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Chris Eliopoulos Interview (MAR 09)

 height=Chris Eliopoulos is probably best known for his Franklin Richards books from Marvel, but he's also the creator of Desperate Times and his online strip, Misery Loves Sherman. Now, he's writing Marvel's Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers. Westfield's Roger Ash spoke with Eliopoulos about this fun new book.

Westfield: How did this series come about?

Chris Eliopoulos: My editor, Nate Cosby, wanted to do a Lockjaw book. He's a big fan of dogs, I guess. Dogs and football. He couldn't get the football in, but he could get the dogs in. So he said, "Come up with an idea for a Lockjaw book and a bunch of other animals." I said OK and gave him a list of everything and the Powers That Be finally decided on the name, Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers. That simple.

Westfield: Who are the Pet Avengers?

Eliopoulos: They are some of the animals in the Marvel Universe. We've got Lockjaw; Lockheed the dragon; Niels, Speedball's cat who changes his name to Hairball to be a super-hero; Zabu is coming onboard; Ms. Lion, who is Aunt May's dog; Falcon's bird, Redwing; and a new Frog Thor.

Westfield: Why did you choose these characters?

Eliopoulos: Number one, I like them. Number two, I was trying to create a mix of characters, sort of Avenger-like but also personality-wise to play off each other. I wanted the arrogant one, the hero one, the fallen character who needs to be redeemed. Ms. Lion is the comedy of the troupe. Having these personalities play against each other really did it. There are going to be some of the other animals in the Marvel U popping up here and there, helping them on their way, but not full-fledged team members. Basically, my editor, Nate, gave me a list of all the animals in the Marvel U and said pick whoever you want. I was lucky enough to get whoever I wanted.

Westfield: What can you say about the story in the mini-series?

Eliopoulos: Not much. Basically, Lockjaw comes across an item of extreme power. There are other items like this spread throughout the planet. He needs help in order to gather them before any of the bad guys get them and destroy the world. He's able to teleport and find these guys and go after these items, and they're not always in the easiest of places to get to. That's about all I can give you. If I give away too much, it'll ruin the surprises in the story.

Westfield: Most people probably know you from your Franklin Richards books. Is this in the same style as those?

Eliopoulos: Well, it's drawn by a real artist, not me. It's a full story and there's going to be humor in it, but it's not a cutesy little kid's book. I'm trying to treat the characters with respect. A lot of people love these characters and I don't want to just make poop jokes or peeing on the carpet kind of jokes. I really want to show that these guys are a vital part of the Marvel Universe. It's not going to be in the same vein as Franklin, but there will be humor. There's going to be adventure and maybe even some sadness.

Westfield: What can you say about the artist you're working with?

Eliopoulos: The guy's name is Ig Guara. He's really talented. I have no clue where he came from. He was doing some Marvel Adventures books for Nate. He sent me some samples of what Ig had been working on and there were a bunch of dinosaurs in there and it looked great. He asked if this guy was good enough for me and I loved it. I've gotten the first batch of pages from him and they're stunning. He really can draw an animal. His Frog Thor is just awesome. He gets it. He really enjoys the scripts and he's really a talented artist. I think he's going to go places when this thing is done.

 height=Westfield: This book has kind of an old fashioned feel, at least from the title. Are you concerned at all about new comic readers saying "This sounds old" and not wanting to pick it up?

Eliopoulos: I don't think so. I just wanted to do a fun book that I find interesting. The reaction we got when we announced the book was pretty good. Everyone seems to love the idea. I just hope I can execute it as well as they're expecting. It's just a fun, tongue-in-cheek title. It's something different that you don't see a lot of in the big two companies these days. Mostly it's dark and grim. I think people are craving for a little more lighthearted fare and seeing different characters and different stories. I think everybody's getting a little tired of death and the event thing. Now you've got an opportunity to have a fun little romp. It's the sorbet between meals. That's what this book will be.

Westfield: Do you hope to do more with the Pet Avengers if the mini-series does well?

Eliopoulos: Yeah. I'm hoping it does well just so I can keep doing this. I've got the first issue under my belt and the ideas keep coming and coming. I feel bad for my editor because I constantly keep coming up with new ideas for things. He says "Just write this one and we'll deal with that later." I just love the idea of all these guys getting out there and doing things. They're fun characters. I'm having a ball with it. If I'm lucky enough to get to do more, I would love it.

Westfield: Are there any other projects that you're working on that you'd like to mention?

Eliopoulos: I'm still writing and drawing Franklin. I'm also doing the framing sequences for the Marvel Assistant Editors book that's coming out in April. And I'm doing my own web comic which has been going for a little over a year. It's a web strip and it's at www.MiseryLovesSherman.com.

Westfield: Do you have any closing comments that you'd like to make?

Eliopoulos: For the doubters out there, just give it a try. For the ones who are really into the idea, I hope I live up to their expectations.

To link to this interview, use this link (right click and copy)

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