Comic Watch’s Cody White caught up with American film producer (Napoleon Dynamite, Broken Hill, Coyote) and screen-writer (Star Wars Resistance, Spider-Man, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Rocket and Groot, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) Chris “Doc” Wyatt to discuss his sophomore effort from 1First Comics, Alien Bones.
Comic Watch: From alien dinosaurs to cyborg pirates, Alien Bones is a pretty wild adventure through space! What were your inspirations for writing this particular story? Were any of the characters inspired by real life?
DOC: In terms of inspiration, I’ve always thought of ALIEN BONES as borrowing from JURASSIC PARK, INDIANA JONES, and HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE. I suppose some late 70’s DOCTOR WHO is thrown in there for good measure. In terms of the characters being inspired by real life: yes, the main character is based on my son. And she’s only a small character, but the teacher is based on my favorite teacher growing up.
CW: Alien Bones seems to be the first volume in what could potentially be a series of adventures. A lot of the work in this volume seems geared towards world-building and the sort, but there are also a number of explanations of various scientific theories and methodologies. Would you say that this book is designed to teach as much as it is to entertain? I notice that it is scheduled to release during International Dinosaur Month.
DOC: I guess I never thought of ALIEN BONES as a “teaching tool,” strictly speaking. But I do think that, generally, one of the values of art and entertainment is exposing readers/viewers to new ideas and concepts—but less in a classroom sense and more in a “you learn something new every day…” sense. I wanted kids to go on a space adventure romp with this book—and if they happened to start thinking about concepts like xeno-evolution or endangered species preservation along the way, then that’s great too.
CW: The majority of your work prior to Alien Bones has been in the realms of television and film, notably Napoleon Dynamite and the numerous animated titles you worked on with Kevin Burke. Although I know you previously did Witchfinder General (also for 1First Comics), I still wonder: what challenges (or perhaps advantages) did you come across when changing mediums to comics?
DOC: There’s definitely a learning curve to writing script for characters that are static instead of moving. There were sections in WITCHFINDER where I, in the script, had laid out the panels quite badly. Chris Grine, my artist, helped me with that, making suggestions and giving me notes on the script. But I’ve been a lifelong comics reader and collector, so that background helped greatly.
CW: What can you tell our readers about the collaborative process with Chris Grine, whom you also worked with on Witchfinder General? The give and take between writer and artist can really evolve into a special relationship. Was anything notably different the second time around?
DOC: Yes, the second time around, on ALIEN BONES, I trusted Chris completely. In the scripts for WITCHFINDER, I belabored the visual descriptions of things, hoping they would look as I envisioned. But then I’d get the pencils back from Chris and things always looked BETTER than I had described or even hoped for. So, with ALIEN BONES, I spent much less time on physical descriptions in the scripts. I would write down the one or two elements of a location, prop, or character that were important to the story and trust Chris to design the rest. In this book he designed alien dinosaurs, spaceships, an entire port city, an asteroid based, interstellar museum exhibits, and more… and everything always knocked my socks off.
CW: Now that you’ve got a taste for the comics medium between these two books and the issues of Star Wars Adventures you penned for IDW Publications, where do you see yourself going next as a writer? Are there any other comics in the works? And if so, are there any particular properties at other publishers you’d like a shot at?
DOC: I do have another indie comic that I’m pursuing, but no announcement yet. In terms of dream comics gigs for existing properties—so many! SILVER SURFER for Marvel, DR. FATE for DC, DOCTOR WHO for Titan Comics, TRANSFORMERS for IDW, or THE PHANTOM for Dynamite would all be lifelong dream fulfillment. That’s just a few!
CW: I’m sure you’ve seen the viral meme about how the worst part of growing up is that nobody ever asks what your favorite dinosaur is anymore. So I’m here to ask! What’s your favorite dinosaur?
DOC: T-Rex, of course. Not only the species in general, but two T-Rexes in particular. GRUMPY from LAND OF THE LOST and SUPER DINOSAUR from the animated series of the same name. SUPER DINOSAUR was based on a comic book by Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard, but now it’s an animated series that Kevin and I had the chance to develop and executive produce. The first 12 episodes will be dropping on Amazon Prime on October 6th (four days after ALIEN BONES comes out)! The animation, by Atomic Cartoons in Vancouver, looks amazing!
CW: Anything you’d like to say to the millions of kids (and adults too!) out there with aspirations to tell stories for a living?
DOC: The keys are the same things that everyone always tells you—believing in yourself, working hard, being kind, and never giving up. Work in the arts or entertainment can be hard; it can make you question yourself; it can be discouraging. If you want to do it, you have to just keep pushing and ignore the critics.
CW: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
DOC: ALIEN BONES will be out October 2nd! You can ask in your local comic book store, or pre-order on Amazon.com here: https://www.amazon.com/Alien-Bones-Chris-Doc-Wyatt/dp/1618553402/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=alien+bones+wyatt&qid=1569539108&sr=8-1
PRESS RELEASE AND PREVIEW
Emmy Nominated Writer Chris “Doc” Wyatt and Eisner Nominated Artist Chris Grine
to Publish ALIEN BONES, An All Ages Graphic Novel, Timed to International Dinosaur Month
(June 3, 2019) Here on Earth, more than a thousand species of dinosaurs have been named and identified. But what about— alien dinosaurs? This October, timed to International Dinosaur Month, Emmy nominated writer Chris “Doc” Wyatt (Marvel’s Rocket and Groot), Eisner nominated artist Chris Grine (Time Shifters) and 1First Comics will publish ALIEN BONES, an all ages outer space graphic novel, with plenty of robots, pirates and, of course, alien dinosaurs.
“The idea of ALIEN BONES came from wanting to thrill my son with an adventure out in the universe,” said Chris “Doc” Wyatt, the acclaimed television writer and film producer (“Napoleon Dynamite”). “I can admit that astronomy can sometimes seem dry and boring in the classroom, so I wanted to find a way to encourage my kid to think about the cosmos as an exciting place to explore and discover. He was interested, at the time, in dinosaurs—a lot of kids go through a dinosaur phase, and my son was no different. So, I thought: “What about kids having adventures with dinosaurs in space?”
In the all ages original graphic novel ALIEN BONES, ten-year old Liam Mycroft roams the galaxy in a starship with his paleontologist father in search of the fossils of extinct alien dinosaurs. But when his father disappears inside the mysterious ruins of an underground alien city, Liam, his best friend Dianna, his robot Standard-5, and his tiny pet dino are launched on a cosmic adventure that could impact the entire human race.
“I’ve drawn parallel worlds, a robot Abraham Lincoln, an evil witch apocalypse and the strange adventures of a half chicken, half rabbit creature named Chickenhare,” said ALIEN BONES co-creator and artist Chris Grine. “And this original graphic novel really let me to push my art into new and exciting directions, specifically deep into the heart of outer space. What’s more awesome than dinosaur fossils? Alien dinosaurs!”
“When I was growing up, the idea that there might be other planets out in deep space, beyond our solar system, was widely accepted, but wasn’t yet proven,” said Wyatt. “Now over 4,000 exoplanets have been pinpointed, and astronomers are discovering more all the time! What secrets might those planets hold? What epic journeys could they provide? Let’s hope we can use storytelling to raise a generation of explorers with enough passion and curiosity to try and answer those questions!”
1First Comics will publish the ALIEN BONES graphic novel to be available in comic stores on October 2 and in bookstores on October 8th
Dinosaurs! In! Space!: An Interview with Chris ‘Doc’ Wyatt
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