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Credit: SYFY

Behind Vagrant Queen's journey from comic pages to TV screens

Contributed by
Mar 24, 2020

Last month, SYFY rolled out its newest trailer and official poster for Vagrant Queen, the network's upcoming female-fronted space-opera series. The show is an adaptation of Vault Comics' 2019 cult hit, written by Eisner and GLAAD Award-nominated Mags Visaggio, with artwork courtesy of Jason Smith.

The 10-episode Vagrant Queen series, which premieres on Friday, March 27, stars Adriyan Rae, Alex McGregor, Tim Rozon, and Paul du Toit in a rollicking saga that follows Elida, a former child queen. When she was just 10 years old, Elida was ripped from her throne, destined to wander the galaxy while evading hostile revolutionary forces that desperately want her dead.

When an old acquaintance claims to know the location of the royal outcast's missing mother, Elida reluctantly returns to her home kingdom to attempt a dangerous rescue.

SYFY WIRE recently sat down with Vault Comics' founders, siblings Adrian and Damian Wassel, at their Missoula, Montana, headquarters to discuss the process of seeing their beloved hit comic go from page to screen and working with creator/showrunner Jem Garrard.

Credit: SYFY

What was the genesis of this project, and how did its path from comic page to small screen evolve?

Damian Wassel: When Adrian acquired Vagrant Queen editorially back in 2017, we immediately saw this as a title with a lot of multimedia potential. Blue Ice, the production company that’s co-producing this with SYFY, reached out to us out of the blue, but typically things we’ve sold on the film and TV side are things we’ve put a lot of legwork into packaging.

They came to us with a lot of interest in [Vagrant Queen] and a really clear vision, and we were excited to get into business with them. It’s come together more easily and more quickly than anyone could reasonably expect a television show to come together. Everybody involved has been absolutely phenomenal to work with.

Adrian Wassel: Jem [Garrard], who is showrunning, just had an absolute vision for the show. She picked up the comic when it first came out, fell in love with it, developed a great relationship with Blue Ice, and has a good relationship with us and with Mags, who writes the comic.

And it’s been nice to see how collaborative the whole process has been, but also how she’s been spearheading it. We couldn’t be happier with the casting. Adriyan Rae and Tim Rozon, in the two leads as Elida and Isaac, have been super supportive of the book already on social media, which has been great for the creators and the profile of the comic itself.

Credit: Vault Comics

What was it like handing over adaptation rights to your property, and what were your hopes and concerns?

Damian: Ultimately, in the long run, I think Vault, like many other companies, would like to position itself to act as a production company or co-studio on content that we’re developing. But everybody has to start somewhere, and in this case they came to us with such a clearly conceived and faithful vision that it really didn’t feel like we were relinquishing creative control so much as passing the reins to someone who knew exactly how to drive the carriage.

We've been meaningfully consulted at every step of the process. I’m an executive producer of the production contractually, but also because Lance [Saumels] and Sam [Levine], who run things over at Blue Ice, are genuinely great people, they’ve made more efforts than were strictly necessary to consult us on things, and to consult Mags and Jason as well.

How do you see the tone and style of the comic translating across mediums?

Adrian: This is always the dream, right? You hope that whenever you see this type of multimedia development that it’s in honor of the original content, and this very much is. The tone of the series is perfect. The cast loves the book. And [we launched] a second arc in January of 2020. We’re really excited to get more Vagrant Queen comics into people’s hands in advance of the show.

Credit: Blue Ice Pictures/SYFY

Can you tell us a bit about the new Vagrant Queen: A Planet Called Doom miniseries that premiered in January?

Adrian: Mags and Jason, the creators, had this really fun idea to take this quick break between the first chapter and the second, where we pick up with Elida and she is living the ideal life — she’s finally found a place where she is at home. She’s no longer a vagrant queen.

And then this new threat, this fanatical order that’s obsessed with her as queen, comes to try and reinstate her on the throne. So the first arc is all about her running and avoiding and trying not to be a queen. And the second one is now the antagonists want to put her back on the throne that she never wanted anything to do with.

No matter how far she runs, or how stable her life becomes, her past and her lineage as being royalty always catches up with her. I don’t want to spoil too much about these new bad guys, but they’re really cool — they have some pretty interesting powers.

Credit: Vault Comics

How did you react seeing that first teaser for SYFY’s Vagrant Queen?

Adrian: I was thrilled. I was sitting at home on my couch all by myself and had no one to share that moment with. We were all thrilled. I thought, wow, this is incredible! Tonally it’s perfect, it hits the nail on the head. And it was just great to see the fan reaction to it right away.

Tim Rozon brings such diehard fandom, and they were all immediately engaged, which then spurred a lot of new people to come check it out. And obviously we’ve already seen a nice spike in book sales, which has been great for everyone involved. The overwhelming reaction to the teaser was positivity and elation to see those first images.

Damian: I think that it’s really hard to separate what I know about the production, having read all the screenplays, from the experience of seeing that teaser for the first time. So I tried my best to imagine what it would be like to see it and would it make me want to watch the show.

Ultimately I thought it was a great teaser and a really effective marketing tool. I’m a huge fan of Tim’s from Schitt’s Creek, so it's hard for me to watch anything that he’s in without a smile on my face.

Vagrant Queen premieres this Friday, March 27, at 10 p.m. ET on SYFY.

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