Tom Dell’Aringa does the comic Marooned, which appears on his website, although he also creates and offers print collections for interested buyers. I read some of it (quite a bit, actually), liked it, and immediately asked him if he’d like to be interviewed. He almost immediately agreed, and I almost immediately interviewed him.
This, then, is the dramatic conclusion of my interview with the creator of Marooned, a comic about a man and a snotty robot who are stranded on Mars…
Note: This interview does contain some spoilers. You may want to go tohttp://www.maroonedcomic.com/ and just read it all first.
Park Cooper: So now tell me about yourself for a little while. You create a comic. That’s geeky. I can say that because I’m on the same team.
Tom Dell’Aringa: Yeah, I’m a bit of a nerd, so my wife says.
Right on 🙂
PC: Anything else geeky you’re involved in? Video games, RPGs, tv, movies, anime, manga…? Not making, I mean, just fan of…?
TD’A: I love animation and animated movies – as long as they are good. So I’m a huge Pixar nerd. I like certain kinds of Anime, but not the run of the mill junk. Voices of a Distant Star is my fave in that genre. Don’t watch too much TV other than sports, but I love Avatar: The Last Airbender. Watch it with my daughters, and we can’t wait for the next series to start. I have an XBox but don’t play it much. Believe it or not it’s mainly for work research. And as a kid, I was a total D&D nerd. In fact, I was the DM all the time, which might explain why I love world creation for Marooned. I read a LOT of Sci/Fi and Fantasy, too. I’ve read Tolkien’s LOTR close to 40 times.
PC: Oh ho! A gamer!
…That’s a lot of page-hours, on LOTR
TD’A: I like games of all sorts quite a bit.
I know, it’s crazy. I used to read it a couple times a year. Then I stopped for awhile. Now about 1x a year.
PC: Reading LOTR when I was a kid took me, I don’t know, a couple of months maybe.
Yeah, that sounds about right.
TD’A: Ah, I’d knock it out in a few weeks, tops. I still remember reading book 3 of Barbrara Hambly’s Time of the Dark series in one sitting – an all nighter – because I couldn’t put it down.
PC: Well I was probably 13 or so, you see what I mean. Had to split time with games on the Intellivision and the Apple II
TD’A: Yeah haha. Loved Intellivision football
PC: So what’s the future for you and Marooned? What does your wife think of all this geekery? Do your children read Marooned? It’s not very R-rated, really… that I can think of…
TD’A: Well, good question. My hope has always been to make something of it. I would like to be able to do it for years and years, if it makes sense. I would like for it to become financially independent. I don’t need to make a living at it. But it would be great to see positive cash flow. That could really help. But mainly, I enjoy doing it. And as long as that is true, I’ll do it.
I love making comics and I love making books.
And my wife thinks I’m nuts. But she is very, very supportive.
She laughs at me all the time when I draw weird stuff. Then she walks away saying “man, there’s something wrong with you!” But it’s all in good fun.
Marooned is made for all-ages. My kids love it, and I do it as much for them as anyone else. But Marooned is NOT “dumbed down” for kids. I think if something is done right, it doesn’t have to be. That’s why most of my fans are adults.
PC: Well that’s cool… do your children ever tell you what should happen next?
TD’A: They don’t try and tell me, but they always try and get hints about what’s coming up, and I never tell them. It drives them nuts!
PC: Is the little gal in the comic… I notice a sort of paternal relationship going on there.
TD’A: Yeah, Ril, the Martian girl. She is definitely an amalgam of my two daughters.
PC: Yeah, that’s what I was hinting.
I’m really intrigued by this [LARGE SPOILER ALERT] sabotage that’s going on from back home
TD’A: Ah the sabotage. I’ll tell you what I sabotaged – my own story!
PC: Which is the perfect segue to talking more about writing…oh did you? Tell me more
TD’A: As I said, Marooned began as a creative outlet. So there was no overarching story at first. It was kind of a gag strip. But I tired of that quickly, and I didn’t feel it was my strength at the time. So I began crafting the larger story, but I was doing it as I went along, without any real planning. So, I’m still paying for that today with loose ends and troublesome little bits and pieces.
PC: I seeeee
TD’A: In fact, that’s been part of the problem in writing the next story. The sabotage stuff could have went any number of ways – and in fact did – until I finally settled on the story that Hogan and Lian figure out. That means I had to make some decisions. And those decisions affected other things that happened – like the appearance of Bob and what he did with the Time Cube. That becomes troublesome if I want to go back and revisit some of that stuff – which might be great to do. I have to make sure everything makes sense in the big picture. And that’s been tricky because of my ill preparedness early on. So at this point, it makes a lot of sense to try and just move forward with the story. Bob is a great character, and I would love to revisit him. I’m just not sure exactly how to make it work right.
