Review: Django Unchained Hardcover

by Cody "The Thorverine" Ferrell

Django Unchained coverThe seven-issue comics adaptation of the Oscar-winning movie by Quentin Tarantino is now collected in hardcover! Don’t miss this blood-soaked tale of a bounty-hunting dentist and his partner Django, a recently freed slave, as they search the post-Civil War South for Django’s wife!

Today sees the release of the Django Unchained trade paperback. The hardcover book collects all seven issues of the comic adaptation of the Oscar-winning movie from Quentin Tarantino. Of course it’s written by Tarantino since it’s the first draft of his script, but it’s adapted into comic book form by Reginald Hudlin. Issues 1, 2, 4, 7 feature art from R.M. Guera and Jason Latour. Issues 3 and 6 features pencils from Denys Cowan with inks by John Floyd. Issue 5’s art is handled by Danijel Zezelj. Giulia Brussco and Jose Villarubia handle colors while Sal Cipriano and Taylor Esposito provide lettering. The movie was a hit with critics and fans, but how does the adaptation hold up to the source?

The story doesn’t deviate too far from the finished project. Django is “freed” by Dr. King Schultz who then offers Django his freedom in exchange for helping him track down and kill the Brittle brothers. Their time collecting bounties forges a friendship and leads Schultz to train Django and offer to help him find his lost wife, Broomhilda, if he agrees to help him collect bounties over the winter. The duo track Broomhilda down to the villainous Calvin Candie, owner of the notorious Candyland. Django and Schultz will have to orchestra their most brilliant ruse yet if they hope to rescue Django’s love.

Hudlin adapts Tarantino’s first draft well. Things don’t differ too greatly from what we see on the big screen, but there is a large portion devoted to Broomhilda and her trip to Candyland. The final battle between Django and the white inhabitants of Candyland also goes down a little different than it does on film as well. Other than that, this is really just a great director’s cut of the film. The art is top notch all around. R.M. Guera is the prefect artist for this adaptation. He is probably best known for Scalped, and that was a comic series that was a fantastic Quentin Tarantino-ish film. Guera fits right in with the look and feel of Tarantino’s film. Cowan’s art on issues 3 and 6 are a good compliment to Guera. He has his own style, but the change isn’t drastic or jarring. Zezelji’s art on issue 5 is the most noticeable shift. The heavier line work and use of shading does work well with the introduction of Candlyand though.

Bottom Line: Django Unchained is just as good as its movie counterpart. There is enough here to keep it from feeling like a straight movie adaption comic, though most of the story plays out the same way. Like I said above, Django Unchained #1-7 is a stellar director’s cut of the film in comic book form. If you enjoyed Django Unchained, are a cinephile, or just love Tarantino films, this is well worth picking up. Tarantino proves it’s worth a comic book adaptation with his love letter to western comics in the book’s introduction. It’s a well put together trade to boot. 4.5/5

Summary: Django Unchained is just as good as its movie counterpart. 

Django Unchained - The Comic Book


Q&A: 'Django Unchained' Producer Reginald Hudlin Offers Up a Rare Inside Look at the 'Django' Comic Book & Quentin Tarantino's Passion-Filled Process

Django Unchained #2 cover

When "Django Unchained" opens in theaters Dec. 25, audiences will finally see just what Quentin Tarantino has wrought with his provocative, ultraviolent slave-era Western. But that big-screen version is a long way from the screenplay Tarantino originally wrote that sparked a burst of excitement (along with juicy debate) when it first surfaced online in 2011.

Since then, scenes have been axed, dialogue has been added and major sections have been completely rewritten. Even the climax of the film was ditched — no longer does the titular character, played by Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, ride through town on his way to the Candyland plantation to blow up the master's house. (Not to worry: Foxx himself claimed recently, "The new ending trumps it because Quentin made it a 'ghost story.'")

