Following up on a successful miniseries earlier in 2009, last week BOOM! Studios launched an ongoing series based on Disney/Pixar's "Toy Story." The new series is written by Jesse Blaze Snider with art by Nate Watson, and launched with a number #0 issue in stores now. As in the movie, which was the now-famous Pixar's debut offering in 1995 and the first all-CGI film, the comic series stars cowboy Woody, astronaut Buzz Lightyear, and a collection of other toys that take on a life of their own whenever Andy, their young owner, isn't looking. CBR News spoke with Snider about the project and his own affinity for toys.
"Toy Story" #0 finds Buzz, Woody, and company confronted with a new addition to Andy's toy collection—Buzz Lightyear. Since Andy already has Buzz, he's set to return the boxed toy, given as a gift by his grandmother, to the store. But New Buzz isn't willing to go without a fight.
"New Buzz's take is simple - I'm a brand new Toy, why would Andy want an old ratty Buzz Lightyear, when he can have a shiny new one!" Snider said. "I don't want to spoil the first issue, but if not for New Buzz, there would be no adventure to be had, his presence completely upsets their world.
"The whole story is about 'returning' a toy to the store and what that kind of rejection would do to a toy," the writer continued. "It's really heart breaking to be told that you aren't wanted and be brought back to the store shelf, now filled with self doubt. We explore being returned from a toy's perspective, the fact that every toy in Andy's room has been mass produced."
Snider added, "We also explore some of the more ridiculous aspects of the variant [action figure], using Buzz as our Batman or Ninja Turtle. 'Cause lets face it, these toy companies have often gotten really carried away with variants. Viking Batman, Caveman Raph? It gets silly, and we have some fun with that.
"But the tale has a lot of heart, its ultimately about rejection and what rejection can do to someone."
Recalling his first exposure to Pixar's "Toy Story" animated movie, Snider said, "I was like 15 or 16, but still playing with toys - in fact I'm still today, like earlier this morning, playing with toys, so it really hit me. It still does. There was a Jim Henson film called 'The Christmas Toy' that came out when I was little, and it was a similar premise, and from then on, I was always very concerned with my toys' feelings and not wanting to make one feel more loved than the others. I could never be a collector and keep my toys in their package, because I think that it's cruelty to toys. So, on that level it still, and has always, reached me, but then on top of all that, its just a great movie!
"Great story, great characters, great voice actors, great visuals! Its the one that started it all," the writer continued. "Pixar is the most consistent studio out there right now, maybe the most consistent studio ever, and 'Toy Story' set the tone for everything else. My wife and I see every Pixar movie on opening weekend, and we've been doing that since 'Monsters, Inc.' I own every movie, plus the all the short films. I'm a big Pixar fan boy, and 'Toy Story' was my first Pixar love."
The focus of the first arc is on Buzz Lightyear, but Snider said he enjoys all of Andy's toys equally. "Buzz, Potato, Rex, Hamm, Slinky; you're better off asking who I don't love. The thing with 'Toy Story' is, I love all of the voice actors, I'm a huge Jim Varney/Ernest fan, and I love Don Rickles, and 'The Princess Bride' is my favorite movie of all time, so you know I love Wallace Shawn (Rex)," Snider told CBR. "I can hear all of their voices in my head so clearly, when I write a piece of dialogue, I know immediately whether it sounds right or not. Getting their dialogue right is actually the easiest thing for me. It's making what they say worth reading that is the tricky park. They are all such funny characters, I don't want to do them the injustice of a crappy one liner, so that can be tough. But so far, so good, I think."
Snider landed the ongoing "Toy Story" gig by pitching another of BOOM!'s licensed kids comics at San Diego's Comic-Con International. "I'm a huge Muppets fan, and I approached BOOM! at this year's San Diego Comic-Con about doing some stuff with the Muppets," he said. "I sent in a pitch that was very different than what they are doing now, and they liked it, but because it's this completely new thing, it is taking a lot longer to get it approved. So, as a 'while you're waiting,' BOOM Kids! Editor Aaron Sparrow asked me if I had any ideas for 'Toy Story' or 'Monsters, Inc.' - I pitched him 'Toy Story,' and the rest is history! I also pitched 'Monsters, Inc.,' and if 'TS' goes well, you may see a new 'Monsters' book with my name on it as well. Fingers crossed."
Joining Snider on the series is artist Nate Wilson, who has previously worked on BOOM!'s "Hero Squared" with Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis. "Nate has been a dream, he always tries his best, and he and I want the same thing... [for] this book to be awesome!" Snider said. "We've already got a nice rhythm and working relationship going, and I'm really looking forward to working on this book with him for a long while! I actually just saw pages from the second issue, and they are even cooler than the first! I'm really excited to have the opportunity to work on this book, and I couldn't have done any better for my partner in crime."