MEN ON ACTION: Joe Kelly & Diego Greco Go "Bad Dog" w/ Steven T. Seagle

Tue, December 16th, 2008 at 1:54pm PST | Updated: December 16th, 2008 at 3:26pm

Comic Books
CBR News Team, Editor

"Bad Dog" #1 on sale in February

CBR first brought you news of the titles in Man of Action’s February slate of comic books from Image, but when it comes to digging into the nitty gritty of the new imprint, creators Joe Kelly, Steven T. Seagle, Joe Casey and Duncan Rouleau make it easy for fans to get the scoop by simply interviewing each other!

Over the next several days, CBR News will proudly present exclusive chats about the four new titles making up Image’s Man of Action imprint, conducted by the members of the Man of Action team themselves.

First up, Steven T. Seagle sits down with Joe Kelly and newcomer artist Diego Greco to talk “Bad Dog” – a hard boiled gonzo action series featuring a supernatural bounty hunter with the morals of a mad canine.

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Steven T. Seagle: Joe, I’ve known you for over a decade and you come across as this affable, funny Long Island guy – but then your work is almost always dark, twisted, messed up stuff – and that’s just the comedies! Explain yourself.

Joe Kelly: Years of therapy later and I **still** can’t explain it! It’s just the way I’m hardwired. I love comedy, I love high adventure and I even can get behind a thoughtful, inspirational piece of family fare… But inevitably when I sit down to write, the darker depraved whispers are the ones I hear the loudest.

Honestly, I think it has something to do with my dad’s penchant for talking about crime scenes over dinner: “Hey, can you pass the cranberry sauce?” “Sure. Did I ever tell you about that guy we found who blew his head off with a shotgun in his basement?” In the case of “Bad Dog,” though, it’s all intentional. I set out to exorcise those demons – or at least take them out for a good time! 

Pages from "Bad Dog" #1

Seagle: With a name like “Bad Dog” it’s got to be good, so tell me more – is this a limited series? What’s the tone? What do I need before I read?

Kelly: “Bad Dog” is planned as a series of arcs following the story of Lou, a disenfranchised bounty hunter who thinks he’s wasting his life taking down lowlifes in the Southwest. Oh, and he’s a werewolf. Despite the fact that it would make his life a lot easier, Lou staunchly refuses to shift back to his human state, because he pretty much doesn’t like people...or is it because he doesn’t like himself? Hmmmmm?  

It’s a dark comedy/drama along the lines (if I can be so bold) of “Preacher” or “Deadpool” minus all trace of the Comics Code. I was heavily influenced by “Preacher” when I started writing, and always wanted to do a book with that kind of simultaneous abandon and depth – the nastiest nasty juxtaposed with lofty aspirations and the best man has to offer. Lou and his partner, Wendell, a vertically challenged ex-minister, go out trying to make an honest living hunting down bounty skips, but usually wind up blowing the job because they’re drunk...or distracted... or just retarded. Overall, I think people will be laughing at Lou’s antics – the angsty stuff is counterpoint to the low-brow hilarity.

Seagle: “Bad Dog” is obviously irredeemable from any kind of literary sense, so what’s the goal with this series? Shock for shock’s sake? Or are you still trying to go somewhere thematically?

Kelly: Ha! Believe it or not, there are heavy themes at the heart of the book. Even though I love a good disemboweling or accidental bestiality scene as much as the next guy, I can’t sit down and write that stuff without a grounding in something real. “Bad Dog” is ultimately about emotional inertia – that place you hit where your life isn’t moving forward – and won’t move at all unless you make a big change and do something about it. Lou’s facing that moment, but maybe doesn’t have the stones to step up and get his act together. Everyone in the book is sort of frozen in their lives, for better or worse – or they’re rocketing forward, but maybe not toward the best goals. It’s an existential journey, really. Like Kierkegaard, only with lots of guns, booze, deviant sex, and fart jokes.

Seagle: Diego Greco, there is one quality to this book that’s not an all-out affront to good taste, and that’s your gorgeous artwork. It’s suggestive but realistic at the same time – who are your influences?

Page from "Bad Dog" #1

Diego Greco: Well, thanks for your comment about my artwork. I first became interested in comic books here in Argentina when I came across Ariel Olivetti´s “Cazador” back in 1993. Ariel was one of my first influences as well as my first teacher. Another artist that influenced a lot in my artwork is Juan Bobillo, who, until recently, was working on “Howard The Duck.” I was lucky enough to meet both of these artists and get to know them. Travis Charest and Alex Ross also had a lot to do with my training as an artist, because I always bought everything they did that came to Argentina. I love their artwork.

