An Interview with Blastosaurus creator Richard Fairgray
Before you read the interview below, make sure you check out our review of issue #1 right here. You can also check out the official website http://blastosaurus.com and, of course, search for it on ComiXology Submit. You can also follow Richard on Twitter @Blastosaurus.
All-Comic: Just want to start by saying thank you so much for talking with All-Comic about yourself and Blastosaurus. Blastosaurus #1 just hit the digital comics market by way of Comixology Submit recently, but Blastosaurus, the character, seems to have existed for some time now. Where did the character originate?
Richard Fairgray: Well, technically he began as an impromptu theme song when I was awoken y my friend Emma while clutching a toy dinosaur and gun, but his first appearance in print was as a fake ad for a 90s style Saturday morning cartoon in my graphic novel Wilhelm Scream. At the time he was called Gunasaurus and he was never meant to be more than that. It wasn’t until about a year later that I revisited the property and realized there was some potential there.
For a long time he remained as a parody, existing in short stories designed to hit the clichéd beats of that type of show but gradually I began to see that he could really function as a layered and (I hope) engaging character.
The periodic elements dropped away very quickly, the name was changed and Blastosaurus became this mix of a tongue in cheek look at mutant crime fighter stories and an action adventure and a comedy and…well, whatever else we feel like writing I suppose.
At what point did you decide to team up with Terry Jones and what has it been like to work collaboratively on Blastosaurus?
Richard Fairgray: Terry and I have worked together for about 13 years now, but he came on board with Blastosaurus right at the point where he graduated from a joke to a narrative. Terry and I are very similar people, drawing from similar cultural wells that are separated by 37 years, people often say that Blastosaurus has modern comic ideas but a Silver Age sensibility to its storytelling, I think that sort of captures what we do pretty well, it’s dense but it isn’t silly.
Blastosaurus is a very unique story and it seems like there are many genres and influences at work. What is your elevator pitch for the series to people unfamiliar with it?
Richard Fairgray: My workers at conventions mock me for this but I’ve become very specific in the way I sell the book, so, to quote their impressions of me ‘Blastosaurus is like the serious grown up version of all the cartoons you loved as a kid. Did… did it ever bother you that the Ninja Turtles could put on a hat and no-one noticed they were Turtles anymore… or that Robocop could sneak up on bad guys even though his normal step made a (insert bad impression of robot sound here)? Well, even as a three year old this brought me out of the reality, so I always wanted to create the mutant crime fighter who lived by the rules of the real world. Yes, Blastosaurus is a 6’ tall mutant triceratops cop with a ray gun from the future but really that isn’t an advantage, he can’t go undercover, he can’t fit in a police car and he has to get his pants specially made. He still fights evil mutant raptors and killer robots and there’s time travel and everything else you want from this kind of story but at the heart of it he’s a curmudgeonly old man who wishes he wasn’t shaped like a dinosaur.’
That seems to work pretty well.
There are a lot of different elements in the first issue, particularly within the first few pages. What led to the story opening in that way?
Richard Fairgray: The inspiration for this came from Treasure Island. I loved this book growing up and one of the things that fascinated me most was how the perspective shifted based on who would know what and who had actually been there to see it happen. I loved the way tone switched between Jim and the Doctor; I think this is what led us to have the origin story be told by three different people.
I know it is very dense and for some people it might be off putting but when you have a story happening in the past, present and future telling it in a linear fashion just seems plodding, especially since it would mean not introducing several of the main characters until many issues in.
As Blastosaurus says on Page 4 ‘you gotta pay attention, cos it gets complicated.’
Richard Fairgray: Yes, the series is monthly for at least the first year and the first 15 issues are already in the bag. 31 issues are written and drawing has begun on the 16th. Plans go somewhere into the 70s at this stage.
What made you decide to pursue a release of Blastosaurus through Comixology Submit, and what was that process like?
Richard Fairgray: It’s the only way to release a digital comic to the global market. Blastosaurus is a print comic, it’s always been written with print in mind and while it has been published online there’s never really been a format like ComiXology before that so nicely replicates the experience of reading an actual book, giving you a way to spend time on a panel rather than awkwardly scrolling through whole pages.
Do you have plans to bring Blastosaurus to the print market?
Richard Fairgray: Blasto exists in print in New Zealand and Australia, with the first two volumes already in stores and the third at the printer as I type. The reality of distributing a print edition Worldwide is beyond my scope at this point (just from an admin perspective it would be a nightmare, the kind of nightmare that would really distract from the writing and drawing).
What is the comic book community like in New Zealand?
Richard Fairgray: I imagine it’s the same as it is anywhere else, a lot of people want to create comics and a small handful people actually do it, some of those people create good work. More and more it’s irrelevant where you are from if you want to write and draw.
What are some of your earlier memories of comic books?
Richard Fairgray: I didn’t actually even see a physical comic book until I was 16. When I was very young I thought comics were some relic of the past, a medium from a time before television or something. You have to keep in mind this was before the internet and there were really no comic books anywhere near where I lived. That was actually why I published my first comic back when I was 7, I thought I was doing something that no-one else was doing.
Then I sort of had comics ruined for me by Terry, when he saw me casually pick up a Simpsons comic one day he took it off me and handed me Miracleman. The next day he gave me Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, V for Vendetta and a slew of other amazing titles. Then I went to a comic shop for the first time and was very disillusioned when I realized these comics weren’t the standard level of quality.
Richard Fairgray: I can’t deny the influence of Ninja Turtles, something so prominent in my childhood has to have an influence but I like to think my TV influences come from Dr Katz and The Simpsons, my literary influences are from Evelyn Waugh and Joe Orton and Alan Moore, people who create dense and developed realities and backgrounds for their characters.
How about your art style?
Richard Fairgray: My art style is something I can never really explain. Being technically blind means I’m never really certain how other people see my drawings. In terms of my favorites, I love J.H. Williams (especially his work with Mick Gray), Bill Sienkiewicz, Kurt Schaffenberger, a range of people form a range of times. I think the best I can do is make the comic look good to me and make sense to others.
Are there any other major influences to Blastosaurus?
Richard Fairgray: Nothing much beyond what I’ve already talked about. There are elements of early Starsky and Hutch in there I suppose, back when they had a plethora of background characters and a sense of grandeur to the show before budgetary constraints made them slice it all down.
Are you working on any other projects right now or ideas you might pursue in the future?
Richard Fairgray: We have 8 ongoing series that we publish online, I try and have 60 pages a month of new content, but in terms of other new books we only have a few projects we are really focusing on, mostly because I know I don’t have much more spare time to fill with drawing. We also do picture books and occasionally work on novels.
Now that you are working on the Blastosaurus series, will there still be updates to the webcomic series you feature on the Square Planet Comics website?
Richard Fairgray: Yes, nothing is slowing down on any of the other titles, in fact from October we’ll be increasing our output to 100 pages a month with a new series that we’re toying around with at the moment.
What advice would you tell a younger version of yourself knowing that you have been successful in getting this story published?
Richard Fairgray: I would tell myself to stop being so neurotic and to invest in Apple right before the iPod gets invented.
What is one question you would ask your future self if he were to come back to you at this point in your life?
Richard Fairgray: Is there anything I can know that’ll be awesome but not damage the timelines?
Thanks again, Mr. Fairgray! We are excited to see where the story of Blastosaurus takes us and hope to see more from you in the future.