Marvel Digital: Roger Langridge Talks Fin Fang Four
by Benjamin Ong Pang Kean
Date: 21 October 2008 Time: 05:58 PM ET
Langridge Talks Fin Fang Four
Taking the next step in their digital comics initiative, Marvel Comics last week announced five new digital-only titles for subscribers to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.One of the new titles is not something new after all. Scott Gray and Roger Langridge are set to bring back the Fin Fang Four, a group of old school monsters consisting of an extraterrestrial dragon (Fin Fang Foom), a robot (Elektro), a giant ape (Gorgilla) and an alien (Googam) who were all shrunk down to human size by the Fantastic Four’s Mr. Fantastic in an effort to rehabilitate them in 2005’s Marvel Monsters: Fin Fang Four. The critically-acclaimed creative team has since teamed up on an annual basis, creating more wacky stories featuring the Fin Fang Four in tales such as “How Fin Fang Foom Saved Christmas” in 2006’s Marvel Holiday Special and last year’s Giant-Size Avengers Special. At press time, Scott Gray is currently attending a Doctor Who convention and is unable for comment but we managed to track down and speak with Roger Langridge about bringing the Fin Fang Four to the digital realm. The New Zealand-born comic writer/artist/letterer who’s currently based in the UK is no stranger to the world of digital comics as he is the Harvey, Eisner, Ignatz and Reuben Award-nominated cartoonist responsible for Fred the Clown, the Buster Keaton-inspired character which he wrote and drew as a webcomic before self-publishing the material as British small press comics. And he recently sat down with us to chat about his latest webcomic, Mugwhump The Great.
As mentioned, the spotlight’s on the Fin Fang Four today. Newsarama: Hi, Roger. Doing the Fin Fang Four must've been an annual affair for both you and Scott now. How did the decision to bring them to the Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited online initiative come about? Roger Langridge: It was a complete surprise to us! The stories which will now be appearing online were originally commissioned to appear as randomly-placed backup stories, much like the ongoing Franklin Richards backups and one-offs by Chris Eliopoulos and Marc Sumerak that have been appearing over the last few years. It was only after we'd finished the last of them that [editor] John Barber informed us of the plan to run them online, and collect them into a standard comic book next year. This was my own publishing model with my creator-owned strip Fred the Clown, so it made a lot of sense to me. NRAMA: Well, one thing's for sure. The timing couldn't be more perfect as Halloween is just around the corner. So, what kind of mayhem is the Fin Fang Four up to now? RL: There's a whole bunch of stuff! Fin Fang Foom creates a riot when he introduces ancient magical Chinese roots into his recipes at the Green Wok; Googam, Son of Goom, gets himself adopted by a film star; Curious Gorgilla meets The Man in the Stovepipe Hat; and Elektro is mistaken for Spider-Man's old enemy and imprisoned with a bunch of aging villains from old pastry ads. We just had loads of fun. NRAMA: Will these stories be self-contained or will they be one main story broken into five chapters? RL: They're all self-contained. Partly because when the stories were initially commissioned we had no idea where they'd end up, and partly because we just like the discipline of a tight, satisfying seven-page story. Scott did a ton of those when he was writing Doctor Who, my own natural writing rhythm seems to work best for shorter stories, and we're both big fans of Carl Barks, Will Eisner and other cartoonists who worked within those kinds of constraints... so we're happy to be walking in their footsteps for a while. NRAMA: Did the thought of adding new monsters into the mix ever crossed your mind at all? Or will it remain an exclusive club for now? RL: If we did add new monsters, they'd be guest appearances only. Being the Fin Fang Four, even if they're never actually referred to by that name, does kind of imply that there are only four of them! Also, we just really like the chemistry between our existing cast. We think there are a lot more stories to tell before that will start to get tired. But yes, we'd certainly be up for guest monsters at some point. There's too much wacky goodness in those old monster books to ignore them forever. NRAMA: What do you guys have planned for the Fin Fang Four next? RL: That rather depends on Marvel at this stage! Scott and I have a ton of ideas for more short stories, and a proposal for a limited series has been knocking around the Marvel offices for a couple of years now. But, oddly enough, four obscure monsters from the early 1960s who only ever appeared in a single throwaway story each is considered something of a hard sell. I can't work that one out at all, can you?