Have you started on the wild and crazy ride that has been Constantine‘s inaugural season yet? It’s been a welcome addition to Friday nights, bringing action, sarcasm and scares in a way that only John Constantine and the Hellblazer universe can!
In a recent press call, Executive Producers David S. Goyer and Daniel Cerone discussed Constantine‘s first season, and teased tonight’s episode, “Feast of Friends,” which is a story ripped straight from the pages of Hellblazer. Here are some highlights from that call:
We’ve already seen some of the Hellblazer characters come to life on Constantine — in addition to the title character, of course. To what extent do you plan to explore the Constantine mythos in the first season?
Cerone: We’re digging as deeply into the Constantine mythos as we possibly can. I mean, in fact, it really is inspiring much of our storytelling. The episode that is airing [tonight], which we’re extremely excited about, “Feast of Friends,” is a story that’s literally ripped from the pages of Hellblazer. It is the first story … first issue from Hellblazer. It brings back Gary Lester, who is John’s friend from Newcastle. It’s a fantastic story that translated so well to screen. Seriously, it’s our show at its pinnacle and it just sort of really kind of set a bar of everything that we hope this show can be and can do.
In a broader sense, over the course of the season, we’re breaking Episode 17 right now, and we have a fantastic ride ahead. Before the end of the season, you’re going to meet and get to know every one of John’s friends from Newcastle that were involved in the sort of fateful exorcism of Astra that led to the eternal torment of John’s soul. Papa Midnite, I think, we have now in four episodes. Jim Corrigan comes [in Episode 5]. I’m reading an outline right now for Episode 16 that includes Terrance Thirteen (Dr. Thirteen) …
Goyer: And Felix Faust.
Daniel Cerone: We have Felix Faust. Yes. We have this incredible source material, and we want to honor it and dig as deeply into it as we possibly can. At the same time, we’re a weekly network show and we have weekly stories. We’re trying to present the best of both worlds in terms of ongoing mythology, with the Hellblazer and DC world, but wrapped around weekly stories the viewers can hook into.
David S. Goyer: And I would add one other thing, too. We read the responses to various episodes. I know that people seemed to really like the last episode that introduced Papa Midnite, but some people said “Okay, so now we know what the formula is going to be week after week and we still haven’t heard much more about the rising darkness or Newcastle.” Well, you’re about to with the fourth episode. We think that is the right time to do it. We’re not a fully serialized show. We’re kind of a hybrid between standalone and serialized, and we’re going to start introducing more back story elements every few episodes or so.
How much is the TV series is influenced by Constantine pre-New 52 versus post 52?
Goyer: I would say that the show is almost exclusively influenced by the Pre-52, the Hellblazer comics, if for no other reason than Hellblazer ran for 300 issues and the new Constantine is — I know it’s less than 20. They’re just not the body of work that exists in terms of what we’re influenced by.
Cerone: Yes. If I can jump in on that part, David is completely right. We have the whole Constantine cannon at our disposal in terms of storytelling. We do look to the newer issues to see if there are interesting story ideas for us or stories that we can use or adopt.
One of the most fascinating things about Constantine to me is that it was the longest-running comic book series. According to my understanding of any imprint of any comic book publisher, in its 30-year run it was never rebooted, it was never renumbered, it was never reissued. It just stayed in continuous publication as a guy who aged on the page, in real-time. And I just think that makes him such a unique character.
What we’re doing on our show is going back to beginning. We’re basically meeting [him at] roughly the same time that you met him in Hellblazer in the very first issue. And what’s great is that we’re choosing an entry point where the character is young and all those adventures are ahead of him and we hope to dramatize as many of them as we possibly can.
Can you talk about the balance between appealing to the comic fans while introducing this story to viewers who know nothing about this world?
Cerone: I actually feel like we’re tipping closer to creating the show for the non-fan than the fan. Every week [we] introduce a danger and characters that you can relate to and care for and, at the same time, we’re trying to spin out this central character of John Constantine as someone who is full of aches and pain and guilt and torment. He is going about doing something because he feels personally compelled to do it.
You don’t have to know of the character Papa Midnite. You don’t have to know about The Newcastle Crew. You don’t have to know about Felix Faust or Doctor Fate or any of these elements that we’re using to enjoy the show. Every week, we’re just trying to tell the most honest and accessible and humanistic stories that we possibly can. But there’s an added layer on top of that for the comic book fan where if you know the world, if you know John Constantine, if you know Hellblazer, if you know some of the iconic images and people on the DC world, it’s value added. It’ll provide that much more entertainment and fun.
Any final thoughts?
Cerone: [Tonight] is the closest thing if you want to see the comic book on screen … so we’re pretty psyched about it.
We’ll have more from this call before next week’s episode, which marks the introduction of Jim Corrigan (The Spectre).
Image Courtesy of NBC