Last year CBR News reported on the launching of “Shark-Man,” a new comics series created by “Alien” co-writer and “Minority Report” executive producer Ronald Shusett, Atomeka founder Dave Elliot, writer Michael Town and artist Steve Pugh. Originally intended to ship in in 2006, the “Shark-Man” crew encountered a number of typically indie comics obstacles that shelved the project until its return this year at Image Comics. CBR News spoke with “Shark-Man” co-creator and Radical Publishing co-founder Dave Elliot about the past and future of his new superhero venture.
Set in what its creators describe as a cross between 1930s Chicago and a futuristic Venice, Italy, “Shark-Man” tells the story of Tom Gaskill, the son of the utopia’s architect and a death-row prisoner falsely convicted of his father’s murder. With the help of a submarine designed to be the ocean’s greatest weapon, Tom manages to battle the dark forces of organized crime from within the bowels of his prison.
“Shark-Man” features hyper-stylized art from Steve Pugh, and it was the creation of this heavily detailed work that contributed to the title’s collapse last year. “Steve’s artwork takes a lot more time than a regular comic page,” Dave Elliot told CBR News. “It is all produced and rendered in Photoshop. This was Steve’s first outing with this style and he didn’t know how long it was going to take him [to complete the project]. He’s gotten a better handle on how long it is going to take him to do every page now, so he can predict his delivery with more accuracy now.
“Also, Steve got blindsided by ‘Hellgate,’ the book he did with Ian Edginton for Dark Horse. They’d put it on the back burner, but then just as he was starting ‘Shark-Man’ #2 they decided they wanted it right away. So, he had a four-issue mini-series to finish before he could get back in the sub.”
Curiously, “Shark-Man” is seeing the light of day courtesy of Image Comics, not Elliot’s new publishing house, Radical Publishing. “‘Shark-Man’ isn’t just my book, so that call wasn’t mine alone to make,” Elliot said. “Also, while [Radical co-founder] Barry Levine and myself haven’t said ‘absolutely no way’ to superheroes at Radical, we didn’t want to have one in our first wave of books. ‘Shark-Man’ had already set sail on his journey, so we’ll keep it that way at least for the time being.
“[Image Comics] offer a great deal and as creators working for a company run by creators, what could be better?” Elliot added.
“Shark-Man’s” resurrection at Image will include a reprint of issue #1, shipping in January, that includes a new cover and new pages of artwork. Issue #2 will follow, and picks up Shark-Man’s story one year later. “Tom Gaskill has been tried and convicted of his fathers death and is kept in maximum security at Styx Prison,” Elliot explained. “But while Tom sits in his cell, his fathers ghost is out seeking revenge, as Shark-Man.
“But can this ‘ghost’ stand up against the power of the Sea Witch?
“Steve Pugh will work with Michael Town and myself to continue writing the book as well as drawing issue three, but we’ll have a different artist on the next story arc to keep it on a regular basis.”
Elliot likens the tale of “Shark-Man” to the Batman stories of the ’70s and ’80s. “The stories are dark but in a fun, exciting way,” Elliot said. “We plan to reveal a twisted group of characters that Shark-Man will go up against in future issues. I wanted to take something familiar and then really screw with it. For those who think Shark-Man is going to end up an underwater Batman, you’re not going to get what you want, but if you stick with us I guarantee you will enjoy the ride.
“I also thought it would be cool to have a great character who wasn’t nearly forty years old. Alan Gaskill, who was the previous Shark-Man (notice I didn’t say the first), gets killed trying to do the right thing. But when his son is thrown in jail, Shark-Man is still needed and vengeance is called for, if only he knew who did it.”
Copies of “Shark-Man” #2 will be given away for free this weekend at the Image Comics booth at Comic-Con International in San Diego. “We only printed a limited amount of issue 2. We covered the initial orders that retailers placed and were kind enough to accept, but we didn’t overprint for reorders. Just an extra 1600 copies that we are giving away at Comic-Con. “Get them while they’re hot!”
A new version of “Shark-Man” #2, featuring 50% new material, will ship to comic stores in February 2008 from Image Comics.
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