Bluewater Productions Publisher Darren Davis has stretched his creative mind across the entertainment industry working at E! Entertainment Television, the USA Network, Beyond Entertainment, and at Wildstorm for DC Comics. His creator-owned properties include 10th Muse and Legend of Isis. In May 2007, after a number of years in comics, Mr. Davis launched his self-publishing company, Bluewater Productions. He recently took time out of his busy publishing schedule to talk with comicbookinterviews.com Publisher John Michael Helmer about Bluewater Productions and the “Wave” hitting stores soon…
JMH: Tell us a bit about Bluewater Productions. What are its origins?
DD: I started off working for WildStorm comics, selling the art services of people like Jim Lee and Joe Mad. Then DC bought the company and they really did not know what to do with me for a couple years. We tried selling custom comics and advertising. The merger for my dept was an odd fit. Then I had the choice of being laid off or moving to San Diego to edit books at WildStorm. I was not ready to move so I left. I started working with Joe Mad as his agent getting him jobs outside of comics like video game packaging and stuff. We got so busy that I passed on some work to Randy Green and started repping him and it blew up to Adam Hughes, Andy Park and tons more people. It was insane because the people I looked up too I was now working with. I started watching these people create their own properties and thought I can do this…and did!
I started with “10th Muse” #1 at Image comics and it launched at the 6th highest selling comic book at Diamond. From there I created Atlas and Legend of Isis there as well. We were called a mini Top Cow. I ended up leaving Image comics due to a lack of freedom and tried Avatar, which only lasted for a couple issues. It was not a good fit. I ended up quitting comic books and coming back years later to do 10th Muse at Alias. We did a lot at Alias like “Judo Girl”, Victoria’s Secret Service”, “The Blackbeard Legacy” and others. It was a good place until they closed down. We were without a publisher and we decided to self publish. It has now been 4 years doing that.
JMH: What sets Bluewater comics apart from all other Publishers?
DD: We try to think outside the box. When we pick up a license, we do not just do it – we have to work with the people that created it. We do work one on one with William Shatner, Walter Koenig and Adam West. Not only does it make for a better project, but also it is cool for me to work with these icons. I loved working with Ray Harryhausen on the sequel to “Clash of the Titans”. The only license we really just “did” was Leprechaun and Warlock. I used to work at Lionsgate working on the films Leprechaun and Warlock – so I had to do that homage to the time I worked there.
JMH: What are your duties at Bluewater Productions and how long have you been working for the company?
DD: I have been with the company since I started it 6 years ago. I am the Publisher and Editor in Chief. I handle mot of the creative that comes into the company. I also handle the press that we do. I used to work at E! Entertainment Television and learned how to work with the press. I also do some writing as well. I just co-wrote the new “Wrath of the Titans” series with Scott Davis as well as “Paparazzi” with Adam Gragg. I have done a lot in my career and I have to say that I love what I do now.
JMH: Tell us a bit about your more popular titles, 10th muse, Logan’s Run, and Vincent Price Presents.
DD: No matter where I am in the comic book industry there will always be a “10th Muse” comic book series. We have a couple of new mini series with the 10th Muse. One being crossovers with some other independent characters like “Badger”, “Demons layer” & “Bomb Queen”. We also have a new ongoing series from Ryan Burton and Claudio Sepulveda.
This will be a big year for our Vincent Price series. We are currently on issue #27 of the longest ongoing series of my life! This year would have been Vincent Price’s 100th birthday and with his daughter we have a lot planned for this series. We are even doing a biography about his life too!
Logan’s Run is our best-reviewed book. Getting to work with one of the creators William F. Nolan has been amazing. We are working on the 2nd mini series that will be out in the spring called “Logan’s Run: aftermath”. We are showing this comic book series the way the creator wanted to see it visualized. I am very proud of this book too and Paul J. Salamoff has done an amazing job at it.
JMH: Morningside Entertainment has optioned your title Sinbad: Rogue of Mars as a feature film. Can you address the significance of such a deal?
DD: We have had things optioned before but what is different here is that the film has backing and will be made. We just got the teaser movie poster, which is amazing. The Sinbad property we have done so far has a graphic novel coming out in May as well as an action figure too. It is a pretty cool property that we are expanding into a new series as well that will be out in the fall.
JMH: Can you give us a sneak peek into one of your other titles?
DD: We have three titles that I an excited about. One being Jailbait written by Mary Jo Pehl from Mystery Science Theater. It is Wicthblade meets “Dateline: To Catch a Predator” if you can image that! The art is just amazing in the book.
Also the other one is called the “Mis-Adventures of Adam West”. We are working one on one with Adam West on the book. It is written by screenwriter Reed Lackey and drawn by an amazing talent Russell Dauterman. The Man, The Myth, The Amulet? Legendary star of the small and silver screen, ADAM WEST, has his career youth-enized in this hip-whimsical, trans-dimensional epic of an adventure. When a mysterious fan delivers an exotic amulet to Mr. West’s doorstep he is Dorothy-fied on an odyssey that will change his career, his love life and inadvertently make him the man that saves the universe!
