BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
Joining the Zoo Crew and original Captain Carrot collaborator Scott Shaw! for a trio of issues is writer Bill Morrison. He's having a blast working with these characters and was happy to give PULSE readers the 4-1-1 on this Countdown tie-in.THE PULSE: So many people have such fond memories of the original Captain Carrot series. What do you remember the most about those issues?
I didnít remember much, which is why I hunted down copies of the entire original run and read them before starting this project. Back when Captain Carrot first premiered in the early Eighties I was out of college with a low-paying job and just getting married, so my funds were limited to say the least. It was a short period when I didnít really buy many comics, so I missed out on the original Carrot-Mania. Notice I said ďoriginalĒ, as Iím expecting Carrot-Mania Redux! Bob Chapman, Iím looking in your direction! Get those T-shirts ready! THE PULSE: Why do you think Captain Carrot was such a memorable character who makes people still, decades later, smile when they hear the title and about the characters?
I think Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw! really knew what they were doing when they created the characters. They took the basic ďfunny animal as super heroĒ concept that began with characters like Mighty Mouse and Hoppy the Marvel Bunny and infused them with the kind of story-telling that gets fans of ďstraightĒ super hero characters excited. So suddenly you had funny animal characters with story continuity and personality conflicts, etc. Scottís designs are also very appealing. From his experience in animation heís an expert at designing fun and memorable characters. THE PULSE: For our readers hearing about Captain Carrot for the first time in this interview please give them a quick primer about the characters and what set them apart from other super-powered animals?
Okay, hereís the roll call: Captain Carrot
is secretly Rodney Rabbit, a mild-mannered comic book artist who transforms into a beefed-up bunny with super strength and flying ability when he munches down on one of his cosmic carrots. Pig-Iron
was Peter Porkchops, a DC funny animal star from the Golden and Silver ages. He was transformed in a smelting accident involving a fragment of the same cosmic meteorite that affected Rodney Rabbitís carrot supply and became a super-strong metallic porcine powerhouse. Rubberduck
has powers similar to Plastic Man and Ralph Dibney. In his secret identity he is Byrd Rentals, former mega-movie star. Hollywood star-watchers now put him in the has-been category. Yankee Poodle
is a patriotic poochette with magnetic powers that manifest themselves in the form of stars and stripes. Her no-longer-secret identity (thanks to the events of Teen Titans 30 and 31) is that of Rova Barkitt, a former gossip columnist who, due to an unearned stint in prison, now has the most successful daytime talk show in TV history. Fastback
is a slow-talking country turtle with the power of super speed. Much like Barry Allen, Fastbackís alter ego, Timmy Joe Terrapin, is the last critter youíd expect to see (or not see) moving at the speed of light. Alley-Kat-Abra
, aka Felina Furr is a feline master of the mystic arts, as well as certain martial arts. She murdered fellow Zoo Crew member Little Cheese as we saw in Teen Titans #31, and now rots in prisonÖor does she? American Eagle
is the newest member of the Zoo Crew. Heís a no-nonsense patriot who wants nothing more than to spend his days doling out old-fashioned American justice. His secret identity is Johnny Jingo, the radio talk show host with two right wings. THE PULSE: We saw a much darker Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew in the pages of Teen Titans -- a darker version that a lot of people didn't like. What's your version of the team like?
Weíve incorporated the dark story points of those Teen Titans pages into our series, but found a way to brighten things up quite a bit. I think old school Zoo Crew fans will love it, and the people who dug Geofís darker vision wonít feel cheated either. THE PULSE: You've been working on so many different types of comics, what intrigued you about taking on these heroes?
I love doing humor comics because itís a great challenge. People tend to dismiss humor because it doesnít have the gravitas that a ďseriousĒ comic book does. But itís not easy to make people laugh, especially in print. And with a book like Captain Carrot, you canít just rely on jokes and puns. You also have to have an engaging dramatic story. It has to work on both of those levels with lots of nuance in between. So the challenge of doing a book like that was irresistible. Plus I have to say that when Dan Didio and Joey Cavalieri first called me, they laid out some plot points that I had to hit; things that tie into Countdown. It got me very excited about coming up with a story that would encompass those ideas. THE PULSE: What's it like working with one of the original Captain Carrot creators, Scott Shaw! on these pages?
Joey and Dan asked me who Iíd like to work with on this project, and Scott was the first and only person I could think of. First, heís a close friend and we get along great. Weíve worked together on other projects like The Simpsons and Tex Avery comics, and itís always fun. But foremost, come on, he knows these characters better than anybody this side of Roy Thomas. And my ego isnít so big that I didnít take advantage of that. I wanted Scott to have a lot of input into what I wrote, so I gave him my basic outline and he made suggestions for plot points, gags, lines of dialogue, etc. He also let me know when I wrote something out of character, and I appreciated that. I fell in love with these characters when I started digging into the old stories, but I still donít know them like Scott does. I feel itís very important to honor the connection that the fans have to the Zoo Crew, and Scott is key to reaching that goal. THE PULSE: Who or what is influencing your work the most in these pages?
Iíll have to list three writers. First, Roy Thomas, the original creator of the characters. Iím really trying to keep the spirit and magic of what Roy wrote in the original series intact. Second, Mark Waid who tells a superhero story better than anybody I know. Third, Paul Dini, who is one of the funniest writers ever, and who really knows how to tell a great dramatic adventure story and season it with just the right amount of humor (and vice versa). If people read this series and come away with the sense that Roy, Mark, and Paul got together and wrote it, Iíd be very pleased. THE PULSE: What's coming up in these three issues?
Issue one shows the Zoo crew operating covertly under a restrictive new Presidential administration, while trying to keep the Salamandroid from enflaming tensions between land and sea animals. Itís also got a scene at the Sandy Eggo Comic-Con drawn by Scott that you wonít believe!
In issue two, the Salamandroid pits the Zoo Crew in and epic battle against Frogzilla in the streets of Catinhatten, and we see the gut-wrenching return of Alley-Kat-Abra. We also introduce our new super-villain, Rash Al Paca!
In the final issue, the Zoo Crew are powerless to stop a worldwide flood and have to call on the Justa Lotta Animals from Earth C minus to help load Earth Cís land animals onto an ark. In this issue, we also introduce The New Dogs of Abarkolips! THE PULSE: Why shouldn't PULSE readers miss this series?
Because PULSE readers are so smart and good-looking! But once the third issue is out and the unbelievable ending is revealed, everyone who passed on the first two issues will be scrambling to find copies. Nuff said! Oops! Wrong company! THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?
In addition to my regular Bongo projects (Donít miss this yearís Treehouse of Horror! Thomas Lennon, Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan, Ian Boothby, Pia Guerra, Terry Austin, Tone Rodriguez, Andrew Pepoy, and Jason Ho! Nuff said!!! Díoh! I did it again!), Iím also doing a book for Dark Horse with my wife Kayre and editor Scott Allie that will be sort of a horror/pulp adventure/time travel story. Itís unlike anything Iíve done before.
Plus, Iím continuing my trend of working with rock stars by collaborating on a cool sci-fi comic book with my friend Jane Wiedlin! Jane is really smart and funny, and a terrific writer. Sheís also a big fan of science fiction, particularly Star Wars and Star Trek, so given her influences and talent, I think itís going to be awesome!
The first two issues of the miniseries should be in stores now.