Recently Dynamite Entertainment announced a new series of titles based on the old Gold Key characters that once played in the Valiant universe. The first of the books, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is being written by Planet Hulk scribe Greg Pak. I had a chance to talk with Greg about the upcoming project as well as his experience in the industry.
BLEEDING COOL: The character of Turok has travelled around quite a bit starting with Western Publishing as Turok: Son of Stone, then to Gold Key,
Valiant/Acclaim, a short stint at Dark Horse and now with you at Dynamite
Entertainment. How familiar were you with the previous incarnations and what can fans of the earlier published work expect to see carry over with your
GREG PAK: When editor Nate Cosby pulled me on board, he made it pretty clear that we had the mandate to tell a brand new story, building the character up from scratch. And I jumped all over that. I knew the character back in the day and had a few issues of the comic — and I couldn't love the central premise more. But I had a crazy idea for a new explanation for why we've got a world with dinosaurs and people living at the same time. And I wanted to start at the beginning, with a much younger version of Turok than you generally see in past comics.
GP: Turok is a young Native American living in exile from his tribe. He's an outcast, fighting for survival in a brutal world, which puts him in a unique position when the dinosaurs arrive. He might be single human being best equipped to handle the invasion. But will he actually help the people who exiled and persecuted him?
This is an epic coming-of-age story, a terrifying tale of survival, and a classic exploration of man versus man and man versus nature with a little man versus self thrown in to the mix for good measure. If you love action and emotion in the rawest form, you want to buy this book.
We're also diving into some really exciting territory with real-world history. We're setting the story in the 1200s, which opens us up to some very surprising historical references and events that allow for some pretty stunning story possibilities. If you're a fan of alternate histories, please check us out!
BC: Along with Turok we are seeing the return of the other Gold Key
heroes like Magnus, Solar and Doctor Spektor. How much are those series
interacting and do you have to keep tabs on the work Mark Waid, Frank
Barbiere and Fred Van Lente are doing?
GP: At some point, I have no doubt we'll see these stories and characters start to bump up against each other. But for now, we're working separately, doing what's best for our individual characters and stories. The glory of this group is that each of the crazy premises for the different characters implies an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT WORLD. That makes for a huge amount of variety and a ton of unpredictable fun in the Gold Key Universe. It also creates huge, fun, and inspiring challenges when you try to wrap your head around how to tie these worlds together. Great stuff.
GP: Mirko's the best. We worked together a few years back on the RED SKULL INCARNATE miniseries for Marvel, which was an amazing experience. He has a great, clean style that can approach photorealism. The level of detail in his work is just amazing. But he's also got a tremendous feel for the grit and grime and reality of the natural world. There's a real visceral sense of place and atmosphere in his work that's just perfect for an outdoor adventure book like TUROK.
BC: You have worked for Marvel Comics, Valiant Entertainment, recently
started at DC Comics and of course on this with Dynamite. With all the talk
recently about the editorial process at some of the companies, how different
is the editorial styles at these publishers and what do you feel are some of
the strengths and weaknesses from a writer's perspective?
GP: I've had a blast working for all the companies I'm working for. This may sound a little Pollyannaish, but it's true: every editor I've worked with is just trying his or her darnedest to tell the best stories possible. No matter what company it is, we have the same kind of conversations, trying to get to the heart of the characters and conflict and figure out the best way to dramatize it all.
BC: Many script writers try to make the jump from movies to comics with
mixed results, but you are a film director. Do you think that your directing
experience made the transition easier? Do you think are commonalities
between the two mediums when it comes to good storytelling?
GP: Sure, comics and movies have a ton in common. They both depend on dramatic visual storytelling, through which conflict is expressed through images and action. So all the principles I learned in film school apply in comics. At the same time, comics is a hybrid artform — we read comics, after all. They're part prose. So there are a wealth of prose-based tools that comic creators have at our fingertips, if we choose to use them. The longer I work in comics, the more I learn. So just in the last couple of years, I've been a little more aggressive embracing some of those prose techniques in some of my comics. I used to be loathe, for example, of using captions to show a character's inner voice. It didn't feel so cinematic, which seemed to be the proper aspiration. But I've begun to rethink that in recent years. Comics aren't just cinema on paper. And embracing those prose techniques can sometimes bring a special flavor and vibe unique to comics. So I'm always learning and exploring.
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 goes on sale in February.