The other one is a new title by Star Trek alum; Walter Koenig called “Things to Come”. It is drawn by Juan Baez. The book is about two species, one trying to cheat death, the other to become its master and, in between, a little child shall bleed them.
The Koenig book and the West comic books are a part of our Free Comic book day book.
JMH: Print vs. Digital. What are your thoughts on this conversation?
DD: As a comic book fan that goes into a comic book store each week. I am a true fan of print comics. If the comics go 100% to digital, I probably will stop collecting. One of the best things is going into a comic book store and talking to the people that work there and having them recommend a book to you. There is something about human interaction. I also spend so many hours in front a screen that I do not want to read a comic book or a book in front of one.
As a publisher I really like the concept. It is a way to bring in new readers too. I also like the price on trying a new title. Comic books are so expensive these days and we are guilty of it too. DC Comics lowering their prices to $2.99 has gotten my thinking about pricing of the titles.
JMH: Who are some of the talent Bluewater Productions is bringing to readers in the future?
DD: We work with so many cool and talented people. Joe Phillips from DC Comics has been doing a lot of covers for us as well as Marc Shapiro. Adam Gragg has been getting a lot of attention for a new title we have called “Styx and Stone”. The next book he is doing is called “Paparazzi”. Mark L. Miller has done a lot of the horror titles for us, from “Nanny & Hank” to “Vincent Price Presents”. CW Cooke does a lot of the FAME biographies and to have someone who does, as much research into these has to be insane.
JMH: Where can fans get copies of Bluewater comic books?
DD: We hope 1st and foremost that people can get them at the comic book stores. We put a lot of focus on getting people to do that with our national press having them use the comic shop locator. We are also sold on Amazon and national bookstores like Borders & Barnes and Noble. We have even broken into Wal-Mart with our “Fame: Justin Bieber” graphic novel.
JMH: You have a significant focus on biographies. Why are they important to your business model and how do you select a subject for the books?
DD: To be honest, these are the things that saved our company. Doing fiction comic books right now is a huge risk. There are so many people fighting for the same shelf placement. Look at the numbers comic books that were listed for last month. Marvel and DC top selling was at 75,000 copies. This is not a good sign. We tried something different to get new readers into to comic book stores and it is working. We do signings were people tell us they did not know that comic book stores existed. They go in and buy a Robert Pattinson or Lady Gaga comic book and will see a Spiderman issue and grab it too. We get a lot of flak from the true comic book fans thinking we are ruining the industry, but we are doing our part to help it. Getting national attention from the Today Show or CNN is driving readers into stores. We have also broke new ground being sold in airports and Jo-Ann’s Fabrics. We did not invent this wheel.
Biography comic books have been around since the 1940’s, we are just the next generation of them. We are one of the only graphic novel companies to break into Wal-Mart as well. We started off with the Female Force line which features strong women that make a difference in society; these have gotten a lot of female readers into comic books. We spun that off to Political Power, which is about everyone in politics. This should be a really good series with the new election coming up. Then we do FAME which is about the brightest stars in Hollywood. We also started a new line called Orbit, which is more skewed towards the true comic book fan with people like Howard Stern, Jack Kirby and Stephen King. Infamous is a series about the dark side of Hollywood. The 1st one is based off Charlie Sheen. Then we just announced a new line this week called COMICS. Our letterer Jaymes Reed wanted a line of biographies that he would read, so I let him created his own brand. We also are doing a series of graphic novels reprinting the old “Rock and Roll Comics” from the 90’s
People think that we only do comic book biographies. We only do like 3 a month out of the 10 titles we do. People just seem to want to cover those more. It is odd that Newsarama will cover and make fun of these and not cover when we get a TV show deal on the 10th Muse.
We do get to work with some of the subjects and then will donate a % to a non-profit of their choice. We also run a lot of non-profit ads in the books too.
School and libraries really love what we do on these and are a big part of our marketing campaign. I was a reluctant reader as a kid and comic books really molded my reading skills. I hope to bring this to a new generation.
We pick people who are not always the “names” that are popular at the moment. We just did one about Father Yod and the Source family, which was a really interesting read. I learned something new too! We also do a lot of research into these as well. We interviewed Oprah’s father before Kitty Kelly did. We also got to get some questions answered from Stephen King. Also people will suggest subjects to us. We are now getting press agents contacting us about doing them on their clients.
I do feel very proud of these titles and we do try to do some good with them. It was cool to see Larry King holding up our comic as well as Barbara Walters talking about it on the View. When people like this are talking about it, you know we are doing something right.
JMH: Pitch Bluewater Productions to the readers! In 10 words, tell us why Bluewater Comics books are a must buy…
DD: We are getting new readers into comic books!
About the interviewer –
John’s creator-owned properties include: The Leaf, Canada’s Greatest Hero, Sky Watcher, The Armor Guardians, NorthForce, MacSorly – R.C.M.P, and many others.