The Plants vs. Zombies line of comics at Dark Horse has been going strong, with Bully For You having only recently arrived in June. Paul Tobin has really made his mark on the feel of the series with his madcap frenetic movement of plots drawing in a wide cast. Today, as one of their SDCC announcements, Dark Horse is happy to reveal that Paul Tobin will be joined by artist Jacob Chabot for Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, set as a prequel to the game Garden Warfare 2, arriving on October 28th 2015 for its first issue. We've also heard that the series is going to make a splash at San Diego Comic-Con through being featured on display art at the Dark Horse booth.
We've got an exclusive reveal on some of the covers of the series for you to accompany this interview with both Tobin and Chabot on their new project.
Paul Tobin: It was the first installment of what became the Lawnmageddon collection, and the main challenge was to take what was essentially a tower defense game, and make an ongoing story out of it. When I took the job, only the very first Plants vs. Zombies game had been released, so the reference material for the story was literally nothing more than "various plants shoot at various zombies who march towards them in straight lines across a specific backyard." So… not a lot to go on.
Fortunately, that meant I could create the entire world. First, I needed a grander setting, so the city of Neighborville was born. Then, I started mulling around with Crazy Dave as a main character, and immediately ran into a problem. He's crazy! And his speech is gobbledygook! So, I invented Patrice Blazing, his niece, as someone who could actually understand him. And then Patrice need a zombie-fighting friend, so I went with the slightly-muddled Nate Timely, and everything just sort of blossomed from this groundwork.
PT: What I try to do is establish the villains (Zomboss, in this case) as trying to achieve some pretty horrific goals but only by humorous means. I mean, in the end, these guys are literally trying to eat brains! But, they're bumbling, and ego-centric, and easily distracted, and not at all sane, so there's plenty of ways to make it all in good fun. As far as boundaries in PvZ, I stay away from anyone getting actually hurt. Well, the zombies get whoomped a lot, but they're zombies and can just put their heads back on.
HMS: What is Garden Warfare going to bring readers that they might not be expecting? Any hints?
PT: I think the main thing is, Zomboss actually achieves one of his goals, here! He actually DOES take over Neighborville! So… things start out on rather a bad note, and we get to see Patrice and Nate fight on the losing side. There's still a lot of wacky fun, but slightly darker. And there's frogs burping. I'm fairly sure I'm writing the only comic in existence where burping frogs are one of the central plot points.
HMS: Jacob, do you think the gaming context of Plant vs. Zombies has influenced your art style or depictions, like suggesting movement or facial expressions? What have you drawn inspiration from in Garden Warfare?
Jacob Chabot: I did make it a point to play a bunch of Garden Warfare. For, uh, research obviously. I've mostly been trying to capture the goofy, almost made out of clay, dopey zombie faces, but the biggest influence is probably the backgrounds, with their askew angles and almost cubist look.
HMS: It seems like Plants vs. Zombies as a comic has a tradition of being both very fast-paced and yet allowing "moments" for visual gags. Can you tell us about any joke-based details you've come up with for the new series so far?
JC: Mostly I'm just trying to keep up with Paul! He packs the panels pretty dense with jokes! But, I can promise a lot of butt comedy. Look forward to some behinds.
HMS: What do you think about when you're approaching a conflict-driven comic with lots of characters in terms of layout and pacing? What are some of your first steps toward developing the structure of a page in a comic like this one?
JC: First and foremost is to make the actions clear, but keep it from getting boring at the same time. Everyone's probably got their favorite Plant or Zombie, so I try to pepper in as many as I can. Also, every once in a while, I'll throw in a super dramatic panel, playing it action-comic straight, and it still seems funny when thrown in the midst of a bunch of goofy cartoon flora and undead.
Look out for Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare this October, and all check out a free download of an issue of Plants vs. Zombies: Lawnmageddon right here.