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Volume 3602


Regular Edition

The ERB Original

Deluxe Edition

ERBzine #1 Tell us a bit about yourself, Rob. What is your writing background?

Rob: Sure thing. I began writing professionally for an industry magazine called The Comic Book Marketplace in the early '90s that featured a bi-monthly column of mine and another comic dealer about comics and their investment potential. I wrote my first feature article titled, "When the Bat Flew Alone," which explored the first year of Batman from 1939-1940. I then went on to write some more feature articles such as "Dawn of the Golden-Age" for Collector’s Showcase and "The Avenger of Blood" for the Marketplace as well. 

ERBzine #2  I know that your Torn project has been brewing for quite some time. Would you give a bit of the history of the project?

Rob: Of course. I began researching and writing the first draft of the screenplay for The Outlaw of Torn back in the summer of 2003. I figured that it would provide a good “practice run”, if you will, for which to hone and develop my skills for the film medium. I had just completed reading The Outlaw of Torn for the third time and the novel was still laying just to the side of my computer… waiting. I was looking to get back into the movie industry and thought that writing a screenplay was my best chance since my contacts were basically zero at that point. And so, as I was sitting at my desk on that sunny summer afternoon, I asked God, “What should I do? What should I write?”

As I was reminiscing about various novels I had read in the past, which ones would be good movies, which ones wouldn't and which ones had already been done, I looked down to the side of my computer where Outlaw was staring right back ay me with a silent beckoning call. I thought, "God, that would be a GREAT movie! Is this it? Is this what you want me to do?" There was no booming Voice from Heaven. I did not receive a phone call or a fax or an email from the Lord. What I was experiencing was an inner and most intimate burning passion in my heart to embark upon this task to adapt this wonderful story that I had absolutely loved since boyhood. I had no clue what I was about to step into, the amount of research, time and extreme effort that would be required to see the project through, but I was game. I figured that I would just do a test run and see how I did. No big deal, right? Kinda like a newborn babe sitting down at the table and trying to eat a full 9-course meal.

At any rate, I was doing my research and reading Outlaw for the fourth time; going through the novel sentence by sentence and word by word, checking names, places, historical facts, characters and what not, writing usually late at night from 11 pm or so until 6 am in the morning and getting about one page per hour done on average. About a third of the way through the screenplay I discovered that Outlaw had passed into the public domain and thought to myself, "Now this has become much more than just a test run."

I contacted two gentlemen in England who were Burroughs aficionados, Frank Westwood and Rod Jackson who I felt might be able aid me in my research since information on Outlaw seem few and far between. Frank publishes the ERB Fanzine The Fantastic Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs and I had discovered that Rod had written a superb three-part article on the novel entitled, "In Search of the Outlaw" that I desperately wanted to get and read. Frank sent me the corresponding issues and put me in contact with Rod and our friendships and mutual love for Outlaw has grown ever since. They were the first two to know about my adaptation of the story into script.

The initial first draft took me from August 2003 until just before Christmas of that year and came out to 330 pages. I remember that the person at the Writers Guild had to put the script into two envelopes. It then took me about another year and a half to do revisions, add historical details and do further polishing. I was fortunate to be able to visit England and Wales in the summer of 2004 to meet Rod and his wife Monica and have them show me around Derbyshire (Torn) where much of the story takes place. It was a sure delight to visit and see many of the places I’d been writing about. 

ERBzine #3 What drew you with such passion to this 100-year-old novel which was not one of Burroughs' major successes in his writing career?

Rob: I absolutely loved the novel ever since I first read it back in 1978-79 as a boy. It was the fantastic Frank Frazetta cover that first prompted me to open the book and then the beginning where Burroughs writes,

“HERE is a story that has lain dormant for seven hundred years. At first it was suppressed by one of the Plantagenet kings of England. Later it was forgotten. I happened to dig it up by accident... It is very interesting -- partially since it is a bit of hitherto unrecorded history, but principally from the fact that it records the story of a most remarkable revenge and the adventurous life of its innocent victim -- Richard, the lost prince of England.”
From paragraph one I was hooked! The haunting question that was rolling around in my head was, “How much of this story is true?” And the characters in the story are fascinating — from the super strong central hero (or anti-hero) of Norman of Torn to the historical Simon de Montfort and his beautiful daughter Bertrade de Montfort to the lovely Joan de Tany and the Godly Father Claude and, of course, the superb dark villain Jules de Vac, all these players were fabulous in their own right. And then, throw all of them into the tumultuous time of the Second Baron's War and you have an undeniable masterpiece. 
ERBzine #4 How would you explain the ongoing popularity across the entire entertainment spectrum of Edgar Rice Burroughs - an author who wrote the Outlaw of Torn, John Carter of Mars, and Tarzan books 100 years ago - and who died in 1950? What do you feel is this lasting universal appeal?

