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Interview with the great Paul Tobin about co-writing “Turok: Dinosaur Hunter”

turok-10-cover

By Greg Pak

When my schedule got tight and editor Nate Cosby and I started thinking about who might be a good match to pull in as a co-writer for issues #9 to #12 of “Turok: Dinosaur Hunter,” Paul Tobin was the first person who came to mind. I just knew he’d go to town with a story about a dinosaur-hunting Native American co-opting the legend of Robin Hood in 13th Century England. So I was beyond thrilled when he agreed to jump on board.

Here’s an interview with Paul, wherein he tells you about the book and what you can expect to see in “Turok” #10, which hit stores today! And to further whet your appetite, check out the preview here!

GREG PAK: Yo Paul! So happy to be working with you on this book! Can you tell us a bit about what hooked you and why you said yes?

PAUL TOBIN: First, it was a chance to work with you, Greg! I felt like the last of our little group to work with you. Fred van Lente had his years of fun. And my wife, Colleen Coover, teamed up with you, but there I was sitting like some wallflower at the edge of the dancefloor. Really, it’s not often that two writers get a chance to teamup, so… yeah, I jumped. And of course it had something to do with immediately seeing an opportunity to have a t-rex fight a kraken, and that’s very important to me.

The infamous "mumbling a sparrow" scene from "Turok" #10.

The infamous “mumbling a sparrow” scene from “Turok” #10.

GREG: You brought some tremendous details from 13th Century England to the story — like that crazy bird-vs-man’s-teeth-at-ye-olde-faire scene. What kind of research did you do for that — and how much did you just make up?

PAUL: The “bird vs man’s teeth” scene is something that used to be an actual event at country fairs (and so on) during the middle ages. It’s called “mumbling a sparrow.” It’s horrible, and went the way of bear-baiting and other “sports.” As far as research, I love researching, and a lot of it was already in my head, because period research is a big part of a series of novels I’m working on, novels that span the 10th century to the present day. Researching the old-timey days is interesting, because there’s a constant flood of finding out that people were primarily the same, but in a world that was much different.

GREG: Let’s talk a bit about our co-writing process. And to be totally clear, I’d like everyone to know that Paul’s the real hero of the book. I gave him broad-strokes outlines of the set up for the story and where I thought everything was going. And he figured out everything else and wrote four amazing scripts. And I came in at the end and helped massage dialogue. So for me, it was pretty painless and awesome! 😉

PAUL: Heck… you basically just described it all. It’s like we co-wrote the answer to this question. So, yeah… you gave me the basic premise, and then mostly stayed out of my way so that I could do the things I do. I built up the broad strokes of where I wanted to go, and the steps of how I wanted to get there, and then I developed a lot of the relationships, the characters, how I saw them… how they began real people in my eyes and their personality traits that I wanted to present. I basically consider myself a character writer, so that’s a stress point for me. And then I also wanted to make sure that the character of 13th century England, but a 13th century England that was rife with both wild dinosaurs and also “beast of burden” dinosaurs, was a primary stress point.

GREG: How’d the process work from your point of view, Paul? And what kind of strategies do you draw on for co-writing?

PAUL: I’m not sure I have any strategies for co-writing. I don’t do it very much, for one thing. I’ve co-written with you, with Colleen, and with Jeff Parker. It was different every time, because the three of you are different. Colleen mostly stayed entirely out of my way and then nudged things here and there. You were at the beginning and the end, and then left me alone in your sandbox during the middle stages. And Parker and I basically stood at opposite corners of the room and tossed knives at each other. The end result worked in all three cases, so I guess I don’t have a method. Just a result.

A scene from "Turok" #9, the first issue co-written by Greg and Paul.

A scene from “Turok” #9, the first issue co-written by Greg and Paul.

GREG: Which of the characters did you have the most fun writing? Who was the toughest?

PAUL: Turok was a lot of fun, because he has this nobility of character that’s fun to bend. And Tom is the same way, except his entire belief system is being challenged, and it’s taking him out of his comfort zone and making him into a bit of a simpleton, so he’s not exactly stupid, just… lost. That’s fun. And both Marion and Kita are great because they have such power to their personality. Andar was probably the toughest for me. He has a lot of anger to him, and that’s a tough emotion to sustain without softening or going overboard. He’s as lost as Tom, in some ways.

