Whedons' "Dr. Horrible" Prelude at MySpace Dark Horse Presents

On Tuesday, July 15 Buffyverse kingpin Joss Whedon and his brothers Zack and Jed unleash the first act of their weeklong live action supervillain musical "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," exclusively on the Web at http://doctorhorrible.net/

Acts Two and Three will be posted Thursday, July 17and Saturday, July 19, respectively. Each of the three episodes will be approximately ten minutes in length.

The project the brothers Whedon characterize as "very ambitious, very exciting, very mid-life-crisisy"came to fruition during the height of the recent writers' strike, when Joss was anxious to keep his creative juices flowing and his brothers were at the ready to play along. Zack and Jed Whedon are credited as co-writers for the feature, as is Jed's fiance Maurissa Tancharoen.

According to Joss Whedon, "['Dr. Horrible'] is the story of a low-rent super-villain, the hero who keeps beating him up, and the cute girl from the laundromat he's too shy to talk to."

Neil Patrick Harris stars as the titular Dr. Horrible and Nathan Fillion as his arch enemy, the self-obsessed do-gooder Captain Hammer. NPH of course needs no introduction, but for the non-Browncoats out there, Fillion played Captain Mal Reynolds on Whedon's "Firefly" and its spinoff feature film, "Serenity." Felicia Day, who is perhaps best known for her recurring role as potential slayer Vi in the final season of Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," plays Dr. Horrible's muse, Penny.

For a Dr. Horrible primer, MySpace Dark Horse Presents has posted an eight-page prelude webcomic entitled "Captain Hammer -- Be Like Me" with artwork by Eric Canete ("The End League") and script by Zack Whedon ("Deadwood," "John from Cincinatti"). To learn more about the "Dr. Horrible" project and its Dark Horse prequel, CBR News spoke with Zack Whedon.


CBR: We've heard how "Dr. Horrible" came about during the writers' strike. What inspired the comic?

Zack Whedon: Joss has a long-standing, extremely healthy relationship with Dark Horse so when we were looking for ways to branch out with Dr. Horrible it was natural for Joss to turn to them. Or for them to turn to him. Or however it happened. All I know is we were doing the sound mix for Dr. Horrible and Joss told me about the idea of doing an online comic tie-in and asked if I would be interested in doing the doing.

Of course I was very excited. We immediately concluded that it should be about Hammer so that we could round out the world a little bit and see another side of it. You don't get to experience Hammer on his own time much in the show or movie or online musical video short, there should be a word for this, so it was fun to see him in his element. I just came up with the word. MuShortio.

Did you envision a comic tie-in from the beginning?

No, not really or not realistically at least. We have the power to envision a great deal and the power to create very little, hence my plain non-Dr. Horrible jammies. So we may have envisioned a comic alongside the lunch boxes and inappropriately-awarded Oscars and so forth, but until Joss and Dark Horse talked, it didn't become real in my head.

What can you share with us about the story?

Hammer is the biggest hero in the city. Neil Patrick Harris is amazing as Dr. Horrible but the comic is really Captain Hammer's story. Nathan Fillion is so, so good and plays smug so perfectly that I had to devote eight pages to it. I wrote the whole thing with the hope that I might someday hear Nathan read it aloud. I think if people go back and read it after they've watched the show they will get added enjoyment from hearing his voice in their heads.

[The comic] is part Captain Hammer propaganda, part poorly conceived after school special. You get to see what Captain Hammer thinks of himself -- SPOILER ALERT -- he loves himself -- END SPOILERS -- and what he thinks of Dr. Horrible. It is all through his eyes in a way and the characters are drawn accordingly and brilliantly by Eric Canete.

Is "Captain Hammer" a prelude to the events in the upcoming webisodes? Or a sequel?

It is a prelude. We didn' know when the comic would come out in relation to the MuShortio but the fact that it is coming out before will give you a great feeling for the relationship between the main characters if and when you watch the MuShortio. MuShortio.

Are there plans for more Dr. Horrible/Captain Hammer web comics? What about in print?

This was such a great experience. Everyone at Dark Horse that I dealt with was awesome. All the art exceeded my expectations. It was all around fun. I have plans in my brain. There are many characters introduced in Dr. Horrible that are worthy of their own comics. I would love to keep doing them and each time have it center on a different bit player from the story. I know Jed wants to get in on the action too so maybe, hopefully. I guess it depends on if you like this one but if there is a demand, I will happily supply.

Does Dr. Horrible have other heroes he faces when Captain Hammer isn't laying chase? And what about Captain Hammer, does he have other rogues?

Captain Hammer is Dr. Horrible's number one foe. There are others he could bother with but he wants to take on the big guy. Captain Hammer surely has a number of villains he has to dispose of on a daily basis. I think Dr. Horrible is just one of many and not a particularly threatening one at that.

Dr. Horrible debuts July 15 on http://doctorhorrible.net. Zack Whedon and Eric Canete's prelude comic, "Captain Hammer - Be Like Me," is readable now at MySpace Dark Horse Presents.

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