: Freshmen is basically the comedy and romance of American Pie mixed with the super-powers from X-Men, with some plot points from Revenge of the Nerds thrown in. A bunch of misfit kids get to college for the first time-they're overwhelmed and can't fit in, and they make an enemy of the local frat house. After a couple nights in their temp dorms in the science building, an explosion goes off that gives them super powers. But the super powers are goofy and not always all that helpful. One guy can talk to plants. Another guy, when he's drunk or stoned, can make others inebriated as well with a toxic burp.
Q: The comic is created by both of you and written by Hugh. Hugh, how did you go from screenwriting to comic books?
H: I've sold a couple scripts and TV projects in Hollywood, but nothing has been produced yet. That has gotten really tiresome and heartbreaking, and since I'm such a comic nut-I have over 45 long boxes-a lot of my friends pushed me toward getting into comics. Since I had this property-which Seth and I had pitched as a movie-that was so perfect for the medium, I started putting feelers out to see if anyone would be interested. Top Cow jumped at it immediately, snapping it up before it really made the rounds. They're a top-notch company, and they've hooked us up with top-notch talent in Leonard Kirk, Rodolfo Migliari and Tyson Wengler.
I'm still doing the screenwriting grind, but comics so far have been great to me. No development rigamaroll, no idiotic story notes, no thumbprints from every direction. It's purely a writer's creative vision as interpreted by the artists, which is awesome.
Q: Where did the concept for the characters come from?
H: Seth and myself, along with Dan Milano, who created Greg the Bunny, and his ingenious writing partner, Matthew Huffman, created these bizarre characters in one fun-filled night of brainstorming and ping pong. We often sit around and throw crazy ideas back and forth, or help each other elaborate on some story we're working on. Most nights, the ideas go the way of the wind, but the next morning some of this stuff stuck and Seth and I decided to pursue the course. We put together a movie pitch and started working in that direction, but ultimately it's a comic book idea and deserved to start in this great medium. Some of my friends in the comic industry helped me bring the idea to a couple publishers. Top Cow jumped at it with a ton of enthusiasm, and here we are. And it's just gotten better from there: Once Leonard Kirk became involved, he fleshed out the characters a tremendous amount, offering not only their appearance, but very pivotal, personal touches that help clearly define our kids. And Rodolfo Migliari's covers show us what the kids would look like in real life. It's just been phenomenal to see this work realized by such great pros.
S: We wanted characters with silly but potentially useful powers. Everyone in the book gets to have a moment where they're the hero.
"The Freshmen", from Top Cow Productions
Q: Growing up in the same area of Philly, I remember careless days spent at Fat Jacks buying all the latest comics. How does it feel, going from buying and collecting the comics, to now creating and writing your own?
S: It just doesn't get much more exciting. Getting to do a book at all, let alone with your best friend who you grew up loving comics with... it's amazing. I really hope people give this series a chance to affect them the way it's affecting us. The paths these characters choose, and the consequences of those choices- it's very compelling.
H: It's surreal, without a doubt. Sticking my own comic into a bag-n-board, or opening the cover and seeing my name, has been a singularly rewarding experience. At the same time, though, it's also highly motivating, because I know I'm a guy who should be doing this, who has a responsibility as an educated storyteller who loves this medium to respect the art form. In other words-I can't screw this up! J
Q: We had the chance to meet up with you at Wizard World Philadelphia, and the tickets for the Freshmen events were sold out within minutes. Even the press was not allowed in to the first event. Were you guys pleased with the fan turnout for the new comic?
H: We're thrilled that people are interested in Freshmen, and that says a lot about Seth's reputation for being involved in quality projects. I'm just frankly very lucky that he has a high profile and can help push us past a lot of the other new material that gets lost in the shuffle. But hats off to Top Cow for promoting Freshmen valiantly and relentlessly.
S: We're fans ourselves, so we know what a privelege it is to have some interest around you. These are fiercely loyal and picky people, and we're grateful and excited by all the positive responses.
H: It's very heartwarming when people get behind you in such a fashion.
Q: Our readers have a broad range of interest, but obviously Star Wars is the main reason most people drop by our site. You are both big fans of Star Wars. What did you guys think of Revenge Of The Sith, and do you still collect the figures like in years past?
