Comic books and Hollywood collided at New York Comic Con as actor/director/producer Bill Paxton, writer John McLaughlin and producer Michael Uslan gathered to promote McLaughlin's new digital graphic novel "Seven Holes For Air." Joined by publisher David Uslan and literary agent Eric Reid, they discussed the creative process and their various experiences in comics, movies and television.
"Holes" started as a screenplay by McLaughlin and sent it to Paxton, thinking the actor would be ideal for the lead role. As much as Paxton loved the story, he was committed to other projects but rather than wait, he suggested they put it out as a graphic novel. "I loved this story so much," said Paxton. "I wanted it to be available for everyone."
The story features Bob, a working class hero dealing with a mortality issue. At the same time it's a spaghetti western, with Bob as the last holdout in a land grab and killers closing in on him; it's dark and funny, exciting and endearing. Bob is a man's man, so macho as to be detestable, but as the story goes on, the machismo becomes endearing. When Paxton read the screenplay he said, "Bob became such an archetypal hero for me that for weeks after I read the script, whenever I came up against any petty problems, I thought 'How would Bob handle this?'"
After bringing in artist Mick Reinman, Paxton's primary role was to champion the project. Translating a screenplay into a graphic novel was a new experience for the team and they basically made it up as they went along. Eventually, Reid helped them shape the rough draft into the final product.
"These guys have a passion for this project and have poured themselves into it," said Uslan.
"Seven Holes For Air" is available as a digital graphic novel on all platforms from David Uslan's company, Graphicly, and the team hopes to publish a physical version soon. The important thing for them was to get the story out there and it may still become a movie.
Meanwhile, Paxton, McLaughlin and Reinman are all involved in other projects. Paxton is directing a revival of the "Kung Fu" franchise to which McLaughlin wrote the screenplay and Reinman is currently working on the storyboards. It will be shot next year, entirely on location in China. Paxton recently completed shooting a science fiction film, "All You Need Is Kill" with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. It has a planned March 2014 release.
During the question and answer session, Paxton relaxed and shared some stories about his past work. One thing he made clear is he will no longer be performing with his band, Martini Ranch. "I had to give up the music," Paxton said. "After 'Twister' I had no voice left."
Paxton mentioned many of his memorable lines from "Aliens" were ad-libbed, saying, "Those scenes were rehearsed while the sets were still being built. They were shot sometimes months later but James Cameron remembered the ad-libs and asked for them. He'd, say, 'Give me that 'Express Elevator to Hell thing!'"
When Cameron invited him on the "Titanic" expedition, Paxton jumped at the chance. Although when the crew sealed the hatch on that tiny sub his character boarded, he had some second thoughts. Still, when he looked out the porthole and saw the bow of the actual historical ship, all Paxton could think was, "Get the fuck out!"