But fans of that original version will still have a chance to check out what it might have looked like visually, since Tarantino's script has been adapted into a comic book series by Vertigo/DC Entertainment. The first of six installments drops Dec. 19; the second, which features a cover by Denys Cowan revealed here for the first time, hits Jan. 30 (three and four go on sale in February and March). Think of the comic series as an alternate version — that happens to come out first.

"There'll be a lot of scenes in the comic that are not in the finished film," says "Django" producer Reginald Hudlin, whose comic book credits include Marvel's "Black Panther" and "Birth of a Nation." While putting the final touches on the film, Hudlin took some time to give Indiewire his first in-depth interview about it — plus his thoughts on black superheroes, nerding out with Tarantino and the challenge of translating a 168-page screenplay into panels and word balloons.

Who came up with the idea for a "Django Unchained" comic book?

It kind of happened organically, actually. We were getting proposals to publish an illustrated screenplay, meaning it would be the screenplay with a bunch of photographs from production, and Quentin didn't really want to do that. He believes the screenplay is an artistic medium in itself. He loves publishing his screenplays, but he wants them to stand alone and not have pictures as a crutch; either the writing works or it doesn't. And when Quentin gave me that response to the offer I said, "Well, I get that. And, in fact, I was kind of disappointed because when I read 'illustrated screenplay,' I thought they were talking about a comic book adaptation." Then he lit up, like, "Yeah. Now, that's what I'm talking about! That would be fun." [laughs] I agreed, so I reached out to my friends in the world of comic-book publishing and we got it going.

Has a slave ever been the hero of a comic book?

There haven't been many, but yes. I mean, I have a great appreciation for the medium and so does Quentin. His specialty is, in whatever you're talking about — film, television, comic books — he will mention very obscure characters and titles. For example, we talked about comic books — specifically the subcategory of Western comic books — and how big a fan he was of "Gunhawks," which had a black slave who was teamed up with a Confederate soldier. To me, that's typical Marvel. [laughs] Like, what's the boldest, craziest combination we can put together? The fact is, as per usual, comic books are bold and will go to provocative places. I can also say, pretty confidently, that no one's ever seen anything like "Django" before.

Django Unchained #1 variant cover

The plot for "Django" revolves around a newly freed slave in the antebellum South attempting to rescue his lost love, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who was sold to another plantation. Though slaves could not legally marry during that period, did Django and Broomhilda consider themselves husband and wife?

You’re asking the question we bring up in the movie. Schultz [Christoph Waltz’s character] tells Django, “I didn’t know slaves recognized the institution of marriage.” And Django says, “Me and my wife do.” I mean, at the end of the day, doesn’t it come down to that? Marriage is a state of mind. Plenty of marriages on paper mean absolutely nothing.

Speaking of things on paper that aren’t necessarily binding, the original “Django”script went through numerous changes during production, and I heard that the gang rape of Broomhilda was toned down considerably. Quentin decided to shoot it in a way that protected Kerry while still conveying that something horrible happened to her character. Were those changes a direct result of her conversations with you and Quentin?

Let me answer that by making a broader statement. Quentin writes these scripts, and obviously he’s one of the best writers we have in our business right now. As the crew, we tend to treat his scripts with great reverence, like, “let’s figure out how to execute this exactly as he wrote it.” Quentin, though, looks at the script very much as a living document. He’ll show up on set with some new dialogue written on lined paper that he’s ripped out of a notebook and give it to an actor and say, “Learn this.” [laughs] And we’re going, “WHAT?” Then we see what he’s doing and say, “Oh, my God.”

Because it’s so much better.

We were completely happy before. But Quentin is constantly trying to figure out how to elevate, and part of that is talking with his actors. He’s not necessarily trying to appease his actors. But they are his partners, and he listens to them for their emotional truth.

Can you give us an example?

