One of Dynamite’s big announcements this year was the imminent revival of their Gold Key Properties – with four titles relaunching as a result. This will see Doctor Spektor, Magnus: Robot Fighter and Solar: Man of the Atom relaunch next year with new creative teams and their own mini-universe. The fourth series announced, with Greg Pak and Mirko Colak the creative team, will be Turok: Dinosaur Hunter.
Starting in February and overseen by editor Nate Cosby, the Gold Key relaunch looks set to be one of the more interesting comic releases of 2014 – so with that in mind, I spoke to Greg Pak about his plans on Turok. Will there be dinosaurs? Will there be hunting? And has he played the N64 classic Turok 2: Seeds of Evil? The answers to all these and more lie before you.
Steve: This is a return for Turok after an absence of several years. How aware of the character were you prior to coming on to this launch?
Greg: I had a few issues back in the day and always loved the concept of the character. Native American fighting dinosaurs. Let’s say that again: Native American. Fighting dinosaurs.
I hear that and first I think: Awesome! I want to see that. And then I think, how does that even work? What kind of world are we talking about with humans and dinosaurs living at the same time? What era is this? Is this science or magic? Who’s really behind all of this? And what kind of madman actually fights dinosaurs?
And those are fantastic questions to have as a reader and a writer.
Steve: Having read the previous issues now, what do you think is the core of the character – and to what extent will your new take on the character play off the previous stories?
Greg: When Nate Cosby pulled me on board, he gave me free reign to reimagine the world and character. I’ve stayed one thousand percent true to the fundamental concept of NATIVE AMERICAN HUNTING DINOSAURS, which is solid gold. But we’ve come up with a very different explanation for how and why this world works. If you’re a fan of alternative history, please do not miss this book.
Most importantly, we’ve got a new angle on Turok, entering his story at an earlier stage than most previous tales. He’s a young man, an exile from his tribe struggling to survive in a brutal world. So even before the dinosaurs hit, he’s had to learn how to survive by the skin of his teeth. But does that set him up to be his people’s savior — or the ultimate predator?
Steve: You’ve been an advocate for diversity in comics for years, and now you’re writing a series with a Native American lead. How – and maybe it doesn’t factor into this at all – will Turok’s tribe or ethnic group play into the series?
Greg: One of the huge incentives for me to take on this book was the chance to write a Native American lead character in a mainstream comic book. That’s a vanishingly rare opportunity and I couldn’t say no. We’re working hard to depict all of our characters non-stereotypically — no hackneyed Indian princesses or wise, mystical elders or noble savages here. Just everyday human beings struggling to do the right thing in insanely dangerous and world-altering circumstances.
Steve: What kind of dinosaurs will we see in the series?
Greg: We’re going to see a huge variety of dinosaurs over the course of the story. And we’re going to do our best to depict them the way modern science thinks they actually looked. Scientists seem to be agreeing that dinosaurs are indeed the direct ancestors of birds. And more and more dinosaur fossils are showing evidence of quills and feathers. So we’re going to play with that, and it’s going to be terrifying and awesome.
Steve: Are all dinosaurs evil?
Greg: No way. They’re animals. Evil doesn’t play into it. They’re just hungry.
There will be evil in this book, though. And it’ll come from a place you’ll never guess.
Steve: I know this is comics, and anything is possible in comics TECHNICALLY, but how come dinosaurs and people are around at the same time? Is that something which might be explored at all?
Greg: This will absolutely be explored and explained. Delving into this madness and making it make sense is one of the key joys of working on the book. We’re doing some major worldbuilding here that depends on the answers to those questions, so dontcha dare miss it!
Steve: The series sees you working with artist Mirko Colak. What’s he bringing to the series as an artist, what do you think are proving to be his best strengths on the book?
Greg: I worked with Mirko on “Red Skull Incarnate” a few years back and am thrilled to be working with him again. He’s tremendous with young characters. And he’s got an amazing feel for the natural world. Every page he turns in features some panel that just blows my mind. So evocative and atmospheric.
Steve: And you’ve worked before with editor Nate Cosby – how has it been to get back to work together with him?
Greg: Nate and I worked together for years and years on various Hulk and Hercules books at Marvel. He’s got a great, straightforward editing style and a great sense for character and the big picture of the stories at hand. I’m thrilled to be working with him again.
Steve: How do you take a concept like Turok and build it into an ongoing series? Is it difficult to find a way to build this from “he fights dinosaurs!” into a fully formed, more expanded ongoing story?
Greg: That’s exactly where all the fun is. I think I do my best work when I have a ridiculously big but simple genre concept that can drive the plot engine. And then my real job is to dig deep and figure out who the central character is and what he or she is doing on the planet. Those emotional beats are what make the story sing. With any luck, we’ll thrill you with insane dinosaur action on one page and break your heart on the next.
Steve: My only prior exposure to Turok is through the N64 series, so if it’s okay I’d like to end with final three questions about your series:
Will there be a section where Turok has to jump across columns with pixel-perfect accuracy?
Will there be extensive fogging?
Will Turok ever use The Cerebral Bore?
Greg: I have no idea what any of those words mean!
True confession: I HAVEN’T PLAYED THE GAME! I’m seriously gonna have to do that pretty soon, aren’t I?
But if you’ll preorder the book today with your local retailer, the answer to all of those questions is, of course, YES.
Many thanks to Greg for his time! Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 is released in February. Thanks also to Nick Barrucci for setting up the interview.