After returning in the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy and winning over hearts in advance of the movie, Rocket Raccoon is officially a star. And he’s parlaying that into his first ongoing series. Marvel has tapped Oz artist Skottie Young to both write and draw the upcoming Rocket Raccoon solo series launching this July. Young has earned many new fans with his kid-like Little Marvels variant covers, and after some initiatory smaller projects like writing Magneto: Not A Hero and A-Babies vs. X-Babies Young is ready to come into his own as a writer and artist.
The Rocket Raccoon series will see the fur-covered hero step into the role of space adventurer – but he’s no Flash Gordon. Young promises to have Rocket showing his animalistic side, with big guns and a bigger mouth – a mouth that will get him in trouble will all manner of extraterrestrial life.
Newsarama: Skottie, this is big news – for you and for Rocket Raccoon. What can readers expect with this series when it launches in July?
Skottie Young: Thanks, Chris. I think the only thing anyone can expect going to a series about a talking raccoon with big guns and a bigger mouth is read some fun comics. And probably see a short guy with fur shooting all manner of things.
Nrama: Rocket is best known now for being part of the ensemble cast of Guardians of the Galaxy – out on his own here, what’s the tone of this solo series like?
Young: I think Brian Michael Bendis's characterization of Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy is great. As soon as I read the "BOOM, MURDERED YOU!" lines in his issues, I told myself I had to work on this character at some point. So, I'm talking that humorous/hardcore fun side and running with it. I loved Joe Kelly's Deadpool or Keith Giffen & Simon Bisley’s Lobo when I was younger and I think Rocket might fit well in that wild space romp style of storytelling.
Nrama: In a nutshell, what’s your take on Rocket Raccoon as a character for this series?
Young: Indulgent. I mean, he's an animal deep down… and kind of on the surface too, but I like that idea of that living on pure instinct and desire. He's hardcore guy who goes after want he wants. But he's also alone in the galaxy. He believes he's the last of his kind. I like thinking about what that does to someone like Rocket. Is his firing 350 bullets a minute to mask some pain of not having family? Or does he just want to escape from a prison planet and the bullets will tear down any fleshy thing stopping him? Probably the part about the fleshy bits, but we'll see.
Nrama: Rocket’s fought galactic overlords, alien races and some of Earth’s top super villains – who will he be up against in this series?
Young: Well, I've had my whiteboard out and I've been consulting Jonathan Hickman about my plans. I have been planting seeds of the ultimate evils in Rocket's future for the last 5 years of Marvel continuity and believe when I tell you that the layers upon layers will have your mind literally bleeding from the mysteries…
Ok, none of that it true.
In the first arc we have a hooded figure that seems to watching Rocket and setting him up for things that he probably would do, but didn't do this time, don't' want to ruin that. And we have a spaceship full of female militia soldiers that have a bone to pick with Rocket. After the first arc, I'll be diving deep into to Marvel Cosmic library hunting for the oddest characters I can get my hands and see what kind of fun there is to be had.
Nrama: I happen to know you’re a well-versed X-Men fan, but not quite sure on your comics reading background outside of that. When you first remember learning about Rocket Raccoon, and what do you think of his recent meteoric rise in popularity?
Young: Like most characters, I was aware of him for a long time but didn't know anything about him. But started to pay more attention a few years back when Annihilation and all the big Marvel Cosmic stuff started to make its comeback.
I think his new popularity is fantastic. It's a talking raccoon with massive space guns. The fact that people are gravitating to a character like this means that we're having fun with comics. I love the idea that there's room for a guy like Rocket on the shelves and in theaters. It means we haven't lost our sense of humor and fun. My only hope is that I can live up to the excitement people have for him!
Nrama: This will be the second Rocket Raccoon series, after one three decades ago by Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola. Those four issues were some interesting and off-beat stories – any chance you read those and might bring back some of those unique elements – Wal Russ to be example – back from the musty back issue bins?
Young: Those issues were so strange and cool. I can’t promise anything, but you may see a character or two show up from that series at some point. Again, I'm going to be hunting for the strange characters in Marvel Cosmic. Wal Russ has to be on that list, right?
Nrama: Before I let you get back to work, one last question: you’re not only writing this but drawing as well – what can readers expect visually, both in what you draw and how you’re going about drawing it?
Young: This is tough question. It won’t be Oz and it won't be Little Marvels. It'll just be me doing Rocket Raccoon. With art styles and how I approach projects, it's always easier to put some grand theory on it three years later when I can look back fondly as if I had a plan all along. But right now, I’m just drawing and inking and having a blast. Check back with me in six months and I'll have an answer that makes me seem smarter. [laughs]
I will say that drawing my scripts allows me to plus things up with each pass. Once I draw the page, I can go back into the script and adjust and add new thoughts based on choices I made in the art. That's one of my favorite things about writing and drawing the book.