Lewis and Clark never came across a Sasquatch in their expeditions, but in Image Comics' Manifest Destiny they're hot on his trail.
Writer Chris Dingess and artist Matthew Roberts are mid-way through the current "Sasquatch" arc in thier creator-owned series, continuing to follow the expeditions of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark with a bit of fantasy and fiction thrown in.
With the series recently breaking the 20-issue mark, Newsarama talked with the duo about their unique alternate history fantasy/non-fiction tale and what's to come.
Newsarama: Chris, Matthew, what can you say about this current arc, "Sasquatch," for Manifest Destiny?
Chris Dingess: Honestly, not much right now, because I don't want to give anything away. I guess I'll just say that I had a blast writing it and I hope it will answers some of the questions we've raised with previous arcs.
Matthew Roberts: Get ready! The Sasquatch are a ton of fun but all of the previous arcs have had more than one threat to deal with. Expect the same in this arc. Chris is letting a pretty big cat out of the bag.
Nrama: Magical and mythical monsters have been a part of this series from the outset, but what led you to bring in Sasquatch and do it for an entire arc?
Dingess: Matt Roberts and I have been itching to do a run on Sasquatch and put our spin on the creature for quite some time now. We thought maybe we'd wait until the expedition got farther West, but I was thinking up this arc and thought why not now? It seems like good timing, since the book was coming back after a bit of a break. Why not come back with something big?
Nrama: For writing and drawing a threat like Sasquatch, can you talk about the research and thought process you went through in writing this arc?
Dingess: I didn't do a great ton of research. I know as much about Sasquatch as any knuckle-dragging idiot. I did skim through some stuff and saw that over the years, people had reported Sasquatch-y (is that even a word?) things in the area where Lewis and Clark are. But... I mean, I think there's been a Sasquatch sighting in nearly every state. People love a Bigfoot!
Roberts: I had no idea when I was drawing that cyclops skull in Manifest Destiny #12 that I would be designing something for later. When I realized how the Sasquatch were being portrayed in the arc I wanted to find a way to soften the face a bit around those big sharp teeth. I ended up doing an exaggerated basset thing with the mouth. Then I added the jagged/poofy hair to hide the horns in silhouette to get the profile a little closer to what people might imagine from real life stories.
Nrama: In upcoming issues, you're going to be introducing a real Native American tribe - the Teton Sioux. This series mixes fact with fiction, so how are you presenting them in this story?
Dingess: I read about the Corps of Discovery's interaction with some of the tribes in this area, and tried to stay true to some of the factual accounts but, as we tend to do, we weaved our own thread through the story. They are a bit suspicious of Lewis and Clark and rightfully so.
Roberts: Visually, I research as best I can what the Teton Sioux wore and then kind of design simple variations based off what I find. There's a few characters that we focus on in the arc and I gave them a few identifying features or clothing items, but with the background characters I try to keep it simple and, from the little I know, kind of everyday. I want to be respectful so I'm always scared of getting it wrong if I start over designing.
Nrama: Fans of this series remember the six-month break between this and the previous arc. Can you talk about that, and if people should expect that after every arc in order to make the arc's issues itself monthly?
Roberts: A six month break is too much to ask so hopefully that was a one-time bump in the road. I'm draw a little slow so readers can expect a small break in between arcs for the trade release but I'm getting a little faster and bringing on Stefano and Tony to ink has helped a ton. Our schedule is looking good right now.
Dingess: I don't want to talk about it, because I feel terrible for the gap in between arcs, but I will. I want to make the best version of this book, as does every individual in our gang, and sometimes that means taking a little more time with stuff. That might make us a little slow and a little precious with the material. But that is the way we make this book. I think that for the time being, there may be a short break in between story arc as this series progress.
Nrama: You two are 20 issues into the series - no small feat for comic books, especially creator-owned ones. How do you individually feel about what you've been able to accomplish so far?
Dingess: Look, I'm can't believe we're even still here and incredibly thankful to everyone who pays their hard earned, or hard fought for, or hard stolen money on this book. There's a ton of stuff on the shelves and the fact that you read ours blows me away. I'm having a ton of fun writing this book and am consistently in awe of the art that goes along with it.
Roberts: I'm just continually grateful to still be working. Especially on this book. I look back now and then and appreciate the body of work we've put together and take a little pride but I'm usually focused on the next issue or what I have to draw at the moment. Chris keeps it interesting.
Nrama: And what are your big plans for Manifest Destiny going forward?
Dingess: We're going to keep pushing West and keep chasing monsters! And we may even add a new crew member.
Roberts: To draw it. And to find the perfect coping strategy for Chris dropping "and the rest of the crew" into a panel description.