Yup, talking about Planet Gigantic again! I reached out to (writer) Eric Grissom and (artist) David Halvorson with a few questions about the upcoming Action Lab series.
The issue I had originally read back in Asbury Park was issue zero, and some things have changed. Same duo of genetically engineered teens exploring the universe, still crash landing on a planet in the farthest reaches of space. The main difference is that where issue zero had a sort of Swiss Family Robinson or Lost in Space appeal this one is definitely more of a kids surviving against great odds action piece. A planet full of mystery and adventure? Genetically engineered super teens on their own against all odds? Believe me this is really good fast paced all-ages fun. Beautifully drawn as well. And the back-up story is good enough to stand on its own!
This book is a 5 out of 5.
Quick synopsis: “When two genetically engineered teenagers crash-land on a strange planet, they must learn to rely on themselves and their still-developing powers as they face down a giant rock monster. Also in this issue: Lyana the Seeker braves a cursed tomb in search of the fabled Eye of the Sun.”
On to the questions! Oh and along with answers to those questions Grissom and Halvorson have generously sent us some gorgeous panels from the book! Enjoy!
WR: Eric, this is a comic you’ve been working on for several years, would you tell us where these characters came from and some of the changes the story went through before the version we see now?
EG: A few years ago I had a rough idea for a brother and sister team of time traveling astronauts named Yuri and Valentina. They spent their days traveling the space ways bored out of their minds and tormenting their indentured man-servant, a severed floating head named Sun-Tor. The book was very much a mature title and Yuri and Valentina were both foul-mouthed and prone to violence. I also had the seeds of a project called Thee Impossibles about a team of super heroes that included a giant rock monster that could punch through planets. Around 2011 or so, at a signing for DEADHORSE with Phil Sloan, a few 8 and 9-year-old kids came to our table to look at our comics. I felt bad because I had nothing to sell them. I have kids myself and it made me realize I wasn’t making anything I could share with them either. So I combined both of those ideas into what you see today. I approached David, who at the time was coloring DEADHORSE, and pitched him the idea. Lucky for me he said yes.
PLANET GIGANTIC is very much an amalgamation of all the things I loved, especially as a kid, all those great 80s cartoons like Dungeons and Dragons, Herculoids, He-Man, and Thundercats. Doctor Who. Indiana Jones. The original Star Wars trilogy. Old Marvel comics, especially the Kirby and Ditko stuff. It’s everything I love. I even asked David to draw my kids into issue four.
WR: David, I’m a huge fan of your coloring on Deadhorse, you’re working with a decidedly different palette here, what can you tell us about the character designs and the style choices you’ve made here in PG.
DH: Planet Gigantic is a much different experience for me than Deadhorse was. With Deadhorse, I was only coloring Phil Sloan’s amazing artwork. With Planet Gigantic, I’m tackling both the artwork and colors. I’ve always been a fan of big bright colors, but when coming up with the palette for Deadhorse, we found that the muted palette was more in line with the story. So when Eric approached me with Planet Gigantic, my head immediately started filling with bright blue galaxy clusters, purple streams, yellow armor, and pink rock monsters. The whole thing was a blast to play with.
As far as the designs and styles of characters and the world, much of that comes from the influences Eric mentioned earlier – Thundercats, Indiana Jones, Star Wars. Alot of it comes from our love of 1950’s scifi art too. The concept artwork of what 1950’s scientists imagined the year 2000 would look like (with the floating cities and jetpack transportation). Mother’s appearance along with a few other characters are heavily influenced by that era as well.
WR: Eric, our heroes crash-land on Woodmere in this first issue and immediately get themselves in some trouble, does the first arc revolve solely around this planet and it’s denizens? Are we going to see Val and Yuri get off planet again anytime soon?
Woodmere is a wild place filled with castles and underground blood silk mines, however it is but one of seven realms that exist on Planet Gigantic. And those realms only cover what is KNOWN, there are many, many places that haven’t been documented. Ancient civilizations long since forgotten. Gods, Monsters, and Robots. In the four issues slated for release this year, we visit a few of these realms including Woodmere, the swamp lands of the Hallowmarsh, and the Sky Realm of Ayre. At some point in the future I’m sure we’ll visit one of Planet Gigantic’s moons and possibly the stars beyond. Right now though, our heroes are very much stuck and they’ve got to make the best of it. Besides, this is a really big planet and we haven’t even scratched the surface.
WR: Also in the opening you give the impression that there are many children like Val and Yuri, are they clones? Are there more out there? Originals? Will we get to see the society that created and launched these kids into space?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Possibly.
WR: As we’ve already said this book has seen other versions, I read the zero issue last year the difference that caught my eye was a move away from what I would call a “Lost in Space” family dynamic (by sidelining the character of “Mother” in the first few pages). Why lose the parental role? Will “Mother” be a player in this story?
