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PORNSAK PICHETSHOTE
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DF Interview: Pornsak Pichetshote places pet protagonists onto a peculiar planet in ‘Man’s Best’

 

By Byron Brewer

 

Homeward Bound on an alien planet, new limited series Man's Best follows three emotional support pets living on the Starship Horizon – a spacecraft searching for a new planet to house a humanity compromised by bad decisions and corporate corruption.

 

But after the ship crashes and their crew is captured, these loyal pets are their owners' only hope. Outfitted in outrageous mech suits, these three best friends must traverse a hostile world to rescue their owners, leaving them the only hope for a humanity that might not be worth saving in an adventure threatening to tear their friendship apart.

 

Pornsak Pichetshote, writer of the Eisner and Harvey Award-winning The Good Asian, soon to be adapted by director James Wan, in his first collaboration with Eisner Award-nominated artist Jesse Lonergan (Hedra, Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea) in Man’s Best provide an action-packed sci-fi romp with something to say in a tale that spans the furthest reaches of space to tug at readers' hearts. I sat down with Pornsak to discuss this new limited series.

 

Byron Brewer: Pornsak, I love the premise and therefore the title of this book! What was the inspiration for this animal-centric space saga, Man’s Best? Have you or someone close to you utilized emotional support pets?

 

Pornsak Pichetshote: Thanks! Man’s Best is Homeward Bound in space, following three emotional support animals living on a starship after they're forced to traverse an alien planet to rescue their captured crew. 1/3 Stray Dogs, 1/3 Saga, 1/3 sheer Jesse Lonergan brilliance, it’s a story made for adults but accessible to all, asking where those we go to for hope and inspiration look to when they need it.

 

And the idea came from the many people I know who have emotional support animals. I’ve kind of become the go-to pet-sitter for my friends, so I get to spend a lot of time with all kinds of pets. (A Calico I’m currently cat-sitting is meow-ing at me to play with her as I type this.) More specifically, my building used to be a no-pets building until the pandemic allowed cats as emotional support animals, and now there are many here. I know so many people who got cats and dogs during the pandemic, and they all really helped them get through it. So the emotional core of this story started with where do the ones we go to for emotional support and inspiration go when they need it? And then it was fun to tell that emotional story upon the wide canvas of sci-fi alien shenanigans that’s trying to be cute, exciting and thoughtful all at once. 

 

Byron: I realize this isn’t “that type of book,” but will the comic address in any way the necessity of emtional support animals to certain individuals? If so, can you tell readers about any research you did on the subject?

 

Pornsak Pichetshote: After my last comic The Good Asian, I kind of became notorious for research, and while there isn’t that level of research in Man’s Best, it’s hard for me to write without a certain amount of it. While our series is based around the adventures of a ragdoll cat, a golden retriever, and a French bulldog – all pets I know well – I still reached out and talked to a series of pet-owners who had one of these three just to see what all our pets had in common to help me lock in on their characters. And I do think the necessity of the emotional support that comes with these animals will be addressed, although maybe not in the manner people might immediately assume.

 

Byron: Can you tell us about the canvas upon which all this will come to pass, the world you and artist Jesse Lonergan will be building? What occurred to make humanity so downtrodden?

 

Pornsak Pichetshote: The world Jesse and I spent the most time building is the alien world our pets find themselves in, more than the world our human space crew hails from – even though the shadow of that Earth will ultimately hang over every scene featuring all of our characters. While Man’s Best is meant to be cute, wild, outrageous escapist fun, it – like all of my work – wants to talk about where we are now. So what made the humanity in this book so downtrodden? Greed, apathy, divisiveness and a pervasive sense of powerlessness in the face of it all – which some might say makes our version of humanity somewhat familiar. But the book is very much about those we’ve written off – these pure, guileless animals – and whether they truly are enough to save us when we need them to.

 

Byron: Introduce readers to your three pet protagonists and tell us of their relationships: to their owners and with each other.

 

Pornsak Pichetshote: The protagonists of Man’s Best are The Three Musketeers. Athos, Porthos, and… Lovey. Athos is our anxious ragdoll cat who just wants to please her owner. Porthos is our golden retriever that is all energetic enthusiasm. And poor Lovey, who doesn’t even get the respect of being named after a proper Musketeer, is our grumpy French bulldog. Their owner, Dr. Winters, has made Athos the leader of the crew, even if the soft ragdoll herself doesn’t understand why. Porthos is her best friend and will always support her, while grumpy Lovey doesn’t know why he’s not in charge.

 

Byron: Aside from these three main characters, are there any other support pets or human characters important to the limited series that you can spotlight here?

 

Pornsak Pichetshote: There’s two human characters that are very important to the series. Dr. Winters, the Musketeers’ owner. She’s the rich, super-genius who designed the animals’ mech suits for the same reason people dress up their pets in UPS outfits and shoot videos of them running around pretending to deliver packages: because it’s adorable. And if you had the know-how and resources to build mech for your pets and have them run obstacle courses with it, why wouldn’t you? And then there’s Captain Patel, our starship’s Captain, who, much to his own surprise, has taken a liking to these pets.

 

Byron: Can you give readers a clue as to who captures the crew after the Starship Horizon crashes? Who is the big-bad(s) here?

 

Pornsak Pichetshote: I don’t know if I want to spoil those details quite early on. But I will say that this book gives me the chance to play around with space and cosmic sci-fi, reading great graphic novels by Jordorowsky, Moebius, Starlin, and Brian K. Vaughan to name just a few if you want a hint of the threat and terrain our furry friends will find themselves up against.

 

Byron: Talk about the awesome artistry of  Jesse Lonergan.

 

Pornsak Pichetshote: Where do I start? I was a fan of Jesse’s since he released Hedra. I became totally obsessed off of just that, but I never thought I’d get a chance to work with him. His art and storytelling are so singular, I thought he’d have no interest working with another writer. It was our editor Eric Harburn who suggested he might be interested in drawing this, and I’m glad he did, because I wouldn’t have been bold enough to think he’d be interested. I honestly think Jesse is one of those once-in-a-generation cartoonists with a bold sense of design and storytelling comics hasn’t seen since Chris Ware. It’s impossible for me to even imagine someone who loves the potential of comics not also loving what Jesse can do. I can’t tell you what an honor it to be working with him.

 

Byron: Pornsak, what other upcoming projects in which you are involved, inside or outside comics, can you tell us about?

 

Pornsak Pichetshote: Well, on the TV side, I’m adapting my graphic novel The Good Asian for television. On the comics side, I have a really ambitious experimental project coming out later this year that will probably be announced in a couple of months that I can’t quite talk about yet. But I think it’s something that will simultaneously surprise some people while others will find it a logical extension of what I’ve already been doing. I have no idea what people will think of it, but I’m excited to finally talk about it soon.

 

Dynamic Forces would like to thank Pornsak Pichetshote for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Man’s Best #1 from BOOM! Studios is slated to be on sale March 20!

  



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