Rob: First and foremost his amazing characters in his stories. In my opinion, character(s) are supreme when it comes to storytelling — even more important than story and plot. This is because, even if you have a good storyline, if the reader or audience do not care and relate to the characters, they probably will not care about the overall story then.  This seems to be a recurring theme in many of Burroughs' novels — a strong central character such as Norman of Torn or Tarzan or John carter of Mars, who he then surrounds by a solid supporting cast and then places them in great peril and conflict.

This is great drama in any medium. The reader must CARE about the character or characters and then he/she will pay close attention to plot and storyline. Character is king and everything else is secondary to me. Burroughs creates great characters and then places them in fantastic settings and situations, the key element to the success of his stories as well as being a very talented, prolific and exciting author. 

ERBzine #5  What is the storyline of The Outlaw Prince… and what characters really stand out in this tale and what is it about them that you feel will be appealing to today's audiences?

Rob: The Outlaw Prince follows the main plot of The Outlaw of Torn. The French sword master De Vac is humiliated by King Henry after a mock sword duel and carries out a nefarious revenge by abducting his second-born son, brainwashing the boy to forget his heritage and then training him to become the greatest and most feared outlaw-swordsman in all of Britain. Eventually he pits him against his own father -- with a great deal of subplot additions and further character development.

It is a faithful adaptation to the novel as a whole or the "spirit of the story", but with a good deal of the history placed back into the saga (which Burroughs says he deliberately left out) and delves deeper into the main and supporting roles by enriching the various characters; exploring motivations and arcs as the tale unfolds and as they interact with one another. For me, this is the main and most significant element of Outlaw and why it has had such a lasting impact upon me personally.

Obviously, the character that stands out the most is Norman of Torn, a very heroic but tragic and troubled figure throughout the saga. Because of De Vac's frightful and nearly complete indoctrination of the boy, he is both good and bad, being led to believe that all Englishmen are, "naught but filthy pigs" to be easy disposed of. If not for his ever haunting memory of his childhood friend and guardian, the beautiful Lady Maud, and the timely intervention of the Godly priest Father Claude, the tale of Norman of Torn would have been a much grimmer one for sure without any hint at redemption for the outlaw down the road.

Two other key supporting characters that add historical flavor are King Henry III and the idealistic Simon de Montfort, the powerful Earl of Leicester. Their fateful argument at the very beginning of the story sets the stage for the rest of the saga by laying the foundation of the main plot while, at the very same time, reflecting the main sub-plot which would fully erupt later on as the Barons' War; two powerful personalities whose volatile relationship would thrust the kingdom of England into full blown civil warfare.

And, of course, there is the master villain of Jules de Vac and his sinister scheming behind the scenes and who will stop at nothing to see his dark revenge carried out. With De Vac, there is no arc, no changing, no compromise and no gray area whatsoever. He just loves to hate, destroy relationships and murder anyone who may even remotely get in his way. I think that great stories need great villains, and De Vac fits this mold perfectly. 

ERBzine #6 How did you decide on artists Thomas Yeats and Michael Kaluta to work on this project. And how did these great artists split their work on the assignment?

Rob: Thomas Yeates is a very talented and respected artist in the comic industry, one whose style is sort of a "throw-back" to the classic work of legends such as Alex Raymond and Hal Foster. And, being a huge Burroughs aficionado in his own right, I thought he would be an ideal fit for this medieval project.

Michael Kaluta came on the project very early on at the behest of Thomas when it was clear that, because of the scope of the story, he wanted to have another artist do the breakdowns from which he could springboard his pencils. I recall when Thomas called me and said that he wanted Michael Kaluta to come on board to help him. He then went on to explain to me who Kaluta was and his various past works. At this, I kinda chuckled since I had been an avid comic book collector since 1973, and was of course, very familiar with Kaluta. I remember saying to Thomas that, “Yes, I know who Kaluta is -- a legend in the industry and his involvement would be most welcome.”

And so, this began a collaboration by which Kaluta would take the script, do a detailed breakdown with various notes and suggestions and then Thomas and I would discuss each and every panel and move onto the penciling stage. It worked out very well. 

ERBzine #7  Your Outlaw Prince brings together many different elements: an adaptation of a classic novel by the Master of Fantasy Adventure - ERB ~ romance, action and intrigue from old England ~ actual historical events ~ striking colour illustrations by two greats artists of comicdom, etc. All of this promoted in a beautifully put-together book by a major publisher of vintage and contemporary comics: Dark Horse.
What do you feel your main reading audience will be?

Rob: I think that anyone who loves great storytelling loaded with great and memorable characters would really enjoy The Outlaw Prince. As you stated, it is a saga that incorporates a myriad of key and alluring elements that every exciting action and adventure epic should have such as romance, love and loyalty with exciting sword duels, dark intrigue and murderous schemes and captivating historical events, all of which revolves around super strong characters and their dramatic developments and interaction throughout the story. What more could one ask for? 

