When it was announced earlier this month that IDW Publishing had been advanced to “premier” status by Diamond Comic Distributors – the first publisher to receive such a promotion since 1996 – it was only a matter of time before the San Diego-based company made some more monster news. And the first one through the gate was a monster; more specifically, it was a dinosaur.
This June, thanks to a deal signed with Universal Partnerships & Licensing, IDW unleashes “Jurassic Park: Redemption,” a five-issue story arc, written by the publisher’s Senior Editor Bob Schreck and featuring interior art by Nate Van Dyke. The title also boasts covers by some of the industry’s biggest names including Tom Yeates, Frank Miller, Arthur Adams, Paul Pope, and Bernie Wrightson.
“Jurassic Park,” a 1990 novel written by Michael Crichton, was, of course, adapted into a blockbuster movie by Steven Spielberg in 1993. The movie’s monster success led to two sequels and a long-rumored fourth film. The franchise also spawned a number of comic series by Topps, which, IDW will also reprint in a trade paperback collection as part of the deal.
Schreck, who founded Oni Press in 1997, has enjoyed an award-winning career as an editor and art director for Comico, Dark Horse Comics and DC Comics. Before coming to IDW in 2009, Schreck was the editor of DC’s critically acclaimed “All Star Superman” and “All Star Batman & Robin” titles.
“Jurassic Park” is Schreck’s first writing assignment and CBR News reached out to him to find out what it is about genetically re-created dinosaurs that made him shift careers (for this assignment) from editor to writer.
CBR News: As I was looking through your extensive biography, I didn’t see any comic writing credits. How did this assignment come about?
Bob Schreck: Chris Ryall, my boss at IDW, asked me to think about a possible story for us to do with “Jurassic Park” and I just kept going with it. He really liked what I had come up with and then submitted the pitch to Universal and they agreed. I just raised my hand and said I’d like to go the distance.
I’ve written a million essays and articles/papers dissecting the careers of the likes of Stanley Kubrick for friends to help them get accepted at various film schools, and wrote and directed many short films in my younger days, but this is my first foray into writing a full blown comic book series. Wish me luck.
You mentioned in the media release announcing this project that you were raised on a strict diet of Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen movies. What was it about these two legendary creators that inspired you as a child?
I was intrigued by motion pictures and dinosaurs from the get go. O’Brien, and later, Harryhausen, brought these long extinct, but real beasts, back to life for all the world to marvel at. What O’Brien accomplished with “King Kong” was pure genius, light years ahead of its time and still unmatched to this day. The same can be said of “Jason and the Argonauts,” “First Men in the Moon” and “Mighty Joe Young.” All of their achievements were true cinema landmarks, and not just in terms of pure technological prowess. They also were very strong, satisfying narratives with solid characters delivered by talented actors.
Why, specifically, do you think young boys love giant monsters terrorizing humans and battling other behemoths?
Because they were actually roaming this earth at one time, for a long time. They’re not a figment of someone’s imagination. Rather, they ignite the imaginations of all who lay their eyes on them. Face it, they’re just really cool.
Like me, you weren’t a kid when the first “Jurassic Park” movie came out, but you’ve admitted that you “adored” those films. What is it about that franchise that you found so thrilling?
Obviously, there’s the technological leap. But it’s combined with a fun plot that walked that thin line of not taking itself too seriously, and yet not derailing the tension with high camp, or just plain silliness. And that all three films didn’t shy away from the real consequences of running into one of these creatures: You lose, every time. And it’s never pretty.
For me, a large part of what I love about the “Jurassic Park” books and films was the incredible amount of research that Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg conducted. Will you be doing similar research, or if you want a T-Rex to be hot pink, will it be hot pink?
I’m using much of what’s already been established with a few extra wrinkles, but focusing more on the world and how it’s still having to deal with these very dangerous and very alluring islands.
The first five-issue story arc of “Jurassic Park: Redemption” takes us 13 years after the very first “Jurassic Park” movie and finds John Hammond’s grandchildren, Tim and Lex Murphy, as well-to-do young adults. What are Tim and Lex up to these days and what do we need to know about them coming into the series?
Lex and Tim are young adults who certainly weren’t hindered by their granddad’s inheritance, but have also done much to make their own way in the world. Lex is running her own international organic produce company and Tim is following his love of animals and walking in his grandfather’s footsteps by having become a naturalist and one of the leading benefactors to many of the country’s zoological societies and national parks.
Will they be driving this first arc alone or will other characters from the franchise like Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm be playing roles too?
Yes, Lex and Tim are our main focus, but there will be some others from the franchise, including Dr. Wu.
While the dinosaurs were certainly frightful in the films, InGen was really the big bad. Who is the bad guy in this series?
Now, that would be telling too much, so I’m going to have to pass on that one.
What else can share with us about the story? Where does fit it fit in terms of continuity and official canon?
As I said, it follows much of the previously established science as we revisit several characters years on from their early beginnings. As many will attest, I’m not a lover of getting bogged down in too much continuity. But this tale fits in quite nicely.
Were there any restrictions placed upon you by Universal in terms of plot threads or characters due to the long-rumored fourth installment of the movie franchise?
Not at all. They approved the pitch with some very easy to alter revision requests and have been absolutely great to work with. And my editors, Tom Waltz and Bobby Curnow, have been doing a great job keeping me honest.
OK. Brass tacks – let’s get to the dinosaurs. Can you share which ones will be featured and can you tease us about any colossal confrontations we can look forward to in one of the earlier issues?
Oh, I’m sure we’ll run into a triceratops or two, healthy ones, this time. I don’t mean to be coy here, but the fun of a series like this is the discovery of the unexpected, so I’d rather leave it at that. But trust me. There’ll be dinosaurs and plenty of them.
Nate Van Dyke, a relative newcomer, is providing interior art. What does he bring to the project, and does he have the chops to pull this off?
I just love his style and Nate loves drawing dinosaurs, and monkeys and all that cool stuff. I’ll admit Nate’s not the obvious choice for a book like this, and that’s exactly why he’s here. His bold artwork, to my eye, perfectly echoes the boldness of the creatures themselves. And the energy he brings to a page…well, you can tell he’s really enjoying himself. I think he certainly has the chops, and while he’s not had a lot of comic book work published to date, he loves the medium and is bringing all his tricks to bear.
Now, I know these guys you have on covers: Tom Yeates, Frank Miller, Arthur Adams, Paul Pope, Bernie Wrightson and Bill Stout. That’s quite the lineup.
I am truly a blessed man, not only are all of aforementioned old and dear friends that I have had the honor of working with in the past, but they just also happen to be the very top talents of the medium. As I have said before, and to quote Pee Wee Herman, “I’m the luckiest boy in the world!”
Finally, I wanted to ask you about Michael Crichton, who died in 2008 at the far too early age of 66. What was his impact on the genre and how badly is he missed?
I first encountered Crichton reading “The Andromeda Strain.” One sitting – I simply could not put it down. The ease at which he would support his tales with clear, very plausible science without getting in the way of the telling of it, well, he just never bogged the reader down with too much information, always just the right balance to get you on board and then going for your throat and giving you a totally gripping thrill ride adventure. I adored “The First Great Train Robbery” and “Westworld.” Great work. We were all deprived of a great talent, gone way too early. His contribution was, and still remains, quite formidable.