By Sean T. Collins
The infection is spreading.
THE STAND: CAPTAIN TRIPS #1 has already hit stands, and the response from comic book readers and Stephen King fans alike has been feverish. Presiding over it all: Marvel Senior Editor Ralph Macchio. With one King-based series under his belt already in THE DARK TOWER, Macchio has proven the ideal candidate for bringing the dark tale of disease and demons chronicled in "The Stand" into the sequential art realm.
Macchio took time out of his busy schedule to speak with Marvel.com about what editing a project like this entails, answer questions about straddling the comics and prose worlds, and tease the explosions he can't wait for the comic to set off.
Marvel.com: The first issue of THE STAND: CAPTAIN TRIPS has hit the, uh, stands. How does it feel to have your baby out there for the world to see? Are you pleased with how it turned out?
I'm pleased that we were faithful to the letter and spirit of Stephen King's work. We accomplished what we set out to do and it's been positively received by both the reading public and those two who count most: Chuck Verrill, Stephen's literary agent, and by Stephen himself. You can't ask for higher praise than that.
Marvel.com: One thing I've noticed in the first issue is that it's doing a good job of capturing the deadpan horror, if there's such a thing, of the original King prose. Is that important to you, or are you okay with taking things in another direction if you feel like the comics medium calls for that?
We fully intend to maintain the tone of the original, no moving off track. "The Stand" takes you into an apocalyptic landscape that's eerily familiar and we intend to follow that template. [Writer] Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] and [artist] Mike [Perkins] have done an incredible job of maintaining that feel.
Marvel.com: What's been the most challenging aspect of working on the series so far? How have you tried to overcome that challenge?
Just making sure we stayed close to King's vision and gave ample space for all the important scenes. Roberto pulled that off beautifully.
Marvel.com: How do you interact with Roberto and Mike? What's the nature of your collaborative relationship on this series?
Roberto does a synopsis of each story arc and then does his script for the individual issues. We see everything along the way. And Mike sends in each page he does over the computer, one at a time for us to approve. And it's a pleasure to look at everything when you're dealing with talents of this caliber.
Marvel.com: How closely are you working with King himself? What is his role in the process?
Stephen is, of course, the final authority on this project. It's his baby. He can veto anything he wants. He sees the character designs, the scripts and the art and the finished book. He can request any changes at any step of the way. He's one of the nicer people you could ever be fortunate enough to work with.
Marvel.com: How different is the role of an editor in an adaptation than in an original story?
My role as editor hasn't changed. I'm still trying to see that we deliver the best work we can in the time our creators have to work on it. And my job is to oversee the editorial process as it is on any book I edit.
Marvel.com: It seems safe to assume that THE STAND will do gangbusters business in the bookstore market. Do you find yourself recalibrating in any way to suit that audience, as opposed to the traditional comics consumer?
No recalibration on this end. We hope the book will be commercially successful and we intend to give it the best we've got. But I don't approach the book differently than any other book I'm editing. The only thing I'd add is that if you're a "Stand" fan, I believe you'll find this a really enjoyable comic.
Marvel.com: The definitive, uncut version of the novel "The Stand" takes place in the early '90s. Are you preserving that time period, or updating it to the late '00s?
That was an aspect of the book we thought a great deal about and solicited advice from both Chuck and Stephen. The consensus is that we will maintain the time period from the novel and will only update if it becomes absolutely necessary. We don't want to draw attention to a particular time with this series.
Marvel.com: Any favorite scenes you can't wait to show?
I can't wait to see Mike's rendition of the Trashcan Man blowing things up, especially those big gas or oil tanks!
Marvel.com: We're sort of saturated with post-apocalyptic fiction these days. Is it something in the air? What makes THE STAND stand out?
When haven't we been saturated with post-apocalyptic stuff? THE STAND remains a highly topical work because the threat of disease being passed from one person to another has never been greater. Look at the bird flu scare that's still out there. THE STAND is also highly relevant because it's a story of profoundly diverse characters having to find ways to work together to survive in their brave new world.
THE STAND: CAPTAIN TRIPS #2 goes on sale October 8.