Blog Archive

View My Stats
Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Interview with the Dabel Brothers

Buy Dabel Brothers comics at the DB Store

As a child I grew up with comic books, namely Spider-Man, Batman, Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America and so on. As I grew older, I became more of a collector, especially during the early years of the Image Comics era. Then, I just kind of got burnt out and stopped reading/collecting comic books altogether. Having turned my attentions mainly to fantasy novels, such as the enthralling world of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire” series, I was immediately intrigued by an adaptation of GRRM’s short story “The Hedge Knight”, which was coming out via a little known company called Dabel Brothers Productions. Not only did that comic book blow me away, but it rekindled my love for comics, which, in my opinion, has vastly changed for the better. Since then, I have diligently followed the Dabel Brothers who have done a tremendous job of bringing to life the works of such notable authors as Robert Jordan, Raymond E. Feist, Robert Silverberg, Tad Williams, Orson Scott Card, Laurell K. Hamilton and more. So, it was quite a thrill that the Dabel Brothers agreed to answer some questions for me, and I sincerely thank Ernst & Les for taking the time to do this interview and Sean J. Jordan for helping to set everything up. For readers, whether you’re a fan of comic books or not, I hope you enjoy the following Q&A and urge you to check out the Dabel Brothers adaptations if you haven’t done so yet…

Q: Dabel Brothers Productions was founded by four brothers – Ernst, Les, Pascal, and David. Can you tell us what job each brother does for the company and what qualities each of you bring to the table?

Ernst – President of the Company. Oversees all aspects of production and business.
Les – Vice President of the Company. Oversees all aspects of business and production. Les is also the person responsible for obtaining and managing licenses.
David – Marketing Manager. David works with Sean J. Jordan to handle marketing-related tasks and advertising.
Pascal – Advisory Board. Pascal is a medical doctor and thus is not able to be involved in the business as much as he used to be, so he sits on an advisory board and offers input.

Q: In 2002, you originally launched as a developer studio publishing through Image Comics. What events led to the creation of Roaring Studios in the first place? What were your initial goals as a company?

LD (Les Dabel): Originally, my brother Ernst and I wanted to start an entertainment company (which we called “Dabel Brothers Productions”), and we set up Roaring Studios to be the first arm of our business. I draw, and he writes, so we were hoping to put out some comics that we’d created. But as time went by, we found ourselves more interested in the business aspects of the company, and we also found that people had no idea who Roaring Studios was, but they did know about “those Dabel Brothers.” So, we switched the name!

Q: As Dabel Bros. you’ve made a name for your selves in the science fiction & fantasy communities by adapting works by such beloved authors as Robert Jordan, Raymond E. Feist, Tad Williams, Robert Silverberg and most recently Laurell K. Hamilton. Of course, this all started with George R. R. Martin’s short story “The Hedge Knight.” Whose idea was it to pursue Mr. Martin’s work, why, and what finally convinced him to agree to the adaptation?

Ernst Dabel: We were both big fans of Mr. Martin’s novels, but it was Les who was determined to get the rights to his books. So, Les approached Mr. Martin with a proposal, and Mr. Martin didn’t reply. So Les kept trying. Finally, after over a year, Mr. Martin replied telling Les that he was willing to give us a chance, but that he wanted to see what we could do before he’d commit his whole series to us. So, he let us license “The Hedge Knight,” a novella he’d written that’s a prequel to his novel series, which is called “A Song of Ice and Fire.”

Q: A lot of readers seemed to really enjoy “The Hedge Knight” series, myself included :). Considering that it was one of your earlier productions (published in 2003), what are your thoughts on the finished product now that you’re looking back through more experienced eyes? Would you do anything different if you had the chance?

LD: Until we put out the Anita Blake books, The Hedge Knight was the book people knew us for. It’s still a favorite of mine today, and we’re thrilled that it’s in its third printing. There is nothing I would change about the book; Ben Avery, Mike Miller, Mike Crowell, Lynx Studios and Bill Tortolini did a fantastic job on the book, and we were also appreciative of Mr. Martin for his support and advice and Robert Silverberg for his superb job as the book’s editor.

