Talking With the Creators of BOOM! Studios' Hitman: Agent 47 Comic

By now, you're probably aware that 20th Century Fox and BOOM! Studios got together to make a [...]

(Photo: BOOM! Studios/20th Century Fox)

By now, you're probably aware that 20th Century Fox and BOOM! Studios got together to make a tie-in comic to Hitman: Agent 47, Fox's upcoming video game movie set in the world of Hitman.

The comic, from writer F.J. DeSanto and artist Jesus Jervas, explores the larger world of the Hitman video game universe. It's one of a number of recent collaborations to come out of a precedent-setting first-look deal with Fox that BOOM! signed in October of 2013.

You can download a free, digital version of the comic on ComiXology here. Read it before Hitman: Agent 47 is in U.S. theaters on August 21.

DeSanto and executive producer Adrian Askarieh joined to talk about the project.

What made you decide that a tie-in, set in the same universe but not directly adapting the film, was the better way to go than the once-traditional movie adaptation?

ADRIAN ASKARIEH: Our collective thought process on this book was to first and foremost give a new experience to the fans and the readers at large who are inclined to see the movie, but one that exists in the service of the same cohesive universe of the film. Doing a straight-on adaptation of the movie felt less interesting to all of us than tackling the very interesting idea of how Agent 47 got to the point where he is — both literally and figuratively — when the movie begins.

For those of us who are luddites: what is it about the world of Hitman that is so compelling as to make us want to read the book/watch the movie even if we have no idea what the video games are all about?

F.J. DESANTO: I think the video games have created such a rich and deep world that HITMAN has become one of the very few video game properties that can easily exist in other media like movies and comics. What it all boils down to for me is that despite being a man of few words, Agent 47 is so interesting that you want to follow him on any and all adventures — no matter where and how they take place.

Obviously Fox and BOOM! have a great relationship. How far in advance was this project planned? Did it come about later, or was it an early part of Fox's marketing strategy?

ASKARIEH: Stephen Christy at BOOM! and myself had been talking about doing something cool for HITMAN: AGENT 47 going back to last year when we were in production on the movie. But it wasn't until early into our post-production that I contacted Stephen and suggested that we pick this back up again. The notion that it would be an organic part of Fox's marketing for the movie while at the same time providing the fans and the readers at large a unique and fresh entry into the world of Agent 47 was something which evolved over time as we were putting the book and its creative team together.

What do you think a digital comic provides that, say, a fairly low-budget short film or something similar wouldn't?

DESANTO: You've come to know Agent 47 in videogames, you're about to see him on the big screen, so why not branch him out into other areas? The appeal for us was that the character had never been portrayed in comics until now. There's a very strong crossover between comic book readers and video game fans. To be honest, they are pretty much one and the same, and to be able to deliver them a high-quality comic book for free was an excellent choice.

How did the books' creative team come together?

DESANTO: Once Fox, BOOM!, and Adrian worked out what they wanted to do, I was brought in because I am familiar with the project and had worked with BOOM! on licensed properties in the past. I was really flattered to be asked to help create AGENT 47's first-ever comic adventure. Our editors, Dafna Pleban and Ian Brill, had worked with our artist, Jesús Hervás, in the past on BOOM!'s SONS OF ANARCHY comics, and when we saw his samples, we all flipped out because we knew he was perfect for this. Adrian was extremely helpful throughout the entire process in making sure everything we did fit in with the movie and the overall HITMAN universe while keeping the integrity of our original story. It was truly the smoothest experience I ever had working in comics.

How closely will the story told here track with what's going on in the film? Is it just in the same world, or are there direct ties?

ASKARIEH: It is definitely the same world as in the movie and it is a true prelude. The mission Agent 47 finds himself carrying out in the book directly ties into the bigger overall mission in the movie. Think of it as an "Issue #0," if you will. Having said that, you need not have read the book to understand and enjoy the movie and vice versa.

Did you want the creative team to have a little leeway to interpret the world, or did you think the most important element of a project like this was to accurately adapt what was onscreen?

ASKARIEH: F.J. DeSanto was my and BOOM!'s very first choice to write this and there's a good reason: F.J. is a very unique writer in that he is also a film producer. By that, I mean he brings both perspectives to the table and balances out the needs of both mediums in a hybrid project like this. We knew that by providing to F.J. just the general direction of where the story for the book could go, he would be able to synthesize that into something which would feel authentic, both as a comic book story which stood on its own creative merits and as a piece of comic book narrative which serviced the bigger world of the film.