There was a whole other scene that kind of kicks off the third act of the film. Quentin knew the scene worked for every character except one, Jamie’s character, and when we were rehearsing it, Jamie said, “Oh, I’d play it this other way.” Quentin said, “Oh, really? I didn’t think you’d do that.” Jamie said, “Definitely, I’d play it like this…” That previous concern Quentin had, combined with Jamie’s instincts, made Quentin rewrite the third act of the movie! He always wants things to be true. That’s why he shoots the movie in what he calls “emotional order,” meaning it’s not quite in continuity order. But his thinking is, here’s a big scene, and based on how that goes maybe I don’t need so much of this other stuff, or maybe I need more of something else. Those things happened throughout the process of making the film.

Django Unchained #3 cover

You and Quentin seem like a very unlikely team. How did you first meet?

We met years and years ago. I’m friends with Pam Grier, who invited my brother Warrington and I to an awards event where she was being honored for her work in “Jackie Brown.” Quentin was presenting the award. And as soon as we met, Quentin said, “I saw that special you did for HBO, ‘Cosmic Slop.’” Now, this is something very few people have seen. It’s an obscure part of my filmography. And Quentin goes, “I don’t know why you did that short ‘Space Traders’ [about aliens who offer to buy the African American population] for HBO. That’s a feature. You blew that!” I was like, whoa. Then I thought about it and said, yeah, you know, he’s kind of right. [laughs] That kind of started our relationship, where we would meet up whenever and talk very, very passionately about movies, about everything.

Do you ever get competitive with each other when it comes to pop minutiae?

“Competitive" is not the right term. It’s more like we “revel in our nerditude.” I remember overhearing my assistant describe our interaction to someone. He said, “Yeah, Reggie and Quentin will talk, and then they’ll just go to a place and no one knows what they’re talking about.”

Is there any talk of releasing Quentin’s earlier films, such as “Pulp Fiction,” as comic books?

Funny you should say that. When we were looking at the “Django” pages, we were lamenting that we hadn’t started this a lot sooner. And I said, “Well, maybe it’s not too late.” So, yes, that conversation has started. I think comic books are part of the complex strain of DNA that make up what people think is the Tarantino style of storytelling. You’ve got all kinds of things that go into that mix. And for someone like myself, who never understood why he never did anything in that medium, I was very excited to shepherd “Django”into the comic book format.

Tarantino’s scripts are extremely quotable and dialogue-heavy. How do you go about adapting one?

I was a little intimidated at first. But if you just break up the story into the appropriate number of panels, it actually flows really well. When I was showing Quentin the first 10 pages of the book, I said, “Look, we’ve got it all in there, and the page isn’t drowning in word balloons. You still have plenty of room for the art.

Django Unchained #4 cover

Can you talk about the decision to go with R.M. Guera for the book’s illustration, and what kind of direction Quentin gave him?

We looked at a lot of artists, and Quentin picked R.M. Guera, who has done great work but is best known for “Scalped,” which is a kind of noir series among Native Americans set on a reservation. He’s a brilliant artist, and that sensibility is perfect for what Quentin’s doing. Also, R.M. already worked with Quentin, adapting a couple of scenes from “Inglourious Basterds” for Playboy magazine. “Django” was that same approach: Don’t draw what’s in the movie; draw what’s in the script, which in some ways is different from what’s in the movie. We also have a great lineup of different cover artists: Jim Lee, Denys Cowan, Alex Ross and Frank Quitely. They all do their interpretation of Django. I get excited about projects like this, because I also feel like it’s a way to help support a medium that means so much to me.

It’s been a while since the comics industry has seen a new iconic black superhero. Do you think “Django”has the stuff?

He could. I’m committed to the concept of black superheroes, no matter what. And I certainly consider Django a superhero. 

The first commercial black superhero was “Black Panther,” which you helped revive in 2005.