ERBzine #8  Why did you change the title to The Outlaw Prince?”

Rob: My dad was the one who came up with the title The Outlaw Prince. I remember him brainstorming, “He (Prince Richard) is an outlaw… and he is the prince. He's the Outlaw Prince!” After discussing this with a producer who thought the title would appeal to a much wider audience, especially those who'd never heard of the book, I decide to go with it.

ERBzine #9  You are issuing two editions - regular and a deluxe versions. What are the differences between the two editions?

Rob: The Regular Edition ($12.99) is a soft cover book that includes an introduction and the graphic novel story -- a total of 80 pages. The regular edition has a painted cover by fan favorite Esad Ribic who has done a good deal of work for Marvel Comics.

The Deluxe Hardcover ($49.99) is a very Limited Edition book with a fantastic painted cover by the super-talented Alan Lathwell, has 112 pages that includes full-length features by two Burroughs experts; an introduction to The Outlaw of Torn by Frank Westwood and the article "In Search of the Outlaw" by Rod Jackson.

Both are superbly researched and written with many illustrations and images to complement the work. This edition is also signed by myself as well. 

ERBzine #10  THE OUTLAW OF TORN has a rather long and complex storyline which obviously cannot be covered fully in THE OUTLAW PRINCE Vol. I. How many volumes have you planned in your adaptation of the whole novel?

Rob: Hopefully, if all goes well, I plan on having a total of four volumes which would encompass the entire saga. The first book covers the time from the fateful argument between King Henry III and Simon de Montfort up until the time when Norman rides forth from the castle as the Outlaw of Torn. This first book introduces many of the key personalities in the epic, Norman of Torn, De Vac, Simon de Montfort, King Henry III, Queen Eleanor and Lady Maud. Because I love this story so much, I have set a very high standard for the quality of every aspect of this project. And, of course, this means a great deal of time, money and patience is required for this monumental task to be completed.

Born in San Diego and raised in La Jolla, California. In 1974, at the age of 7, Rob was bitten by the "comic book bug" when his father started buying him and his younger brother comics at the local 7-11 store, along with those really cool Superhero Slurpie cups. The classic DC and Marvel action figures offered at Toys-R-Us cemented a life-long love for superheroes and Rob soon graduated to collecting Golden-Age, Silver-Age and Bronze-Age comic books when he discovered Pacific Comics on Cass Street in Pacific Beach.

In 1978, at the age of 11, Rob's father took him to his very first San Diego Comic Convention being held at the El Cortez Hotel in downtown San Diego. At the Old Town Circle Gallery, which was hosting a showing of Bob Kane's artwork, he met and befriended Kane, instantly becoming a huge Batman fan and collector -- especially the first year of the hero's adventures, spanning from Detective Comics #27-#37 (1939-1940). Later that year, after countless relentless requests, his father bought for him from local dealer Tom French, a copy of Detective Comics #30, which remains one of his all-time favorite issues to this very day. "The absolute apex of Kane's splendid artwork on the character!"

In 1988, while attending the USC, Rob began buying and selling vintage comic books, opening ARCHANGELS, now a Vintage Collectibles internet web-site. Since then, he has worked as an auction consultant for such companies as Executive Investments, Greg Manning Auctions, The Mint and Heritage Auctions. His feature cover articles "Enter the Batman", "Genesis, the Dawn of the Golden-Age" and "The Avenger of Blood" have been published in the magazines Comic Book Marketplace, Collectors Showcase and various auction catalogues.

In the summer of 2003, Rob began researching and writing his epic screenplay duology "The Outlaw Prince", a 13th century medieval tale about a noble English outlaw who fights against the corrupt ruling elite class with plenty of great swordplay, majestic castles, epic battles and beautiful damsels in distress, much in the tradition of the Robin Hood and King Arthur legends. Luna: Moon-Hunter marks his second epic saga project, which he has been working on steadily since 2005, the graphic novel scheduled to be released sometime in the summer of 2012.

Rob has been a member of the CAM Center (Christian Action Ministries) since 1988, a outreach ministry located in Torrance, CA, working closely with his friend and elder minister Vern Ryan in striving to supply and meet the spiritual and material needs of those who are seeking help. He remains a idealistic boy at heart, who still likes to stay up late, read comic books and watch epic movies.

Thomas Yeates
Michael Kaluta
Kaluta Biography

Official Outlaw Prince Site: Ordering ~ Mailing List

Original Text | Bibliography | Background  | Interviews | Script | Layouts | Sketches | Inks | Colours | Completed Pages

J. Allen St. John: Outlaw of Torn - no interiors
Original ERB Text


Hughes Interview

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