Denys Cowan has published cover art he has worked on with Bill Sienkiewicz for Dynamite Entertainments second issue of Shaft, their new comic book series based on Ernest Tidyman’s novels. Issue #2 goes on sale on 14 January 2015.
Dynamite Entertainment have updated their site promoting the first edition of the Shaft comic book, due to be published on 3 December 2014. The sample panels show Shaft in a boxing bout and also flashbacks to his service in Vietnam.
David Walker has been doing the promotional rounds talking about his new comic book series featuring John Shaft. A couple of podcasts – one with Publishers Weekly and another with Cold Beer and Comics give Walker the opportunity to talk about his work on the books and his enthusiasm for Ernest Tidyman’s novels, which are the basis for the stories Walker is developing.
The series is due to kick-off from Dynamite Entertainment on 3 December with six issues in total planned to date.
There is a great interview with David Walker writer of the new Shaft comic book on the Comic Alliance website. In the interview Walker covers the history of the character and his plans for both the comic books and new prose. Walker has been commissioned for six issues but has sufficient material for twenty four. He also has a desire to adapt the first Shaft novel.
Also on the site are the below example panels minus the dialogue and prose. This is the first glimpse of artist Bilquis Evely’s excellent work. As Walker points out in the interview the physical depiction of John Shaft is based on Ernest Tidyman’s description and not Richard Roundtree.
A preview for the cover to Shaft # 2 has been published. The comic is written by David F. Walker and drawn by Bilquis Evely and goes on sale on 7 January 2015. Variant covers will also again be provided by Sanford Greene and Denys Cowan & Bill Sienkiewicz
Here’s the blurb for Issue #2:
Every great detective has their first case. For John Shaft, that first case seems simple enough. But tracking down a missing person for his girlfriend quickly turns into a matter of life and death. With the bodies piling up, Shaft realizes he’s in over his head. But can he stay alive long enough to figure out what is going on, or will his first case be the death of John Shaft?
I look forward to receiving the first issue published on 3 December 2014. I have ordered the Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz cover variant (top left of the six choices). The series will form an origin story set one year before Ernest Tidyman’s 1970 novel.
I will post reviews of the series here as the comics are published.
A Comic Book Resources interview with David Walker reveals he will write and Bilquis Evely will illustrate the first Shaft comic book due to be published in December by Dynamite, who recently purchased the rights to Ernest Tidyman’s character.
Walker will be using Tidyman’s novels, rather than the films, as his basis for the character and bringing into focus Shaft’s Vietnam service and the impact this had on his life. This is good news for fans of the books, such as myself. Effectively Walker’s series will be an origins story set a year before Tidyman’s first novel.
Walker says, “With Shaft, the biggest difference between the films and the books is that the character in the books is simply more badass. He’s also more complex. It is that complexity that drew me in, and it is what is driving my interpretation of the character. In the books, there are these very brief passages about his youth and his time in the Vietnam War. If you took all of this stuff, from all seven of the books, you’d have only a few pages of material, but it is all gold. Tidyman created this character, and gave him just enough backstory that it really sparks the imagination.”
The site shows a number of variant covers for the first issue of which Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz’s (above) is my favourite.
David Walker has his own site on which he will be posting updates.
SHAFT (1971, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., USA, 100 mins, Colour, 1.85:1, Mono, Cert: 15, Crime Thriller) ∗∗∗∗∗
Starring: Richard Roundtree (John Shaft), Moses Gunn (Bumpy Jonas), Charles Cioffi (Vic Androzzi), Christopher St. John (Ben Buford), Gwenn Mitchell (Ellie Moore), Lawrence Pressman (Tom Hannon), Victor Arnold (Charlie), Sherri Brewer (Marcy), Rex Robbins (Rollie), Camille Yarbrough (Dina Greene), Margaret Warncke (Linda), Joseph Leon (Byron Leibowitz), Arnold Johnson (Cul), Dominic Barto (Patsy), George Strus (Carmen), Edmund Hashim (Lee), Drew Bundini Brown (Willy).
Producer: Joel Freeman; Director: Gordon Parks; Writer: Ernest Tidyman, John D. F. Black (based on the novel by Ernest Tidyman); Director of Photography: Urs Furrer (Metrocolor); Music: Isaac Hayes; Film Editor: Hugh A. Robertson; Art Director: Emanuel Gerard; Set Decorator: Robert Drumheller; Costume Designer: Joe Aulisi.
Gordon Parks’ ground-breaking crime thriller stars Richard Roundtree as Ernest Tidyman’s iconic tough black New York private detective, John Shaft.
Shaft is hired by Harlem crime lord, Bumpy Jonas, to locate and rescue his kidnapped daughter. Bumpy tells Shaft he suspects she has been abducted by black revolutionaries, led by Ben Buford, when really she has been snatched by the Mafia as part of a turf war. When Shaft realises he has been set-up by Bumpy to enlist Buford and his men he ups his price before linking up with Buford to plan a rescue.
It is easy today to underestimate the impact of SHAFT today when black action heroes are commonplace, but in 1971 Parks’ film was a revelation. From the opening shots of Roundtree’s Shaft strutting his way through Midtown Manhattan to the closing sequence of the daring rescue the film oozes style. With Isaac Hayes’ funky theme playing over the credits a movie icon was born.
The bleak New York winter of 1970/1 helped provide a gritty urban backdrop to Parks’ realisation of Ernest Tidyman’s novel. In his first starring role Roundtree has such an incredible charisma he instantly makes the role his own brilliantly sparring with the police and gangsters alike. Moses Gunn is also commanding as Bumpy Jonas (renamed from Knocks Persons in the novel as a nod to real life Harlem gangster of the ‘20s and ‘30s Bumpy Johnson). Charles Cioffi is the epitome of world-weariness in his portrayal of Lt. Vic Androzzi, whilst Ben Buford is portrayed by Christopher St. John, but is less imposing than the more intellectual version seen in the book.
The film has a slow pace by today’s frenetic standards, but is punctuated by occasional bursts of violent action. Parks’ lack of experience comes through with the aforementioned pacing problems. The editing could also be tighter in certain scenes – although the rescue finale is well-judged. However, his visual eye is evident throughout in the way he captures New York in social decay. The bare tenements and littered streets come sharply into focus against the harsh winter backdrop.
The film’s greatest achievement, though, was the legacy it created, enabling new talent to thrive in a Hollywood that hitherto had been a largely white domain.
Two sequels – SHAFT’S BIG SCORE! (1972) and SHAFT IN AFRICA (1973) and a series of seven TV-movies (1973-4) followed. John Singleton attempted to re-launch the franchise in 2000 with Samuel L. Jackson as Shaft’s nephew (also named John Shaft) and Roundtree reprising his role in little more than a cameo appearance.