The good folks at DC Comics publicity recently set up a Zoom call for me to speak with writer Kyle Starks and artist Steve Pugh, part of the creative team of the new comic Peacemaker Tries Hard #1. Unfortunately, technical difficulties arose, and while we tried hard, we couldn’t get Steve on the line (my interview with Kyle, however, posted last month). 

Fortunately though, Steve was nice enough to take some time to answer questions about the book — the first issue of which is out today! — via email. We talked Peacemaker, dogs, and how he approaches working with some of the funniest writers in comics. 

You can find our chat below…enjoy!

Steve Pugh Talks Peacemaker Tries Hard

ZACK QUAINTANCE: What drew you to this project?

STEVE PUGH: DC’s team showed me Kyle’s pitch and first script. I couldn’t believe how brilliantly he’d nailed the voice of Peacemaker! I genuinely laughed right through it. If you can read a script and see the pages play out in your head, you should draw that script!

ZACK: Why do you think Peacemaker works so well with an animal buddy?

STEVE: I’m pretty sure that kind of unconditional love fills a hole in Peacemaker’s poor heart. He wants to be a Super Hero and the look a dog gives you makes you feel like one!

Peacemaker Tries Hard

ZACK: Do you have a dog?

STEVE: No sadly I do not. I lived a pretty chaotic life until recently, so it wouldn’t have been fair. I’ve got a cactus I’ve kept alive for five years, so I’m hoping to work my way up!

ZACK: Even for a Black Label book, this felt especially uncensored, were there any gags — visual or otherwise — that you all had to cut for being too gnarly or crude or whatever?

STEVE:  I think Kyle walked the line amazingly. Visually we kept an eye on avoiding overt super gore, but wanted to keep it tonally consistent with the chaos. There’s an exploding head shot, but it’s covered by a nice fuzzy kitten passing by.

ZACK: I feel like you’ve done great work with sort of over-the-top cocky buffonery before…why do you think that type of character makes for good comics?

STEVE: For artists, those types of characters are just great to work on. They throw big shapes, crash through stuff, and yell a lot. Big action scenes with characters like Peacemaker are awesome to create, showing lots of chaos.

ZACK: Did having a character who so recently had a show make working on Peacemaker Tries Hard easier or harder, and why?

STEVE: It was easier because now there’s an audience for the character that I just don’t think existed before. But it’s also harder because you have to go your own way and make a whole satisfying stand alone project without contradicting what the audience loves about the show. It’s a different, separate story, but it’s also familiar and welcoming to fans of the show.

ZACK: How do you hope the audience feels about Peacemaker through this?

STEVE: You know that feeling you get when a dog has just pulled over a bookcase and wrecked the room, but then looks up at you from under its eyebrows, all hopeful? I hope the audience feels like that.

Peacemaker Tries Hard

ZACK: Finally, how do you approach working with different humor writers, if at all? Is your approach working with Kyle, for example, different from working with someone like Mark Russell?

STEVE: You’d think it would be very different, but actually it’s not! You have to follow where they go in the script and back them up—not repeat what they say in the dialogue, but sort of harmonize with it. Avoid going over the top until they want you to, and also pull it back and go quiet so you don’t stomp on their emotional moments. I say: Respect the gag, respect the tragedy. There were actually a lot of parallels between Mark’s Fred Flintstone and Kyle’s Peacemaker. Both are big physical guys that are made to feel powerless as the world moved on from finding their skillset useful.

Peacemaker Tries Hard #1 is out today.