After years wandering the desolate landscape, comics Native American warrior Turok is returning to comic shelves. A new series, Turok, Son of Stone, will debut from Dark Horse on October 13th, and a famed writer is telling this epic warrior’s tale.
Legendary writer Jim Shooter, who has a deep connection with Turok and the other Gold Key titles after working with them in the late 90s at Valiant, returns to the lost lands to tell a modern story of a timeless hero. Like some cosmic castaway, the American Indian known as Turok is washed up in an unforgiving land that is home to both dinosaurs and other castaways like him who drift in from across time and space. As Shooter and newcomer artist Eduardo Francisco pen this updated adventure tale, Dark Horse also includes Turok’s debut tale from way back in 1954.
Newsarama talked with series writer Jim Shooter, who in adding to talking about the series also provided exclusive snippets from his pitch and script to this revitalizing new series.
Newsarama: It’s good to see you with your hands on Turok and revitalizing the character. We’ve seen him a number of times – and not just in comics – and he’s been portrayed differently every time. To you, what are the essentials of Turok, Son of Stone?
Jim Shooter: Turok is the man who can. He’s extremely smart and fearless. Resourceful doesn’t begin to cover it. McGyver could take lessons from him. In any environment, in any situation, he finds a way. He’s absolutely honorable by the standards of his people and his time. A good man. Good hearted, good spirited. And, oh, by the way, he’s trapped in a Timeless Land full of monsters and miracles.Nrama: Can you tell us about the landscape Turok is in here – is it the Lost Lands of lore?
Shooter: Lost Land, Timeless Land, whatever. That’s what we call it. Turok doesn’t know the name of the place. To him it’s just “here.” It’s one continuum removed from where we are. It’s Earth in the Cretaceous Period—except that the same phenomenon that swept Turok and Andar to this place has also swept in people and things from many other times and places. To say it’s fantastic is selling it short. The opportunities are limitless.
Nrama: People know Turok, but can you tell us about Andar?
Shooter: He is the son of the Chief of a Chiricahua band. His father sacrifices his own life to buy time for his son—and Turok—to escape Aztec raiders. Honor demands that Turok take the boy as his own son, finish his education and upbringing—Turok owes that to the spirit of the boy’s father. Chiricahua are forbidden to speak their own names, so Turok gives the boy the name “Andar,” which in the secret tongue of Shamans means “Strong Roots.”
Nrama: What can people expect with this first issue – what’s the story?
Shooter: Here’s the promo blurb I wrote:
“Blood for the Sun” Part 1 – “Out of Time”
The American Southwest, 1428. Turok, Son of Stone, a wanderer, a warrior wise and strong, rescues young Andar, son of a Chiricahua chief, from death at the hands of raiders from a great city to the south. Pursued by the ruthless King Maxtla and his host, Turok and Andar seek refuge in a vast cavern—and then, a force beyond comprehension sweeps them all away to a savage, timeless land where nightmares and miracles abound, where dinosaurs thunder and rampage. Maxtla sees opportunity—power to be had, a new world to seize—but first, the prisoner who slipped his grasp must be recaptured and ritually sacrificed. Hunted by he who would be God-King in a world of monstrous beasts, with danger and death at their heels, Turok and Andar encounter an even deadlier threat—the fearsome Panther People and their mysterious, mesmerizingly beautiful Goddess, Aasta.
Nrama: They’re facing against the Aztecs and a ruler named King Maxtla, as well as the Panther People. Can you tell us about these adversaries?
Shooter: Here’s how “Mescalero,” an escaped, Nadahéndé slave explains the Aztec and Maxtla
In fact, Maxtla was the Divine Emperor of one of the Aztec peoples, famous for being utterly ruthless. He murdered his brother, for instance, to become Emperor. In 1428, three other Aztec peoples suffering under his oppression rose up against him. Some say he was captured and ritually sacrificed, but some say he escaped and fled north with a small, elite force. There begins the story. Maxtla is heinous even by Aztec standards—and to them, ritual sacrifices of countless people was normal, part of the price that must be paid to keep the sun rising. There is also good evidence that they were cannibals.
Here’s my description of the Panther People:
Nrama: Turok’s got experience on his side, as well as a unique weapon called a ‘seax’. Can you tell us about that and how he obtained it?
Shooter: This is how I explained it in my series overview:
Turok is but a man, yet an uncommon man. In his time, no native of North or Central America has a metal weapon except him—a seax, or Viking long knife, made of Damascus steel, given to Turok by a Norse trader whom he befriended during his sojourn to Newfoundland, where Vikings came to trade and forage as late as the early 1400’s, and where Viking settlements once stood. The seax is an heirloom, handed down through generations to the trader from an ancestor who, as a mercenary for the Byzantine Empire journeyed as far as Baghdad.
Nrama: What will Turok be up against as this series unfolds?
Shooter: Anything and everything. There are no limits in the Timeless Land. Turok, Son of Stone is the ultimate Man-versus-Nature gone wild story, but I’m not stopping there. The scale is Brobdingnagian. The dangers—of every kind imaginable, natural and manmade—are boundless. Turok is just a man, but he’s a Hell of a man. Look out. This series is about Turok, the man who can, and his epic journey, not just the dinosaur du jour.
Nrama: The depicting of Native Americans in fiction has been very uneven, from Tonto onward. What route are you going for your vision of how Turok looks, acts and feels?
Shooter: Some of my best friends are people. I have, and will continue to exhaustively research the culture Turok was born into, and the ones he came in contact with, and reflect those where appropriate. Other than that, he’s simply the best man you ever met or heard tell of. How ‘bout that, Kemosabe? [laughs]
Nrama: Looking back at the Turok comics that came before, which stories/issues do you point to as essential for the way you’re interpreting the character in this new series?
Shooter: Well, none and all, actually. I love the fundamental concept and have found inspirations here and there throughout the original series. I intend to honor that work and its creators. The best way I can think of to do that is to bring it up to modern speed, tighten the nuts and bolts and try to fulfill its huge potential.
Nrama: This series joins the recent relaunch of Doctor Solar and Magnus -- any chance these might crossover down the line, or are they standalone?
Shooter: I don’t know. Unless I’m specifically asked to write something set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, or in the Land of Oz, or what have you, I generally set my stories in the real world. As far as I’m concerned, Turok (until transported to the Timeless Land), Doctor Solar, Samson and Magnus all live on Earth, the same Earth, our Earth, but in different times. Could they meet? Is time travel possible? Well…as seen in Turok’s series, travel between continuums is possible, so, who knows?
Nrama: For this, you’re teaming with a hot new talent named Eduardo Francisco, employing a very modern style to this. You’ve got an eye for talent – you hired a host of them back in the Valiant days, including a very green Joe Quesada. How do you think Eduardo is matching up with Turok?
Shooter: Eduardo is outstanding. I occasionally confuse him by using ancient, old-guy terminology in scene descriptions, especially for shots and angles. Once I learn to speak modern English, we’ll be fine. In spite of my failings, the art is brilliant. He’s perfect for Turok. He draws so well…! Wait’ll you see Aasta, Goddess Queen of the Panther People. Hoo-hah! (old-guy terminology).