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Ride along with David Hedgecock's SUPER KAIJU ROCK N' ROLLER DERBY FUNTIME GO!

David Hedgecock, former Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of IDW Publshing, is now the creator of Super Kaiju Rock n Roller Derby Fun Time Go! He's pulled up a seat in the Yeti Cave with Interviews Editor, Andrew Irvin, to discuss this splendid new high-energy genre mash-up, now live on Kickstarter through May 8th!

 

COMIC BOOK YETI: David, it’s a pleasure to finally have you to the Yeti Cave to chat about your forthcoming project, Super Kaiju Rock n Roller Derby Fun Time Go! How are things going back on the West Coast?



DAVID HEDGECOCK: Thanks for having me! Sunny San Diego remains the finest city in the U.S. I still have to pinch myself that I’m able to live in such a beautiful place THAT ALSO HAS THE GREATEST COMIC CONVENTION IN THE  HISTORY OF HUMANKIND!?! I couldn’t have dreamt it up better.



CBY: Now, given your editorial and publishing career, I’m sure you’ve seen all sorts of concepts pitched and brought to life over the years. Super Kaiju Rock n Roller Derby Fun Time Go! is your creation in the wake of that experience - when did this synthesis of ideas occur to you? You’ve mentioned in the afterword the 70’s influences of Jack Hill’s Foxy Brown (which came through loud and clear, along with locker room scenes reminiscent of Hill’s other films with Pam Grier like the women-in-prison classics, The Big Doll House and The Big Bird Cage) How did you intend to set it apart from other titles both conceptually and stylistically? Where would you situate it amongst other titles across the comics landscape? 



DH: When did this synthesis of ideas occur to you?

Honestly, I do not remember when the concept first came to me. It’s been a long time… before 2010 for sure because I know I had the idea before some major (positive) life events. I remember seeing Pacific Rim a few years later and thinking I need to act on my concept quick before someone else gets to it! It only took me eleven more years to “act quick”.


How did you intend to set it apart from other titles both conceptually and stylistically?

I’m just taking the things I enjoy and mashing them together in a fun way that I haven’t seen done before. There’s not a lot of thought being put into, “Is. This. Marketable.” You know? I have enough of that in my life. This is more about having a “Good. Time.”


Where would you situate it amongst other titles across the comics landscape?

At the top? Look, I know that might sound a bit boastful but… I have spent decades in this industry with a big chunk of it as the Editor-in-Chief, and Associate Publisher of one of the largest comic publishers in North America. I’ve seen a LOT of comic work! This book is created by professionals at the top of their game with all the time they need to do it correctly. It’s better than just about everything you are going to find in the comic shop right now. It’s story, art and concepts familiar to any fan of pop culture while still being wholly original. So, you know, at the top.



CBY:  You also reference Five Deadly Venoms - a 70’s Shaw Bros. classic - which makes sense in the context of the introduction you give to the five members of the derby team, the Diva Demons, when issue #1 kicks things off (and harkens back to the Fox Force Five pilot Mia Wallace mentions in Pulp Fiction). It also helps establish this comic as both a genre and style synthesis, bringing elements from different cultures into play in various ways. Can you share some of your other influences from the martial arts and Kaiju film tradition?



DH: There’s probably too many to list. It’s sort of “all of them”. It’s more the FEELING that I am trying to recreate than any specific story element. When I was a kid, I would sit down on Saturday morning and, after the cartoons, Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu Cinema would begin. I loved that shit. I loved watching the fights, the action, the dramatic intensity and choreography of each battle. Everyone once in a while, instead of Kung Fu, you would get a Godzilla flick. Same feeling. Same intensity.



CBY: When I worked at Odd Obsession Movies in Chicago, the owner had an “auteur” wall where directors were listed alphabetically, and their filmographies alphabetically within their section. I made it a point to watch through our collections of directors in the chronological order of their releases, and that’s where I realized how much fun Jack Hill was. Much later, after watching Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces, I was struck by the performance of Helena Kallianiotes, and looked up her other work to discover Kansas City Bomber, the Raquel Welch roller derby outing from the moment the sport had in 1972 (which also yielded Unholy Rollers). I’ve seen Whip It and Rollerball, of course, and derby was big in Chicago when I lived there (and I think it’s fun to watch even though I’m bad on skates), so I jumped at the chance to cover this title. What brought roller derby into the mix for this title and why did you want to see that sort of action (instead of another sport or group activity)?



