If you've got a tooth ache, a gangrenous limb or even just a mild case of the runs, you do not want to call on Doc Bizarre, M.D. Unless you're a monster, that is.
As announced at Comic-Con International, Image Comics will publish a new series titled "Doc Bizarre, M.D." created by writer Joe Casey and artist Andy Suriano, who most recently collaborated on Image's "Charlatan Ball." Produced through Image's Man of Action imprint, "Doc Bizarre" will first see light in 2010 as an oversized one-shot issue. CBR News caught up with Casey and Suriano for a bizarre interview about "Doc Bizarre, M.D."
CBR News: In a nutshell, what is "Doc Bizarre" all about?
ANDY SURIANO: First of all, let's give the man his due… it's "Doc Bizarre M.D." Although the origins of said credentials are as much a mystery as the good doctor himself.
JOE CASEY: If you're a monster crippled with pneumonia or a demon spirit suffering from acute incontinence, there's only one man you can call, only one man who claims to possess the skills and the training to cure what ails you. That's right kids – it's Doc Bizarre! He's the only man on Earth who'll perform a necessary appendectomy on a living mummy.
How'd you come up with the premise?
JC: Divine intervention, plain and simple. So many comics in the monster medical genre just don't make the grade, and this was a huge part of the industry back in '53. Andy and I are like archeologists, always looking for hidden veins of forgotten comic book genres that are ready to make a comeback. After this, I think we might be doing a heroin romance comic, the kind that hasn't been seen since '77...
AS: Aside from the obvious divine intervention part, the supernatural medical genre is one of my favorite Japanese manga.
Can you describe the lead characters, Doc Bizarre and Epoch?
JC: Doc Bizarre is, you guessed it, a doctor, and Epoch is something akin to his trusty ward. Who can say what the true legality of their status is, but Epoch is the Robin to Bizarre's Batman – or maybe the Penny to his Inspector Gadget.
AS: I'd say it's more Shaggy-Scooby! That being said, Doc definitely is very Sherlock Holmesian in an "I had waaaay too much opium" kind of way. Epoch is like your delinquent teenage son you've had to call the cops on. You love him despite the fact he burned down your house.
Andy, what went into the designs for the lead roles?
AS: I wanted the Doc to look very heroic, yet super intellectual. He prefers to solve problems with his mind, but could throw a well-placed uppercut if need be. He needed to traverse between the real world and underworld, so I wanted him to have a slightly less creepy narrator from "House of Mystery" feel. Epoch started off as more of a creepy kid, but you tend to blow things out when you partner with Joe Casey!
Are there other recurring characters besides Doc and Epoch?
JC: In the big book we're doing now, there's a spare-parts monstrosity that might look slightly familiar to readers seeped in the medical monster genre. I don't know how recurring he is. But when it comes to medical circumstances, recurrence is always something to keep an eye out for. Other than that, Doc and Epoch are the main duo of the series.
AS: Our villain in this one-shot looks kind of like Wayne Boring's Lex Luthor!
Did either of you do any research into medical practices, or does Bizarre's clientele list allow you guys not to worry too much about grounding this in reality?
JC: Research? Ha! We just have a conversation, share a few laughs, and go, go, go!
AS: I've had my appendix removed. Does that count?
What are some of the strange adventures that go beyond Doc's medical training?
JC: Funny you should mention Doc's "medical training." Does he have any?
AS: Doc Bizarre, M.D. is more Doctor Who than Indiana Jones. He's your typical back-alley doctor when you're in a pinch. He's the man to see for black market body parts, and you'd be surprised how often monsters need those.
How would you describe the world of "Doc Bizarre, M.D."? Clearly it's a world with a supernatural element, but is the average person aware of the existence of monsters?
AS: It's more of a "don't ask, don't tell" sort of world. You know that stuff's out there, dwelling in the shadows and sewers, but you choose to stay within the illumination of streetlights.
JC: It's a world where anything can happen, a scratch-mix world of every facet of mythology and bedroom closet legend all co-existing at once.
Doc and Epoch make their debut in "an oversized, one-shot extravaganza," as Image describes it. What can we expect to see in there?
AS: There might be some surprise guests…
JC: We just want to tell a big story. Plus, there'll be puzzles and activities in the back. Comics as interactive media!
Beyond the one-shot, how do you see "Doc Bizarre, M.D." taking form? Will it be an ongoing, a limited series, multiple minis? What's your hope for the property?
AS: Two words – plush dolls.
JC: It'll be all of the above and more. Comics rarely get the kind of opportunity that this one has… to actually change the world. I predict it'll sit on President Obama's shelf in the residence next to his Conan and Spidey comics. It's a hell of a responsibility, but I think Andy's up for the challenge.
AS: We are just having fun telling cool stories, man.
What did you two learn from one another during "Charlatan Ball" that made the "Doc Bizarre" collaboration experience stronger?
JC: When Andy and I collaborate, we create a certain style of comic that it seems like most people – reviewers especially – don't seem to quite get. Sometimes an apple is just an apple. Imagine if the Internet was around back when the classic Warner Bros. cartoons first premiered. Oy vey!
AS: We have a knack for splitting people's opinions down the middle.
What's been the most enjoyable element of working on "Doc Bizarre" so far?
JC: Most enjoyable part? I would say… pimping it to the press!
AS: Talking to you, Josh.
I'm… flattered. What else can you add about "Doc Bizarre"?
AS: He's the only one that has the ointment for that rash you don't tell anyone about – he's got the powder for that itch.
JC: It's the only comic book that can save your life.
"Doc Bizarre, M.D." debuts in an oversized one-shot issue in early 2010 from Man of Action Studios via Image Comics.