We recently had the opportunity to interrogate Man of Action’s Joe Casey on both his original comic and the upcoming film adaptation, “Officer Downe.” This uber-violent tale of justice revolves around an
unkillable LAPD officer who is repeatedly resurrected and returned to duty. Not exactly a zombie, and not exactly a human, Downe is an unstoppable force of nature who relishes his role as judge, jury and executioner. The 2010 source comic is incredibly explicit and offensive in the most “delightful” ways and is a perfect paradox of mature/immature story-telling. We probe Casey for the inspiration behind this character and how much of the madness will make it to the big screen when the film drops on November 18th.
TCF: After a long career writing for a number of youth-friendly characters (Batman, Superman, Man of Action’s Ben 10 & Ultimate Spiderman) the first page of “Officer Downe” makes it graphically clear that this story is for discerning adults only! Was creating “Officer Downe” a cathartic experience after working within the restraints of so many mainstream/family friendly characters?
Joe Casey: Even alongside the all-ages work I’ve done, I’ve always put out more “mature” material. For me, it’s not so much cathartic as it is creative counter-programming. I’ve been doing this for almost twenty years. Comicbooks, television, animation, video games, movies. I’ve done it all. But basically, I feel like I’m in the idea business. So coming up with this stuff — as random as some of it might seem — is just what I feel I’m supposed to be doing with my life.
What was your original inspiration for “Officer Downe”? Did it really start with an LAPD ride-alone one night?
Well, let’s just say that’s the part I could actually talk about publicly…
The unapologetic nudity and gore within the graphic novel are spectacular. There are also some limit-pushing images that stand out, particularly during the medical center attack. Was there anything that you and co-creator Chris Burnham though might be “too much” that never made it into the book?
In comicbooks, nothing is “too much”, as far as I’m concerned. Burnham and I were laughing our asses off making this thing. You have to understand, making a creator-owned comic — specifically to be published at Image Comics — is like being a mad scientist in a secret laboratory. I’d come up with the idea years before but when I roped Burnham into drawing it, the whole project jumped to another level. We just went balls deep. There was no editor, no approval process, no one to tell us what we could or couldn’t do. I don’t even think I told Image Comics about it until it was done and ready to be published. Luckily, I’ve had a long, healthy relationship with Image so they didn’t bat an eye over it, either.
What was the process of taking “Officer Downe” to the big screen? As the screenwriter, were you and Man of Action spearheading it from the start, or did other entities approach you first?
The graphic novel was found by Skip Williamson and Mark Neveldine, both who ended up producing the film with me. They had no idea about me or Man of Action or anything else we’d done. They just liked the book. Adapting the material was a fairly simple process. It was such a long shot that it was ever going to get shot that I just wrote for fun. I didn’t think about budget or scale or anything like that. In fact, I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to get made… but that actually gave me a lot of freedom as a writer to do whatever felt good at the time. At the end of the day, I was pretty proud of the script, just as a piece of writing. The fact that we actually went on and made the damn thing is the icing on the cake
How true to the comic does the film stay: Is the plot expanded upon? Is there just as much nudity and gore?
Just about everything that you see in the graphic novel ended up in the movie. In some places, the film goes even further. It certainly goes deeper into the characters.
Having the film directed by the clown from SLIPKNOT just seems right. Was Shawn Crahan a fan of the book prior to being attached to the project?
From what I understand, the moment he cracked open the book and saw that same Page One you mentioned earlier, it was love at first sight. For me, that said it all. He was committed to translating the graphic novel to the screen as faithfully as possible. You couldn’t ask for much more than that.
Can you tell us anything about Corey Taylor’s (SLIPKNOT, STONE SOUR) cameo?
Corey plays one of the many super-villains in the film. The character’s name is Headcase Harry (although you find out pretty quickly that he’s not a fan of the “Headcase” nickname). Corey did a really great job, really got into the spirit of the film.
Are there any plans to expand upon the “Officer Downe” mythos with a follow-up graphic novel?
It’s always a possibility. The story of Officer Downe certainly doesn’t end in the graphic novel or in the film. In a perfect world, this is only just the beginning…
Can you tell us about any of your current or upcoming projects that we should keep an eye out for?
Like I said before, I’ve always got stuff cooking. Right now I’m just looking forward to November 18th, when the film is finally unleashed on an unsuspecting world.