DH: I think you may have answered your question for me. All those films had a big influence on me without a doubt. But, maybe more importantly, it’s the ATTITUDE of the modern-day Roller Derby circuit that I am trying to bring to the table. Roller Derby has a no-nonsense, grind your bones to dust, take no prisoners, attitude that I find WILDLY appealing. Roller Derby teams do not suffer fools. The showmanship and “kayfabe” is through the roof and each part of the country has its own flavor and style that makes it that much more amazing. Plus, they have GREAT names.



CBY: That's certainly true! I was excited to see the story anchored to a mythos built in Belize (I know you mentioned your fondness for the marine environment there, and I’ve been working with the government on policy & practices to protect it, so it was nice point of familiarity upon introduction). The Lamanai temple site is inland, upriver, and translates from Yucatec Mayan to “submerged crocodile.” I can hardly think of a better set-up for Kaiju fodder, but can you share with our readers how you picked this site to set the stage for issue #1 and the series more broadly? What sort of conversations took place around the character development process for the titular Kaiju and the mythos - can you relate if/how it pays homage to the indigenous belief system and pantheon of gods and beasts? 



DH: I can hardly think of a better set-up for Kaiju fodder, but can you share with our readers how you picked this site to set the stage for issue #1 and the series more broadly? I just love Ancient Mayan history! There’s an entire civilization that is largely unexplored and rarely talked about within modern culture (as compared to other ancient civilizations such as Ancient Egypt, Roman Empire, etc.). Even with the little we know about the Mayan culture, it is RICH with mythology and mystery. I couldn’t help but use it as a launch point.


What sort of conversations took place around the character development process for the titular Kaiju and the mythos - can you relate if/how it pays homage to the indigenous belief system and pantheon of gods and beasts?

Hard to answer this without giving too much story elements away… I’ll say this: There are multiple Kaiju. A LOT of thought was put into the locations of the Kaiju that we eventually encounter and the “real life” mythos surrounding the area where Kaiju show up. I’m pulling in tons of Easter eggs and nods to real world historical events and giving them a giant Kaiju twist. The “Temple of the Sleeping Crocodile” is a perfect example of this. There are real life reasons for why the Mayans named it that but wouldn’t it be cooler if they named it that because there was a GIANT FREAKING KAIJU LITERALLY SLEEPING UNDER THE PYRAMID!?



CBY: Yes, indeed it would be much cooler (and terrifying!) More broadly, can you unpack your research process when world-building in preparation for a title? What lessons did you learn from your time training your editorial gaze on the work of others?



DH: Broadly, I do a TON of research. Intellectually, I try to be a bit of sponge on the various real world topics that are informing this book. But, when it’s time to actually do the writing, I try to let my intellectual brain be a helpful navigator and allow my emotional brain to drive the bus.

As an editor, I always ask, “What are the things that connect the story to the reader? Why do they CARE?” If you can make the reader CARE, then the rest is easy.



CBY:  That's helpful advice around creating narratives that connect a broader audience, and I think it comes through on the page. Turning from the inspirations for the book to the collaborators who helped you bring it to life, you’ve got; Rolando Mallada and the Xong Brothers as illustrators, handling pencils, inks, and colors on the stories, with Justin Birch as letterer on everything, and Ron Marz & Chase W. Marotz providing editorial support. Can you tell our readers a bit about how you brought everyone together on this project, and what the process of bringing the comic together looked like for your team as you brought it to life?



DH: Rolo Mallada: This entire project started because Rolo emailed me last year and asked me if I had any work available for him. Now, I’ve known Rolo for 15+ years and I had NEVER heard him say those words in all that time. He’s an artistic GOD in his native Uruguay. In fact, he’s turned me down on projects for years and years because he has always been too busy with other work. So, when the chance came up to work with him, I didn’t hesitate!

It was a Monday when he emailed me. I told him I would have something for him by that Wednesday. When I said I would have something for him, I had NO IDEA what that something was going to be! The clock started ticking and the pressure started mounting. Somewhere in that time I had a revelation. There was a dream project of my own that I always wanted to do! Two days later, the beginnings of Super Kaiju Rock n Roller Derby were in Rolo’s hands and off we went!


The Xong Brothers:

As SKRRDFTG! got rolling, I started getting some covers and pinups done. My friend, Netho Diaz (artist on the recent Daredevil: Black Armor mini-series), put me onto the Xong Bros. They did a cover for me and it was so good that I asked them to do another cover and then some short stories. As it has turns out, they are probably one of the best art teams I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. There will be more from myself and the Xong Bros. in the future. Promise.


