylvania and sending two Secret Service agents out to investigate. We also have several people from the NPR podcast The Moth. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s a group of spoken word storytellers, some of whom had never written a comic book before. Bill is a huge fan of the Moth and these spoken stories. Brian Finkelstein and Aaron Wolfe were both Moth Grand Champions.
GY: The next step is issue two. The second issues will come out in October, but not all at one time. We may explore the idea of the 10 packs down the line, but we’ll have to see how the first ones work out. Then we get four, five or six issues down the line and we look at having another batch of new series launching early next year. Probably another five or ten.
DW: Will those continue to focus on the horror genre or will you be branching out into other areas?
GY: It’s interesting. All of the books will take place in the same universe. The events of Night of the Living Dead will play a part of any books we do going forward. But they’re not all horror. We will have action/adventure, we’ll definitely have superhero books. It’s going to be all over the place, but it will all be in the same universe.
DW: So Night of the Living Dead is the catalyst that starts your universe and zombies will exist, but the universe will grow into all different sorts of areas and genres.
GY: Correct. And I will leave you with this… sometimes a zombie isn’t a zombie.
For more on the Double Take Universe, check out their website.