Jeremy Bernstein Talks SANTA CLAUS: PRIVATE EYE, Hopes for a TV Adaptation, Who He Would Cast as Santa, and More

     November 18, 2014

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Jeremy Bernstein has had a diverse career to say the least, writing for video game properties such as Dead Space 2 and Pretty in Pink, and television in the form of the TNT show, Leverage.  Continuing this streak, Jeremy is teaming up with the digital comic book publisher, Thrillbent, to release his take on the world of private investigators, through the eyes of Santa Claus in Santa Claus: Private Eye.  That’s right, Jeremy’s latest endeavor finds old Saint Nick living in a grim noir fantasy piece, putting the skills he’s learned as the jolliest creature in fiction into the art of being a private dick.  Collider was able to sit down with Jeremy and talk about his latest endeavor as well as his background.  Hit the jump for our interview.

COLLIDER:  Jeremy, You’ve written for video games and television, do you find those both translate to comics, especially digital ones?

santa-claus-private-eye-5JEREMY BERNSTEIN:  I think it translates some, especially television which is such visual storytelling.  Video game writing focuses on action and player agency.  As a writer, you never quite know what the player is going to do.  You’re hoping that you craft a story which will match their player experience and hope to have much more control over the audience’s perspective.  When you’re playing a game, everyone is dealing with the same content.  Comics is so much more visual.  No actors or inflection.  A lot of how the word sounds comes from the reader.

Tell me about the relationship you have with your artist, Michael Dorman?

BERNSTEIN:  We meet remotely and he doesn’t live in LA.  We were close in contact the whole time and he really did amazing work.  Michael Dorman blew it out of the water.  I would write the scripts, and try to be very visual.  He would visualize whatever’s going on so I needed to take some extra detail in describing it in my writing for this over say Leverage.  I would send the scripts to him, and he would send me back layouts and send me back the inks.  Sometimes, he would veer off from what I had written in terms of what I had visualized and he offered such a better perspective.  It was a lot of fun back and forth.  It was really delightful.

How has it been working with Thrillbent?

santa-claus-private-eyeBERNSTEIN:  Phenomenal.  I’ve known John Rogers, another creator at Thrillbent, for years, who was my boss on Leverage and he got me into it.  It’s an incredibly nurturing presence as a writer.  Gave him a pitch, they loved it.  They are so interested in pushing the format and experimenting with what you can do with digital comics.  This story and its venue allow me to go to a number of places where I try to do something new with the new format.  With what I’m doing here, I couldn’t do it on paper comics, but I can on Thrillbent.

Santa Claus Private Eye.  How did this idea come about?

BERNSTEIN:  I wanted to do a supernatural detective series.  All of them have been done and I love them all.  What’s a supernatural character that hasn’t been done, I thought to myself?  Santa Claus! The more I started thinking about it, the more I liked it as Santa can break into places.  If he were going to moonlight, Private Eye is not the worst place for him.  Why is he moonlighting?  What would he do?  Here’s the guy that everyone thinks is so jolly.  What brings him good cheer?  What makes him jolly?  He might be a really depressed guy in his line of work.  I wanted to offer a more grounded take on the character and this really cemented it for me.

Where does Santa find himself?

BERNSTEIN:  Right at the start of Chapter 2, a woman enters his office.  Mrs. Julia Barton and she believes her husband has been murdered and wants Santa to investigate.  This acts as the core case for the run.  Once I had the noir detective plot, I wanted to see what would happen when I dropped Santa into this world.

What part of Santa’s world will we be seeing here?

santa-claus-private-eye-3BERNSTEIN:  In this first volume, not a supernatural detective solving crimes.  He’ll be dealing with ordinary people and dealing with their normal problems.  The supernatural world doesn’t intrude on him.  Mrs. Claus has a bit of appearance in Chapter 2 though.  I did want to eventually get to a story idea revolving around an interesting plot for the Tooth Fairy to run through.  I essentially wanted this to be a “Noir Trope”, in so much as it asks the question, “can you escape your past?” Could Santa Claus ever move past that?

Do you see any sequels coming down the pike?

BERNSTEIN:  See how this one does before we move into sequels.  I know what volumes 2 and 3 are, but beyond that, well we’ll have to see how this one does.

Do you see this making the small or big screen at some point?      

BERNSTEIN:  I would be delighted to have that happen.  That’s honestly secondary.  I was thinking about it for a TV series and quickly hit the point of saying that I want to make this story.  You can’t do a TV series by yourself.  You can self publish though.  I thought that I couldn’t let this be a script that will never see the light of day.  I turned to comics and did it that way and that way it gets out there.  If it turns out somewhere else then God bless.  It’s a dream come true, and it’s turned into everything I hoped it would be.

Who would you get to play your version of Santa in a TV show or movie?

santa-claus-private-eye-4BERNSTEIN:  Dean Norris.  Don’t know if I should say that will happen, but I want to see Dean Norris play Santa Claus.  Raymond Burr if he were still alive.

Anything else you’d like to discuss?

BERNSTEIN:  Just came off a TV series, The Librarians.  That will be airing in December.  Noah Wiley in a story similar to “Indiana Jones meets Doctor Who”.  It’s a “fun” version of X-Files – secret Organization keeping magical artifacts away from the public.  Can’t wait for people to see it.

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