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RCCC ’19: Stumptown Cast and Crew Talk Adapting Greg Rucka’s Comic For the Big Screen

September 16, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
ABC Stumptown

Greg Rucka’s Eisner-nominated comic Stumptown is coming to the small screen next week on ABC, and the cast and crew was at Rose City Comic Con to promote the Portland-set series. ABC held the premiere screening of the series’ first episode at the convention on Sunday, and Rucka, series creator Jason Richman, executive producer Matt Olmstead were in attendance, along with cast members Michael Ealy (Detective Miles Hoffman), Camryn Manheim (Lieutenant Cosgrove), Cole Sibus (Ansel), Tantoo Cardinal (Sue Lyn Blackbird), and Adrian Martinez (Tookie).

Stumptown is based on Rucka’s comic book and centers on Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders), a private investigator in Portland with a messy personal life and a penchant for complicated cases. Around her are a few friends and allies – her brother Ansel, who has Down’s syndrome, as well as her friend Grey and Hoffman, who in the comic is a woman. She works and butts heads with Sue Lynn, an indigenous woman who runs the local tribal casino, as well as the police who don’t have time for dealing with a private investigator that they think will muck up their cases.

The pilot that screened at RCCC follows the main story beats of Rucka’s first volume of the series, titled “The Case of the Girl Who Took Her Shampoo But Left Her Mini.” While the essence of the comic is absolutely ingrained in the episode and fans of the book will enjoy what’s on the screen, there are several changes to the source material. Speaking with press in the post-screening Q&A, Rucka explained why that’s necessary.

“Writing a comic is a very different thing than writing any performance medium,” he said. “When you are engaging in a performance medium — television, a play, a screenplay — every part has to be fully accounted for. In a comic, I have the luxury of saying, ‘It’s Dex’s story.’ So by definition, almost every character is a secondary character. Now, they may get more or less screen time, right? And I want to give them their due. But they are, because the nature of the medium and the nature of that storytelling, the focus stays mostly on Dex.”

He continued, “When you watch the pilot, yeah you’re following Dex’s journey. But you know, Grey comes in a scene, Ansel comes into a scene, Sue Lynn, Cosgrove. All of these characters come in, they are all coming in as their own thing. They have to carry their own story all the way through. And that has to be accounted for, not just in the performance. It is unfair to say to Cole or Adrian, or anybody, ‘Here’s all the heavy lifting, do it yourself,’ right? Jason and Matt have to account for that as well. And that’s radically — I mean, that’s a different demand.

Richman said of the changes, “The natural progression is it sort of takes on a life of it’s own. But it’s inspired by the characters that Greg laid out, and there’s a reason for that. Because I fell in love with those people, so I thought, ‘Oh, let’s make this a show.”

Rucka noted that “the changes that have been made are all logical, good, additive changes. And what the performances across the board that I’m seeing, it’s just — to put it another way, Jason hasn’t done anything that I’ve seen as or been like, ‘That doesn’t fit. That’s not Stumptown.’ It’s all flawlessly Stumptown.”

I asked Richman if the show would continue the first episode’s form of loosely following the comic or would go in its own direction. He said, “It goes in its own direction, but there’s you know, even in the pilot episode which borrows from this great work that Greg had laid out. And that’s what an adaptation is. And we can expect similar sort of things from some of the other stories that he laid out. We always have those up as things to be inspired by and roads to go down.”

You can check out the full video of the press Q&A below, which in which the cast and crew talk about bringing a character like Sue Lynn to television, the diversity of the cast, why Rucka said that a certain antagonist’s backstory had to be cut for the series and much more. Stumptown premieres on September 25th at 10 PM ET/PT on ABC.

article topics :

ABC, Stumptown, Jeremy Thomas