Q: “The Sworn Sword”, the sequel to “The Hedge Knight” series is slated to start shipping this June. Can you give us any details on the series?

LD: The Sworn Sword is under production by most of the same people who worked on The Hedge Knight (including Mike M., Ben and Bill), and it should look and feel very similar. The story is very different, though; instead of focusing on knights and jousting, The Sworn Sword focuses on Dunk’s growth in the feudal system of Mr. Martin’s world, and both Dunk and Egg are much more seasoned this time around. The series will run six issues, remain faithful to the novella, and arrive on shelves this summer!

Q: Once “The Sworn Sword” series is completed, will we get to see any future adaptations of GRRM’s “Song Of Ice & Fire” novels or his other works?

LD: We certainly hope so! We’re thrilled about the news that “A Song of Ice and Fire” is being developed into a television series for HBO!

Q: One of your most anticipated adaptations was of Robert Jordan’s “New Spring.” I for one was eagerly collecting the series, but after the first few issues it stopped shipping. What happened?

LD: It’s a long and complicated story that, sadly, I can’t go into due to the legal matters surrounding the situation. Suffice it to say that there was a conflict of interest between ourselves and the publisher that has delayed the title indefinitely, and we apologize to the fans who enjoyed the title. We certainly hope that we can remedy the situation in the future by collecting the entire run into a graphic novel!

Q: Recently, there’s been some concept art floating around on message boards depicting characters from the popular Malazan fantasy series by Steven Erikson. Is there anything you can share with us about this?

LD: Unfortunately, I’m not able to comment on this at this time. I will say that we have approached many well-known fantasy writers about adapting their novels, and often, that means we create concept art to demonstrate what we’d like to accomplish in the adaptation if we acquire the license. But until we formally announce a project, conceptual art is all that it is.

Q: Also on the way are adaptations of Orson Scott Card’s “Wyrms”, R.A. Salvatore’s “The Highwayman” and Kinley MacGregor’s “Lords Of Avalon.” Who else (authors) are you approaching about potential projects?

LD: We’ve talked to a lot of people, and we just signed a major writer who’s going to surprise a lot of people when we finish tidying up the details and make the announcement!

Q: I’m just curious, but what kind of process do you guys follow when approaching an author about an adaptation? How much input does the author have with the comic?

LD: Our basic aim in approaching an author is to show them some of the work we’ve done and then to offer them a vision of what we can do to adapt their story into comic books. We always make a point of allowing our authors to work as closely with the project as they like. Some, like George R. R. Martin or Laurell K. Hamilton, have been very hands on. Others, like Raymond E. Feist or Tad Williams, have simply overseen the process.

Ultimately, we’re fans of the authors we approach, and we want to make the best possible adaptations of their work that we can produce!

Q: Moving on, in September of 2006, Dabel Brothers joined forces with Marvel Comics. Can you further explain the roles that each company has in this alliance?

LD: Dabel Brothers Productions is officially a partner of Marvel Comics – we are still an independent company that makes its own business decisions, but Marvel acts as our publisher and our advisor, helping us to grow in presence in the industry. So, when you read a book produced by Dabel Brothers Productions and published by Marvel Comics, you’re getting the best of both worlds!

We are very grateful to Dan Buckley, David Gabriel, and the rest of the staff at Marvel for their support and their enthusiasm for what we’re doing, and we’re thrilled to be a part of their team!

Q: “Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter” was the first series to be released under the new Dabel Bros./Marvel partnership, and has since become a tremendous success. What have been some of the benefits of working with Marvel as opposed to when you were working independently? How about drawbacks?

LD: It’s very hard to argue with the success that the Anita Blake books have enjoyed under our partnership with Marvel – the first four issues all sold out quickly and received second printings, and the debut issue is currently in its third. Marvel was extremely helpful in getting retailers to treat this book like it was a big deal, and from what we’ve been hearing, it’s been instrumental in bringing waves of women into comic book stores.

I can’t think of any drawbacks in working with Marvel – they understand what we want to accomplish, and they help it to happen!

Q: Speaking of “Anita Blake”, what do you have in store for her in the future?

