Exclusive: Writer Jai Nitz talks bringing Grimm to new mini for Dynamite
Dynamite Entertainment will be bringing another TV series to life in the comic pages when Grimm: The Warlock, a five-issue mini-series, hits shelves this December.
Based on the hit NBC show, the book – by Jai Nitz and Jose Malaga – follows the adventures of Detective Nick Burkhardt on his adventures as a cop and as a monster-hunting “Grimm.” Nick and his partner Hank work to control the dangerous “Wesens” that are usually found at the heart of their cases.
To get to the heart of this matter, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer met exclusively with writer Nitz to delve into this mini-series monster mash.
Cosmic Book News: Jai, did you pitch this mini-series and why?
Jai Nitz: I’m a fan of the show and I wanted to write the characters. I’d love to write an episode of the show, but that’s a little above my weight-class. I went to school for screenwriting but my passion and profession is comic book writing. So when the chance to write the show as a comic came up, I pushed for it. Luckily, the people at Dynamite gave me the opportunity.
Jai Nitz: The main thing about my pitch was that I wanted to show things that would be hard to film for a TV show because of budget or logistics. It’s really hard to film something at a big event with big crowds. It’s hard to film something at historic sites. It’s really hard to film intricate and complicated fight scenes with martial arts or weapons. It’s hard to film something psychedelic. So I included all those elements in my pitch and sold Dynamite and NBC on the idea that this story could only be done as a comic.
Jai Nitz: The show and the book have the same lead character. The protagonist of Grimm is Detective Nick Burkhardt. He’s a Portland cop who finds out he’s form a long line of monster-slayers called Grimms. From that foundation the show covers monster-of-the-week and mythology stories. I try to do the same thing in the comic without stepping on the show’s toes. I can’t go in and make wholesale changes to the status quo of the show; I know that. So I try to add to it where I can and when it makes the most sense. So I take the status quo of “Nick is a Grimm” and explore the elements that only comics can do, and the stuff I’d like to see on the show.
Jai Nitz: That’s where the show is set! (laughs) Besides New York and LA, there are two major comic-book-centric towns: Kansas City (where I’m from) and Portland. With that in mind, I wanted the comic to feel authentic in case any Portland-based comic pros read it! I had a few ideas in mind for the series when I started my pitch, but I dug into Portland’s attractions and cool locales to make sure the pitch really struck a chord.
Jai Nitz: The Warlock. Come on, you have to read the book to find out. Most of the Wesen (monsters) on the show just want to be left alone. The only kind that doesn’t are the Hexenbiests (witches) and the Zauberbiests (male withces or warlocks). They want to mix it up. So I wanted to write about an active villain rather than a passive one. That led me to create The Warlock.
Jai Nitz: I’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons for thirty-two years. I’ve also watched pretty much every supernatural long-form TV show since the '80s. Back then you had to do your own research if you wanted to know more. You couldn’t go to Wikipedia and read everything in one place. You had to go to the library and ask people questions. You had to invest in your fiction. I always did that, so writing about fairytales come to life is like second nature to me.
Jai Nitz: Not really. I mention one or two in passing, but nothing really overt. I don’t write for the show. I don’t have insider knowledge. I don’t know what’s coming next for Season 3 and beyond. So I didn’t want to latch onto some plot point and build my story around it when it could change without my knowledge.
Jai Nitz: He’s right for the book because he’s pouring his all into the pages. I’ve seen the first issue and art from the second and he’s knocking everything out of the park. He’s putting in all the detail and mood but he’s laying it over a solid framework of sequential storytelling. I think it’s his finest work to date.
Jai Nitz: I designed this series to be finite. I wanted it to say something specific and use tools that only comics can use. I set it up to run five issues with a fixed ending. Would I like to write more Grimm? Sure! I’d like people to read this arc and see it as a well-executed comic that adds to the show. I think they will.
Jai Nitz: My Dark Horse book Dream Thief with Greg Smallwood just wrapped up and the collected edition is in the next issue of Previews for pre-order. Greg is handling the covers for Grimm: The Warlock. Greg and I also have a story in Marvel’s A+X #15 due out in December. I also have a Conan story in Dark Horse’s Savage Sword anthology due out in December. And I’ll have some big announcements coming from Dark Horse for 2014. Also, look for me to keep doing work for Dynamite. I’ve been going steady for several years here and I’m happy to do more.
Cosmic Book News would like to thank Jai Nitz for taking time from his busy schedule to answer our questions. We would also like to thank Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Keith Davidsen who helped make this interview possible.
“Grimm: The Warlock” #1 (of 5) hits shelves in December!