Writer Todd DeZago is well known for his work on such series as DC’s “Young Justice” with Todd Nauck and “Impulse” with Craig Rousseau as well as his work with the late Mike Wieringo on “Sensational Spider-Man” from Marvel and their creator-owned “Tellos.” In 2005, DeZago and Rousseau teamed-up to create “The Perhapanauts.” Now, the pair and the series are with a new publisher and, in February, will put out “The Perhapanauts Annual,” which serves as an introduction to new readers and a treat for long-time fans. DeZago spoke with CBR News about the return of the characters, their new home at Image and of things that go bump in the night.
“Simply put, The Perhapanauts are a team of agents for a secret (government?) organization called BEDLAM that investigates and repairs rips in the fabric of reality and, most importantly, returns whatever strange beastie that came through to it’s own eerie dimension,” said DeZago in describing the premise of the series. “The team, however, is made up of those same weird creatures; there’s a Bigfoot, a ghost, a faerie, a chupacabra, etc. working together to keep humanity safe.”
“The book itself is part thrilling adventure, part suspense and horror, with a dash of Saturday morning cartoon thrown in when it’s least appropriate,” DeZago added.
“It’s no secret, I love monsters,” DeZago said of the inspiration behind “The Perhapanauts.” “And I’ve always been fascinated with the unexplained, the paranormal, and cryptozoology. When Craig and I decided to do something of our own — I had just walked away from developing ‘Young Justice’ and, while that didn’t work out, was still eager to do a team book — the idea for a team of monsters sounded like fun. I gave Craig some character descriptions, he gave me gold, and we were off!”
The series’ subject matter is close to DeZago’s heart. “My own obsession with it goes way back. As a kid in High School, I remember begging the school librarian to make copies of a ‘Reader’s Digest’ story on the Roger Patterson/Bigfoot film for me. A few years later, my friends and I vowed to leave for British Columbia on the day we graduated to go and trap a Sasquatch. Didn’t happen — I think we had a big party instead. I can recite passages of Doug Moench’s ‘Big Book of The Unexplained’ and have seen a couple odd things myself once and again.”
The book has seen comparisons to such titles as “BPRD” from “The Perhapanauts” previous home, Dark Horse, and “Proof” from their new home at Image Comics. All these series feature teams investigating paranormal monsters. “Craig and I actually love both those books,” said DeZago, “and yeah, in the beginning people compared us to ‘BPRD’ and, when they debuted ‘Proof,’ Alex [Grecian] and Riley [Rossmo] were compared to us. But I think all three of them are very different books and, while they may tread some of the same ground — ‘Proof’ and ‘The Perhapanauts’ in particular — they are worlds apart. I would hope that anyone who wishes to make that comparison will pick up the books and see for themselves. They won’t be disappointed.”
Of the change in publishers, DeZago said, “Craig and I were very happy with our Editor, Dave Land, and many of the other people we dealt with at Dark Horse but felt that, on the whole, Dark Horse did nothing to promote our book. We would go to shows and conventions and folks would tell us that they’d never even heard of ‘The Perhapanauts!’ Joe Keatinge and Eric Stephenson at Image have done an incredible job getting us some much needed visibility in just the few months since we’ve announced the move and we’re amazed at how many people have shown a new interest.
“We’ve received more e-mail and hits on our website in the past month than in the past two and a half years,” added DeZago. “Lots of people have logged onto our Image Forums Message Board to say that they’re excited to check it out and see what everyone’s been talking about. ”
DeZago talked about the choice to start out with an annual. “Originally, Craig and I were interested in doing an annual at Dark Horse, to do a double-sized, good old-fashioned story that would stand on it’s own as well as wrap up a couple small sub-plots that we’d left out there. Dark Horse really wasn’t interested.
When we talked to Image, they were thrilled by the idea and their excitement was contagious.
“Craig and I soon realized that it could be much bigger, much better than what we had been imagining in the first place,” DeZago continued. “So the annual became something different — a very easy-to-read, easily accessible, thrilling introduction the world of The Perhapanauts! The perfect jumping on point for new readers.”
The annual tells a story that DeZago and Rousseau have had percolating for a while. “We have been aching to do a story about the legendary Jersey Devil since we began ‘The Perhapanauts’ five years ago,” said DeZago. “This is one terrifying creature and we wanted to make sure we had plenty of room to tell the tale! When the over-sized annual came along, we knew that this would be the place to pit the team against this thing.
“Not that you really need to know this — the story is a complete stand-alone — but the Annual takes place between issues 2 and 3 of our last story arc, ‘Second Chances,'” DeZago said of the annual’s placement in series continuity. “The Jersey Devil has been unleashed on our world and is on a vicious killing spree; such a threat that BEDLAM must send out all of it’s operatives, forcing the two teams to work together.”
DeZago continued, “As with any ‘Perhapanauts’ story, it’s also about the characters, about their own growth, either personally or as a team. And while it doesn’t take away from the story or create any confusion, there are some seeds planted here that we will see the repercussions of somewhere down the road.”
Follow the annual, fans will be able to get a much more steady fix of the characters than the past format of mini-series. “‘The Perhapanauts’ is now an on-going,” said DeZago. “We’ll be going monthly as of April with ‘Perhapanauts’ #1 featuring covers by our own Craig Rousseau and the amazing Art Adams.
“We will still be portioning out our story in four-issue arcs,” DeZago continued. “The first one is entitled ‘Triangle,’ but there will be a much freer flow to the tales and to the characters than ever before. Also, we’ll feature some back-up stories from time to time to fill in some of the very rich background of the characters and the agency they work for.”
New readers looking to read the previous adventures of “The Perhapanauts” won’t have far to look. “The trades of the first two series, ‘First Blood’ and ‘Second Chances’ — see what we did there? I hope that makes it easy — are still available from Dark Horse and available through your Local Comic Shop.”
“The Perhapanauts Annual” #1 hits the stands February 6, 2008.