The Perhapanauts by Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau has to be one of the most consistently entertaining reads on the stands from any major publisher. Funny, quirky, full of rich characterization and sometimes violent, the comic captured my imagination when it was first released as a couple of miniseries by Dark Horse years ago, and has only improved over time. The erratic publishing schedule can be a distraction, particularly because with a dense narrative and supporting “backup” stories by Dezago and a host of other artists in the backs of the issues there’s a lot to try and remember for two, four or six months until the next one comes along—but the recent collected edition of their first arc—Triangle—has been a blessing. Not only do you get to read all of Triangle in one sitting, but to check out the HUGE collection of special features in the back—stories reprinted from black and white specials or Image exclusives, a cover gallery featuring all of their “extra” and variant covers, fake letters from fans responding to fake issues; and then the fake covers drawn by Craig Rousseau of the issues that were being responded to. It’s like a Criterion Edition DVD; I could buy this collection JUST for the special features and still feel like I got off cheap—but then I re-read the story and realize just how lucky we are that Image picked up this title when Todd and Craig were done with Dark Horse.
Blog@Newsarama sat down with Todd Dezago to discuss the collection and all things ‘Hap.
Blog@Newsarama: In the annual, I did notice a few things I’d missed before. First off, Big’s interaction with Choopie about the katana–is that something that’s going to pay off in one of our backup stories eventually? It seems like just the right kind of tale.
Todd Dezago: aside from helping choopie to cleave the chimaera in half, big’s samurai sword does have MORE of a tale to tell… just not yet.
Blog@: Second–does The Chief have some kind of power over electronics or is it just the way they run the system at BEDLAM that allows him to override?
TD: thought the chief is the top man at BEDLAM and therefore the guy with the buttons and switches to control everything in the facility, no, he doesn’t have electrical abilities.
Blog@: On that note–and this one might be really obvious and I just caught on now–is The Chief also “Z?” I mean, Z is depicted as having a nose, which The Chief almost never does…but the teaser art on the fake cover telling Z’s origin looks a LOT like him.
TD: nope. two totally different people. well, an alien and a person. well…
Blog@: Touching down on the fake content in the back–you talked to me a little about it, but what made you decide to create some fake lettercols?
TD: i have an incredible appetite for the paranormal and the unexplained and many stories in mind for our team. the fake lettercols were effective on a couple levels; one, they gave me a chance to elude to some stories that i WISHED i could tell, that i wouldn’t ever have room or time to tell. two; they helped to establish a more expansive world for the perhapanauts to occupy than what we’d only see in the previous issues. and three; the fake letters really piqued the interest and curiosity of some of the readers, making them wonder where they’d missed those issues. that was fun.
Blog@: And did Craig make those covers at the same time as you made them, or later?
TD: later. craig’s a truly fantastic artist and, sadly, comics isn’t always the medium that can effectively show off all his varied talents. when he suggested doing perhapanauts portfolio, i thought it could be a great forum to present some of his other styles and skills. when he suggested doing a portfolio of some of the “missing” covers from the fake letters columns, i thought it was genius.
Blog@: Something I don’t think I asked during the What’s Perhappenin’? column–or maybe I did–did you ever worry about MG’s manliness being challenged by a gushing, romantic journal entry in the back of that issue?
TD: no. why? did it effect you in some way you’re not telling us, russ? : )
Blog@: The Hammerskold/Arisa relationship has gotten a few nods in the pages of the “A” stories, while the Katharine/Merrow/Hammerskold quandary hasn’t; is Merrow over it or is there more to come there?
TD: more to come on both fronts, i’m sure. and no, merrow’s confusion over hammerskold and her own feelings for him have been given a bit of a jumpstart after her transatlantic conversation with big.
Blog@: So obviously you guys had your brief appearance in the book, and an upcoming issue will have an appearance by a lucky reader who won the Halloween contest. Are there any other BEDLAM staffers walking around who readers should recognize?
TD: not recognize really–there are quite a few though who are based on folks we actually know. we plan to add a BEDLAM personnel page to our website, featuring photos of the real people next to their respective characters. and maybe give people a chance to add their photos and be assigned a position in the organization. we gotta get on that.
Blog@: The story between Hammerskold and Dr. Sheehan is interesting to me becuase he’s lying to/withholding from his shrink. Don’t you think that would be frowned on, given the high level of stress in his work?
TD: i always think it depends on how much denial a person is in. there’s a line from an old ’til tuesday song by aimee mann that goes, “–you’ve got to be smart if you’re fooling yourself.”
Blog@: It’s funny because we’ve discussed in the past the notion of the Aswang as a potential Red Team member, but your cover gallery in the back implies that before that would happen, we’d see the whole Blue Team die or go AWOL. Does this reflect your actual thought process or just a fun, potential future?
Blog@: I also love the “clarifying” letter–even though it’s not really from anyone but you–that points out the often-missed Aswang cameo. Did you have a lot of people, besides me, saying they forgot her?
TD: are we talking about the sneaky panel where you really hafta look to see her?
yeah–not everybody knows about that yet…i guess.
Blog@: You know, I bet if you really did do a Hollow Earth story, you could get Neal Adams to contribute a cover! He’s pretty into that stuff…!
TD: as much of a neal adams fan as i am, i doubt that we could afford a cover from him. also, who ISN”T into the shaver mysteries?! of course the earth is hollow–where else would the king of the world live?!
Blog@: Smell ya later!
TD: not if i smell you first!