Space Cowboy: Dark Horse's Dave Land talks Rocket Comics

[Rocket Comics]Late last year Dark Horse Comics announced they'd be launching an entirely new line of comics this summer under the name Rocket Comics. As the name suggests, Rocket Comics is a line with a science fiction slant, but the publisher pointed out that it's not just space ships and space battles, but books featuring lots of action and adventure which are character driven with top talent handling each book. CBR News caught up with line editor Dave Land to learn more about what readers can expect from Rocket Comics.

[Lone 1, Page 2]"We've been looking at getting back into company owned titles for some time now," Land commented to CBR News when asked why start this new line now. "We tested the waters a while back with 'Spyboy' and that went well. And 'Spyboy' continues to be successful for us. With Rocket we're working to bring back an aspect of Dark Horse Comics that has been somewhat neglected in recent years. I see this as a chance to bring some new readers to the Dark Horse table."

The initial seeds of the Rocket Comics line were planted by Dark Horse editor Phil Amara and it's publisher and founder Mike Richardson. Land came on board shortly thereafter and made his own impressions on the line. The editor tells us that the number one goal of Rocket Comics is simple: tell entertaining stories that engage the audience.

[Rocket Comics: Ignite]"Entertainment! We want to tell fun and engaging stories that keep readers coming back. If folks are reading the books and enjoying them then we've fulfilled our goals. Simple, eh?"

The publisher will use the excitement surrounding the second Free Comic Book Day on May 3rd to officially introduce the line to long time comic fans and those new to the fold simply looking to pick up a few free comics.

"The first chance the public will have to get their hands on a Rocket Comic will be on Free Comic Book Day. The book is titled 'Rocket Comics: Ignite' and features three short stories featuring characters from the books 'Syn,' 'Lone,' and 'Go Boy 7.' These are all new stories, not just pages pulled from the series."

[Syncop from Syn]The full line officially launches in July with "Go Boy 7, followed by "Hell," "Syn," "Galactic," "Lone," and "Crush." If you can't wait until May, you can check out a preview of "Syn" online.

"We've already got the Rocket Comics Web site up at rocketcomics.net which, right now, is featuring a preview of 'Syn.' We're also showing a video preview of the books at the cons which are taking place between now and August. Don't worry if you can't attend, I hear that we're working on putting that on the Web site as well."

[Sketch of Corey Rollins]Each Rocket Comic will be standard comic size 32 pages, 22 pages of story and art and the plan is to collect them into trades at a later date. What Rocket Comics is not is a single universe. Land tells CBR News that each book has it's own world and readers should not be expecting cross-overs. Although, he did point out, "Jonny Zero in 'Go Boy 7' seems to have a 'Syn poster hanging on his bedroom wall..."

Since the first announcement there have been some changes to the Rocket Comics line-up of talent and publication schedule. "Hell" has a new artist, Todd Demond, and the art chores for "Crush" will be handled by a new talent out of Georgia named Sean Murphy. The full line-up now looks like:

    July, 2003

    "Go Boy 7" stars Jonny Zero, a young boy whose life was saved with an injection of robotic nanoplasm turning him into a human action machine.

    Features a young boy who ends up on a bizarre island inhabited by strange creatures and government experiments gone awry.

    August, 2003

    Set in the future on a planet inhabited by machines and features a robot bounty hunter on the run.

    Features a boy pulled out of his reality to become part of an interplanetary police force.

    September, 2003

    A Mad Max style western starring Lone, a mysterious gunman with a secret past.

    October, 2003

    "Crush" Tells the tale of young Elizabeth Crush an ordinary girl who undergoes an extraordinary and unexpected transformation on her eighteenth birthday.

[Go Boy 7 Concept Sketches]"All the artists on these books have a certain energy that I think is going to attract a lot of people," Land said of the talent line-up Dark Horse has assembled. "They're a bunch of really talented young artists who you're going to be hearing a lot more from in the future.

"As for the writers, they were picked based on proven storytelling ability. Since most of the artists we're working with are newcomers we needed seasoned writers to lay down the [Various Mutations]blueprints for a strong story. In all cases the teams were given seeds of ideas and we worked with the writers and artists to develop the stories."

Land also noted that additional titles are in the early planning stages, but that the publisher is not quite ready to make an official announcement.

[Giant]With Dark Horse's proven track record for bringing comics to the big screen, such as "Mystery Men," "The Mask," and "Time Cop," it seems a natural that titles from this line would be headed for the big screen. There's already interest, but the focus for Land and Dark Horse right now is to put out a line of high-quality comics.

"Most of the titles started out with Hollywood style high-concept pitches, so it would make sense that they might generate some TV or film interest," said Land. "And we've had a few nibbles already. But if all they end up being is comics, that's okay as well. My goal for Rocket has always been to make some damn good comics and I think we've done that. Everything else is gravy."

Look for the first Rocket Comics title during the Free Comic Book Day celebration on May 3rd.

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