R.I.P.D. series creator Peter Lenkov and R.I.P.D.: City of the Damned writer, Jeremy Barlow share their thoughts about the path the series has taken from the original comic book to making the upcoming film and finally revisiting the comics with the City of the Damned prequel.
Creator Peter Lenkov:
It was an interesting journey taking R.I.P.D. from book to screen. Before it was even published, Universal had interest in turning it into a film. We had initial meetings about what the movie should be, what would translate well onto the big screen, what needed to be expanded upon. At the time there were only four issues—not much mythology. But once the story was decided on, it went through numerous drafts, lots of writers, everyone working to nail that blend of action, science fiction. and comedy that the story needs. It’s a complicated process.
With casting, we considered a lot of actors, but we were blessed to get Ryan Reynolds. He’s always had a great passion for the project. For the character of Roy, Jeff Bridges was at the top of everyone’s list, but he’s so selective; you never think you’re going to get him. You just can’t get better casting than these two. And the funny thing is that they look like the characters in the original book.
The creative vision of the film is absolutely that of our director, Robert Schwentke. I actually went to Schwentke’s office during the early days of preproduction. We talked about the comic and his vision for the movie. He showed me all these pre-vis sequences that were done with this amazing animation. I was instantly impressed and knew the film was in good hands. And Mike Richardson, one of the producers and the publisher of Dark Horse, was kind enough to keep me in the loop throughout. The film turned out better than I could ever have hoped for. I can’t wait for fans of the genre to see it.
I was brought aboard to translate what R.I.P.D. had become for the screen back into graphic novel form. Editor Patrick Thorpe had teamed up artist Tony Parker and me for a couple of short anthology stories a few months prior, and the creative chemistry between the three of us was instantaneous. The kind of collaboration you always hope for.
Very early in the process Peter Lenkov and I had some great conversations about the different approaches we could take, both of us wanting to show just how vast and interesting this world of afterlife peacekeepers could be. Here was an imaginative concept that stretched all the way back to Creation—we could literally go anywhere and do just about anything with it.
We settled on telling Roy’s story in City of the Damned, which gave us the means to dig into the Rest In Peace Department’s rich history, and to expand on Jeff Bridges’s character, giving context to some of his motivations in the film. Knowing where Roy’s story was going—and being able to “hear” Jeff Bridges’s and Ryan Reynolds’s voices as I wrote the dialogue—was a tremendous advantage.
When you’re playing in someone else’s sandbox, you’re often limited in the toys you’re allowed to use. R.I.P.D. gave us some amazing toys. Peter and Patrick encouraged us to stretch our imaginations and load up City of the Damned with outlandish ideas and compelling characters, and we really went for it.
City of the Damned reveals the scope of Peter Lenkov’s vision, working both as a prequel to the movie and a gripping adventure in its own right. I’m proud of what we accomplished.