This Christmas, cartoonist Kari Korhonen tackles a different group of feathered protagonists than he's normally used to. Famous for his Finnish "Donald Duck" comics, Korhonen teams with artist Corrado Mastantuono this December to tackle arguably the most popular birds in modern pop culture in IDW Publishing's "Angry Birds Holiday Special."
In a talk with CBR News, Korhonen spills on what's got the birds' feathers all ruffled this Christmas, which fine feathered adventurer is the main character of his tale and why Donald Duck is the original angry bird. We also discuss his feelings on property mash-ups -- including Rovio's own Angry Birds Transformers and Star Wars games -- and why fans are unlikely to see him taking on a similar project, even if he does have an interest in partying with the Birds beyond this holiday season.
CBR News: Kari, most everyone is familiar with the basic "Angry Birds" premise by now, but what, specifically, is "Angry Birds Holiday Special" about?
Kari Korhonen: At the heart of it, this particular Christmas story is about family, I suppose. About how we sometimes lose sight of what is important, while we rush about getting everything ready for the Holidays. Even Birds do that.
It's also about a giant, legless bird taking over the North Pole, of course!
If the theme of the piece is family, what sort of adventure do the Birds find themselves on this time?
Ah, of course, you haven't read it yet. Well, Terence -- the big red one -- always gets moody before Christmas, and this year, after the others have ignored him a bit thanks to the rush of the season, Terence disappears! What follows is a search that takes the rest of the Birds to places where little birds, even Angry ones, have no Earthly business being. I can't really give away much more than that, except to say that this involves a hefty fella in a red suit, who has lost his will to live, etc. Fun for the whole family!
How were you brought on "Angry Birds Holiday Special?"
My friend Jukka Heiskanen used to be the Finnish editor-in-chief of "Donald Duck Weekly," before he started steering "Angry Birds" publications. Jukka needed a writer, and he liked the Christmas stories I'd written for Disney, I guess.
How did you decide which Angry Birds to use in the story? Which Bird do you relate to personally?
I'm a Piggy guy. Never say no to ham. I'd love to lord over an army of loyal dumb subjects, like the King does!
Terence seemed like an obvious lead. There is something wistful about his dumb silence -- a quiet yearning for something far away. That seemed Christmassy, somehow. The story just took off from there.
Do you play the "Angry Birds" games?
Gosh, I've never played an "Angry Birds" video game in my life. That's how old a fogey I am -- I still call them video games!
What's it like working with artist Corrado Mastantuono?
I have loved Corrado's art for years, but though we have both worked with Disney for ages, somehow our paths have never crossed until now. I was very happy and proud he agreed to illustrate this story!
Could this be the start of a long "Angry Birds" relationship?
We'll see! If people enjoy the story and schedules permitting, I certainly would not mind visiting Piggy Island again!
You're well known for your work involving another famous bird -- is there any Donald Duck inside any of the Angry Birds? How would he interact with the cast?
Ha! Well, Donald really is the original angry bird, isn't he! I'm pretty sure he'd feel some kinship for the legless fowl's continued struggle. Or perhaps not -- maybe he'd have the Angry Bird's eggs for breakfast! We'll never know!
What do you love so much about Donald Duck? What separates him from other Disney characters?
Well, it is really the whole extended Duck Family that I love. The world that Carl Barks created, essentially. Like most Finns, I grew up reading those stories and I adored his storytelling. Donald, in particular, is very popular here. I suppose it is love for the underdog that draws people in. Readers desperately want Donald to do well, despite the tremendous odds. After all sorts of calamity, he always dusts his sailor suit off and tries again! How can you not love that? I certainly have never grown tired of the chap, and I have even written 50+ stories of Donald as a young lad, living at Grandma Duck's farm. Like "Little House on the Prairie," where something has gone horribly wrong.
Angry Birds is famous for its mash-up games, as well, like "Angry Birds Star Wars" and "Angry Birds Transformers." What do you think about a potential "Angry Birds Disney?" Which characters do you think would mesh with which birds?
Wow! That is a fun question, but honestly, I see very little point in these projects. In these days that it is almost impossible to create lasting brands, or even something that lasts for more than a couple of seasons in the public consciousness, why mix up established universes? You certainly risk infuriating die-hard fans of either -- flaming nerds such as I. What next? "My Little Pony" meets "Star Trek? "Rainbow me up, Scotty?"
"Angry Birds Holiday Special" lands in stores this Christmas from IDW Publishing.