As originally posted at Digital Webbing, archived here

DWI: SAMSON COMICS/NANOSAUR QUESTIONAIRE

1. HOW DID SAMSON COMICS DECIDE ON AND THEN ACQUIRE THE RIGHTS TO
NANOSAUR FROM APPLE COMPUTER AND PANGEASOFT?

PC: Well, it was the darndest thing! I've always been a PC user as opposed to the Apple computer but my last computer was always freezing up and crashing that my wife and daughter refused to use it. I felt the only fair thing to do was to get them a simple to operate goof-proof computer. The iMac had been out for over a year and I heard it was very user friendly. My daughter loved the styling and color so she got right into it. I was perfect for them. Now I sound like a Mac commercial. I should get paid for this...what do ya say Steve Jobs? Well, when we got the iMac home we discovered it came
pre-configured with this neat little dinosaur game. It was a pretty cool 3-D action / adventure game starring the "Nanosaur." I think it was the first video game my daughter ever played. Well after a month of playing it on and off I went to the Pangeasoft website, which developed the game to find out more about it. I ended up finding out some secret tricks to get more power and ammo and finally was able to master that game...yeah, I brought it to it's knees...yeah, I'm real bad.
After I celebrated my victory with a glass of milk I got this crazy idea that Nanosaur could make a cool comic book. I had been on hiatus from publishing comics to produce a feature film comedy, which is coming out in January at the Sundance Film Festival, incidentally. I just decided that Nanosaur might be an interesting project to start the company back up on. So I called Brian Greenstone at Pangeasoft and we struck up a conversation about my ideas for a Nanosaur comic book and he agreed it sounded like a
good idea. It sounded simple enough. Just adapt the premise and action of the game to a comic book. Oh, is that all?! Almost two years, three comic artists and five writers later, we finally have a Nanosaur comic book. But what a book it is! Brian couldn't believe how cool we could make his dinosaur look. If Nanosaur were alive today that's how he would look. And what a bad @$$ he is, thanks to Rich Bonk!

2. HOW HARD IS IT TO LAUNCH A NEW TITLE AND GATHER SUCH A GROUP OF TALENTED INDIVIDUALS AS YOU HAVE HERE?

PC: Well, like I mentioned earlier, two years, three artists and five writers later and we have a book. It's that hard sometimes. We had a lot of dead-end storylines and guys who just couldn't stick with the project. If it weren’t for Kevin Conrad, our fab inker, this project would have been tanked. Kevin, had intro'd me to Rich Bonk several years before when he was penciling and inking a Samson story from right out of the Bible. He had a real nice story telling style even back then. It was a more mature type of style and I was pretty impressed. Well, it turns out that Rich is a bit of a Dino-nut and Kevin tells me that I've got to give him a shot. So I did and I have to tell you I've never regretted doing so. Rich puts 100% into every page he does and made the book what it is. He really deserves all of the credit. If this book becomes a hit, Rich will certainly deserve the lion's share of the credit. Thank you, senor Ricco! After landing Rich the rest was easier...Kevin Conrad slowly got reeled in by Rich to ink the cover and half of the pages for us as well as the logo design (major props to Kevin)! Then Kevin got Todd Broeker, who was coloring Spawn, the Dark Ages, to color the book. And the final nut to crack was bringing in Steve Niles at the 11th hour to help streamline the script. It really reads like something out of science fiction. I can't wait for the next issue to come out. Oh, and by the way, the team is rounded out by Steve O'Connell, a Brooklyn-born kid to knock out the lettering.

3. OKAY. WHAT’S THE LOWDOWN ON NANOSAUR? TELL ME ABOUT THE BOOK AND WHAT WE CAN EXPECT FROM IT?

PC: I think Todd and Steve can answer this one. TB: From the start, this was a difficult story to tackle, because you have sort of a Planet of the Apes thing going on with the dinosaurs communicating with one another, and you've got this raptor with a gun that gets sent back in time. We didn't want this story to come across as being completely unbelievable and cheesy, so Peter agreed with my concept of having the dinosaurs communicate much like the raptors do in Jurassic Park, with sounds, and then have narrative type boxes that translate for the reader. Steve O'Connell has worked with us to come up with a system of word boxes that will make it easy to follow. The next hurtle was coming up with an intriguing story that goes beyond the basic premise of the iMac game of this Nanosaur getting dropped back in time to collect dino DNA, in the form of eggs, before the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs hits. I came up with some elements to make each character have their own personality, to make the dinosaurs more interesting. Animals do have personalities, so genetically advanced dinosaurs should be more interesting than the reptiles portrayed on the big screen, which are more like monsters than creatures we feel empathy for. There are also other elements to the story that this first issue just begins to touch on, such as betrayal, internal struggle, and survival. There are a lot of great elements to this story that we want to play with, like what happens in the future to the dinosaur skeletons of the dinos that the Nanosaur has shot in the past, what is causing this wide-spread disease that's killing the dinosaurs, and what really happened to allow the dinosaurs to rule again in the future? I was grateful that Steve Niles agreed to help me streamline this first issue script, because through our discussion we came up with some other concepts that, if sales support the book, could keep Nanosaur going with several mini-series.

