‘I Kill Giants’: Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura on Bringing Their Award-Winning Story to the Screen

     March 20, 2018

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Opening this weekend is a film that might just be your dark horse candidate for “Best Comic Book Adaptation of the Year.” No, it’s not one of the stories of caped superheroes hailing from either Marvel or DC Comics, nor is it a big-budget production from a major studio. But the fact that I Kill Giants might not yet be on your radar actually plays to the smaller film’s benefit because there’s a much better chance you’ll be surprised by the story’s heart, imagination, and incredibly compelling characters. You can get a hint of what you’re in store for in this tale of magical realism by checking out this exclusive clip and the film’s trailer.

The talent behind the story started with writer Joe Kelly, part of the wildly successful media company Man of Action, and co-creator/illustrator J.M. Ken Niimura whose Eisner Award-nominated, limited series Image Comics run began 10 years ago. Now, it’s a major motion picture helmed by Oscar-winner Anders Walter (Helium), and starring Madison Wolfe alongside Zoe SaldanaImogen Poots, Sydney Wade, and Jennifer Ehle in a stellar, nearly all-female cast. I had a chance to chat with Kelly and Niimura about their story’s journey to the big screen and how it evolved along the way, plus more about their upcoming projects.

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Image via Image Comics

First of all, congratulations on the movie! I found it to be a highly entertaining fantasy adventure that deftly walked the line between the magical and the real, similar to stories like Where the Wild Things Are.

Joe Kelly: Thank you! We’re very proud of the film and all of the hard work that everyone put into it. You hear it said all the time, but making I Kill Giants truly was a labor of love.

For the both of you, what was your reaction to seeing the finished film?

Ken Niimura: It’s been a long production, and the movie business is a tough world, so you never know if it’ll really be finalized at any point, so we tried hard not to get too excited about the idea. It was only when the lights went out that I actually realized – they had made a movie based on our comic!

Also, it’s only when you watch the final version that everyone (actors, crew…) can really see what the filmmaker was going for. I was really moved and respect Anders’ vision a lot.

Kelly: It’s been a long-time dream of mine to see one of my scripts brought to life in film, so that fact that I Kill Giants was the one that made it to the finish line was the cherry on top. I love the film. Much like the book, I think that it’s unexpected and really rewards the audience for going on Barbara’s journey. I can’t wait for folks to experience it.

Was it always your intention to bring the story of I Kill Giants to the big screen?

Niimura: Joe had been working on the comic at the same time as the movie script, but personally, I wasn’t really thinking about it – we had a whole comic to create!

Kelly: When I first had the idea for the story I was obsessed with it. After writing the comic, since I didn’t have an artist at the time, I dove right in to a screenplay version. The funny thing is that over the years, the notes I received on the film script made their way into the comic and vice versa, so I probably did a half-dozen drafts before the book was drawn.

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