The Secret Origin panel series this year at ECCC brings in a bunch of top creators in the industry for one-on-one chats to hear their thoughts on the industry and their upcoming work. Ben Templesmith chatted at length about his career, including his first paid gig on a “Hamlet” adaptation that never saw the light of day.
Templesmith dove into the topic of creator owned comics, and even expressed interested in writing a Lobo story. You can check out the panel recap below.
Templesmith’s described his “secret origin” saying, “My first paid gig was an adaption of shakespeare’s Hamlet, but it never finished. I forget the name of anything to do with it, but it was going to be a PDF comic. It never really finished, no one knew who I was, but I got through like 50-60 pages of Hamlet. I got an advance on royalties, it was a tiny amount of money but it meant the world to me as a 22 year old.”
He continued, “The first actual work I ever did was coloring for Charlie Adlard. That never went to print either at Vertigo. It was shit canned. But at the same time as that, I got a gig doing Hellspawn.”
When asked about 30 Days of Night, “I was just happy to be in print. To smell the new print of the comic. I had never even been to America, so I was enamoured by that. Then I got an instant message saying Sam Raimi optioned and I was like, okay cool, but I’m doing comics!”
“The reason Sam Raimi optioned it was 50% concept and the other half was the art and atmosphere. I think Steve actually wrote it as a screenplay a lot earlier and tried to shop it around. The initial issues sold like crap. They said they couldn’t pay me to finish the series, but they said they would still print it if I did it. I was like yeah! It’s comics!”
“There were vampiric polar bears and monkeys in the screenplay draft. It took 5 years in production for that film to get made.”
On Fell with Warren Ellis, “The series might come back one day. We did a nine panel grid, and it taught me a lot by constraining me to do that. Warren would tell me what he wants in a shot and let me go to town on it. But I can’t take credit for it, it was all Warren.” He continued, “I have an issue, but they need more issues from Warren before they will solicit it. I have to finish the issue, find the time to do that, and hopefully Warren will do more. Hopefully, there will be enough issues for us to put it out again.”
When asked about Welcome to Hawksford, “The only reason I did that comic was because I was working in that publisher’s office, and they had a werewolf script from a hollywood guy, but I was like, well can I do my own werewolf story? And they were like yeah, yeah. It got optioned for a film, but it will never get made. It was like Sin City, but in my style. Look it up online… it’ll be there.”
When asked about Choker and his philosophy on creator owned comics, “It’s still horrible, compared to the real publishing industry. Comic publishers, apart from Image, sill control a lot of the rights. Creator owned is a fancy word for new ideas. I generally only get paid if they sell issues. I might own a percentage of that, 50% generally, but then I learned about reversion rights, but my early stuff does not have that. Creator owned does not always mean creative control. My philosophy on it is really hard core. You learn the hard way. If I wan to do something, creator owned, it’s my baby, I want to feel included at least. That’s why I founded 44FLOOD with a couple other guys. We are creating artifacts of books. We are going to start shipping those out shortly.”
Templesmith was asked if there any characters you would like to work on, to which he responded, “I’d do any work for hire so long as someone paid me. I’d love to do Lobo! Hi DC. I’ve never pitched a book in my life, I’m never in the mix of that stuff. My style isn’ suited to a lot of things.”
“Ten Grand, is a love story with demons. A guy makes a deal with an angel, turns out angels are dicks. This guy, if you pay him ten grand, he’ll do whatever you need him to do. He knows he’ll die, but if he dies altruistically, he gets 10 minutes with his dead wife in heaven before coming back.”