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DF Interview: From Netflix to the comic page, Trevor Pryce continues his saga of battlin’ bullfrogs in Kulipari: Heritage
By Byron Brewer
Kulipari: Army of Frogs by football player Trevor Pryce is a novel, part of his “Kulipari” trilogy of animal warriors, which has been adapted as an animation by Netflix this summer.
It’s also getting a spinoff comic book four-issue miniseries from Red 5 Comics, Kulipari: Heritage, by Pryce, Joshua Starnes and Sonia Liao, which follows on directly from the end of the toon’s first season.
How did a former Pro Bowler come to be telling sagas of animal wars? Find out now in this special Dynamic Forces interview.
Dynamic Forces: Trevor, how do you go from a four-time Pro Bowl defensive end and 14 NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets to penning sagas about frog armies … and successful ones to boot!
Trevor Pryce: Pretty easily actually. I was a comic book kid when I was younger. But Batman used to come out once a month and you needed to know where to find it. So I’d get one every 3 months. I had an active imagination, so I’d come up with my own stories when there were no comics to read. I loved art as well and I became a pretty good artist. I mean if you wanted someone to draw you a duck on a BMX bike doing big air jumps, I was a pretty good artist. So I always was a writer and creator of some sort.
Fast forward 20 years and I’m getting paid and I have five months off a year as a pro athlete. So to fill that time I would attack entertainment. I started a record label. My company, Outlook, was originally Outlook Music Company. I dropped the “music” and now it’s just Outlook Company. I became partners in a big ad agency. I was also one of the original founders of BEATPORT.COM
So getting back into writing and creating stories was a very natural transition. Evolution.
DF: Word is that you really do not like frogs (lol). Tell us if that is true, and how you came to develop your concepts that would eventually lead to the “Kulipari” trilogy of animal warriors novels (including a frog army) that have been adapted as an animation by Netflix this summer.
Trevor Pryce: That is 100% true. I grew up in Central Florida. Frogs everywhere. And they’d get run over in the streets. So imagine you’re 11 years old and there’s basically frog guts up and down the road in front of your house.
In 11th grade, the day we dissected frogs, I skipped class.
But for some reason, poisonous frogs I always found really, really cool. And those are the ones I should be afraid of the most…
The concept for Kulipari kind of hit me like a ton of bricks one day. I was watching 300 and I loved the visuals and production. But for some reason I kept seeing scorpions instead of soldiers.
Watching Planet Earth was the other part to that. The scenes in the rain forrest with the tree frogs leaping like superheroes.
One day those two ideas collided over a few beers and a laptop and Poison was born. That was the first name for it.
It only became Kulipari when I took the Disney approach and adopted a culture for my story. And literally the only one left was Aboriginal. They took ALL of them. Left Aboriginal for me. Thanks, Disney …
DF: Where did the idea for a comic book miniseries, Kulipari: Heritage, come from, and does it tie into the toon or the novels at all?
Trevor Pryce: Heritage came from the idea that after the Netflix series/ trilogy ends, there’s another story. But in actuality that story goes backwards. Old Jir lived an adventure before all of this and he burned out of his poison. That adventure was with Darel’s father Apari. That adventure led to the discovery of the Poison Scrolls. The source of all of the Poison creatures’ powers. And they are still out there.
Old Jir tasks brave Burnu, alone … to go find the one that he thinks is buried back at the Amphibilands. But when Burnu gets there, he finds he’s not the only one looking for them.
Heritage literally starts after the last frame of the Netflix series/book trilogy.
DF: In the comic, what can you tell us about your protagonists?
Trevor Pryce: BURNU is Kulipari. Poisonous. Powerful. He’s actually the leader of the current four soldier squad of the Kulipari. A little arrogant, but he has his ass handed to him in the first story … several times.
But even so, he’s now ready to strike out on his own. And OLD JIR thinks so as well. Burnu can handle himself. With a sword and the two now bladed boomerangs across his back, his mission is too important to leave to any other frog. His poison power gives him accelerated fighting skills, strength, stamina and speed.
But he’s not the only protagonist.
WILKA. A female Kulipari frog that Burnu discovers at the now-torn down and burned Amphibilands is the other. Her poison allows her to make copies of herself. And she’s after the same thing Burnu is. The Poison Scroll. But for very different reasons.
These two will now find themselves battling a force that not even the Frogs in the first series could have predicted.
DF: Who are the big bads in your world, and what are their goals?
Trevor Pryce: LORD NARAHDHAN is the Spider God of Death. QUEEN JARRAH, who in the first trilogy was believed to be the leader of the Nightcasting Spiders, has always pledged her servitude to him. Now that she’s dead, he shows up.
A night casting spider of the highest order, he’s also a fighter and warrior. Which nightcasters usually aren’t.
He’s responsible for the death of Wilka’s father and the destruction of her village. She wants him dead.
His goal is to collect all four of the Poison Scrolls so he can destroy the rainbow serpent and turn the land into the darkness he sees fit.
And truthfully, nothing can stop him….
Especially when he has the kind of power to bring a certain Scorpion back from the dead.
DF: You are co-writing the comic with Joshua Starnes. What can you tell me of the process of you two working together?
Trevor Pryce: It was great. I’ve never written a comic book before, so that was going to be difficult even trying. So working with Josh was great. Usually I’m very unflinching and determined in my story telling. If someone gives me an idea that’s better than mine for a story that comes out of my head, then that mean their idea is fantastic. And Josh had a lot of great ones. Ones that we actually used. And that usually never happens. I know what I want and how I want it. So that was a pleasant surprise.
Lots of phone conversations.
The process is I write a treatment that goes from beginning to end and then I have someone adapt it into whatever format I’m working in. The one caveat to that are movie scripts. I write those alone. TV scripts as well.
DF: How has it been working with artist Sonia Liao on Kulipari: Heritage? How has her art done in interpreting your world, in your opinion?
Trevor Pryce: She’s a f*cking fantastic artist. No question. I found her on the MICA portfolio site. Her colors and lines and knack for illustrating emotion and depth was evident from the first piece I saw. Sanford Greene, who did the original trilogy and is doing a bunch of great Marvel work, was blown away be her stuff as well. And he’s VERY VERY picky.
The covers are just bananas. I’m having a few blown up into posters. She nailed everything almost immediately. She’d show me her first sketches and then after a few notes, I’d get a final character design a day later and go “PRINT”.
The thing that impresses me most is the fact that she’s also a writer. So next year, she’s going to do a Wilka story of her own. Write, create, illustrate, color, etc. etc. The entire book, front to back.
She knows the Kulipari world and the rules. So I’m gonna let her go and see what she comes up with. I’m sure it’s going to be dope.
DF: What’s next for author Trevor Pryce?
Trevor Pryce: I have a graphic novel that’s probably going to come up in December called Foster Broussard: Demons of the Gold Rush.
Foster is a newly-freed lying, cheating conman who winds up in Coloma during the gold rush like everyone else, looking for gold. Although his reason is easy. Find it, or go back to England to face execution…
However, what he didn’t count on happening was getting into it with an evil industrialist, Native American gods, demon coyotes, Mud People and … Grizzly Adams, of all people!
I’m also working on the Kulipari prequel books, The Hidingwar. They are a little more advanced and would be better for older kids and adults as there’s love, an assassination, birth of tadpoles and a fire breathing Thorn Lizard named Alinta who Does. Not. Care.
Also, a story about Darel’s young ultra poisonous siblings who’ve grown up around war and are now of age and ready to take up the mantle their big brother holds.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Trevor Pryce for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Kulipari: Heritage #1 is in stores now, with #2 hitting stores Sept. 7th!
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