What's Up Doc? – Steve Skroce Talks Doc Frankenstein

Doc Frankenstein, a series by the minds behind the Matrix and the upcoming Jupiter Ascending films. The sporadically released series was thought of by Geof Darrow but pulled together by the Wachowskis and artist Steve Skroce. Skroce started in comics with Clive Barker's Ecto-Kid and has worked for Marvel Comics while story-boarding for the film industry. Now he is coming back to comics and Doc Frankenstein is being collected for his first trade.

Bleeding Cool: We're here to talk about the upcoming release of the Doc Frankenstein trade, so let's start with how you got involved with the project in the first place? How did your relationship with the Wachowskis play into that?

Steve Skroce: Geof Darrow told me about the concept while we were working on the Matrix sequels, I thought it was brilliant and asked him if he wanted to collaborate with me on it. He was up for it but didn't want to write it so he had a more advisory role initially until the Wachowski's  heard about it and were  inspired by the  idea and wanted to write it and Burlyman kind of just evolved out of that.

01_doc_frank_02BC: For those who haven't read any of the previous issues, who is Doc Frankenstein and what is his world like?

SS: Doc Frankenstein is Mary Shelley's monster. In our version he survived and goes to America. He becomes a bounty hunter in the old west but eventually realizes that the brain Victor Frankenstein bestowed on him is a brilliant one and he becomes a great scientist as well, his immortality allows his adventures to span generations and he's a key presence in American and World history of the last two hundred years. After being treated like a pariah he becomes a kind of a super civil and equal rights activist.

Doc helped Lincoln fight slavery in the 1860's and defended John Scopes for teaching evolution in the 1920's. He fought nazis in WW2 and battled racists in the south and gay bashing cops in the 1960's Stonewall riots. You may also have heard about his  male contraception pill from an article in Hustler magazine in 1972.

Doc's influence in the world has made him many powerful enemies, such as the 'MEN OF GOD'. A super militarized force of zealot soldiers who see his resurrected existence and his pro science ideas as a blasphemy that must be eradicated. They capture Doc and while trying to escape the MOG fortress Doc meets another prisoner, the fairy Lilith, She proves that magic exists and Doc's own immutable belief in science is challenged and this leads to a rather violent action packed existential crisis.

We also reveal the REAL secret history of God and Jesus! If you're a biblical scholar who loves comics this book is for you! Also a great jumping on point for any new reader. Only six issues of continuity!

01_doc_frank_11and12BC: I remember picking up Doc Frankenstein #1 and a few issues after but the releases became somewhat sporadic.  What is the reason behind the irregular schedule?

SS: Essentially we lost focus because of opportunities in film. It's a regret and I'm sure that the stores that supported us were pissed and my apologies for that. That won't happen again with anything else we publish, if there's a second Doc series we'll make sure it comes out on time and is completed. That said, I think on the story front that the extra time allowed the Wachowski's to ruminate and craft a very cool tale, it evolves in a direction that you might not expect, it gets quite emotional and there's some hilarious bits as well. As far as the art goes it's no rush job, I put a ton of work into those pages and I feel the last 60 or so pages are the best work I've done.

01_doc_frank_05BC: You and Geof Darrow are the creators of the series, but it's written by the Wachowskis and drawn by you. What has been Geof's involvement in the series and how did you end up at Burly an Entertainment?

SS:  Actually I think it's only fair to say that the four of us created it. It was Geof's initial concept and I had done a bunch of pages early on before the Wachowski's were involved and much of that was cut or repurposed when the Wachowski's began writing it but the books that people have read are completely the Wachowski's voice.

I think if it had just been a collaboration with Darrow and I it would have been a completely different comic. Geof had been fairly hands off with Doc when he worked at Burlyman, all his initial ideas are there and Doc's look is heavily influenced by Darrow's only character drawing of him but the comic goes in wild directions that I doubt either of us would have thought of. Burlyman grew out of all our work together on the Matrix films. The Wachowskis are huge comic fans and when they heard Darrow and I were collaborating they asked us if we'd like to start a boutique comic company with them and the rest is history.

Original sketch for Channing Tatum's character Caine Wise in Jupiter Ascending
Original sketch for Channing Tatum's character Caine Wise in Jupiter Ascending

BC: Now there have only been six issues released but the trade is supposed to be the first four. Why not all six in ?

SS: There are two thirty page plus issues that I drew in between movie jobs over the last few years. Issues seven and eight complete the story arc and are in the second trade along with issues five and six. After so many years we thought it made more sense to just collect it all rather than try and put out comics that are ,ahem, years late.

01_doc_frank_08BC: Besides the initial four issues, what else will readers find in the trade? Any bonus materials?

SS: We've got a cool sketch section of various concept drawings for DF as well as a few panels from those cut pages that were before the Wachowskis.

BC: What is the future for Doc Frankenstein and what is the future for Steve Skroce?

SS: I'm getting back into comics. I've been away too long. All the movie stuff has been great but comics are my first love and I'm still a huge fan and I read them constantly. I'd really like to get back out there and have my work seen by readers again. We're talking about another Doc series but nothing to announce yet.

For more on Doc Frankenstein, check out the Burlyman Entertainment website.

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About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.
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