PC: Hmm. So. John Carter of Mars. And so on. Read all those, have we? Or at least the first three?
TD’A: I’ve read the first John Carter, and I did like it. I read it after I began Marooned.
I like certain Golden Age stuff, but I must admit a lot of it just feels either too dated or poorly written compared to the real great modern stories. For example, I have a paperback of Isaac Asimov’s greatest short stories. There’s some really awful, awful writing in them. And Marooned isn’t hard sci-fi, as I’m sure you noticed. It’s character-driven.
PC: Well okay, that’s the perfect segue: what’s your FAVORITE book? Sci-fi or otherwise
TD’A: Well, it has to be LOTR as a whole. But it’s hard to pick one favorite book, or even series, when you read so much. I’d put Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series up there too. I’ve read those probably 6-7 times. And that’s some heavy reading.
PC: Covenant got wayyyy too depressing for me. A Man Rides Through was fun though.
TD’A: Yeah, many people say that about Covenant. The current series is very dark in fact.
PC: Fave movie?
TD’A: Incredibles. But again, I could pick many.
PC: Music? do you listen to music while you create?
TD’A: Yes, and in fact I play the guitar, too. I’m a fan of the Czech composer Tomas Dvorak’s work, specifically I love the soundtrack to the game Machinarium. I listen to that often when doing comics. Also love to listen to Vince Guaraldi while doing comics 🙂 Or Rush.
PC: Well ain’t you a cultural demiurge
TD’A: lol…Well you can blame Steve Ogden, he turned me on to Dvorak.
PC: TV? Fave show? Present OR past
TD’A: The only thing in recent TV history I’ve really watched other than Avatar (and admittedly, iCarly with my kids) is LOST. My wife and I loved it, and watched it all. So I’d say LOST.
PC: Video game?
TD’A: Hmm. I might stump you with this one. Planetfall. Although technically, not a videogame.
PC: Ohhhhh. THAT’s why his name is Floyd.
PC: “Ooooo, this is a tiny room.”
TD’A: I’ve just fallen in love with you, dude.
PC: Floyd’s bot even kind of
has a design similar to Floyd’s in my head!
TD’A: That is EXACTLY why his last name is Floyd. His name is John Floyd, actually 🙂 Lian’s bot, Hogan, is actually more Floyd-like though. He’s an earlier model.
PC: Yes, I noticed the older-looking model.
TD’A: Purely video game, I love Galaga… Many newer games miss out on the genius of simplicity of the older games.
PC: Dude I played Planetfall to the point where I kept dying because I couldn’t get the timing of shooting the amoeba with the laser right
TD’A: Yeah man, I hear that!
PC: And yes I do count Planetfall as a video game. Unless we want to count it as a role-playing game. I’m not sure that would be inaccurate. I think it’s both
TD’A: That game was an experience – and they don’t make real experiences like that anymore. You got the printed out stuff and the ID card and all that. Great fun. Great times.
Yeah, maybe both.
In that genre, of course Zork was great, and Hitchiker’s Guide.
PC: You can take another look at the funny stuff Planetfall came with online if you look. The three postcards, the Spacefleet Recruiting Questionnaire
TD’A: Oh I have, believe me. 🙂
PC: Zork was hard. Harder than King’s Quest.
PC: As for Hitchhikers, I could never make the tea on the ship. It was great until I got stuck though
TD’A: Another great series was Heroes of Might & Magic. And it became a pretty neat turn based strategy game too.
PC: You couldn’t look up walkthroughs online in those days. THERE WAS NO ONLINE
TD’A: Very true.
PC: I guess maybe if you worked at Norad
TD’A: Although you could buy the hint books. Yellow markers and all.
PC: Aw man I can just see two geeks, one in D.C. one deep inside Norad…sending each other digital mail asking each other what setting to turn the laser to in Planetfall… That is a hilarious concept for me
TD’A: And it probably happened, too.
PC: DUDE I KNOW
Okay last question I think: fave D&D character class
TD’A: Ooo good one.
PC: let’s go out on as geeky a note as possible
PC: And that’s my topper AND my closer
TD’A: I’d probably have to say Paladin.
PC: Nice. you know KoDT? The comic Knights of the Dinner Table??
TD’A: I think so – I think David Reddick does or has done stuff for them.
PC: Aw dude but you haven’t read ’em? You should try the early issues, I think you’d be hooked. There are plenty of collected editions.
TD’A: I’ll have to look those up.
PC: Lots and lots of amusement for you +5 Holy Avenger types
TD’A: Heh, great
PC: But writing, too. Very, very character-driven.
TD’A: Sounds fun.
PC: Yeah. Are you on facebook? I haven’t looked yet
TD’A: Yeah, the comic is here
PC: Cool cool… I’ll be watching…
Next Time: Vampires and stuff