That’s right. When I was writing “Black Panther” for Marvel, I told them I want to give back to that next generation, and the series turned out to be a huge success. “Black Panther” is the biggest seller in the Marvel Knights line of animated DVDs. It out-sold Joss Whedon’s “X-Men,” which is pretty amazing given the brand power of those two great names. It out-sold “Iron-Man Extremis.” BET, who reluctantly aired the series at midnight, keeps re-running it because it gets a huge ratings bump every time, without any marketing and promotion. The show has become this amazing cult hit. [Hudlin was BET’s president of entertainment from 2005 to 2008.] A lot of my interest in comic books is diversifying the audience base. One of the nicest compliments I ever got was from a comic book retailer who said, “Reggie, we love when your comic books come out because we get different people coming into the store.” By “different,” he didn’t just mean black, he meant not the same people who come in every Wednesday. When I go to a comic book signing, there are tons of women. I see adults and kids — Latin, Asian, white, black — and I think that’s healthy for the industry.

Are you still planning a big-screen version of “Black Panther?”

Yeah, but those decisions are up to Marvel. Certainly, Stan Lee [who created the character with artist Jack Kirby in 1966] has said on multiple occasions he wants a “Black Panther” movie to get made. People are constantly asking me, “What’s the holdup?”

And what’s going to happen to Django when the miniseries wraps up?

Don’t know. Of course, I want very much to see the further adventures of Django. Quentin and I have talked about what those might be. But I want to see it in a feature film, and I don’t want a comic book to pre-empt or put him off doing a sequel, even though Quentin’s [officially] never done a sequel in his life and may never do one. All I know is we’ve got a great movie coming out, and we’ve got a great comic book, and we’ll see what happens after that.

Craigh Barboza is a New York-based freelance writer. His work has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, Uptown, USA Weekend and Vibe.


Spider Man Is Black And Better Than Ever

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #6

ULTIMATE SPIDER MAN is about Miles Morales, a Black Latino kid who gets a similar but different set of powers as the now deceased Peter Parker. This series just started, so it’s a great way for new fans to get on board. It’s got great art, great writing, and great new cast of characters we are just getting to know. Order it NOW.


Tom Morello's ORCHID is a Rocking Comic Book

Tom Morello is a rock god, known from RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, his new solo album THE NIGHTWATCHMAN and his film scores.  Now’s he’s a comic book writer, and his new original creation ORCHID is very much in the spirit of all his other work…spirited, innovative, political, sexy, and rocking!

Set in a future where civilization has collapsed and humans are no longer top of the food chain, a sex worker named Orchid (who has “property” tattooed on her chest and “know your role” branded on her arm) becomes the unlikely leader of the revolution.



Orchid #1I can tell you it’s a fresh book full of interesting new ideas and twists.  I recommend it.  It’s a 12 issue series so get on board now!


Dark Horse Comics!

Mike Richardson is the publisher of Dark Horse Comics, one of the best in the business.  If Marvel and DC are like major studios, then Dark Horse is like Miramax, the classy, artsy alternative.

Hellboy Volume 1: Seed of Destruction



The creator friendly company publishes great books like HELLBOY, which inspired two hit movies, ORCHID (see above) and MARTHA WASHINGTON, a great series from Frank Miller (300, SIN CITY) and Dave Gibbons, the artist of WATCHMEN.



Tom Morello got turned on to Dark Horse by Gerald Way, another rock star from the band MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE.  Way wrote the hit series THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY.  If you want to check out this very cool series, here it is:

Umbrella Academy 1Umbrella Academy 2

Batwing #1 (2nd Printing)


Batwing – The Batman of Africa!

Batman is now franchising his crime fighting skills and weapons to handpicked candidates around the world. BATWING is the Batman of Africa, and so far the series has great storytelling and art. Order issues HERE.


WELCOME TO REGGIESWORLD!

