Just when you thought it was safe to be a pig, IDW Publishing launches “Angry Birds” this June from the creative team of writer Jeff Parker and artist Paco Rodriques. “Angry Birds” is based on the wildly popular mobile game by Rovio in which less-than-pleased birds launch all-out attacks on nefarious porkers. IDW’s series is just the latest feather in the cap for Rovio’s monster franchise, which has already spawned countless toys, shirts, games and more, including a film set to land in 2016.
Parker spoke with CBR News about what to expect in the Birds’ inaugural comic series, explaining his approach to all-ages story-telling, how he found the infamously silent characters’ voices and more.
CBR News: Jeff, what’s your first “Angry Birds” story about?
Jeff Parker: Actually I’ve written quite a few, and did them a while back, so I’m not sure which one’s up first. These are mostly set in the classic scenario of the island. If I were to guess, there will be pigs trying to steal eggs.
Can you go into a bit more detail on exactly how your early “Angry Birds” stories will play out?
The backstory is always that the birds only have a mere three eggs, and there is no telling when they might hatch. And the Pigs, especially the King Pig, crave eggs — though it’s possible that none of them have ever actually had one! The Chef constantly prepares food made from plants that emulate eggs, but the King wants the real thing. Hence, his minions have to constantly come up with new plans to get those three eggs. Which is hard, because the birds are incredibly powerful.
In the first story “Welcome to the Flock,” the bird leader Red walks us through the main cast and we get to see their abilities in action as they constantly prepare to thwart pig schemes. And you get to see some different parts of Piggy Island.
Unlike the games, will there be dialogue in the comics? If so, how did you find each bird’s “voice?”
Yes. Even though they don’t speak in the [“Angry Birds Toons”] that you can watch online, Rovio gave us lots of notes about each character’s background and how they speak- or if they do. Some are mostly silent like Terence (the big red one) and Bubbles (the orange one who expands). Some rattle on with all kinds of thoughts like Chuck — he’s the fast yellow bird.
How much free rein is Rovio giving you in breathing life to these characters?
Quite a bit, but they do have some strict rules and will let us know when we’re drifting away from those. On my end, I’m usually planning with writer Paul Tobin and editor Nate Cosby here in the states. We work with Jukka Heiskanen, who used to edit Disney Duck books there in Finland, so they know their comics.
What’s your approach to all-ages comics? You’ve gotten recognition for your great all-ages stories in the past that truly appealed to people of all-ages, not just kids.
I think one key is trying to present stories that stand by themselves with no prior knowledge of character or backstory — really stripping out any form of continuity. That gets you closer to making things with universal appeal. You can’t rely on familiarity, you’re only thinking in terms of comedic skits. I mean, there is some familiarity, like I make a few in-jokes referring to the game now and then. But I don’t let the appeal rely on that.
You have to find interesting ways for characters to play off each other. The Angry Birds are all kind of child-like, so you have a fresh perspective to play with. And as the name implies, they’re quick to get Angry, so in some regards I approach it like I did when writing stories with Hulk. My 9-year-old makes a perfect test reader for these stories because he loves comics and likes the games, he’s a secret weapon for me on this.
You get to have one Angry Bird to pull out in real life whenever you need it. Which one do you pick?
Bomb, the black one with the fuse on his head. He’s devastating in effect and looks really cool before he goes off.
Will there be any new birds debuting in the comics? What new birds would you design for the book if given the chance?
For the most part we stay with the birds already established, and the same with the pigs. I would lean towards putting more girl birds in, and birds who talk a lot!
What’s the format of the series’ storytelling? Will these be shorter one and done stories, longer arcs or a combo of the two?
A combination. There’s a big variety of approaches coming down the road because you can plug the birds into a lot of scenarios. But for the most part, you’ll be able to pick up any issue starting fresh, it’s very accessible that way.
“Angry Birds” #1 from IDW Publishing hits stores this June.