Interview: Rob Reger Pt 2. [of 2]

Categories:  Interviews


Rob Reger’s Emily has appeared on skateboard desks, t-shirts, in comic books, and novels. The next step for the black and white little girl couldn’t be more clear–Emily’s going to get her on movie. In this second part of our interview with the graphic designer turned mini-mogul, we squeeze what little information about the upcoming film project he’s willing to spill.

[Part One]

Do you have a compendium of facts about the character that everyone works off of?

We have style guides, yeah, for the basics. It depends on what the project is. I’ve working with Jessica [Gruner] on the novel series, very very closely. She’s been doing it with me for eight years, so she knows Emily as much as me—or better, sometimes.

That’s an added dimension of this character, turning it into a novel.

Yeah. It’s all been a natural growth. It started off as t-shirts with a simple one-liner, and then graphic books, with the same sentences and a little bit of art, and then the comics, with Darkhorse here. That was the first time we ever actually told mini stories. And the novel is the first real look at Emily’s mind, because it’s a diary format. We’re writing exactly as Emily’s thinking in her mind. More than she says stuff, she thinks stuff, so that’s kind of the perfect format for her.

Is that out now?

It’s out in June 09.

People get really attached to characters, and when your taking one and adding an entirely new dimension, it probably acts to turn some people off. There’s this character unto which they’ve probably projected a lot already. Do you get feeback from fans about things like that?

In terms of how they think she should be different?

Yeah, or how she’s not lining up to the image that had in their mind of her.

Not a whole lot. I think people are pretty accepting of where we’ve taken her, and we’ve been pretty true to the whole concept of her being a strange girl who celebrates being yourself and avoiding other people.

You almost had to make a progression into other storytelling formats, lest people make up their own stories on the Internet.

Definitely. It was a very logical progression. It did demand that.

You had to beat them to the punch.

Yeah, yeah, and I think a lot of it started when I started getting interested in Hollywood for making a film or a TV show or something like that. I’ve been working in that direction for about five years now, and the first time I met with a producer, he asked me about a dozen questions I didn’t know the answers to, so I went back that night and figured out all of the answers to those questions.

What sort of things?

Like, does she go to school? Where does she live?

Pretty basic questions.

Yeah, basic questions, but I hadn’t considered where she lived, so I had to start thinking that up. I think the novel series is going to be fun, because you’re going to find out where she lives.

As you said before, the beginning of this character was very enigmatic. Do you think she loses something when you pull back some of that mystery?

I thought so for a long time, but now there’s just so many great ideas that we have that the roller coaster ride is just so much more fun that keeping it a secret. I think ultimately that became limiting, but in the early days, that was a lot of fun, saying, “well, I don’t know, what do you think?”

What’s the latest on this Hollywood project?

Well, I’m working with Mike Richardson, who is attached as the producer. And he does all those other great movies. He’s a master of turning a comic book into a Hollywood blockbuster. We’re just working on final points of a deal right now. We’re working on a live action film. Can’t really say too much more, until we sign some papers.

Was there a lot of question about whether it would be live action or animated?

Not really. Mike’s experience with the studio we’re talking to is that they were really looking for a strong, female, live action movie, so it kind of fits right in with what they wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to do animation, and we will sometime. I’ve got to see her animated.

That seems like the next natural step in the progression.

Yeah. Maybe we’ll see her in a video game before then.

So you’re pretty much looking everywhere for a place to branch her out to.

Yeah, and the video game is the final frontier. It’s animation, it’s action, it’s storytelling—it’s everything.

–Brian Heater

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2 Comments to “Interview: Rob Reger Pt 2. [of 2]”

  1. Greg G | March 18th, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Hard hitting stuff!

    Marc Simont has apparently been in touch with his publisher’s legal department over the Emily the Strange ripoff. I wonder how things are going?

  2. darrylayo | March 19th, 2009 at 11:14 am

    I think the process of turning what began as a cipher into a dimensional, articulated character is fascinating. There comes a time when handling characters who emerge from this kind of image-first process when their creators are forced to answer: “what is this character about?”

    Additionally, as a more typical alternative comics reader, I’m struck by Mr. Reger’s attitude about having other people work with his creation. That he doesn’t feel that he’s losing any sense of control or personal identity in the process runs counter to how most DIY folks seem to think.