REGGIESWORLD Launch Party - Special Guests
(from left to right) LUKE CAGE NOIR writers Adam Glass & Mike Benson; Reggie Hudlin, whose world it is; FRENEMY OF THE STATE writer (and Parks and Recreation star) Rashida Jones; BLACK PANTHER artist Denys Cowan; Shannon Lee of the Bruce Lee Foundation; and 5 time Grammy winner Ziggy Marley, creator of MARIJUANA MAN.

REGGIESWORLD.COM: The Best Place To Buy The Coolest Stuff

It could be an animated DVD of BLACK PANTHER, ALL STAR SUPERMAN or RUDY RAY MOORE:

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It could be t-shirts, purses or wallets:

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Or statues of your favorite characters:

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We have comic books from your favorite stars:

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We have comic books about your favorite people:

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And comics about your favorite comic book characters!

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The Black Panther Is Here!

ORDER YOUR AUTOGRAPHED DVD HERE!

Get your autographed Black Panther DVD at REGGIESWORLD!

BLACK PANTHER REVIEWS

Reginald Hudlin's "Black Panther" is perhaps one of the most dynamic pieces of comic storytelling converted to animation.
 — THE TRADES

Featuring outstanding voice acting and a level of motion that blew away all competitors, the title left me itching for more.
— N:ZONE MAGAZINE

The Marvel Knights offering is filled with intrigue and action thanks to it being written masterfully by Reginald Hudlin and animated in true Marvel fashion by John Romita Jr. and it all comes to a climactic head with an ending that won’t let you down. Yeah, I know I’m nerding it up right now, but I can’t help it. This DVD was an absolute joy to behold.
— EURWEB

With Black Panther, the decision was made to feature big-name actors (Djimon Hounsou, Alfre Woodard, Carl Lumbly) and pepper the cast with plenty of other recognizable voices (Nolan North, Phil LaMarr, Kevin Michael Richardson, Jill Scott, Stephen Stanton). It pays off splendidly.
— THE EXAMINER

‘Black Panther’ Animated Series Rocks: Are You Ready?

I loved it. T’Challa, voiced by Kimora’s boo Djimon Hounsou, has this catchy theme song and Kerry Washington and Alfre Woodard also contribute their vocals for T’Challa’s sister and mother, respectively. And like any good comic, the writer Reginald Hudlin, weaved in other superheroes including the X-Men and my favorite, Storm.

But what’s really interesting about the series is its incorporation of African history, including all of the European invaders from the Dutch to the French.
— i09.COM

Unlike Marvel’s earlier Saturday morning TV shows, Black Panther uses the original artwork done by John Romita, Jr. This isn’t simplified limited animation techniques commonly used. His shading and character design is part of the image. The big difference between this and previous Marvel Knights productions is that there’s more than what was on the page. BET had greenlit the production so each episode needed to be twice the length of the previous Marvel Knights projects. Hudlin added more subplots and brought in Storm from the X-Men to fatten up the comic books. The additions work for the series. Benin’s Djmon Hounsou (Gladiator) lends a true African voice to Black Panther. He should play the role if it goes live action. Jill Scott does a better job as Storm’s voice than Halle Berry.

Black Panther should have lasted longer than six episodes.
— INSIDE PULSE


Marijuana Man

My friend and neighbor Ziggy Marley isn’t just a son of a musical legend, or a 5-time Grammy winner himself. He’s also a real comic book fan. So when he decided to create his own comic book character, he enlisted the help of the talented team of Joe Casey and Jim Mahfood to write and draw his concept.

Here’s a good interview with Ziggy from 109:

Ziggy Marley explains his new superhero, Marijuanaman!

Ziggy Marley's Marajuana ManAt Wondercon, we had glimmers of hope for the Green Lantern movie — but there was another green superhero being unveiled. We were lucky enough to spend some time chatting with Ziggy Marley about his new superhero, Marijuanaman.

Regular humans' genetic makeup is built out of DNA — but Marijuanaman's genes are made out of THC. And he gets his power from one plant in particular. Can you guess what it is?

Spoilers and cannabis ahead...

