A storyline that begins 64.9 million years ago and featuring anthropomorphic dinosaurs packing heat and battling a nebulous threat that could destroy everything? What’s not to love about Rexodus, a new offering from Dark Horse Publishing featuring a script written (with some help) by James Farr?
I had the great opportunity to spend a few minutes with James at the San Diego Comic Con discussing this highly entertaining tome in the press booth at Dark Horse Comics:
Bryan Stroud for Comics Bulletin: They’ve been giving you what looks like incredible support. I saw the…what would you call that?
Farr: The dinosaur?
CB: Yeah. The mannequin or static display or whatever you’d call it.
Farr: They’re so great. The creative team, Steelhouse Productions who helped produce the book, they set that dinosaur up. It’s a draw. A big draw.
CB: Have you been pleased with the way your scripts are being interpreted artistically?
Farr: Oh, yes. I definitely have to say Jon Sammariva, who has wound up doing the entire book…we just couldn’t be happier with the art that we got from him. He’s a genius. It looks absolutely beautiful. It’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen. It’s surreal that I was the one who got to write it. I couldn’t write anything that was too complicated or epic for this guy. Everything translated really well and we’re all extremely pleased.
CB: How exactly would you categorize the story? It’s almost like a mash-up, but yet it’s new.
Farr: It’s a bit of a love letter to just everything I love. The things most geeks love, so we’ve got our dinosaurs, we’ve got spaceships, we have magma-powered guns and technology and spaceships, so yeah, we kind of threw everything in but the kitchen sink. It’s pretty cool.
CB: I’m presuming it’s just a happy coincidence that the new Jurassic Park movie came out right about the same time as your book.
Farr: I’ll tell you, we were nervous about that a little bit. There’s a few drafts of that script that worried us a bit, but it wound up working out wonderfully. We’re all obviously huge Jurassic Park fans. We’re happy to see the new movie come out and are just glad that it coincided so nicely with the Rexodus book. Yay, dinosaurs!
CB: You bet. What is it? 64 million years and still going strong?
CB: It’s probably because my first interview was with one of the greatest letterers of all time, but I loved the treatment on the darkness lettering and word balloons.
Farr: Oh, goodness. The drippy, black treatment?
Farr: I have to give credit to Anna Film and Jason Yang who did the lettering for the book back at Steel House and that was just an absolutely brilliant idea. We wanted to kind of differentiate the lettering for the big, gruff, giant dinosaurs and the humans and in order to do that, we had to do it for all these different life forms. That kind of drippy, black balloons made it feel instantly sinister and we just loved it.
CB: I can’t help but think…and it might be a stretch here, but did you ever read the original Swamp Thing run?
Farr: Oh, goodness. I’m losing my geek cred, but I did not, but I love Swamp Thing.
CB: Gaspar Saladino, which is who I was referring to earlier was the letterer on that series and he devised a somewhat similar treatment and it reminded me of it.
Farr: It’s so great. It added so much with just that little bit included.
CB: The devil’s in the details and that is certainly a great one. So what can the readers look forward to as this rolls ahead? Without spoilers, of course.
Farr: Well, I don’t know if it’s a spoiler or not, but one word we should look forward to is “mammoths.” It does not occur in book one unless you look real close, but we’ve opened the door there. I can’t think of too much that’s cooler than a giant dinosaur fighting a mammoth, so we’re going to try to make that happen as soon as humanly possible.
CB: Definitely something to look forward to. Now the title. Who came up with Rexodus?
Farr: That would be Paul Wizikowski, the co-creator of the brand. The title actually went through a couple of different changes. I wasn’t sure at one point if we were going to keep it, but I’m so glad we did. It’s my favorite among those being considered. It was the first one I heard and I was immediately sold on it when I heard the name. It’s perfect.
CB: The way it launches, it just fits beautifully, in each and every way.
Farr: It’s wonderful.
CB: Bringing the young girl in…the credit list for this book is pretty long, which is slightly confusing to the average reader. Where do we give credit where credit is due for characterization and so forth?
Farr: Well, everything that I did was obviously subject to team approval, but I was brought on with the job of, if this job was ever going to be brought together and published by Dark Horse Comics, what would it look like, what would it be about and who would our leads be?
So in addition to the fact that I tend to find it more interesting when girls are strong and men are weak. It’s way more compelling. It was a little bit of an uphill battle to have our lead human be a female, but I thought that was really important and really engaging and fresh. And it also kind of helped us amp the jeopardy up. It felt like very much a kind of King Kong/Fay Wray relationship there. The visual of the giant dinosaur trying to protect this little girl. It was one of my favorite bits that I fought for and I’m so happy that we got it in there.
CB: It’s a very good, complementary relationship and it reminds me just a little of a manga character.
Farr: Sure. Well, Jon Sommariva’s art style is so beautiful and he maybe leans that way slightly as is, so I’m also happy seeing him give it the “full Jon.” It’s just great.
CB: This is slated to be an ongoing series or a mini-series? The first one was pretty well self-contained.
Farr: Not knowing what the response to these sorts of things will ever be, you try to hedge your bets a bit, but it’s set up like Jurassic Universe. So we can go anywhere we want, depending on the reception of this first book. Hopefully everybody loves it and it seems like it’s getting really positive traction.
CB: I can see why. It was obvious from the storyline that there was all kinds of avenues open and available. It reminds me of a term someone shared with me that they called defensive writing.
Farr: That’s absolutely right. We’ve got 5 to 10 doors that we can choose to go down, obviously with input from Dark Horse and the fans and everybody else, but whatever it is, we want to show people exactly what they want to see and really deliver on the promise of the premise. We’ve got dinosaurs with guns in space and the goal is to just make that as amazing as possible.
CB: What more could you ask?
Farr: Exactly. What more could you ask?