AndWorld Design & Justin Birch:

When I get a book lettered and designed, there is only one company I trust. AndWorld Design. Deron Bennett and his team (that includes Justin) are literally the best in North America at what they do, with Eisners to prove it.


Ron Marz & Chase Marotz:

I’ve known Ron & Chase for years and both have worked for me or with me for years as well. I’m just really lucky and grateful that they were willing to commit their time and energy to making sure I got this done right.



CBY: I really need to dwell on how vibrant and engaging the art is throughout this inaugural issue. There’s an expressive, dynamic quality to the panel layout and angles from everyone involved, and in particular I really love the integration of color into the form of both figures and scenery that Rolando brings to the story. You’ve also got an ensemble of cover artists including a few by Ed Benes, Chris Cross, Paul Pelletier, Bart Sears, Nicoletta Baldari, and even one from Paulina Ganucheau, whose work I always enjoy. How long did it take to pull together all the concept art and cover variants for this project, and what did the process of tapping artists to contribute look like?



DH: It took a while. Getting artists of this caliber is always difficult because they are always busy and booked with work. But, I know people will agree that it was well worth the time, energy, and expense to get every single one of them (and all the others that we plan on surprising people with during the Kickstarter campaign).


I’m glad you love the art. I think Rolo, the Xong Bros, and all the other contributors are some of the best the comic industry has to offer right now. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have asked them to join me. We are making an EVENT here. A GRAPHIC NOVELLA that is going to look GORGEOUS on every page AND sitting on your shelf. Perfect bound, hardcover, dust jacket, spot varnish… all the bells and whistles. I’m taking all my years and years of publishing experience and pouring it into making the BEST package using the BEST printers and the BEST creative talent. Everything about this book is going to scream quality and high end values. I know what an average comic looks like. I have ZERO interest in making a standard comic.



CBY: I'm glad I got to give things a read, and I can say that it definitely stands apart from other titles on the market. Through your time at Ape Entertainment and IDW, you had the opportunity to acquaint yourself with a variety of other narrative worlds. What sort of considerations always came into play with the other stakeholders managing existing intellectual property? How do you find the approach different when handling your own IP and directing its development with greater creative control?



DH: When working with licensors or with creators on their own books, my role is always from the assist position. I suggest, I cajole, I cheerlead, but rarely do I insist. It’s not for me to ultimately decide what the final product should be when it’s someone else’s book or property.


With Super Kaiju Rock n Roller Derby Fun Time Go! I am in that ownership role. I can and do insist that everything be exactly as I think it should be. Everything of the highest quality. The only other person who has as much say in the STORY as me is Rolo. While I may be the creator of the project, Rolo and I are the author of the book TOGETHER and so I defer to him on the matters he thinks are important. He’s never steered us wrong.



CBY: It’s worth acknowledging the Fun Time Go! component of the title is central to the branding. You’ve also got The Corner Box podcast going with over thirty episodes since launching last September. Is there anything else from amidst your upcoming or recent releases you’d like to share?



DH: Nope! That first link should get you wherever you want to go!



CBY: I know we’ve dug pretty thoroughly into the realm of influence and inspiration as we unpacked how this title came to be. However, to close, I always like to open things up. So, separately from Super Kaiju Rock n Roller Derby Fun Time Go!, what comics and other media are you enjoying lately? From your recent creative exploration, what should our readers make sure they don’t miss?



DH: I just rediscovered Bigfoot and Wildboy, an old Sid & Marty Kroft series-within-a-series from the late 70’s. It’s even more nuts than you think it sounds. I’ve also recently discovered 90’s Japanese V-Cinema which walks up to low budget, schlock filmmaking and says “Hold my beer”.



CBY: That sounds fantastic, so hopefully our readers check it out. David, thanks for joining us in the Yeti Cave today! For all our readers whose curiosity is piqued, your Kickstarter campaign is set to notify on launch, and if there are other links to portfolio, publication, or social media links you’d like people to see, please let us know below.



DH: If you want to guarantee getting the Early Bird discount without the stress of actually having to be early to the Kickstarter launch AND get a cool, exclusive, all-access wristband you can go to the $1 reservation page here - https://get.funtimego.com/ There’s also some art and a little story description and possibly even more general braggadocio than you’ll find in this interview if such a thing is possible.




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