Not surprisingly, Marijuanaman is being released by Image Comics on 4/20, featuring a script by Joe Casey and art by Jim Mahfood.

It's the story of Sedona, an alien who travels to Earth from the planet Yelram. Sedona finds that he has a particular affinity with Earth's biosphere, and then he makes a connection with one plant in particular. But he's faced with an evil corporation that wants to sell a synthetic marijuana substitute called GanjaRex — and the corporation sends a deadly monster named Cash-Money to destroy Marijuanaman and his nature-loving friends.

We caught up with Ziggy Marley at Wondercon, and he told us more about how this epic superhero story came to be.

The idea of Marijuanaman came from learning more about cannabis, and the fact that this plant "has millions of uses beyond just smoking," says Marley. And he started to wonder why the world isn't taking advantage of this versatile plant. "It's beneficial to the environment and less destructive than some of the things we're doing now," he adds — for example, you could use hemp-derived products in place of a lot of oil-based plastics and other stuff.

Marijuana ManSo I said, let me create a superhero. Let me create someone who can shed another light on the plant and put it in a different perspective.

And he says that Marijuanaman's planet faces an ecological crisis because the THC that's in the atmosphere is being depleted "similar to our own Ozone layer." So Marijuanaman is sent on a journey to Earth to find a solution, and when he arrives here, "he feels a connection to this plant." He joins a community of people who live in harmony with the environment and teach him more about the plant. And he gets power from marijuana — just like Popeye with his spinach.

It's very important to Marley that Marijuanaman gets his power from marijuana without smoking it — he's not a smoker. "His friend [Smokestack] smokes and he gets a contact high." Marley stresses: "Nobody can say he's a bad influence because he smokes. He doesn't smoke. But he still gets his power from marijuana anyway."

When Marijuanaman encounters the plant, it empowers him and "his connection with it is immediate." But even though he gets superpowers, he's not violent — he has a philosophy of pacifism, "that sometimes is contrary to what we here would want him to be. We would want him to just beat the bad guy all the time."

Marley says there are a lot of industries out there that don't want marijuana to be legal — including pharmaceutical companies like the one in his comic book that are trying to sell "fake marijuana" and synethetic cannabinoids.

Marijuana Man coverNot to mention the alcohol and tobacco industries, which don't want the competition. Marley is very passionate about the potential of cannabis to transform the environment and the economy, and replace oil-based byproducts.

"Hemp and other alternative energies could be used, but they don't want to do that. They're okay with the risk of... destroying the environment to have oil. They're not okay with the risk of somebody smoking weed."

We asked Marley if he'd like to see more Marijuanaman stuff come out, like a television show or movies, or action figures. And he was definitely into the idea. "We want to use him to just shed a light for this world to see, for the common people to see. Somebody to speak the truth about the plant. Somebody who stands up for the plant. And still, he doesn't smoke." Even though Marijanaman's sidekick is named Smokestack, "He's not promoting you smoking."

Adds Marley: "I want him to be a hero just like Superman, Batman, [or] any one of those guys. Everybody can love him. Kids can love him. Just because he's called Marijuanaman doesn't mean kids can't love him."



Dolomite!

I love Dolomite. Some people don’t get it, but I’m not one who is snooty about the difference between high and low art. Wait, here’s me talking about it so I don’t have to type:

And here I am with The Man himself:

You can actually buy Rudy Ray Moore’s movies, CDs and T-shirts right here at Reggiesworld so check it out!

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Hi, this is Reggie Hudlin.

Welcome to REGGIESWORLD, a place where you can buy cool stuff that you might not know where to find otherwise. Whether its comic books, DVDs, or fly clothes, we'll have it here.

There are also links to my main site, so if you want to find out more about me, or talk with other smart and cool people on the forum, you can do that too.

And right now, you can get the Django Unchained Graphic Novel, here at REGGIESWORLD.

Django Unchained Graphic Novel

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