Dodgeball: It’s not just for kids anymore.
While it’s been 13 years Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller brought the idea of adults playing the time-honored elementary school game to the national consciousness, dodgeball continues to thrive in real-life recreational leagues across the country, with varying degrees of competitiveness. Dodgeball reaches its next natural evolutionary step next spring: comic books. Specifically, Dodge City, a four-issue teen comedy comic book series published by BOOM! Studios’ BOOM! Box imprint, from the creative team of writer Josh Trujillo and artist Cara McGee. CBR has the first details of the March-debuting series.
In the titular town of Dodge City, dodgeball is very popular — the biggest sport in the city. The book’s main character is Tomás, the new captain of the high school-age “Jazz Pandas” team, and he’s looking to bring his squad to the summer regional championships — though his teammates don’t quite trust his leadership skills on the dodgeball court.
CBR spoke with Trujillo — himself a veteran of adult dodgeball leagues in Los Angeles — about Dodge City, how his own experiencing dodging balls influenced the series, collaborating with Cara McGee, how the book is similar in tone to DC Comics’ beloved Justice League International and coming up with wacky dodgeball team names.
CBR: Josh, Dodge City obviously stems at least in part from your own dodgeball experience. Asking as an adult co-ed dodgeball player myself, what drew you to the game in the first place? And how did your time on the court influence what we see in Dodge City?
Josh Trujillo: I was first roped into dodgeball by some co-workers, and like the Jazz Pandas in Dodge City, we became the worst team in the history of the league. But even though I barely knew how to play, I still found something exciting about it all.
I liked how the game attracted so many different types of people, and how theatrical and ridiculous the teams can be. There’s a sense of fun and community to dodgeball that, as a terribly uncoordinated person, I’d never experienced before. It meant a lot to be taken in by a group like that, regardless of how terrible we were. Eventually I got better… not by much, but I still have those friendships.
How heightened is the world of Dodge City? It certainly looks like dodgeball is a bigger deal in the comic than it is in the real world (though we’re getting there…), but are there any other major differences?
Dodgeball is the biggest sport in Dodge City (the city… and the book!) and to our players it’s the most important thing in the entire world. I want people who don’t know dodgeball to fall in love with the game while reading this book.
I’m sticking to the standard rec league rules, but with one difference: smaller teams. In my leagues, it’s typical to have teams of 20 players, which is way too many characters for a first issue. For the sake of brevity, Dodge City dodgeball has teams of eight (and the Jazz Pandas have even fewer players than that!). That’s not to say there won’t be some shake-ups along the way. Dodgeball is anything but predictable!
What’s it been like working with artist Cara McGee? Illustrating a book like this isn’t an easy task, given that it involves a sport and lots of motion, not to mention a large cast of characters.
Cara is an absolute dream to work with. I was really nervous to find an artist for this because of the challenges of drawing the material like you mentioned. This is a book with big action, big laughs, and also, big drama. It’s a little bit like the old Justice League International.
Dodge City needed someone who could handle both, and Cara was more than up for the challenge. She breathed life into the Jazz Pandas, and helped me figure out exactly who these teenagers are. The pages that are coming in are incredible.
Speaking of the characters — what can you say about the lead character, Tomás, and how he fits into the world of Dodge City?
Tomás just moved to Dodge City, and is being thrown onto the Jazz Pandas toward the end of the season. He’s a little scatterbrained and more than a little anxious. For him, and most people, growing up is just as chaotic and unexpected as dodgeball can be. Tomás’ struggle in this story is navigating this game, these personalities, and finding confidence in a crazy world.
However, the story is a lot bigger than just Tomás. I think all the players reflect those uncertainties and struggles over the course of this mini.
Let’s get to the most important part: What was your method for coming up with the team names for the book? I imagine you’ve stockpiled plenty of ideas over the years.
This is seriously the hardest part! I thought I could rely on a lot of my old dodgeball team names, but most of those were too uh… adult for a high-school league. Expect a lot of puns, some more painful than others.
As for why the team is called “Jazz Pandas,” read the book to find out! Dodgeball has given a lot to me, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to spread the love!
Dodge City #1 is scheduled for release in March 2018 from BOOM! Studios.