4. WHAT’S THE SECRET TO HAVING A DINOSAUR PROTAGONIST WITH A GUN AVOID BEING JUST PLAIN HOKEY?

PC: Todd?....Steve?
TB: I guess, I knew it was part of the game because I've played it on my wife's iMac, so I
really didn't think much about the "dinosaur with a gun" issue. That is, until I read some
feedback on the Ozcomics.com site in response to some art Kevin posted on a message board over a month ago. Because a majority of computer users have PCs (their loss), a lot of people haven't heard of Nanosaur, so I could understand from their perspective, this was a goofy idea--"why would an ass-kicking dinosaur need a gun?" I think the story justifies this necessity by showing the urgency of the Nano's mission and the dinosaurs he comes up against. He doesn't have time fight off each dinosaur, and his survival is essential to the future of his species. In fact, we play with his internal conflict over having to kill his own kind. But a gun is the easiest way to fight off an attack by a T-Rex or Spinosaurus, a fight he would surely lose in a "hand-to-hand" fight. I think the story makes that element work so the reader isn't distracted by it. It also makes for a really cool visual.

5. WILL FANS NOT FAMILIAR WITH THE VIDEO GAME BE ABLE TO PICK UP THE BOOK AND ENJOY IT?

PC: Absolutely! The story line is so far developed over the game's original premise that it really stands on it's own and is such an intriguing concept. Todd?....Steve?

TB: Oh, definitely! I think, anyone who loves dinosaurs (99% of the male population),
sci-fi, and great comic art will really get into and enjoy this book. We're putting so much
more into the story than what you get with the game (no slight to the game--it's a cool game, but the action is what drives a game, not the story) that I think readers will be hooked. I think the video game element just enhances the project, giving it more validity as an existing property, like making a movie about Doom or Quake. If you handle the story right, it should be able to stand on its own, which I think Nanosaur definitely does.

6. ISN’T IT A BIT DAUNTING TO LAUNCH A NEW INDEPENDENT SERIES IN SUCH TURBULENT TIMES FOR THE COMIC INDUSTRY?

PC: Daunting maybe, but it's still a lot of fun. Ask these guys and they'll tell you they love what they're doing. The hardest part is still the financing. Nobody outside the industry really takes comics seriously. So it can be a pretty hard sell but they are all amazed at how far the artwork and coloring in comics has come. I'd wager that it's one of the most artistic and creative industries in the world today. I really enjoy that aspect of comics.
For the independent comic publisher, it's even tougher to get respect from the distributor and storeowners. They've seen more independent companies come and go than McFarlane has repaints (repainted action figures)...yeah, that's about right. So, it's an uphill climb to get in the distributor catalogue let alone rack up orders from the retailers. Fortunately, Samson Comics has a very good track record for publishing its books. We have never been late, and we have always published what we solicited. The major difference is that this time around we have some decent financing to advertise the
book and also that have a property that has high visibility from the Apple market. Having top pros like Rich, Kevin, Todd and Steve also makes a difference!

7. WHAT DOES EACH OF YOU FIND TO BE THE MOST ENJOYABLE ABOUT WORKING ON THIS PARTICULAR PROJECT?

PC: Just getting the chance to do this project with Rich and Kevin and making new friends with Todd and Steve was really nice. These guys are real pros and my special thanks to Rich and Kevin who went above and beyond from start to finish.
TB: Ever since I bought James Gurney's Dinotopia, I've wanted to get involved with a project as visually stunning as his brilliant illustrations are. I never imagined it would be in comic form with such a talented group of people. Although I really enjoy working on dinosaur art, what has been the most enjoyable is working with these guys. I've worked with Kevin on and off for about seven years, and he's the one who brought me into this project. It's great working with him, and it’s been a privilege working with and getting to know Rich and Peter, and now Steve O'Connell. So, I can't thank Kevin enough for getting me involved with Nanosaur. It's going to be a very exciting book.

