An interview with Rob Anderson, creator, writer, co-publisher of the highly anticipated Rex, Zombie Killer

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Due out at the end of April (25th to be exact) Rex, Zombie Killer examines an as of yet untapped corner of the zombie apocalypse genre. Here’s the press blurb from their site:

In the wake of a zombie apocalypse, a Golden Retriever and a small pack of animals, accompanied by a bat-wielding gorilla, attempt to cross the country to find safety. But they’ll face many dangers, including a group of outlaw bikers! Homeward Bound meets The Walking Dead in this double-sized one-shot!

Rob Anderson, creator, writer, co-publisher of the highly anticipated Rex, Zombie Killer was kind enough to give us some of his valuable time and answer some questions for the What’cha Reading readers.

What’cha Reading: Okay so first things first. Three dogs, an obnoxious cat, and an ape… with a baseball bat? From what warped dark place in your mind did this spring from?

Rob Anderson: Ha! I’ve been a huge fan of gorillas in comics since I was a young kid, all the way back to that DC Special that reprinted all those super-gorilla stories (*note – that would be DC Special #16 – Chuck). And as an adult, I’ve always been interested in those inter-species communication projects where they teach gorillas sign language. So, I had no choice! Any animal story I wrote *had* to include a gorilla. In fact, I’ve had the idea of a hyper-intelligent Golden Retriever running around with a sign language-speaking gorilla for years. But the baseball bat? That literally came down to this: if I was a gorilla in a zombie apocalypse, what would I want to use to bash zombies?

WR: We don’t get a lot of back story in this one-shot. Can we expect to see further adventures of Rex and his crew? Maybe an issue that addresses how they came to be together?

RA: Each of the animals does have a significant back story, and I hope to continue revealing their past lives in future stories. So far, it’s only been in brief flashbacks. I haven’t told the story yet of how they all came together, but how the pets met up with Kenji the gorilla was shown in the zero issue of Rex, Zombie Killer which was sold at a limited number of conventions last year.

WR: You founded Panda Dog Press 2009, tell us about it…

RA: Panda Dog Press is the umbrella name or personal imprint under which I publish new concepts to try them out. I really want to be a writer rather than a publisher, which is why the short black and white zero issue of Rex, ZK came out from Panda Dog Press, but the double-sized, full color issue #1 is being published by Big Dog Ink.

WR: What brought you to Big Dog Ink? How is the co-publishing handled?

RA: I met BDI’s publisher, Tom Hutchinson, on the convention circuit a couple years ago and we really hit it off, so we’ve been looking for an opportunity to work together.

What Tom has done in just a few short years really impressed me. Big Dog Ink has launched a number of successful titles like Penny for Your Soul and Critter, and BDI’s most recent hit was The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West, which actually has charted in the Diamond Top 300 more than once. That’s a pretty big accomplishment for a small press publisher.

So it was a combination of liking Tom and being impressed by what BDI has done. As far as co-publishing, BDI agreed to carry Rex, ZKas a creator-owned property, and Panda Dog Press is me…so we came to an agreement and did the deal!

WR: How did you put together your team? You’ve worked with DaFu Yu before, what about the rest?

RA: DaFu and I met at a NYCC networking event a couple years ago, and as you said, I’d worked with him before on a story in the Great Zombies in History anthology.

ET Dollman I met via an Internet search for a letterer on my very first project a couple years ago, and he has been the logo and book designer as well as letterer and pre-press guru on every title I’ve done! We’ve become great friends, even though he lives in faraway Italy.

Kevin Volo I met at a convention when he was showing around his coloring portfolio and we immediately hit it off.

And Editor Paul Allor is a good friend (and constant adviser) who I met via the Comics Experience Creators Workshop. I’m the General Manager over there, and Paul is also on staff as the Book Club Manager, so we talk via email…oh, about every two hours, all day long. (ha)

Although I didn’t meet everyone on the team through Comics Experience, oddly enough, every single member of the team has some tie to Comics Experience! For example, DaFu had taken the art class years before I met him, and we didn’t even know that when we first started working together. It’s a great community founded by former Marvel and IDW Editor Andy Schmidt.

WR: I tend to interact with lots of self publishers, what are some of the challenges you feel you had to overcome to get this book out there?

RA: I think I just had to face the typical challenges all small press or self-publishers face. Finding the time to write/create, THEN finding the time and resources to put together a team and see the project through to completion. I was lucky to have interest from publishers like Big Dog Ink and they were key in helping to ensure the book would be available to comic shops via Diamond PREVIEWS.

Really, the hardest part is to keep going in the early stages when you don’t know if the project will ever see the light of day — or if folks will enjoy it. It’s really crucial to have supportive people around you, I think. I’m lucky to have support from my significant other as well as all my friends in the Comics Experience community. That really helped me to keep pushing forward on the bad days.

WR: Are you planning on attending any conventions this year to promote Rex or any other upcoming projects?

RA: I’m definitely planning to attend Heroes Con in Charlotte again this year. I’ve been going to that show as a fan for over a decade, and as an exhibitor for a couple years now. If Big Dog Ink is there, I’ll be hanging in their booth! I make it to Baltimore Con every year one way or another. I’ll have to miss San Diego this year, but NYCC is still a possibility. My plans are a bit in flux at the moment, but I always look forward to meeting people who have read my stuff or new readers!

WR: What’s next for you?

RA: I’m in active production on my next miniseries called Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit (3 page preview available at pandadogpress.com) about animal control officers in the near future dealing with crazy hybrid animals like Panda Dogs and ‘Gator-Snakes. That one’s been a long time coming, but I have a great new artist on the team who is moving along steadily. Once Rex, ZK has been released into the world, I look forward to sharing more info on AC:SCU!

To read my full review of Rex, Zombie Killer go here: http://popculturenetwork.com/article.php?story=20120313074722919

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