Before super-heroes, and before zombies, there were… dogs.
Although Robert Kirkman is best known for his twin Image successes Invincible and The Walking Dead, they weren’t the first thing Robert wanted to do at the creator-owned comics bastion. It was a project called Science Dog with Invincible artist Cory Walker.But that wasn’t to be, and Image sent the duo back to the drawing board where they came up with Invincible. And with the success of Invincible, Kirkman and Walker were able to bring their hound/human hybrid back – first as the comics Invincible read, then through some special invention as a special back-up feature in every 25 issues of Invincible. But with Invincible #75 on shelves, the pair couldn’t wait to do the fourth and final part of their story – and Science Dog Special #2 came to be.
In his adventures, Science Dog mixes super-heroics with pulp adventures with as man’s best friends become mankind’s best protector. Mad scientists? Yes. Ray guns? Yes. Fleas? Probably. With the fourth and final chapter of Science Dog’s inaugural story now in print, we talked with Kirkman about the unique project and finally coming full circle.
Newsarama: This new collection follows up 2009’s first Science Dog Special, with the story from Invincible #75 as well as a new story. Seeing as how Science Dog was your 1st pitch to Image, what’s it like to be able to come back and finally get new stories going?
Robert Kirkman: Well, it's been a lot of fun. I think Science Dog is something Cory and I always wanted to do – even when we were doing Invincible; so it's been fun to come back to it every 25 issues. After doing it in Invincible #25, #50 and #75 we didn't want to wait until #100 to wrap up the story. So basically what we've done with Science Dog Special #2 is run the 12 pages from Invincible #75 that continued from the other two collected in Science Dog Special #1 and then go ahead and do a wrap-up conclusion to the entire story – and it ends up being pretty much a full-size issue. The story gets pretty epic by the end – at that point we're 50+ plus pages into it.
Nrama: You sound like you’re enjoying yourself.
Kirkman: It's always fun to do stuff with that character, and I'm excited to see it in print and hold it in my hands. Both Cory and I are excited to be wrapping up our story.
Nrama: Sure…. it's a story you've wanted to do for a long time – before Invincible even debuted. Has the story changed much from your original pitch to Image back then to what it's turning out as now?
Kirkman: Parts of the first chapter were in the original pitch, but the story-arc as a whole we had in mind for that pitch is not present in these stories. When Invincible #25 came up and we decided to bring in Science Dog I decided it would be cool to just re-read the previous chapter and write a continuation.
Nrama: So no planning or idea where things would go next until the time came to write the next part?
Kirkman: Exactly. I thought it would be real exciting to see how I would grow and change as a human being and a writer when I would revisit the story in each installment. At the end of each chapter I tried to write myself in to a corner and end on a good cliffhanger and not thing of what to do next. It was a fun writing experiment, and chapter two and three became vastly different than the original.
Now that's all available to read in one sitting, I hope readers can see how it grows until the end and comes together. I think it does.
Nrama: In tone, I see Science Dog on the more cartoonish side of Invincible and far away from The Walking Dead. If The Walking Dead is AMC, I see Science Dog as Cartoon Network. How do you see Science Dog fitting into your body of work, and is it a chance to do things you can’t normally do in your other titles?
Kirkman: My body of work is a mess. I've got Invincible which is fairly standard superhero stuff, then The Walking Dead which is pretty straight horror and Science Dog being pretty wacky science fiction stuff. My body of work doesn't appeal to one kind of audience – each one reaches out to different kinds of tastes. I like doing different projects for different people, and hopefully that's reflected in what I do.
Nrama: What’s the feedback you get for that when you meet fans in person?
Kirkman: People sometimes come up to me at conventions and admit that they don't buy all my work, and I'm certainly not upset with that. I think it all fits together nicely, and I plan on continuing doing things that are vastly different from one another.
Nrama: And although the new material in Science Dog Special #2 wraps up this first story, you're quoted in the letters column of Invincible #75 saying this wouldn't be the last we see of him. What are the plans going forward?
Kirkman: We're still figuring out what's going to be in Invincible #100. We might start a new Science Dog story, or do a different character entirely. We're still trying to figure that out.
Nrama: Before I let you go… I’ve really been digging the Tech Jacket backup stories in Invincible. Any chance those will be collected like Science Dog has?
Kirkman: We're still trying to figure that out. The backups themselves are not enough to put into a big book, so we're debating doing more Tech Jacket stories so we have enough to collect it. Once we figure that out, we'll definitely do a second collected volume of Tech Jacket.