SDCC 2010: Abnett and Lanning on ROCKET RACOON & GROOT


The Marvel Universe is full of odd characters, and Rocket Raccoon and Groot — a talking raccoon and a walking tree — are two of the oddest. The two Marvel Comics characters have both been around for a while — Rocket Raccoon premiered in Marvel Preview #7 circa 1976, while Groot dates back to 1960’s Tales to Astonish #13, created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Dick Ayers. But it’s their time together as members of co-writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy that has gained them fan-favorite status among current readers. Now Abnett and Lanning, along with artist Timothy Green — who helped revitalize Rocket Raccoon in 2007's Annihilation: Conquest - Star-Lord miniseries — are featuring them in their own four-issue miniseries starting in January 2011, announced Thursday afternoon at Comic-Con International: San Diego during the "Mondo Marvel" panel and simply titled Rocket Raccoon & Groot.

Newsarama contacted Abnett and Lanning (answering collectively as “DnA”) and series editor Bill Rosemann via e-mail to gather more information on Rocket Raccoon & Groot, and discover how Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, who drew the original Rocket Raccoon miniseries back in 1985, got on board with providing cover art for issue #1.

Newsarama: This picks up on story threads from Guardians of the Galaxy, but is also intended to be new reader friendly. Why was it important to make this accessible to those who might not be familiar with the characters?

DnA: Always. You can get a great texture and depth to an ongoing story, something that really adds weight and significance to a tale and should never be avoided, but every issue is always someone’s first, and that shouldn’t ever be forgotten either. This story should satisfy the interests of readers who’ve been with the cosmic books for a while now, but also give new readers the opportunity to hitch a ride.

Nrama: So is it tough to make a comic accessible when it stars a talking space raccoon and a plant monster?

DnA: Nonsense, not with plain-old regular characters like that.

Nrama: For people who might not be familiar with the two main characters, how would you describe their dynamic?

DnA: One’s a talking raccoon and the other’s a walking tree. Rocket is the wisecracking tactical brain and Groot is the profound, deep-thinking muscle.

Nrama: According to the preview text released to press, Rocket Raccoon and Groot face "a chilling new menace" in the series. Certainly sounds intriguing. What can you tell us about this?

DnA: It’s new, it’s chilling and it also appears to be menacing. And though it’s fresh and divertingly different (and a surprise, which is why we’re not mentioning any names), it also links directly to the pasts of these two characters. This is an adventure only they could have, and a threat only they can defeat.

Nrama: Given the title and characters involved, you'd expect this to be a fairly lighthearted book. How much of a role does humor play in the series?

DnA: Yes, there’s some humor, but it’s a serious story. There’s danger, intrigue, shocks, realistic threats. We think these two characters work best when they’re treated as genuine alien beings rather than comedy “joke characters.” That won’t stop the wisecracks, however.

Nrama: What other characters might we see during the series — some of their Guardians of the Galaxy teammates, maybe?

DnA: We won’t be led on that. Regular Guardians readers need to know that this series will fulfill their continuity needs, but because we’ve made no secret of the fact that anything can happen in The Thanos Imperative, and no one is safe, we will neither confirm nor deny that this story takes place afterwards. It may take place during the TI or alongside it. There is no guarantee that Rocket, Groot or any of the Guardians will survive The Thanos Imperative.

Nrama: Bill, obviously getting Mike Mignola to do the cover for #1 is a huge, awesome coup. How did you snag him, and how excited was he to revisit Rocket Raccoon?

Bill Rosemann: As huge a coup it was, the entire process was surprisingly simpe … largely due to the fact that Mike is one of the nicest guys in the biz. While attending the last Heroes Con, I waited in Mike’s autograph line one morning and then timidly asked him if he would be interested and available to draw a cover for the upcoming story. He seemed happy to meet the editor who was crazy enough to bring Rocket back … and expressed interest in drawing him again … but I think the deal maker was also being able to draw Groot, his favorite of all the Kirby monsters. The stars aligned, the comic gods smiled, and if I had a time machine, I would have traveled back in time to 1985 and told 14-year-old Bill Rosemann that one day he’d be able to meet and work with the genius who drew the most excellent Rocket Raccoon mini.

Where do Rocket Raccoon and Groot rank among other famous Marvel duos?

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