Settling in to a packed room at C2E2 in Chicago for Valiant’s Digital Panel on Saturday evening, there was quite the air of anticipation. Fans may have guessed they were going to have an opportunity to watch some footage they probably hadn’t seen yet for Valiant’s digital series, Ninjak vs. The Valiant Universe, and possibly hear more about what the company has planned for their heroes moving from the page to the screen.
Hunter Gorinson, Dinesh Shamdasani, and Josh Johns started off the panel. They introduced the idea of Valiant Digital, a division producing original content in live action. Johns said that growing characters and gaining larger audiences was something they knew that digital format could provide. They also wanted to work with digital creators who were passionate about their art. Working with Twitch and Youtube so far, they feel they’ve accomplished that.
One of their partners is Comicstorian, one of the biggest comic-based Youtube pages today with over a million subscribers. Benny Potter, the Comicstorian, joined the panel. He’s been working with Valiant for more than a year now. He’s also the founder and co-host of “The Weekly Pull”, which is one of iTunes’ most popular comics podcasts. Potter got into running a Youtube channel after time in the military, and decided to focus on comics after trying video games for awhile.
There’s a “versus” series where you pit different heroes against each other. One of those episodes is going to be X-O Manowar vs. Iron Man. There’s also going to be a traveling show where they “relive” events from the stories with new geek elements updating them. Some Valiant characters will be included. Comicstorian does different lengths of videos and formats. They do really short form that lasts for only 2 minutes, and they condensed origin stories into two minute animations, including Archer & Armstrong.
Talking about their partnership with Hyper RPG, Valiant discussed the upcoming season two of their gaming show with Zac Eubank called “Valiant’s Vanquished“. The show runs on Wednesday nights on Twitch. In Season Two, the show is going to be seeded with information leading up to Harbinger Wars 2.
Ninjak vs. The Valiant Universe, the first of its kind for Valiant, will have 6 episodes, is directed by Bat in the Sun Productions, and is coming in 2017. Bat in the Sun is run by father and son team of Aaron & Sean Schoenke.
Valiant showed the audience the trailer for the series and after going through the cast members, brought out Jason David Frank, aka Bloodshot, to applause. He showed off his Valiant leather biker jacket.
Gorinson pointed out that Frank is bringing Bloodshot to life for the first time, and that this must be daunting. However, Frank was a comic book collector, and has always wanted to play a comic book character. He recommended reading The Valiant if you’re new to the publisher.
Shamdasani asks how Frank “transforms” into character. Frank said he goes into “fight mode” and “ring mode” to become the warrior.
Gorinson asked what the choreography training was like for playing Bloodshot. Frank said he’s been training his whole life for this stuff, and like playing tennis, there’s a beat to follow. Working with Mike Rowe as Ninjak, they did a “master shot” with 56 moves, and making sure it “looked great” and “selling the shots” was a challenge, Frank said. Frank’s choreographer, Alvin, has worked on Daredevil and many other projects, he said. Frank is very excited by the whole product, including the production values that Bat in the Sun is bringing to the project.
Valiant then showed unreleased footage of Michael Rowe as Ninjak, particularly to show off the fight scenes and the unique fighting styles developed for the digital series. Johns said that the plot will follow Ninjak retrieving an artifact from the Valiant Universe, having to face his former friends, one by one, as he works for the wrong side under duress.
Talking about the time when they first started filming, Frank said it was like “stepping off the comic page”. He’s been concerned to get every detail correct, and has been really pleased by the support of even “hard core Valiant fans”.
All the cast members have read the whole histories of their characters and bring that level of “authenticity” to their roles, Johns said.
Frank said the scenes fighting Ninjak put the “art” in “martial arts”.
Valiant showed some unreleased footage of Bloodshot in action with Frank encouraging the audience (effectively) to growl and snarl during the key moments of the fight scene. He said, after seeing it, that he wanted to “do it all again”.
There’s so much fans haven’t seen yet, and the fight scenes just “escalate”, Shamdasani said, and Johns added that Frank is in every single episode of the show, to applause.
Coming up in May, there will be Ninjak Vs. The Valiant Universe variant covers, including Ninjak and Eternal Warrior.
[A poster giveaway signed by Jason David Frank that audience members received after the panel]
During the Q & A, asked if Valiant will continue using Hoopla, a platform for local libraries, Shamdasani said that they certainly will be doing that.
Asked if Shadowman is going to appear in this series, Shamdasani said not only will you see Shadowman, but the show will go “straight to the deadside” and the current poster doesn’t even reflect the number of characters in the series.
Asked if Bloodshot will ever have his own spin-off series, there was plenty of applause.
John said this is not the only Valiant Digital project, and there will be more, so “nothing is off the table”.
Asked if Bloodshot has a red circle on his chest or just on his shirt, Shamdasani said we’d be finding out.
Frank joked that they need a sponsor in the beef jerky or protein bar market for the amount of protein Bloodshot needs to eat to regenerate in the show.
Asked what his training schedule is like, Frank said he can’t be on a comic con diet, which makes you too skinny, but he needs to eat a lot. There’s stuff that means hitting the gym or being leaner, but it’s just part of his “lifestyle”, Frank said.
Asked how long it takes to put the makeup for Bloodshot on over his many tattoos, Frank said that the first day it took at least 3 hours. There were just make up days before filming, Johns said, finding the right color. Now things are faster, down to about an hour and a half.
Asking if we’d see any Bloodsquirt, they joked that Johns would play Bloodsquirt. Frank is obsessed with Bloodsquirt and starts to do the voice on set when he’s getting into it. They promise to post a recording sometime.
Asked what other Valiant characters Frank might want to take on as Bloodshot, Valiant said that there will be lots of overlapping fights in the series, not just a beat-down set up. The story will call for more than that.
A fan asked “how much to let you kick me in the face?” to Frank. Frank said if he signs a waiver, he’ll do it.