Long story short(too late), while working as a comic book artist in the 80’s I and had the pleasure of illustrating a few awesome stories written by Chuck Dixon for Eclipse Comics. Eclipse folded, creased, imploded, whatever; and Chuck and I went to different ends of funny book land.
Fast forward a gazillion years…Mr. Dixon contacted me through Facebook of all methods(jokingly he commented that this may be the only good thing to come about through Facebook :)), stating that he was impressed by the “Rat Rod Daddy” and “Rat Rod Daddy’s Daughter” project I was posting. He then proceeded to pitch a kool Corman/Tarantino/exploitation flick graphic novel kind of thing to me.
I began immediately by immersing myself in the script, gathering reference, and illustrating a promo poster to get a feel for the main characters.
Then reality set in…My commercial art schedule and instructing at The Kubert School became more demanding; soaking up all the required time to work on a graphic novel by myself. So I had to come up with a way to get help.
One of the agencies that I freelance for is Telegraphics. Noteworthy of mention is that they produce a 64 page color comic book style training manual for the US Army every month. They are able to accomplish this amount of work, in that amount of time, because their team is a well oiled machine. So, inspired by Telegraphics I decided to create a well oiled graphic novel machine, working titled as “The Dirty 7″, to creatively and efficiently tackle comic books and graphic novels.
First project: “The Seven Deadly Sinners” by Chuck Dixon.
Early e-banter between Chuck and Bob:
You up for a graphic novel kind of thing?
I’ve been kicking this idea around for years and you are the ONLY guy who could do it justice.
Seven Deadly Sinners
It’s a 70’s biker/exploitation flick re-make of The Magnificent Seven.
Instead of a village of poor Mexicans, we have a bunch of hippies growing dope out in the California desert. A para-military gang wants to move on their action and the peace-loving hippies turn to seven bad asses to fight off the paramilitary gang.
Muscle cars, bikers, babes and lots and lots of bullets.
What d’ya think?
Here’s the basic character list. I’ll send a story outline later this week.
HACKETT–he’s our lead character. A Hell’s Angel who’s been stripped of his colors. Tough guy. The Yul Brynner of the group.
AMOS BROPHY –a bounty hunter of the Truck Turner variety. Think Isaac Hayes. Thought we’d touch on black exploitation flicks while we were at it. Leather coat. Sawed-off shotgun. Not a biker. Drives whatever badass ride you want.
JALISCA—hot Latina chick. She left a Mexican biker gang when her man was killed. Wild and violent.
TEACH—-the intellectual of the group. The only survivor of a biker gang that was exterminated/assimilated in a turf war. He wears glasses. Quiet except when expressing pithy comments.
GINO–Vietnam vet badass biker. Italian dude. Shrapnel scars are visible on any exposed skin. Doesn’t talk much.
RED–heavily bearded guy. Body builder biker. He’s like a Viking. Well over six foot. Long red hair.
SKY—Red’s gal pal. She’s a diminutive blonde. Very tomboy and dangerous with a gun or knife.
THE DENIZENS OF LOVE HAPPENS FARM:
WEED & WANDA— the forty-something hippie couple who run the farm/commune where the grass under contention is grown.
PETAL–hot hippie jailbait chick at the commune.
SPACEMAN–perpetually high nature’s child who lives on the farm. He’s twenty-something and always either stoned or asleep.
THE BAD GUYS:
(still working out an angle on these guys)
And a crapperload of other baddies.
Seven Deadly Sinners created by Chuck Dixon and Bob Hardin
Outline, springboard, beat sheet, thingie:
The plot is basic. The coolness factor comes from the characters and their actions.
The crop at Love Happens Farm is going to be a big one. Weed Waylons, the high father of the farm, is cut off on the way into town to buy stuff for the commune dwellers. Some thugs beat him pretty good and tell him that from now on the Love Happens Farm has a new business partner. Larry Riggs is the son of a big wheel in the county and manages Daddy’s chicken farms. But Larry hates chickens and loves cash. He’s going to horn in on Weed’s grass business with the help of a corrupt county sheriff.
Weed is up against it. His old lady, Wanda says they should pack up and leave but Weed says they got nowhere to go. This valley of theirs and the acres of super powerful marijuana he’s bred is all they have. So Weed turns to some friends from the Bad Old Days when he was a very un-Zen badass biker.
His first call is to Hackett, an un-patched Hell’s Angel. Hackett advises Weed to pack it in. Weed tells him the crop is worth at least a half million and he’ll split it with Hackett for a little bit of the kind of help Hackett and bring to this problem. Hackett tells Weed he has enough troubles and hangs up.
That’s when Amos Brophy, bounty hunter and professional mo’fo’, busts in on Hackett and brings him down. Brophy’s taking Hackett to Spokane where Hackett jumped bail on an assault beef. On the ride north (in Brophy’s badder-than-bad muscle car) Hackett talks Brophy into joining him in a “few days work” to save a family farm and earn a cool ten grand in tax-free cash.
The two then recruit five others who are introduced in short vignettes ala The Magnificent Seven.
TEACH talks a California state cop out of ticketing him for speeding in a big rig full of illegal migrants.
GINO takes out a bar full of Marines single-handed when they make a remark about Army Rangers.
SKY uses her womanly wiles and a fast, fast muscle car to break RED off a chain gang in Utah.
JALISCA beats the shit out of a pedophile trying to pick up an underage girl.
Now we have our Seven.
They meet at the Love Happens Farm and are present when Riggs shows up one night with some of his redneck pals. There’s a confrontation that’s indecisive but Riggs gets his pride hurt.
The grass is harvested under the watchful eye of the Seven. We intro Spaceman, a guitar strumming acidhead. And Petal, a young hippie chippie that falls hard for Teach. The grass is dried and baled and the Seven will escort a big rig (driven by Teach with Petal stowing away) loaded with the million dollar cargo down into the city where a buyer’s waiting.
The night before they’re going to haul the grass out the hippies and the Seven party. They only let their guard down for a few hours. Weed is lured away and murdered by Riggs and his goons. Wanda finds him nailed up on the doors of a barn.
Now it’s on.
The next day the rig roars out of the farm escorted by the bikers on their hogs and Brophy in his bad motor scooter. Chase action as they make it through a blockade of deputies and Riggs’ goons. But it looks like the bad guys will catch up in the end so Hackett and Jalisca turn back to slow the pursuit.
Big bloody, gear-jamming, gasoline flaming action (that I haven’t blocked out yet but I will in the script) ends with a solid 70s downer ending. One of our heroes will die but I’m not sure which one.
That’s it. Nuance, humor and whatever else comes in scripting.