Sunday, February 9, 2014

GREG PAK: Busy loving what he does in comics

 

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 06, 2014  - - WILMINGTON, DELAWARE . . . The Comic Book Shop on Marsh Road held an event to help usher in the debut issue of TUROK, DINOSAUR HUNTER  from Dynamite Entertainment at their store, with a gracious Greg Pak signing his work and chatting with fans.

Greg Pak

          I had a feeling the event would be busy, maybe too busy to hope for an extended interview with Pak - - and I wasn’t wrong about that.  There was a steady stream of fans from 5 to 8 p.m. entering and exiting The Comic Book Shop.  At one time the line to meet Greg extended across the full width of the store  (it’s rather spacious, and growing soon). 

  I settled for the chance to get a few autographs on Pak items from my collection  (Turok, Dinosaur Hunter; Doctor Strange: Year One; and The Eternal Warrior) and ask a few questions.  I got back in line a few more times to ask some additional questions.  I also learned quite a bit from just hanging out near the autograph table and listening to Pak interact with his fans.  He’s a very friendly, warm and open person and a pleasure to converse with.

          One of the first things I noticed about Greg was his willingness to complete sketches along with his signature.  (He did an awesome sketch of Doctor Strange in my hardcover book - - look for the photo below).  I asked him if he was an artist in addition to being a writer and a film maker. He replied that he likes to draw occasionally and usually does so at signings.  I thought his style was very well-suited for a daily or weekly comic strip or web comic, but Greg said he’s not a fast enough artist to even consider something like that.

Strange sketch

         The four core books that Pak is currently working on are ACTION COMICS, ETERNAL WARRIOR, BATMAN/SUPERMAN, and TUROK, DINOSAUR HUNTER.   His current favorite title to work on is whichever one that he’s working on at the time.  (What a clever, diplomatic answer!)  He is especially proud of the “plot first” method of working together with artist Aaron Kuder on ACTION COMICS.  He will send a small synopsis with key plot points to Kuder and follow up with a phone conversation where they will talk it over.  Kuder then draws the pages and sends them back to Pak, who waits until then to write and insert the dialogue and captions. He’s really enjoying that style of working and the collaboration between writer and artist.  (It did remind him of the old Marvel bullpen style when Stan Lee was scripting multiple titles every month).

         He especially likes the balance between the different types of books he’s working on now. When a fan asked him about this he made an analogy to classic screen actor and horror film star Peter Lorre.  Pak said that while Lorre was filming M about a child murderer with director Fritz Lang in the 1940’s, he would leave the studio to perform on stage in a version of Cabaret in the evening.

Some of the books he’s scripted that he’s most proud of are RED SKULL: INCARNATE and X-MEN MAGNETO: TESTAMENT.  Both books allowed him to explore the early days of each character and to incorporate historical detail (mainly circa World War II) into the narrative while also delving into the psychological make-up of each character and what events shaped their philosophy and values.

Pak is not doing any work at Marvel right now because he is so busy.  He would have liked a shot at the new SILVER SURFER title, but is excited about the creative team assigned to that book.

          Along with the variant editions of TUROK that the Comic Book Shop made available , Pak was also singing copies of LOS ROBOS for younger readers.  That came about from an Asian comics anthology that he contributed a story to.  Pak spent his own money to have it colored and to get it printed in an edition that he can take to conventions and signings and “to have something for kids.”  He also outlined the script for a 120 page graphic novel featuring these characters and is considering a Kickstarter campaign to finance it.

Pak sketch

      Greg started reading comics as a child and has loved reading comics “all my life.”  His current favorites are Brian Azzarello’s WONDER WOMAN, Scott Snyder’s BATMAN, and his friend Fred Van Lenthe’s ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG.   Among his all-time favorites are Bill Mantlo and Mike Golden’s classic MICRONAUTS and MOON KNIGHT.  He’s currently re-reading BATMAN: YEAR ONE and THE VALLEY OF THE WIND.

          Referring to his current assignment as TUROK writer, Pak was approached by Dynamite to consider taking the job.  He was only a little familiar with the classic character and was able to read some archive Gold Key issues for background.  He was not familiar with the video game, which Acclaim based their version of Turok on (or vice versa), but ended up buying an old Nintendo system just so he could play the game.

   I asked him if the key scene in TUROK, DINOSAUR HUNTER where infant Turok’s parents are slaughtered in front of his eyes was an intended homage to how Bruce Wayne was inspired to become Batman after his parents were gunned down in the streets.  Greg said that was not planned at all.  It was brought to his attention when a blogger posted images of the kneeling survivor from both TUROK and BATMAN issues side by side.

more line for Pak

        Pak said the native American tribe that Turok belongs to was based on the Lenape people of New York State, specifically the island that became Manhattan. Of course, actual history has no documentation of the Lenapes in the time period that TUROK, DINOSAUR HUNTER is set in.  So, Pak is detailing his version of what he believes the tribe that preceded the Lenapes would be like.

  I asked if Greg would be adding any additional elements/plots to the title along with the Lenapes, dinosaurs, and Crusaders he’s introduced so far.  He replied that “for right now, I’ve set up a lot of stuff in the opening issues, and I want to take the time to explore it all and do it right.”

   I’m betting he gets it right; and I look forward to following TUROK, DINOSAUR HUNTER every month.

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