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DF Interview: Chip Zdarsky brings a new type of SF to life with Kaptara
By Byron Brewer
There are no rules with the new science-fiction fantasy Kaptara, which follows an openly gay astronaut who finds himself stranded on a planet full of aliens, heavily inspired by the designs of “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” action figures. From Chip Zdarsky, stepping into the writer’s seat, and artist Kagan McLeod, the series takes advantage of the strong creative relationship the pair developed as members of the same studio, offering a captivating, genre-bending narrative with lush, wildly imaginative visuals.
Dynamic Forces wanted to learn more about the book and the “studio” legend as well, so we caught up with Zdarsky and this is what he had to say.
Dynamic Forces: I understand you and Kagan have known each other for quite some time, dating back to a shared studio? Tell us about it.
Chip Zdarsky: Yeah! We co-founded a Toronto studio called the Royal Academy of Illustration and Design (RAID) with Cameron Stewart and Ben Shannon back in the early 2000s. It was a great setup and part of the fun was bouncing weird ideas off of each other in shared sketchbooks, which is what we're trying to recapture here with Kaptara. The studio's actually still going on today with, like, a dozen creators!
DF: Now you are both writers and artists. Who is doing what on this new Image Comics ongoing?
Chip Zdarsky: We're both plotting it and I'm writing the script. Kagan is doing all of the artwork with some flatting assistance and I'm handling lettering. It's a tight ship!
DF: Tell us about the premise of this series.
Chip Zdarsky: Well, the story mainly revolves around Keith Kanga, a bio-engineer who finds himself stranded on a weird, wild planet which appears to be inhabited by classic action figures and settings brought to life. It's definitely our love letter to that 1980s period, but we'll be sure to pay homage to toys from the 1990s as well!
DF: Can you tell us about some of the characters in the book? Any copyright problems here?
Chip Zdarsky: Ha ha! I think we're in the clear ...
MANTON is the rugged and stoic captain of the guard who becomes Keith's savior in issue one.
DARTOR is the oafish, shirtless prince of the kingdom. Beware his patented blowdarts.
SHE-LA is our fierce, yet laid-back, feline tracker.
And MOTIVATIONAL ORB is an orb who motivates. He's the best.
DF: Tell us about Keith Kanga and tell us the ... er uh ... origin of the name. (smiles)
Chip Zdarsky: Kagan totally tricked me by coming up with that name, an ANAGRAM of HIS name. Bastard.
Keith is a sarcastic loner, who's left Earth to escape heartache and to find a new life. He's kind of Peter Parker before the spider-bite. A little selfish, a bit of a jerk. Will Kaptara change him for the better? OR WILL IT KILL HIM? No, seriously, I'm asking you. We've only written up to issue #2.
DF: Is it easier or harder for you as an artist to write scripts for another artist? Does it differ in perspective from that used by, say, writer Matt Fraction, with whom you work as artist on Sex Criminals?
Chip Zdarsky: I feel more guilt as an artist writing for another artist! My heart tightens when I write the words "crowd scene" for someone else to draw.
DF: Besides your wallet, why should readers pick up Kaptara?
Chip Zdarsky: Kagan's wallet? The wallets of his PRECIOUS CHILDREN?
It's fun! And beautiful! There are some jokes and good times and it's just getting started! Issue #2 is already my favorite thing I've ever worked on.
DF: What is next from the pen or keyboard of Chip Zdarsky?
Chip Zdarsky: Probably a love letter or two.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Chip Zdarsky for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Kaptara #1 from Image Comics is in stores now!
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