While roaming around the floor I came across a booth that caught my eye. As someone that’s become somewhat of a Wizard of Oz fan thanks to the Marvel version of Baum’s book that took me deeper than the MGM film did. There was a rack of issues for something that looked like a Western version of the Wizard of Oz. That got me talking to main writer, Tom Hutchinson. We agreed to do an interview Sunday morning. Expect to see some reviews of books from Big Dog Ink in the next few days and weeks.
Me: Tell me about Big Dog Ink
Tom Hutchison: Big Dog Ink started in 2009 and we’ve been publishing since 2010. Our first title was Penny for Your Soul - it was a pretty good hit right out of the gate for us. Followed that up with our first super hero book, Critter. And now, two years later, we have four ongoing titles. Some are recurring mini-series, but we now have Critter and Legend of Oz as our first two ongoing-monthlies.
Me: When I was talking to you yesterday you said you write pretty much all the titles?
TH: I write the four core books for Big Dog Ink. Penny for Your Soul, Critter, Legend of Oz, and our new horror title Ursa Minor. We have done some creator owned stuff Ned the Chainsaw Guy, Pinpoint,Wrex Zombie Killer. But the four primary books we put out are all mine, yes.
Me: And you were telling me yesterday you work with some artists in Brazil. Can you describe the process to work on the books?
TH: It’s really no different probably than anybody else does. I write a script, the script gets sent to them, there’s an extra step because of the translation process. The guys there don’t always speak the best english so they have a translator to fix that up. Even then, there are some glitches in translation, but all that does is that we get some funny layouts every once in a while. We just fix them and it’s no big deal. They do their work and send me computer files. I don’t have to have any paper actual artwork in my hands. All I need are files. Those get sent off to the letter and colorist and so on and it’s simple as that.
Me: The first time I’ve seen your stuff was here at Baltimore Comic-Con. How can I get this at my shop? I know we spoke yesterday about ComiXolgy, who’s going to be launching something for smaller publishers soon. But how can I get my hands on this now?
TH: We’re in comic shops across the country. Whether or not a shop close to anyone is actually carrying us is a different story. But we are available through Diamond and Previews catalog. So any shop can order us even if they’re not ordering it for the shelf. So if you want [any of the books] it’s just as easy for a store to order those as to order Batman or Superman. So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Outside of that we are at shows across the country and we also have our website http://bigdogink.com/ where we sell our books there as well.
Me: Yesterday when I was talking to you, I was really excited about Legends of Oz of the Wicked West. Can you describe that to help readers get an idea what it’s about?
TH: Yeah, it’s basically just a Western reimagining of The Wizard of Oz. So instead of ruby slippers she has ruby spurs and ruby bullets. Toto is her horse. We have a six issue mini-series that follows the basic outline of L. Frank Baum’s first book and in the MGM movie. When you get to issues 4-6 (especially the cliffhanger) you see that we take a left turn and we start to make the story our own. We have a six issue mini-series that just wrapped up, but there’s a cliffhanger there that leads to the monthly series that starts in October. So there’s much, much more Oz to come.
Me: Is Penny for your Soul continuing? I saw here you have a trade paperback that looks really nice. What was the premise and if it’s an ongoing - what’s going to be going on there?
TH: The premise: It’s sort of a dark humor, Vertigo style book about a demon who decides she wants to get in on the End of Days battle between Heaven and Hell. So she sets herself up in Las Vegas and offers to buy her partron’s souls for $10 000 dollars. So that was our first book, which we put out in 2010 and it was a seven issue mini-series and we followed that up with Penny for Your Soul: False Prophet, which was also a seven issue mini-series and that just finished up. We’ll have the collected edition for that coming out in December. Following that, and directly off of number seven, comes our Joan of Arc mini-series which spins right out of the story in False Prophet number seven. That’ll be a four-issue monthly series that starts in October. Once Joan is done, come next Spring, Penny for Your Soul will be back with another seven issue mini-series. Basically, that series is on-going in that there’s a long overarching story that we’re telling, but we’re telling it in seven issue arcs. So the next arc will be a new number. And we want it out in Spring or Summer of 2013.
Me: So it seems that with that particular book you’re doing like what BPRD is doing. It’s a series of mini-series put together.
TH: Yeah, it’s a model that a lot of comics do. Bomb Queen does it. It happens all the time. Sometimes you don’t need to have 50 issues to tell a story. In our case what we’re doing - each series is based on one of the signs of the apocalypse and so it’s really easy for us to just break it into these seven mini-series. Each one will have seven issues. And the idea is to do all 49 of those issues and have one final, 50th issue, that’s our End of Days battle and will wrap up the story.
Me: So one final question - do each of the mini-series focus on the same characters or just the same battle for the End of Time, but with different characters?
TH:False Prophet definitely had, without giving anything away, definitely had a new cast than the original. There were definitely some similarities and some characters carried over, but it definitely had a new cast. Series 3 will kind of tie both of those series together and blend the character base from both of them into one. But we didn’t want to just give the same thing every time. We wanted to keep it fresh and change it up. I think that we found a way to keep doing that while we still stay on our trajectory for where we want to be for the overall story.
Me: Well that sounds really great. Is there anything you want to wrap up with? TH: Well, Big Dog Ink is growing. We’ve got four core titles. We’re adding at least two more next year - possibly a third. It’s a really exciting time for us to be in this business. While I’m writing most of the core titles. We’re hiring some new writers to come and take some of the writing off of my shoulders. We’re going to have genres across the board. We’ll be releasing our first truly all-ages book next Spring. We’re going to have....well, I can’t talk about them yet because they’re going to be later in the year, but they’re going to be very, very cool. We have some really big name creators that we’re attaching to the books. We’ve gotten really lucky in our last two years to work with guys like Joe Lindsner and Ryan Otly, and on and on. I can’t thank them enough for helping put us on the map.