Talking Comics with Tim: Todd Dezago
With the Halloween-themed fun we’re having this week at Robot 666 (aka Robot 6)–it seemed like the perfect time to talk to Todd Dezago about the recently released Perhapanauts Halloween Spooktacular One-Shot (featuring stories drawn by the likes of Craig Rousseau, Rich Woodall and Fred Hembeck). Normally in an interview with Dezago, I would characterize him as one of the nicest folks in comics. But in the spirit of the Halloween season, I instead choose to characterize him as the most paranormal-fascinated person in comics. In addition to the one shot (with three stories in it)–we discuss other spooky topics like volleyball and iTunes. You are warned!
Tim O’Shea: Is it apt to say that Halloween is about your favorite time of the year, given your affinity for the paranormal?
Todd Dezago: Oh, Halloween definitely holds a special place in my heart, both for memories of Halloweens past and for the spooky, scary, creepy haunted element!
And I love that we were able to put together this fun and, hopefully, frightening anthology featuring very different artists on very different stories!
O’Shea: What’s the story behind the blog’s PERHAPANAUTS SCARY HALLOWEEN CONTEST?
Dezago: Craig and I have a very loyal following on the Perhapa-Blog–our Perhapa-Family–and it’s always a treat to get a chance to see them bringing their talents and creativity to the stage! The Perhapanauts Scary Halloween Contest is a chance for others to play with our team, to write or draw or do a comic page or two with the characters and show everyone else their stuff! And we have some very talented friends!
O’Shea: Do folks have to be regular Perhapanauts readers to enjoy this Halloween issue or can folks new to the characters enjoy it just as much?
Dezago: No, I think you can jump right in and don’t need to know anything about the team or the characters or the continuity to enjoy this. Hopefully, if you’re not familiar with The Perhapanauts, this issue will pique your curiosity enough to swing by the website and check them out.
O’Shea: Were there certain story shifts you were able to take with the characters in this Halloween setting that you would not normally attempt in the regular book’s continuity?
Dezago: Just doing separate stories apart from the continuity was refreshing. I’ve been so focused on the story arcs so much, building to finally be able to tell these kind of separate, solo, or side-stories–case files–that I now feel that the stories can finally take off from there! It’s more liberating! And more fun!
O’Shea: In terms of art, is this the first time you’ve worked with Fred Hembeck? Also how did the Mike Ploog cover come about?
Dezago: Fred and I have been friends for, like, forever! We’d played volleyball together for years and always wanted to work on some things together! This was our first chance to actually do a story together and, even though we’re pals, it was just so exciting to see him bring his own brand of magic and squiggly knees to the ‘Haps!
My pal, Roger Ash, hooked me up with Mike Ploog while he was interviewing Mike for his Modern Masters book. When Roger suggested we ask Mike for a cover, Craig and I were floored at the prospect, both of us being such huge fans of Mike’s work–Man-Thing, Werewolf by Night, Abadazad, The Stardust Kid…Mike was so very nice to talk with and exceeded our expectations with his wonderful cover!
O’Shea: How many comic pros do you play volleyball with?
Dezago: Back in the late 90s/early 2Ks, I played volleyball with a legendary group of comic book artists and writers every Tuesday night in the town of Woodstock. I had been at a small comics convention in Kingston and had been befriended by Ron Marz, Fred Hembeck, and Terry Austin and invited to join the group. When I got there I was stunned to see heroes like Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson were part of the gang too! We’d always play hard for a few hours and then go out and have dinner! It was great fun–fast-paced games and good times! I still play every Monday night with Jim, but the rest have all been scattered around the country now.
O’Shea: Other than this issue, of course, care to rank your favorite Halloween comic stories?
Dezago: Well, I’ve gotta go to that early 70s Batman story that was based, I’ve heard, mostly on a trip that a bunch of the young DC writers and artists (Bernie, Len Wein, Glynis Oliver, Denny O’Neil, I think…) took to Vermont for the Rutland Halloween Parade. It’s one of Denny and Neal’s stories–the one with the guy that dresses like the Grim Reaper–and it’s just so dark and moody! I also just love Keith Giffen and Ben Roman’s “i luv halloween” book that came out a couple years ago from Tokyo Pop. It’s both fun and creepy!
O’Shea: What’s the biggest challenge of orchestrating a project like this–with three different stories for one issue?
Dezago: Ha! It should have been a lot easier than it was! I initially had hoped to have this issue out last Halloween and thought it was gonna happen. But it ended up conflicting with our own schedule and continuity, so we pushed it to this year. The coordination was, in many ways, easier as we had three different artists working at once–it just meant having to shepherd each one along at it’s own rate. It all went relatively smoothly and, now that we’re shifting to a mini-series schedule, Craig and I intend to get the books out faster by bringing in more great artists for more great side-stories!
O’Shea: How long has the Perhapanauts been available through iTunes–and what’s response been like for the app?
Dezago: The Haps app (as Craig and I call it here in the Perhapa-Studios… : ) has been available for a few weeks now and we really haven’t heard about numbers on downloads and such. We’re just thrilled to have it out there and hope people will pick it up and show their friends! It–and Tellos–both look absolutely fantastic on the app and, as the issues play out, hopefully we can get more and more people showing their friends.
O’Shea: Unlike some creators, you seem to encourage folks to do fan fiction with the Perhapanauts-why?
Dezago: Our whole plan for the Perhapanauts from square one was to create a team of characters and a paradigm where we could tell really any kind of story we wanted. And, after 14 issues or so, we’ve finally maneuvered things to be able to do just that. In our last story arc, the Perhapanauts became the guardians of the Perhaps, our version of the nexus of all time and space and the doorway to every conceivable alternate reality, what if or elseworld. You wanna story where the Perhapanauts are in the old west…? We can do that! You wanna see the team visit medieval times…? That can happen! They have access to EVERYTHING! And so should YOU. We love to see other people’s versions of our gang and read other people’s stories to see where their imaginations want to take the Perhapanauts! It’s fun!
O’Shea: What’s ahead for the Perhapanauts series?
Dezago: We have a one-shot coming out in February or March called “Molly’s Story” which tells the tale of how our ghost became a ghost, written by Scott Weinstein and me and art by Jason Copland. It looks great! And then, a few months later, we’ll be kicking off the first official miniseries and the next story arc, The Perhapanauts: Fourshadowing, which will be both a great jumping on point and the revelation of quite a few of our long-standing mysteries. And that will be quickly followed by a three part anthology series called Tales From the Perhaps, full of fun short tales of this reality and beyond.