 
Seagle: Which do you find yourself doing more often: trying to make Joe’s obscene scripts more palatable? Or trying to take Joe’s obscene scripts and make them even more obscene visually?

Greco: Mmm…I honestly don’t know yet! Sometimes I try to make a kick in the nuts look glamorous, and other times I try to make that same kick look as if it were splitting the character in two. I think I’m looking for a balance, but always sticking to what the script says.

 
Seagle: You have a very confident style, and yet, I didn’t know your work until I saw “Bad Dog.” Is this your first American comics job?

Greco: Yes, this is my first comic book in the American industry, but not the first comic I’ve done. I did erotic comic books for a European publisher for four years along with some advertising jobs. I also did drawings for several Argentinean magazines. Last year, I launched the comic book “Doméstico,” a story about an Argentinean superhero that is a complete loser. Nowadays, apart from working on “Bad Dog,” I’m also doing illustrations, teaching at a school I set up with the artist Andres Alvez, who is my partner as well as my friend, and I’m drawing a comic strip called “Alienigena” that is published on line every Wednesday in 4segundoscomics.com. I’m a busy guy!

Seagle: Joe, what is it about Diego’s style that made you pick him as the perfect match for your offensive book?

Kelly: Lately, I find myself drawn to artists who can balance out the absurd with the sublime. Someone whose style allows for cartoony elements – very expressionistic characters that are allowed to squash and stretch – yet can place them in a real world that’s relatable and grounded. For me, it’s the best that our medium has to offer. Diego is a really accomplished artist – his styles range from simple but beautiful children’s illustration to very detailed portraits. When I saw the range of his work, specifically some of those erotic comics he mentioned – which were pretty funny! – I knew he could pull off the world of “Bad Dog.”

Pages from "Bad Dog" #1

I just heard Baz Luhrmann speak about his film “Australia,” and a quote that was attributed to him really stuck with me. The production team was struggling over a tree he wanted them to build that was based on a real tree in the outback. They recreated this massive tree, and he kept asking for them to make it bigger, even though they had made it to the exact specs of the tree that had inspired Baz in the first place. When they pointed this out, he said, “I don’t want to film things the way they are, but the way they feel.”  

That's my new mantra. We can do that all the time in comics, but so often we’re shooting for something that “looks real.” Screw that! I want talking werewolves drinking bourbon!

Seagle: You obviously have a huge track record with dark comedy, having created the definitive version of “Deadpool” for Marvel – a book which was both delightful and wholly inappropriate. Is “Bad Dog” following in that tradition or are you taking us somewhere new?

Kelly: “Bad Dog” is definitely raunchier than “Deadpool,” for sure, but they’re distant cousins. A “disfigured” protagonist searching for meaning in his life, surrounded by freaks and locked in a prison of his own making… god, I am messed up.

Seagle: What is off limits for you in a “Bad Dog” story? Anything? Have you tossed out any ideas because even you felt they were too wrong to chronicle?

Kelly: Not yet. Heh. I have a few stories sketched out that I’m unsure about – mostly because I’m trying to figure out how “dirty” I want Lou to get. There’s good dark and there’s bad dark. I want to make sure that when Lou is pushed into a bad place, it’s good for the story overall. But that’s my litmus test. It has nothing to do with good taste!

Seagle: Now that Man of Action Studios is publishing through the kindly folks at Image Comics, do you see more of this creative freedom on the horizon for you? And if so, should someone warn Image that you may get the entire company shut down on morals charges?

Kelly: Yeah, they might want to staff up their legal department! Seriously, the freedom that we get with the Man of Action books at Image is incredible. It has very little to do with being nasty or swearing or any of that fun stuff that gets me pumped. It’s the ability to tell different types of stories. If writers don’t experiment and stretch their muscles, we write the same junk over and over – no one wants that.

Seagle: Well, there’s a massive stylistic reach between “Bad Dog” and your other Image/MOA book “I Kill Giants,” so I’d say you’re fully stretched!

Okay, you’re a writer, I’m giving you a job: convince me to buy “Bad Dog” using only ten verbs. Go!

Kelly: Drink. Shoot. Ponder. Drink. Laugh. &@%$%. Drink. Howl. Weep. Become. Aw, yeah...artsy!

“Bad Dog” and a four-page preview can be found on pages 142-143 of the December Previews catalogue. Keep your eyes peeled to CBR for more MEN ON ACTION interviews on the rest of Image’s latest imprint!

TAGS:  man of action, bad dog, joe kelly, steven seagle, image comics

 
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