GREG: I think you and I share a real love for almost absurd genre excess in comics. What are your strategies for making those big ideas and crazy hijinks come together into a coherent story?

PAUL: Consistency is a big thing for me. Anomalies don’t work. I just recently finished reading a novel that ended with a naughty scene, and it was the only naughty scene in the entire book, so to end with an entirely new mood was a definite stumble on the author’s part. There needs to be an emotional and thematic thread that goes throughout a piece of writing. “Big” and “crazy” both need grounding. A story is just the same as a character: if a reader sees a character that acts inconsistently, it’s easy to tell, and it’s the same for story flow.

Stegosaurus jousting, as drawn by Stephen Downey for "Turok" #10.

Stegosaurus jousting, as drawn by Stephen Downey for “Turok” #10.

GREG: Tell the folks a bit about our awesome artists, Stephen Downey, Felipe Cunha, and Lee Ferguson. What’s one scene in particular that folks should watch out for?

PAUL: I really enjoyed the overall scene of the country fair, because we get to see pterodactyls, and there’s stegosaurus jousting. Really… if you don’t like seeing armored knights jousting atop dinosaurs, you ain’t coming to any of my parties.

GREG: What else are you working on? PLUG AWAY, MY FRIEND!

PAUL: Let’s see, Colleen Coover and I are doing our Eisner-award-winning Bandette until our sun goes super-nova. And Juan Ferreyra and I are finishing up our Prometheus sci-fi epic, and at the same time continuing our Eisner-nominated horror series, Colder. I’m also writing another book for Dynamite, a fun Jungle Jim title. I’m doing more Angry Birds, and more Plants Vs. Zombies is likely on the horizon. I’ve got another Witcher title in the works. And there are two more sci-fi series that should be announced soon, and then three more creator titles soon after that. In addition, about half my time is spent on novels, now. I have a middle-readers series starting early in 2016, and another announcement in the field of prose should go live hopefully in the spring, so, all in all… I keep my keyboard burning!

Ask your local retailer to hold “Turok: Dinosaur Hunter” #10 for you — or buy it digitally at Comixology!

See you at Special Edition NYC!

greg pak se nyc this weekend

I’m packed up and ready for this weekend!

See you at the Special Edition NYC comic con Saturday and Sunday — I’ll be at Table T9 in Artists’ Alley selling my graphic novel CODE MONKEY SAVE WORLD, my one shot comic LOS ROBOS, and various other books.

Click here for more info and to buy your tickets!

See you in the morning!

Pretty Achievable New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Drink more water.
  2. Buy more apples.
  3. Get a postage scale.
  4. Try not to forget to eat lunch.
  5. Care less about dumb stuff.
  6. Care more about important stuff.
  7. Don’t spend three months nurturing a tiny bit of subconscious anxiety about that redeye flight I just booked.
  8. Plug good work by friends and strangers at every opportunity.
  9. Always say please and thank you.

Number 5 is probably the toughest.

2013.10.26 – 10.27 – Greg Pak at C3 Conference and Film Independent Forum in LA

I’m making a fast trip to Los Angeles for two big panels this weekend! Come see, come see!

Saturday, October 26 – C3 Conference for Creative Content

2:45 – 4:15 pm – “Let’s Talk About Race” panel

L.S. Kim (Associate Professor, Film and Media, UC Santa Cruz)

Joy Osmanski (Actor – Allen Gregory, Save Me)

Greg Pak (Writer/Director – Robot Stories, Vision Machine, Marvel Comics)

Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man)

Moderated by Karin Chien (Producer – Circumstance, The Motel, Robot Stories)

Sunday, October 27 – Film Independent Forum

3:30 – “There’s an App for That” panel

Panelists Include: Karin Chien, producer, Circumstance (moderator); Neal Edelstein, 
Founder, Hooked Digital Media; Andy Merkin, Head of Special Projects/Transmedia, Mirada Studios; Greg Pak, writer/director, Robot Stories; writer, Vision Machine.

