Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley's Invincible just completed its "Reboot?" arc, so how do they plan on topping it? Well, for Ottley he's jumping the shark.
Beginning April 6, Ottley is reviving his creator-owned character Grizzly Shark from the sold-out 2010 one-shot Sea Bear and Grizzly Shark series with Jason Howard. The new three-issue series reprints the first story in full color, then rolls on with a new expansive story.
Newsarama talked with Ottley about the new Grizzly Shark series, what it's like to turn up the gore from the already high standards of Invincible, the continuing story of JonBob and Donnie, and what's next for him with Invincible as well as possible other outside work.
Newsarama: Ryan, what led you to jump into do a Grizzly Shark series?
Ryan Ottley: I missed the old bastard. Plain and simple. It’s not like I had time for it, but I missed the Shark! So in between Invincible scripts I started writing and eventually drawing off and on until I finished it all a year ago. I miss it already!
Nrama: So what is the Grizzly Shark up to in this series (and how many issues is it)?
Ottley: It's a three-issue trilogy. I know that sounds redundant, and the reason for that is, it is. Our heroes from the first issue, JonBob and Donnie, are trying to get out of that terrible forest that caused them so much death and pain, just their luck they get picked up by some shark hunters! And then bad stuff happens. Good bad stuff!
Nrama: This follows up on 2010’s Sea Bear & Grizzly Shark. Where’s Sea Bear and Jason Howard?
Ottley: That is a good question! Here's how it all went down: Years ago Jason Howard and I sat in a hotel room at a con and conjured up the idea of a bear and a shark getting mixed up! Bear in the sea, shark on land. We loved it!
So Jason took the bear, I took the shark, and we wrote and drew our own comics without seeing what each other we're doing so we could be free to do whatever we wanted on our own books. Then the black and white comic Sea Bear and Grizzly Shark was born! But some time went by and we wanted more, so we decided we'd make two more issues each, but young Jason Howard contracted a severe phobia of bears, and just couldn't do it. Or he couldn't find time away from all those Warren Ellis scripts he's been working on.
So In the meantime I finished my books, got a colorist to color the entire trilogy, and waited for Jason to do his issues but since he was too afraid of bears we finally both agreed Grizzly Shark should be put out solo style so people can experience it.
Nrama: You’re known to cut loose from time to time in Invincible, but Grizzly Shark and Sea Bear and Grizzly Shark seem like its 100% cut loose all of the time. Would you say this kind of work is more naturalistic or primal for you?
Ottley: I'm definitely a fan of cutting loose, I love the intensity of a good fight scene, and Grizzly Shark has plenty of that with a dash of insanity.
Nrama: So Grizzly Shark #1 is a reprint of your story from the Sea Bear and Grizzly Shark one-shot, followed by two new issues. How’d you go about choosing who to color the 2010 material and this new work?
Ottley: Ivan Plascencia is great, he knocked it outta the park. I got his cousin, FCO Plascencia (Invincible colorist alumni and current Batman colorist) to color a couple covers for this as well. Ivan colored Jason Howard on The Astounding Wolf-Man and I liked his work there so I had to bug him for this! It's just meant to be in color.
Nrama: This comes out as you’re taking a break from Invincible with Cory Walker stepping in. What’s your status with Invincible?
Ottley: I know people will be pretty confused because it looks like I'm taking all this time off of Invincible to draw some insane shark book. But I finished Grizzly Shark a year ago, and am just deciding to finally let it free into the world in April. I'm actually working on Invincible #133 right now. So I don't get a big break from work, only from the comic shelves. But yeah, my status with Invincible is fine! And I'm so happy to see Cory step in for a while; I love that guy and can't wait for you all to see what he's doing! It's so good!
Nrama: That being said, I’ve noticed in the last year or so you’ve been branching out to do some variant covers for other publishers like Marvel and DC. What do you want to do in the future, comic book and art-wise?
Ottley: I love Invincible and can't see myself on another book right now, but I do enjoy small changes here and there. A little variety of doing covers for Marvel and DC and whatever else pops up is really fun for me. And hopefully I can find time for another personal miniseries at some point.
Nrama: Last question -- I’ve been following your Tumblr, and am continually surprised and impressed by your pen sketches and that more scratchy rendering style. I know that might be more difficult to do in a 22 page book, but have you thought about doing some wilder experimentation with Grizzly Shark or somewhere else?
Ottley: That's been on my mind a lot. I'd love to do that style for a comic. And I will someday when I get the time. I am however working on putting together an art book for my pen sketches, so yeah. Hope you like big ol' art books.