EG: The Zero issue, or “Family”, is very much a prequel, but one that is not required reading by any means. People can pick up PLANET GIGANTIC #1 and have no problem figuring out what’s happening. “Family” was actually something I wrote after PLANET GIGANTIC #1, or at least an early draft of it, and it was part of the pitch to publishers. Rather than send out an 8 page excerpt of a longer story, I wanted to do a self-contained story with a beginning, middle, and end. Show publishers that we could tell a story and give them a great idea of the world we were looking to build. Because it was only 13 pages, it was also a lot more affordable for me to print. I could do very small runs and hand them out at conventions and the like. Anyone getting one would get a full story.
In the original script for PG#1, MOTHER was much more a traditional android. She was described as being almost featureless. What I got back from David, this 1950s era woman, was absolutely wonderful and I immediately fell in love with the design. Once I saw that, I developed more of her backstory, created Dr. Roberta Reilly, all of it. That became the building blocks that the zero issue was built upon. That was sparked from David’s artwork. Those are some of the best moments for me in comics, when you’re collaborating with someone and it goes in a new wonderful direction like that.
As far as MOTHER’s role, when our story starts the children have long been under her care. They are dependent on her. It was very important to me that when they crash landed here, that when the dust settled and they realized they weren’t going to be able to leave, that that security was gone. That they were on their own. That it was up to them to take care of themselves. That said, MOTHER is not gone. Without spoiling anything, I can say that she is still very much a part of this story. She’s a MOTHER. It will take a lot more than an exploding space ship to stop her.
WR: Will the back-up stories intertwine with the main thread at any point? Will the story resolve in the first arc? Can we expect a cliff-hanger?
I wanted the backup stories to be self contained tales that give us a better glimpse of PLANET GIGANTIC. Some of the stories will intertwine, characters will appear in a backup and reappear in the main storyline and vice versa. You may hear of events in the main storyline and then see those events unfold in the backups.
The backups will also feature revolving artists. David takes on the first one, but expect to see others like Phil Sloan and Beware… artist Will Perkins.
As far as the main storyline, that does resolve though I planted seeds everywhere for future stories. At the very end there might even be something that adds a bit of mystery to the whole thing, but you know, spoilers.
WR: So this one goes four issues? When can we expect the next installment of the series (c’mon Eric we know it’s already written…)
EG: I’d love to do more. I have a notebook full of ideas. This is a world I very much want to live in. I don’t have any dates, but this is not the end of PLANET GIGANTIC.
WR: Most of your stuff has been available in print not only in comic shops but at conventions as well, will you have PG with you at NYCC this year? Maybe a print or two from David???? Are either of you attending any other conventions this year?
EG: I’m not sure, I would hope so. The first issue of PLANET GIGANTIC arrives in stores on October 15th (in Previews NOW so please pre-order http://www.previewsworld.com/Home/1/1/71/920?stockItemID=AUG140943) which is right around NYCC. As far as me my next appearance is NYCC. Once the issue is out I plan on doing store signings, though nothing on the books yet.
So now you want to pre-order it right? Of course you do! Contact your local comic shop! Even better than just asking? Print out the handy order form below and bring it in!
PLANET GIGANTIC #1
Writer(s): Eric Grissom
Artist Name(s): David Halvorson
Cover Artist(s): David Halvorson (reg), Jerry Gaylord (var)
Diamond Order Code: AUG140943
32 pgs./ All Ages/ FC $3.99
About Eric Grissom: Eric is a writer of comics that lives in New Jersey. He’s been writing a book called Deadhorse about a man and a key to a mysterious box. He’s now written an all ages adventure series called Planet Gigantic about two super powered teenage astronauts that crash land on a planet filled with giant monsters. Planet Gigantic is published by Action Lab Entertainment. He’s also currently writing a graphic novel that centers around a slaughterhouse town in a world run by Animals. Find him at www.planetgigantic.com
David Halvorson is the artist for Planet Gigantic. He’s also the colorist on the comic Deadhorse. He’s 33 years old and lives in Iowa. Find him on twitter @MrHalvorson.
About ACTION LAB ENTERTAINMENT: Formed in 2010 with the purpose of pooling their collective talents into a single, powerful entity, the members of Action Lab Entertainment have countless years in multimedia publishing, design, and business. Their first release, Fracture, was successfully funded through Kickstarter and since then they have continued their mission to produce high quality, genre-spanning entertainment. Since its formation, the accolades for A.L.E continue to build on a daily basis. Among its more popular titles are all ages material like the Eisner, Glyph, Shel Dorf Award nominated series PRINCELESS, NFL RUSHZONE (based on the Nickelodeon Television series), Jamal Igle’s MOLLY DANGER, Artist/ Writer Jeremy Dale’s hit series SKYWARD, and Gayle Middleton’s (My Little Pony, The Littlest Pet Shop) monstrously adorable VAMPLETS. Action Lab’s Mature Readers imprint ACTION LAB DANGER ZONE continues to push the envelope of comics entertainment with titles as varied as EHMM THEORY and Dan Mendoza’s over the top horror-comedy ZOMBIE TRAMP, THE FINAL PLAGUE and BO, PLUSHY GANGSTA.