KC: I truly haven’t had this much fun inking a project since working with Clayton Crain on Psycho Circus. Rich and I have become close friends in the few years that I’ve known him. We usually work together at my studio at least once a week. It’s great to be able to bounce ideas off of each other and to be able to critique each others work while in the same room! This can be a very lonely business with everyone involved spread across the continent. Having someone to work with can really get the creative juices flowing. Also, being able to bring in people like Todd and Steve Niles, people that I’ve been working with, just rounds out the whole project. These guys are pros, and you know what you can expect from them; they don’t disappoint.

8. RICH AND TODD: IT SEEMS THAT NANOSAUR SEES BOTH OF YOUR
PROFESSIONAL DEBUTS, AS PENCILER AND WRITER, RESPECTIVELY. ANY PRESSURE TO PROVE YOURSELVES THIS FIRST TIME OUT AS A TEAM WHO KICKS BUTT AND TAKES NAMES?

TB: Oh, yeah. To clarify, though, I didn¹t actually write this first issue. Back when Peter and I had our first "getting to know you" conversation, which lasted about 2 hours, I think on your bill, right, Peter? Anyway, we talked at great length about some of our ideas and hopes for comic stories. By the end of our conversation, Peter asked me if I¹d like to take a crack at rewriting the first issue of Nanosaur. I agreed, but it became a difficult task because the art was already done and Rich had done a great job of scripting the last two thirds of the book. Basically, my role with this first issue was to rework it into a more solid, intriguing story. Then, because I really want this issue to be solid out of the gate, I asked Steve Niles to give the script a read and edit it the way he thought it should be. Thankfully, he did, because I think he really tightened it up to read better. Because there is a great deal of pressure to succeed, I felt having a seasoned writer that I've worked with, contribute his experience to make a really solid product, is essential in today's market. So, I can¹t take credit for all the writing. The changed concept is my vision of where I thought the story should go, but the script is as much Rich¹s and Steve's as it is mine. Because we are such a tight-knit team, Peter and Kevin also contributed quite a bit. The next issue will be entirely from scratch, allowing us more freedom. I'm just glad Peter has given me the opportunity to spread my wings a little.

9. KEVIN: FOR SOMEONE WHO ONLY PLANNED TO INK A COVER, YOU’VE DONE MUCH MORE, FROM DESIGNING THE NANOSAUR LOGO TO BECOMING THE TITLE’S INKER ALONGSIDE RICH BONK. WHAT ABOUT THE PROJECT DREW YOU IN SO?

KC: I’ve loved Dinosaurs ever since I can remember. After I saw what Rich could do with them, I had to ink the cover. If time allowed, I would’ve inked the entire book. As long as Rich is penciling the second issue, I’m inking the entire thing this time! As far as the logos go, I used to be a graphic artist before I got into comics, so I offered to redesign the Samson logo and bring Pete’s company into the twenty-first century. Designing the Nanosaur logo was the next logical step. To Todd’s credit, he created the final color versions that you see on the site.

10. WHAT DO YOU ALL HOPE TO GET OUT OF THIS ENDEAVOR? ANY GOALS, BOTH PERSONAL AND GENERAL?

PC: I'd settle for fame and fortune but failing that a hot Lamborghini or a tricked out Hummer. Steady fellas. Seriously, I think we all want to see "Nanosaur" really take off and allow this team the opportunity to work and gel together for a good stretch. Hopefully, the comic community will embrace us and enable us to produce entertaining comics for a very long time.

KC: My main goal in getting involved with this project is to get Rich recognized as a penciling force in the industry. He could’ve inked the entire thing himself and kicked ass on it. After all, I trained him (SFX – me patting myself on the back)! But if my name has any draw at all, I’m hoping it might bring in some of my fans to buy this book. And with Todd and now Steve connected to the book, only more good could come of it. Secondly, I’ve known Pete for a number of years now, and I would really like to see him put out a book that can compete with anything else out there; cover to cover. And believe me, this stands up to anything else that’s out there!

TB: Personally, I hope to branch out into other aspects of comics other than color, such as creator-owned projects, writing, and property development. Generally, I hope Nanosaur is a big success, so we can do more issues and other projects. We all enjoy working together so much, that we've been discussing ideas for other comics we could produce. I'd really like to see Samson become a major publisher during this shaky period in the industry. That would be a really cool thing to see, to show that quality and persistence can pay off.

 

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