S: I really loved Revenge of the Sith. I had very low expectations of it going in, because the previous prequels were not as cool and exciting as I'd wanted them to be. I thought this was the best written of the prequels, and that it may be his best directed film. Bold statement, huh? But I really had a great time in it, and thought the final battle gave such weight to Obi Wan & Vader's reunion in episode 4. With the figures, I haven't bought too many. I really only buy stuff if I want to open it these days.
H: Seth and I were lucky enough to attend Skywalker Ranch premieres for all three of the prequels. Each time it was like getting struck by lightning-we were dazed all through it, couldn't believe it happened and couldn't fathom it ever happening again. The Star Wars prequels were an answer to a prayer for me when they first arrived, but TPM and AOTC were fairly disappointing. I'm still reveling in glee from ROTS, though, which made me remember why I love Star Wars in the first place.
We share a very large storage unit in Studio City that's stuffed with our action figure collection. We're the guys who have 8 orange-carded Leias just "in case." I don't know what we'll ever do with them, but we rest better knowing we have them. Sort of like Mel Gibson with "Catcher in the Rye" in "The Conspiracy Theory." It's part of our genetics as a result of our age and gender-we MUST have Star Wars. In fact, I was just at Celebration III for my talking Darth Vader. :)
Q: All the cover art for the first 6 issues of the Freshmen was done by Rodolfo Migliari, one of most well known cover artists in both the comic book world, as well as in the Star Wars world with his comics and sketch cards. Was he your first choice to ink the covers?
H: Jim McLaughlin, our editor at Top Cow, recommended him. When we saw some of his samples, we were very impressed. But when we got his cover for #1, which was actually the first piece of artwork we had for the entire project, we were totally blown away. It was the first time we'd seen the characters brought to life, and Rodolfo set the bar sky high for this series right off the bat.
S: How lucky are we? The art's beautiful, and his interpretation of the characters just knocks me out each time I see a new cover.
H: We just got a sketch for his cover of #4, which is a pretty unique issue in a couple ways, and it's absolutely jaw-dropping. The whole idea of the issue is to juxtapose some serious comedy with a really gut-wrenching situation, and the cover encapsulates that dynamic perfectly.
Q: Most of us know the about Seth (in case you don't, he is the same Seth Green from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Austin Powers, Family Guy, and Robot Chicken, to name a few), but Hugh, most of your work has been in screenwriting and television. Can you let our fans know a little more about you?
Who wouldn't fall for these guys?
H: Sure! I grew up in West Philadelphia, where Seth and I met in Kindergarten. I have a masters degree in screenwriting from UCLA. I've won a couple of those silly screenwriting contests and I've sold both feature scripts and TV pilots, and I've had over 700 articles published in tons of magazines-- mostly video gaming mags including GamePro, Official Xbox Magazine, ToyFare, Time Out New York, AOL and Gamespot-- so I'm not completely new to writing. I'm just new to getting read beyond Hollywood's development community, and boy am I thankful for that.
As far as comics go, I've got around 45 long boxes, with entire first-print runs of Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular, Web, Marvel Team-Up... in fact, until around 2002's books, I have a first print of every Spider-Man appearance. I literally learned to read through comics. I got in trouble at school every comic book release day, because I'd be reading Secret Wars or G.I. Joe or Dark Knight Returns when I should've been learning. This is probably why I stink at math.
And I'm a hardcore Star Wars geek as well-Revenge of the Jedi poster in my TV room right next to a stand-up Star Wars arcade machine.
Q: So do you guys have intentions of bringing this to the big screen?
H: We're definitely interested in pursuing a live-action version, but now we're considering a TV series as well. Since I've had the opportunity to really flesh these characters out one by one in the comic (each issue is narrated by a different character), it seems like it'd be a shame to limit their storylines by squashing them all into a 2 hour format. But we'll see what opportunities arise when the comic hits the market.
Q: This one is for Seth only, and fans of his show, Robot Chicken. will get this; others won't. Seth, who is the King of Ping Pong?
S: Well, I beat Keith and Lazzo, but Matt Senreich beat us all, so I suppose he has bragging rights.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to let our readers know a little more about you, as well as "Freshmen". When can people pick up the first issue of the comic?
H: A 16 page black and white preview book is available now at TopCow.com, and a seven-page color preview is in comic stores now as part of the Top Cow Triple Play. Our first issue will be available at the San Diego Comic Con (with an exclusive cover available only at the con) and in comic stores nationwide in mid-July. And peeps can stay updated at our website,
www.fatboughl.com. Thanks very much!