Friday, December 10, 2004

Words and sequential art have defined the first part of David Goyer’s professional career. The screenwriter, producer and director has spent a decade helping bring Marvel Comics’ vampire-hunting character Blade to the big screen in a trio of movies. The latest, “Blade: Trinity,” opened this week.

He also wrote the script for next year’s potential superhero blockbuster, “Batman Begins,” starring Christian Bale and directed by Christopher Nolan.

Mr. Goyer recently talked to The Washington Times about vampires, Blade, the life of the Dark Knight and his successes based on his appreciation of comic books.

Origins of Goyer the writer: I used to write a lot of short stories in high school, and one of my teachers submitted a story of mine to a national writing contest, and, to my surprise, I won. I remember thinking, “Gee, maybe I could make some money doing this.”

I went to USC film school and got a degree in screen writing in the late 1980s, which at the time was the only undergraduate degree of its kind in the world.

Overall, screen writing is a steep road to climb because very few people actually do make a living at it. It was certainly a road that most of my relatives tried to dissuade me from. I was actually torn between becoming a writer and a cop. I was going to get a degree in police administration and become a homicide detective. Fortunately, my mother really believed in my writing and encouraged me to go for it.

His comic-book addiction: I was a voracious comic-book reader when I was younger. I would go to a comic-book store every Saturday. I started reading comics from about the age of 6 on and had amassed thousands of them.

I loved the Hulk and Thor when I was a kid. I actually remember buying, on the stand, the issue of the Hulk when Wolverine first appeared. I also remember buying Giant Size X-Men No. 1 and reading it so much that the cover had come off, and I had to tape it back on.

Origins of writing ‘Blade’ movies: I read “Tomb of Dracula” as a kid and remember riding my banana-seat bike to the drugstore where I initially bought comics and getting the first issue that Blade appeared in.

After I graduated from film school, and with a couple of scripts under my belt, I became a working screenwriter. After four or five years, I heard that Marvel wanted to make a black superhero movie. I talked to Michael De Luca, and ultimately I got the job. It was the first time I was able to write exactly what I wanted to write. No one interfered with me.

Blade was a crazy proposition back in 1994. It was a fairly large-budget movie starring a black lead; it was R rated, involved kung fu and blaxploitation elements, and I don’t think many of studios would have made it. But Mike believed in me and my script.

The need for multiple ‘Blade’ films: I always thought there was a series of movies to be made with the Blade character. I believed it could be the “Star Wars” of vampire films.

His experiences with writing comics: I wrote the Justice Society at DC Comics for four years. I was approached by DC during promoting the first Blade film at the San Diego comics convention, and it had been a lifelong dream as a kid. I had a really great editor at DC named Peter Tomasi and hope to go back and write more comics. It’s fun.

Current state of the comic-book industry: I think a lot people perceive the comic-book industry as a farm team for movies, and I know that Warner Bros. treats DC Comics as almost an idea lab. Comic books themselves are not a big business anymore, and it is very hard to make a profit just with comic books. Comic books largely exist now as a means to springboard into other ancillary forms of income. Create a character and then do merchandise, video games and movies. Because of that element, they will always exist.

Current comic-book habit: I do not read as much I used to. I just finished Grant Morrison’s new Justice League. I love 100 Bullets and Y: The Last Man (which I am trying to make into a film at New Line). I love what Brian Bendis has done with Alias, Mark Millar in Ultimates, and Planetary from Warren Ellis.

His role in translating sequential art to film: Right now, I am embracing it. I get offered every comic-book movie imaginable. It’s going to be hard to distance myself from it now. However, I have a real fondness for the medium and have a lot of working knowledge about comic books and their characters.

When I was tapped to write the new Batman film, it was great because I already knew everything. I could quote chapter and verse and everything the makers needed to know about any villain, hero or story. I did not have to research a thing.

What’s in the new Batman film: We have never seen his origin on film before. All we have seen is a guy shooting the parents and a bat flying through the window. A large chunk of Batman’s origin covered in this movie has not even been covered in comic books. Where did the Batcave come from? Who taught him all of this? Where did the Batsuit come from? Where did the Batmobile come from? That’s never been covered, and this is what we are doing in this movie.

Comic books he would like to see turned into movies: From the DC Comics side, I would love to do the Flash, and on the Marvel side, I would love to do Thor.

Tips for younger writers: #Write what you know and what you believe in. Do not try to gauge the market and write about what you think is hot at the time.

Do research and … rewrite. A lot of beginning writers finish a draft and then immediately move on to another, and I am telling you, that is not writing.

Writing is rewriting. Writing is sending your work out to people and building up a skin that is tough enough to take criticism. If you send your script out to four people, and they think it has issues, then it probably has issues.

Zadzooks! wants to know you exist. Call 202/636-3016, fax 202/269-1853, email jszad kowski or write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington D.C., 20002.

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