Comic Book Features
Interview: Writer Chris Bunting gives insight into new Mr.T comic and why it isn't a '80s gimmick
By Patrick Luce Jun 6, 2005, 16:01 GMT
Mr. T #1 hits U.S. comic shelves June 22
The first issue of the new series, which sees the return of Mr. T after he has withdrawn from the spotlight as an urban crime fighter, is already available in the UK direct from APComics and will be hitting comic shelves in the U.S. on June 22. It will be available in mass distribution in the UK the following week.
In an interview with Monsters and Critics, Bunting gave us the scoop on how the comic came to be, how involved Mr. T is in the creative process, and what the writer’s goals and dreams are for a comic. He also dismissed any thoughts that the comic is just trying to ride the wave of ‘80s nostalgia for a quick buck.
Although Bunting admits that Mr. T’s name alone will draw interest to the book, he was quick to point out that this comic plans on delivering a solid story, good art, and a real hero that has something to offer fans. He also admits that it might not be what some comic fans are expecting to see.
“I don’t think the gimmick cliché is any kind of stigma, I mean without it we might not even be here,” the writer explained. “To avoid the gimmick cliché all you need to do is some solid storytelling, which of course was my intent from the very start. It’s as easy as that.”
It has been some time since fans have seen Mr. T in comic form, and Bunting said they were determined to bring a new chapter in the Mr. T mythology.
"Following Neil Edwards’s Bryan Hitch-esque cover to Mr.T #1, the joke was made about the comic being ‘Ultimate Mr.T’ (referring to Marvel’s successful “Ultimate” line of comics),” Bunting said. “While that certainly isn’t a bad analogy and not a label I’d grumble at, the thing is, Mr.T is Mr.T wherever you place him. He’s far too powerful a presence and far too iconic a character to ‘ultimize’.”
To Bunting, Mr. T, who is extremely involved in the overall creative process of the book, is an exciting icon, and a household name that has never lost his popularity. This automatic recognition is what would draw any publisher to him. This level of popularity and reality was perfect for the type of hero Bunting is writing in the pages of Mr. T.
The first storyline sees Mr. T coming out of the shadows to deliver street justice to drug dealers
“In a world where people will often prefer to turn a blind eye to somebody in trouble rather than helping, we have Mr.T, a guy who champions the underdog, the poor and the vulnerable,” Bunting said. “And in a world where drugs are causing mayhem in so many ways and on so many levels, there’s Mr.T, someone who’s willing to stand against them.”<!--page-->
Mr. T has input on every aspect of the comic including art
“Where Mr.T differs (from other crime fighting comic heroes), is that’s he real and he can do real-life things. Mr.T’s more connected, he’s more involved. Mr.T can’t just stop the local drug dealer, dust himself down and then move on to the next bad guy,” Bunting said. “He has to deal with and cope with the causes and effects from that situation and environment. This opens up some great possibilities in terms of storytelling.”
Bunting also credits the book’s tone to the creative art team - Neil Edwards (penciler), Randy Emberlin (inker), and Don MacKinnon (colorist). He said they all worked hard on the series and captured it “perfectly.” He also pointed out that Mr. T, who personally looks over all the pencils and art and gives any feedback or suggestions as necessary, approved all the artists.
In an industry dominated by costumed superheroes and crime fighting icons, such as Daredevil and Batman, Bunting believes that not only is there room for Mr. T, but that he could stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest of comic icons.
“All the ingredients of making this particular real-life person into a comic book hero were already there: Mr.T was born to be a comic book star!” The writer said of his hero. “Mr.T’s certainly on the same level in regard to much of their moral outlook, determination, motivation.”
Some of these characteristics come down to Mr.T himself, and the magic of his persona – “a tough no-nonsense attitude coupled with a tender side and a cheeky sense of humor,” according to Bunting.
Those characteristics that are part of the real Mr. T was what helped Bunting want to tackle the project and also why he believes comic fans will be willing to give the book a chance. He also said he believed those same characteristics, and the books unique “real life” type of story, would help fans continue to keep reading the title past the first storyline.
“Well, you know sometimes it’s about breaking the trend, and making a new trend, which is certainly what the Mr.T comic is doing. We can all go down a well-trodden path, but variety is the spice of life. I don’t mean that as any disrespect either: I’ll openly admit that I love superhero comics and they’re the lifeblood of the medium,” the writer said. “Not only do I feel that the Mr.T comic is going to hold its own against its shelf-sharers, but also that it will be a comic that people can relate to. The stories in Mr.T – about a non-super powered man who will take a stand, who will champion the weak and vulnerable – have relevance, maybe now more than ever, and I believe readers will genuinely respond to that.”<!--page-->
Bunting was a bit more mysterious when it came to talking about future stories in the Mr. T comic and whether the book would maintain its “dark” tone after the first arc is finished. He made clear that he had big plans for his iconic star and that he wanted to keep the stories entertaining for fans and true to the character of Mr. T.
Cover of Mr. T #2
He did admit that future stories might have a lighter tone to them, but that doesn’t mean the book will change its “real world” feel. He also plans to ensure that they will continue to deliver a comic with good art and storytelling rather than relying on Mr. T’s icon status to bring in fans.
“Let’s be honest here, we could let Mr.T’s name alone sell this comic book for us. We’re not. We’re here to tell the most entertaining stories possible, featuring this terrific, much-loved iconic character,” Bunting said. “I’ve some big plans for this big star! And the only way that you’ll ever find out just what they are from me is to actually read my stories in the Mr.T comic…!”