LD: Anita Blake will take a month-long break between issues #6 and #7 as we launch the collected edition in bookstores, which will also include an original 8-page story by Laurell K. Hamilton. We’ve also announced a summer special called Anita Blake: The First Death, which is another original story by Laurell K. Hamilton that serves as a prequel to the series!

Q: Back to Marvel, are we ever going to see Dabel Bros. working with any of their staple characters like Spider-Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, etc?

LD: That’s entirely up to our authors, though I’m sure some of them would love to see their favorite superheroes interact with their own characters. For the time being, we’re focused on adapting existing material, so those sorts of stories will have to wait until we’ve built our library up a little bit more.

Q: What about original material? Any plans for the future?

LD: We just released the original graphic novel Half Dead by Barb Lien Cooper, Park Cooper and James Bott. We’re also about to release the original graphic novel Prey: Origin of the Species by Michael Lent, a Hollywood producer and screenwriter.

Beyond that, we have several titles on the back burner that we’re hoping to launch in the near future:

Age of Darkness (by Ernst Dabel), a story about a bunch of evil warlords who band together to snuff each other out.
Marshal (by Bill Tortolini), a sci-fi western that takes place on a space colony that’s lost contact with Earth.
Minus World (by Sean J. Jordan), a video game-themed fantasy story about several game characters who get knocked into each others’ worlds… but who don’t realize they’re in a game.
Dog Eaters (by Malcolm Wong), winner of the Screenwriter’s Expo 5 award we offer each year to turn one unproduced screenplay into a comic book. This one’s a great story, a post apocalyptic tale about a tribe of nomads who are making their final run through the desert before they settle down and start a city.
Imperial Dragons (created by myself and Ernst, written by Sean J. Jordan), a spy/intrigue story set in an Asian-themed fantasy world.

Q: Are there any plans of the company branching out into another medium?

LD: Yes, we’re certainly looking into other avenues of entertainment… we’d love to see some of our projects cross over into other media!

Q: You’re obviously fans of science fiction, fantasy and horror literature as well as comics, but what other interests or hobbies do you pursue?

LD: My brothers and I spend so much time working, it’s hard to have many hobbies. But we’re all big fans of the NBA, and we’re also big fans of our youngest brother, Jonathan, who’s an incredibly talented high school basketball player. We’re hoping he’ll go far!

We’re also proud of our sister Myrna, who’s working on an album, and our mother, who just opened a salon here in our hometown, and who’s seeing a lot of business already!

Q: What are some of your favorite books or authors? What about comic writers or artists?

LD: We’re huge fans of George R. R. Martin, of course, as well as the other authors we’ve sought out to work with – Raymond E. Feist, R.A. Salvatore, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kinley MacGregory, Jane Lindskold, Robert Jordan, Tad Williams, Orson Scott Card, and others! We also love J.R.R. Tolkien, Margaret Weis, and Tracy Hickman.

As for comic book writers and artists, we’re good friends with Pat Lee, and we loved the work he did at Dreamwave!

Q: What advice would you give someone who’s interested in working in the comic book business?

LD: Listen to the retailers, and do everything you can to keep them happy, because they’re the people who will decide if your book will sink or swim!

Q: Just based on the interactions that I’ve had with you and from what I’ve gleaned around the online community, Dabel Bros. seems to have a very strong relationship with its fans. How important a role do the fans play in what you do as a company?

LD: We love our fans. They make all of this worthwhile, and we’ve just set up two great programs to help reward them – the “DB Revolution,” where we send fans free stuff to give to retailers, friends, and convention organizers, and the “DB Giveaway,” which we’ll be starting in May to give away some awesome free stuff to people who sign up for our newsletter.

Q: Any last thoughts or comments for your readers?

LD: Thanks for your continued support, and please let us know what you think of our books.


Bernard Johnson said...

Hey there, You have done a fantastic job. I will certainly digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am confident they'll be benefited from this website.


Click Here To Order “Cardinal Black” by Robert McCammon!!!

Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Cyber Mage” by Saad Z. Hossain

Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Miss  Percy's” by Quenby Olson!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “The True Bastards” by Jonathan French!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Rumble In Woodhollow” by Jonathan Pembroke!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “The Starless Crown” by James Rollins!!!
Order HERE