Since Valiant Entertainment published its first comic book in May 2012, the midtown-based company has scored a five-picture film deal with Sony, won a pile of industry awards and critical accolades and, this month, launches a new series.
Not too shabby for a company going up against competitors publishing the likes of Spider-Man and Batman.
“What I think we’ve always tried to do is stay true to story and tell great stories,” says Warren Simons, Valiant’s editor-in-chief. “It’s an extremely crowded industry. ... We’re dealing with competition from Disney, Time Warner — massive corporations. Additionally, there is a slew of extraordinary creator-owned projects going on right now. So it’s an extremely competitive time, but I feel like as long as we continue to put out books that are among the best, and can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best, we will continue to be a success, hopefully.”
Recently, the Valiant team got together in New York for a writer’s retreat, where they brought their authors in to plot out the next few years’ worth of stories. Holed up in a hotel room around a table with tons of laptops and coffee, the writers, editors and other staffers dug deep into storylines for their respective titles.
One of the books they discussed was “Faith,” a new series that had its first issue released Jan. 27 amid positive reviews and tons of press for its plus size hero, which People magazine called “an awesome, crime-stopping superhero.”
Faith had been a supporting character in a number of Valiant books, but now she has her own solo title where she’s “setting a new life for herself in L.A., complete with an alter ego with wig and glasses, an alias and a day job working in journalism,” says writer Jody Houser, who is joined by artists Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage on the book. “Working on ‘Faith,’ developing the book and seeing the response on how many people are looking forward to the book, it’s been a lot of fun and very gratifying.”
Another new comic for Valiant is “A & A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong,” from writer Rafer Roberts and artist David Lafuente, which is coming out March 16.
“It follows the adventures of a 10,000-year-old drunken, immortal warrior poet and his ex-fundamentalist teenage ninja sidekick as they traverse through the country and have their various misadventures and get on each other’s nerves,” Roberts says.
Valiant, which currently publishes about six to eight regular monthly titles as well as miniseries and other specials, employs top-notch talent like Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Fred Van Lente and Robert Venditti — all of whom maintain a tight continuity between their titles.
“It’s a tight-knit group,” Van Lente says. “Having been in writing rooms, writing meetings that were twice the size of this. ... The fact that it’s a shared universe, but also a very tight-knit one, it means all the books matter and they all feed each other, and it’s tremendously satisfying.”
Valiant’s CEO and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani felt very proud that, after two days of intense discussion at the writer’s retreat, it’s all been about story.
“We haven’t talked movies, we haven’t talked video games, we haven’t talked licensing, we haven’t talked sales, we haven’t talked publishing,” Shamdasani says. “All we’ve talked about is what’s best for each of the stories we’re bringing up. I think that’s our approach to everything that we do.”
With a movie deal with Sony for adaptations of its titles “Bloodshot” and “Harbinger” in the pipeline, plus tons of great reviews and awards, Valiant is primed for a strong future.
“Just to see where Valiant is now, the way the books have been received, the creators that they have, is kind of amazing,” says Venditti, who writes the Valiant books “Wrath of the Eternal Warrior” and “X-O Manowar.” “Five years from now ... you don’t know what to expect because it already feels like a success story.”