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A Wave New World

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Darren Davis, President of Blue Water Productions is no slouch. He made his comics debut, working with Wildstorm Productions shortly before DC acquired the company. Later, Darren took the next step, the big step, to establish his own publishing company at which he released such indie hits as The 10th Muse and Legend of Isis.

Now he is preparing to step out on his own again. 2007 will be a big year for Blue Water Productions with the launch of a line of comics based on the work of Hollywood legend Ray Harryhausen.

Darren took some time out of his hectic schedule to chat with Broken Frontier’s Jason Berek-Lewis.

BROKEN FRONTIER: 2006 was a rocky year—looking back over the last 12 months what has been the highlight?

DARREN DAVIS: I think the biggest highlight was signing the deal with Ray Harryhausen to develop a line of comics with him. Along with that, we got to do a signing with the legend at Comic-Con International. It was amazing to sit and talk to him about his career.

BF: You have seen the comic book world from inside The Big Four and from the independent point-of-view. What are your thoughts on the current state of the comics market and what do you see on the horizon for 2007?

DD: It seems like comics are on the rise again, at least DC and Marvel are.  The indie market is really not well supported. Wizard used to do more with indies, now it seems to be all about DC/Marvel. I also think it is the fault of some indies not being dependable. This is where I am trying to make it different and start the change, along with companies like Devil’s Due and Dynamite. Having titles come out on time is going to be #1 for us. 

BF: 2006 was a hard year for independent publishers; the collapse of Speakeasy, the change in direction for Alias Enterprises, changes in Diamond’s ordering policy. How have these events factored in to your plans to self-publish in 2007?

DD: The big difference is we are going to start off small and only publish our own titles we develop. We are not looking to be the next Image Comics. I look at how well Devil’s Due does and want to be more like them; a smaller company that lasts. Most months we will only have 3 titles out that are different genres. I do not want to compete with myself.  Making money is important because this is still a business, but I want to make sure that the quality and integrity of our books stand out. Alias did a great job on making a great-looking book.

BF: How did you come to work with Hollywood legend Ray Harryhausen? What are your plans with regards to bringing his work to comics? How are you seeking to maximize the awareness of your connection with the special effects pioneer?

DD: I met Ray at a signing for his book last year. I really went to meet him because he is a huge inspiration for the comics I do; bringing myths to life.  Clash of the Titans was one of my favorite movies growing up. I handed him a copy of Legend of Isis and 10th Muse graphic novels as a thank you.

After a while, I just asked his manager if he would be interested in doing comics. He said they have thought about it and everyone flaked on them. I had a presentation for him with images within two weeks, and the contract was signed the next day. I wanted this to be more about Ray’s work and not a license. He is a huge part of the process. We are also putting 5 pages in every issue of his original art. Ray is also doing a new take on the 10th Muse character for us.   

BF: I really can’t wait to see that! Legend Of Isis and The 10th Muse have been some of the strongest indie books of recent years. What are your plans for these and other original Blue Water properties in 2007?

DD: Blue Water Productions will be a new publishing company launching with VSS: Nemesis Rising which was a big hit for us at Alias. We are also launching with a one shot 10th Muse vs. Shi (Billy Tucci’s character). 

Also slated are Judo Girl and Blackbeard Legacy mini-series, and Legend of Isis will be back as well. There will be a couple of Odyssey one-shots. We have five Ray Harryhausen titles in development; Wrath of the Titans, 20 Million More, Jason and the Argonauts, Sinbad Rouge of Mars, and Back to Mysterious Island10th Muse is being relauched through the Ray Harryhausen line; Ray re-designed the character and we are making it on the lines of what Stan Lee did for DC heroes. 

BF: You have a huge year ahead of you. An interesting observation about your work is the number of strong female leads in Blue Water’s books—Judo Girl, Venus, Isis, the girls of VSS. To me, this is an interesting point of difference between your work and much of the industry.

DD: We have tried our own male driven heroes in their own comics and they do not sell as well as the female leads. Atlas and Orion The Hunter were both well-done books, but did not perform in sales. The demographic is still mainly males for indies and they are the people still buying Lady Death and Witchblade

BF: With Blue Water moving into the world of publishing, how will this affect your relationship with Angel Gate Press and Arcana Studio?

DD: We will continue to produce Power Of The Valkyrie at Arcana and we also have a couple things going on at Angel Gate. 

We have also signed a deal with Atomic Comics to have them produce graphic novels for us on the 10th Muse, VSS and Legend Of Isis. We are developing a couple series for them as well called Insane Jane and Gearz.

BF: You will have a hectic year! Besides Ray Harryhausen, who are some of the other creators you will be working with in 2007?

DD: Billy Tucci, Randy Queen, Randy Green, Tone Rodriguez, Logan Lubera, Billy Dallas Patton, Scott Lobdell, Paul Storrie and my right hand, Nadir Balan.

BF: How long have you been interested in mythology? With so many titles based on mythical beings—Isis, Venus, Orion, Atlas, Odyssey—why do you believe these stories and characters are so suited to comics?

DD: My brother used to read these stories to me when I was young. Then after Clash of the Titans came out, I was hooked. These are great stories and characters that are well known and when we put our spin on the myth it adds another layer to the folklore. 

BF: Ok, so I blame all this on your brother! [Laughs]

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