Filmmakers are turning to apps for the phone and the tablet, either as compelling storytelling tools in their own right, or as a way to build audience engagement around their films. On this panel, hear from filmmakers who are using the iPad in new and exciting ways: Andy Merkin (Mirada Studios), who oversees cross-platform and nontraditional storytelling projects; producer Neal Edelstein (The Ring), who released the horror film Haunting Melissa as an iPad app; and indie director Greg Pak (Robot Stories), who unveiled his film/graphic novel app Vision Machine at last year’s Comic Con. Hear what creative possibilities these filmmakers have discovered in their tablets, and learn about the economics of working in this new environment.

Auction for for “Batman/Superman” and Villains Month comics to benefit Steve Niles

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Comics writer and all-around good egg Steve Niles recently suffered some big losses when his house was flooded in Austin. The great Matt Miner has put together some benefit auctions for Steve, which just went live tonight.

Check ’em out – tons of spectacular stuff in there, including original Phil Noto art and script reviews from Scott Snyder and Ron Marz!

I donated three bundles of signed comics, including the rare “Batman/Superman” #1-4 variant sketch covers, another pack of “Batman/Superman” #1-4 variants, and the lenticular covers for the “Zod,” “Doomsday,” and “Darkseid” Villains Month books.

Happy bidding!

“Batman/Superman” #2 gets a second printing!

Hey, ho! Check it out!

Second printing hits stores on September 25. Thanks so much for buying and reading the book, friends!

2010.10.23 – Greg Pak in Philly! “Mister Green,” comic book signing, “A Conversation with Greg Pak” at the PAAFF

UPDATE: FREE USB drives containing issue #1 of Greg Pak’s “Vision Machine” comic will be given out at the Brave New Worlds signing and “A Conversation with Greg Pak” event!

Filmmaker and comic book writer Greg Pak hits Philadelphia for three big events on Saturday, October 23. Here’s the full, updated schedule!

1:00 to 3:00 pm
The Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival screens Greg Pak’s award-winning short film “Mister Green” at 1 pm in “Shorts Program 2: Visions” at the Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine Street. Click here for full details.

3:30 to 4:30 pm
Greg Pak signs comics at Brave New Worlds, 45 N. 2nd Street.

6:00 to 7:30 pm
The PAAFF awards Pak a special award at a FREE program entitled “A Conversation with Greg Pak” at the Ibrahim Theater at the International House (3701 Chestnut St). Here’s the info from the official website:

PAAFF is excited to present a free special event with Greg Pak, award-winning director of “Robot Stories” and Marvel Comics writer (“Hulk”). Greg will be in attendance for live Q&A and will also be receiving the PAAFF 10 Emerging Voice Award. Moderated by Lorraine Ballard Morrill, Clear Channel Radio

“Vision Machine” #1 nabs Book of the Week honors from Awesomed by Comics

The Awesomed by Comics podcast has chosen “Vision Machine” #1 as one of its Books of the Week!
Click here to listen to the podcast.
The “Vision Machine” discussion begins around 1:05:40.

“Incredible Hercules: Love and War” wins Popular Vote Award at the Barcelona Comic Fair

“Incredible Hercules: Love and War,” written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente with pencils by Clayton Henry and Salva Espin, has won the Popular Vote Award for Best Foreign Publication at the Barcelona Comic Fair.
Click here for the full article.

Wizard interviews Pak about the Hulk

On the eve of the Mighty Marvel Smashfest which is “World War Hulk” #1, Wizard interviews writer Greg Pak about the story. Here’s an excerpt:

What do you think the Hulk’s biggest hurdle is going to be when he lands on Earth?
PAK: I’d hazard a guess that Doctor Strange may provide the biggest challenge. First, because he’s the Sorcerer Supreme. Second, because of all the Illuminati, he has the most history and closest friendship with the Hulk. And third, because in issue #4 of World War Hulk, something goes way, way, way too far. I’ll say no more.
Are there any other landmark issues readers should watch out for?
PAK: Incredible Hulk #110, written by yours truly with pencils by the inestimable Carlo Pagulayan, includes a shocking revelation about the Hulk’s true nature. Hulk fans absolutely won’t want to miss this one.

Click here for the full story.

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