'Blastosaurus' as drawn by cover artist Darick Robertson. Copyright Richard Fairgray 2010.
The US edition of local cartoonist Richard Fairgrey's 'Blastosaurus' comic series has been in the works for some time, but today we finally got an announcement from 'American Original' head-honcho Jeff Katz, via his website GeekWeek:
"GeekWeek's own Richard Fairgray (I FIGHT CRIME, CHEWING ZOMBIES) makes his American convention debut at San Diego Comic Con with BLASTOSAURUS from American Original and Top Cow.
Fairgray will be debuting the BLASTOSAURUS Comic Con Specials, collecting the first arc of his hit New Zealand series. Inspired by the cartoons of the early 1990's, the series follows the adventures of Blastosaurus, a mutated dinosaur plucked from the past now working as a policeman to keep his adopted home of Freak Out City safe."
Richard Fairgray, the writer and artist of the comic, who amazingly manages to produce the comic on a monthly basis despite being legally blind with only five percent vision in one eye, originally started self-published the comic series in New Zealand in 2008. Prior to launching 'Blastosaurus' he had pitched the concept to ex-Fox movie executive Jeff Katz, who he met through a mutual friend on the set of 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine'. Katz was so impressed with Richard's range of comics work that he picked up the property for US release through his new multi-media company 'American Original'.
While most cartoonist faced with this golden opportunity would be happy to rest on their laurels till the royalties rolled in, Fairgray pressed forward, launching the comic series in the difficult New Zealand market first, before it's US debut. It sold well enough to run monthly for two years with several specials, and has a loyal following among young comic fans.
It's this hardworking DIY attitude that has promoted Fairgray to the forefront of Katz's American Original comics imprint. Blastosaurus will now be the first title to launch from the much hyped imprint (co-published by Top Cow), after other comics by Hollywood screenwriters and comedians have failed to materialize. Meanwhile, Fairgray has 20 issues completed and it looking forward to the US finally getting a look at his creation.
Above: Richard Fairgray promoting 'Blastosaurus' at the Wellington Armageddon Expo over Easter weekend.
Before jetting off to San Diego, I caught up with Richard for an exclusive interview on Blastosaurus and it's american debut.
Q1: This has been in the works for some time now, are you looking forward to finally introducing Blastosaurus to the US market?
RICHARD FAIRGRAY: Obviously, yes. Though it hasn't really been all that long considering how long it can take to break into comics like this.
Q2: Do you think there's an audience out there for this type of material in the crowded US comic market?
RF: Without being completely clinical about it I think there is always room for a story about a dinosaur with a gun. Besides which, I think there's infinite room in any market for new narrative. I think also there is a real lack of comics that aren't aimed at a specifically adult or child market.
Q3: This is also the first release for Jeff Katz's American Original imprint, so no pressure there?
RF: Obviously being the first makes this one the biggest risk for both Jeff and I, but it's also a fantastic vehicle for Terry and I to come in on as a new creative team.
Q4: In your NZ comic run of Blastosaurus you played around quite a bit with style and genre within the ongoing series, an approach that is fairly rare in current monthly comics. Will you be taking a similar direction with the new series?
RF: The new versions of the original stories are far more certain in their style and direction than the originals. This is partly because I had the time I needed to make them what I wanted them to be and partly because (simply by doing this full time for 2 years) I am a much better storyteller than I was. Obviously Terry's (Terry Jones, co-writer) influence cannot be overlooked in all this either. He is an amazing writer and a very accomplished storyteller, just having a second viewpoint makes the whole comic so much richer.
Q5: With that in mind, what can we expect from the first story arc and year overview?
RF: The first arc is a retelling of the old origin story. While the basic story hasn't changed, the characters (particularly the villains) are a lot more multi-faceted. Also the narrative structure is far more integrated so it doesn't feel so much like a brief summary of a plot.
Q6: Given the limitations of your eyesight and the dedication it takes to produce your artwork, do you plan to continue drawing the series full-time or are there plans to bring in another artist?
RF: I'm not handing over the art at this stage. Despite the hours it takes and the limitations I have due to the funny little eyes, i still enjoy creating the book myself. I do love seeing other artists' idea of how Blasto can look.
Q7: If it ships monthly, can you foresee needing any fill-in artists in the future?
RF: The schedule for release is not set yet. With the changing market for pamphlet comics I'm not sure how I want to proceed with the story and whether I even want to see it as individual issues (I never actually read single issues anymore because I don't find them satisfying). I tend to enjoy long hours though so I don't imagine I'll want to bring in any fill in artists (at least not for the main storyline).
Q8: 'The Boys' artist Darick Robertson will be producing covers for the series, how did they become involved?
RF: Darick and I met and got along really well when he was down here (at New Zealand's Armageddon Expo) last year and I mentioned him to Jeff as someone I'd like to have involved. I've been a huge fan of Darick's for years and have a few pieces of his art from 'Transmetropolitan'. He and Jeff met soon after at a convention (not sure which) and he became involved.
Q9: Will establishing the Blastosaurus comic be your main focus for the next year, or will we be seeing some of your other comics projects in the near future?
RF: Because I have 20 issues ready to go with Blasto (six of which are coming out at Comic Con) I have some time up my sleeve to work on other projects. There's no definite plan for release dates for any of these (with the exception of another Blasto Halloween Special, three new books of 'I Fight Crime', a collection of 'Yellow Girl' - a strip I wrote with my wife about 5 years ago that I never finished releasing - and a 'clip show' styled collection of short unpublished works of mine for the Armageddon Expo this year).
Q10: How has it been working with Katz and American Original on this project and bringing it to a wider audience?
RF: It's been a huge adjustment for me having to rely on anyone else. For 9 years I've been working almost entirely alone and learning to let others pick up the slack is a definite transition.
Q11: Blastosaurus has been a very DIY production from the beginning: now that it's at 'American Original' will you still be overseeing the entire comics production and franchise?
RF: I will definitely be involved on some level in every part of Blastosaurus. I've had these characters in my head for years now and I don't think I could let go of them. Besides which, I was brought in by Jeff as a writer because he liked what I had done (before Blastosaurus even existed) so I guess he likes what I am doing and what i want to do in the future.
Q12: American Original from what I understand, is set-up to expand across a number of entertainment platforms (video games, animation etc). Will we be seeing this approach with Blastosaurus, or is establishing the comic the main focus at this stage?
RF: I'm open to anything. I would love to be able to see Blastosaurus as a TV show or a game or a...hot water bottle, whatever. But for now I just want to see how the comic goes and take it one step at a time.
The US comic series of Blastosaurus will be launching at the San Diego Comic Con this weekend with six issues, featuring a new cover by 'The Boys' artist Darick Robertson. Fairgray will also be featuring on Saturday's Top Cow panel, where you can expect to hear more in-depth information on the series. Stay tuned for more details on the Blastosaurus Comic Con launch as they come to hand.