Comic Book Yeti Contributor Alex Breen recently corresponded with co-writers Cullen Bunn & Heath Amodio about the campaign launch of their super-powered action thriller OGN, Copycat, to discuss the inspiration behind their production company Hustle and Heart Films, advice for co-writing comics, and one of Copycat's unique campaign rewards.
COMIC BOOK YETI: Cullen & Heath, thank you so much for joining me today. The Zoop page for Copycat mentions this story is based on a concept by producer Todd Garner. Did Todd approach both of you to make the comic or how did those initial conversations come about?
HEATH AMODIO: I approached Todd after binging his podcast on film producing. He seemed like a great knowledgeable guy that understands what it takes to tell a phenomenal story, so I was excited to try and work with him. He’s made some of my favorite movies with TAG and SORCERER’S APPRENTICE.
CULLEN BUNN: Heath and Todd had the first few initial conversations to make the project a reality. Once it came to actually outlining and writing the thing, I got much more involved.
CBY: Copycat's power-draining lead, Sarah, runs through a gauntlet of super-powered assassins. It feels like a premise ripe for an artist like Elmer Cantada to sink his teeth into. When it came to executing the fight scenes, was that aspect tightly scripted or written loosely for the artist to improvise?
CB: You know, I almost never write “loose” scripts. It just makes more sense to me to write a detailed, panel-by-panel description of what I have in my mind. That said, every artist I work with knows they have freedom with how they depict the story.
HA: The scripting was tight in regards to the actual moves that we wanted to land, but Ev (Elmer) had the freedom to convey them as he imagined them unfolding. Angles, etc were all him. He crushed it on the action scenes.
"...I enjoy collaboration because it brings out perspectives I may have overlooked. It’s nice to discuss some stories out loud since writing is usually such an isolated endeavor."
CBY: Without giving away anything, is there a particular aspect of the story that each of you most enjoyed working on?
CB: I was almost more interested in Sarah as a nurse—a real world hero. It’s a lot of fun to see her coping with these burgeoning abilities, these “super powers” that she’s suddenly grappling with in the face of this intense mystery.
HA: I’ve never gotten to write someone with powers before, so that kind of fed the desire to write in that world, but my sister is an ER nurse so those scenes were really important to me.
CBY: As co-writers, how would you describe your collaborative process on this story? Do you have any advice for creators who are looking to co-write a comic?
HA: Cullen would say don’t do it (lol). I enjoy collaboration because it brings out perspectives I may have overlooked. It’s nice to discuss some stories out loud since writing is usually such an isolated endeavor. We discuss, outline, breakdown the issues by pages, and then choose which pages we want to write.
CB: I don’t know that I’d say DON’T co-write with someone. I’d say don’t co-write with me. I’m not a great collaborator. I’m a pain to work with. The thing I would say to creators looking to co-write something is: don’t -- not for one second -- think it is going to make the process easier or quicker. I find co-writing to be much more difficult than writing something on my own and definitely more time consuming, even when working with a great partner like Heath. Co-writing is often seen as some sort of dodge, I think, and that’s just a ridiculous concept.
CBY: The campaign mentioned Copycat is going to be a graphic novel. Would you be able to share approximately how many pages the story will be once completed?
HA: The story itself is 70 pages, but we intend on adding some great backmatter, and the deluxe edition will feature several prose short story Copycat adventures. It’ll come in over a hundred pages of content.
CB: When Heath talks about these short stories, it just dawns on me how big this world could be, how many stories we could tell under the Copycat banner. The world has a solid tone, different from other books you might think play in the same arena.
CBY: One element of the campaign that stood out to me was providing the option for backers to be written into the prose world of Copycat (based on the backer) and even have the character drawn by a choice of artists. Can you go into the inspiration behind offering that reward as an option?
CB: In a lot of campaigns for prose projects, I’ve seen “Tuckerization” offered as a support level. The term is taken from the name of a sci-fi editor and writer, Wilson Tucker, who would incorporate the names and likenesses of real people into his work. I always thought it was a fun concept, so when Heath suggested it, I thought we might as well give it a try. I wanted to call the offering “Let Cullen Bunn Kill You” but that might have been seen as false advertising.
HA: I’m a massive fan of original art and commissions. As a diehard comic book fan, I’ve always imagined how it’d feel to be a part of the story. We wanted to offer readers a chance to be a part of Copycat. To really find themselves invested in the story, and where it may go from here. Seeing their character drawn out by one of the talented artists that’ve gotten involved just seemed like a really cool option to provide.
CBY: Apart from Copycat, you're also co-founders of Hustle and Heart Films. Can you describe the inspirations behind establishing the company?
HA: It really started out as a way for creators to get more involved with the adaptations of their work. It’s evolved into a means to work with people we greatly admire. Whether it’s other comic book creators, novelists, directors, screenwriters, actors, or producers, we’re able to collaborate with some truly outstanding talents across several mediums. Some people were working with now include Katee Sackhoff, Kristin Kreuk, Bobby Moynihan, and of course Todd Garner on this project.
CB: No exaggeration. My earliest conversations with Heath were about this company. He contacted me out of the blue, asking if I wanted to try something different in terms of publishing and media endeavors. He must have reached out when I was at a particularly low point in my life, because I agreed. (I’m kidding!) I thought it was a great idea and, maybe more, I liked Heath’s enthusiasm. I’ve always thought it was important to people who are creative, enthusiastic, and will to work like crazy to get reach lofty goals.
CBY: Is there anything you can tease for us with this story beyond what the Zoop campaign summary provides?
HA: The action is intense from the very beginning, and the mystery runs very deep for Sarah. Ev (Elmer) crushes it on the action scenes. They’re worth it alone.
CB: It’s a fast-paced, intense story, but we never forget the heart and soul of a real world hero thrown into a very “unreal” situation. The unfolding mystery is connected to Sarah in a big way, though, and I think the revelations ahead will be entertaining as hell.
CBY: For people who've already ordered Copycat, are there any other comics/crowdfunding campaigns that you'd recommend people check out?
CB: Oh, wow. You know, I follow and back so many campaigns, it’s really hard to keep track. I go through phases, too. Like, once I was in a comic phase. Then, I was in a board game phase. Then, I was in a backpack phase. Now, I’m in a role-playing game phase. On Zoop in particular, I really like the Scarlet Twilight books, and I noticed that they have a new campaign listed as COMING SOON.
HA: I know Cullen has more on the horizon, and we’ve been discussing several projects. One or two may even include short films like our Swumpwater short.
CBY: Where can people find both of you on social media?
CB: I’m @cullenbunn on most social media, but the real way to follow me is on www.cullenbunn.com, at my Discord channel (https://discord.gg/PzDvsWRM48), and by subscribing to my weekly newsletter NIGHTMARE FUEL (https://dashboard.mailerlite.com/forms/743034/108714177329104883/share) .
HA: I’m @heathamodio on X and @heath.amodio on Instagram
CBY: Cullen & Heath. Thank you so much for your time!
CB: Always a pleasure!
HA: Thank you for the opportunity!