May 22, 2008

Greg Pak Interview for Skaar: Son of Hulk

Planet Hulk and World War Hulk writer extraordinaire Greg Pak is back with the series Skaar, Son of Hulk, coming out in June! Greg was nice enough to stop by the website and answer some questions on the upcoming book. Be sure to check out Greg's website at www.pakbuzz.com to see what else Greg is up to because he is one busy guy!


IH:EOD: With Skaar, you get to come back to the planet Sakaar. You looking forward to coming back to the sandbox you created?

GP: Absodarnlutely. One of the incredible gifts of the “Planet Hulk” gig was the opportunity to create an entire world from scratch. I gave it everything I had, figuring out the planet’s history, sociology, zoology, geography, mythology, religion, and politics. I could tell stories on this planet for years.

IH:EOD: How will it be different this time with creating stories on the planet?

GP: WARNING -- “PLANET HULK” SPOILER ALERT!

The bomb that destroyed Crown City at the end of “Planet Hulk” also wiped out most advanced technology and all semblance of social and political order on the continent. So Sakaar is now a war-torn world in which refugees fight for survival against monsters, madmen, and invading barbarians from Fillia. If “Planet Hulk” was a Roman-era gladiator story; “Skaar: Son of Hulk” spins out in the barbaric dark ages that follow.

IH:EOD: When did the idea for the Hulk to have a son first come about?

GP: Early in the planning stages for “Planet Hulk,” I knew that the Hulk’s queen, Caiera the Oldstrong, would die in the explosion that would destroy Crown City. But it occurred to me that a mere explosion might not be sufficient to kill the son of Hulk in her belly...

IH:EOD: Did you have a hard time convincing Marvel to go forward with the idea?

GP: It was probably the easiest pitch I’ve ever made. I said “Son of Hulk” and both Hulk editor Mark Paniccia and Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada were all over it. I remember huddling with Joe at a holiday party, talking through the Marvel science of how young Skaar could survive in that radioactive soup. That’s comics, baby!

IH:EOD: Did the idea for the Hulk’s son change from your first idea to when you were first ready to actually start writing the stories?

GP: The essential story of a savage, abandoned manchild struggling to survive and conquer in a war-torn world has survived unchanged from the beginning. But I’m always up for improving on the details. For some reason, I originally envisioned the full-grown son of Hulk dressed in desert gear, with a mask of hammered metal covering the upper part of his face. But Joe and Mark helpfully pointed out that actually seeing the main character’s eyes might be a bonus, which made perfect sense to me after about five seconds of consideration.

IH:EOD: So what aspects of the Hulk will Skaar have and what aspects of Caiera will he have?

GP: Physically, he’s a good mix of the two. He’s massive, but not quite as bulky as the Hulk -- he’s a bit sleeker, like his mother. His skin is midway between his father’s green and his mother’s gray. He has his mother’s eyes -- green irises and black “whites.” And somewhere along the line, he’s acquired the tattoos of his mother’s Shadow people along his right arm.

IH:EOD: What is the basic concept behind the series and what are you trying to accomplish?

GP: It’s a way to explore this fantasy of savagery that’s been part of genre fiction since day one. Maybe the more civilized our daily lives become, the more compelled we are by action movies, westerns, gangster flicks, and swords-and-sorcery epics -- and the Hulk, natch! We’re constantly frustrated and angered by stupid, unjust things in our daily lives. But we’re civilized people; we can’t smash. But the Hulk can. So we vicariously enjoy the righteous mayhem he creates. “Skaar” lets us take that a step further with an even more savage protagonist and world -- both exploring and challenging this notion of the savage hero.

IH:EOD: So will we be seeing any familiar faces from the Planet Hulk storyline? Did you create some new creatures or adversaries?

GP: Readers of “Planet Hulk” will be richly rewarded -- almost every new character has some pretty nifty ties to the characters and history we introduced in “Planet Hulk.” We’re deepening and expanding the world in some pretty cool ways.

The most important new character in issue #1 is our big villain, a former Imperial general known as Axeman Bone. When Ron Garney’s first Axeman pencils came in, I had to sit down and catch my breath. I want the action figure NOW.

IH:EOD: Will Skaar be finding out exactly who he is and who his parents are? I would image he might have some issues to work through.

GP: The interesting thing is that Skaar never met either of his parents face-to-face. So everything he knows about them will come from a story told by someone else. And those various someone elses each have their own objectives...

IH:EOD: Any surprises in the series you can give us hints about?

GP: Keep an eye on the backup stories that begin with issue #2. I’ll say no more.

IH:EOD: You’re working with a classic Marvel artist, namely Ron Garney, how is that collaboration working out?

GP: Ron is amazing. I LOVED his work on his “Incredible Hulk” run from about ten years ago, and he’s brought the same dynamism and detail to “Skaar.” But he’s going a step further, bringing out the savage energy of Skaar and his world with every panel on every page. I’m also in love with the little details he’s working in -- in issue #1, check out the decorative hangings in the Axeman’s tent.

IH:EOD: Any more Incredible Hulk stories still in you?

GP: Oh, you bet. One or two may even pop up in the pages of “Skaar” somewhere along the line...

IH:EOD: Any other Marvel characters you would like to write just to see what you could do with them?

GP: Storm. Magneto. Namor. I’ve had the chance to work with all of these characters as supporting players in various books and would love to tackle them again.

IH:EOD: Besides writing comics, what else have you been up to lately?

GP: I’m always talking to folks about various screenplays and film projects. Some interesting possibilities, but nothing to announce just yet.

IH:EOD: Going to any comic book conventions this year?

GP: Yes, indeed! Wizard World Philly and San Diego Comic-Con are definites. Still figuring out the rest of the summer and the fall. For the full scoop, check out my website, http://www.pakbuzz.com .

IH:EOD: What movies (besides the Incredible Hulk of course) are you looking forward to seeing this summer?

GP: I’m just gonna go see “Iron Man” a few more times. Honestly, that movie blew me away. The second best superhero movie ever (losing out narrowly to the first “Superman” movie, of course, for lack of a spoken-word poetry flying scene).