Longtime readers of the single issues of "Invincible" have undoubtedly noticed that a character called Science Dog appears every twenty-five issues in his very own 12-page backup feature. His story began in "Invincible" #25, continued in issue #50, and now, with issue #75 on the way, you can bet that you're about to see "Science Dog" again.
Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker are taking the dog for a walk for the third chapter of his ongoing saga in "Invincible" #75, but that's not the only place where Science Dog is marking his territory: Image Comics is also collecting the previously released "Science Dog" backup features for the first time ever in the "Science Dog Special" one-shot issue set for release in early September.
"This special one-shot collecting these two issues is mostly for trade paperback readers who have been reading the 'Invincible' trade paperbacks, because these stories have never been reprinted," Kirkman told CBR News in an exclusive interview. "They've been around for a while and they're definitely cool stories that Cory and I are proud of, but we've never actually gotten around to reprinting them. We're trying to make them available for trade readers and people who don't want to pull out their back issues that they have stored for two or four years or so."
In the "Invincible" universe, Science Dog is Mark Grayson's favorite comic book character, and these "Science Dog" back-up features are intended as part of their own separate continuity. "Science Dog was an average little dog doing average little dog things," Walker told CBR of the character's fictional origins. "Then, through a fantastic accident of science, he became the smartest life form on the face of the planet and the greatest science adventurer the world has ever seen."
But Science Dog's transformation wasn't an isolated incident. Through a scientific accident, the dog was evolved millions and millions of years ahead alongside Walter, a human scientist who is now Science Dog's nemesis. "He's a human who's been evolved at the same level, and he's kind of smarter than [Science Dog]," said Kirkman. "But the villain is evil, so that's kind of his weakness. That puts them on an equal playing field, because the Walter character is always trying to do evil stuff with his intelligence and it puts him in a direction where he's going too far, and Science Dog is able to stop him at every turn."
In the previous two twelve-page stories - the same stories that will make up the "Science Dog" one-shot - our hero returned to Earth after thwarting an extra-dimensional threat, only to find Walter wreaking havoc upon the city streets. Science Dog's battle ended abruptly, as aliens mysteriously abducted him for currently unknown purposes. "We're now really getting to the good stuff," said Walker of what's in store for fans as the third chapter of "Science Dog" kicks off. "The first two chapters were a great introduction to the world and the characters, but now it's time for the meat of the thing. Expect to be smooth excited about an anthromorphic dog doing everything he can to get back to his friends to save the world. Also, weird tentacle aliens."
Although the upcoming one-shot is the first time that Science Dog has appeared in his very own issue, the character is actually one of Kirkman and Walker's oldest creations. "'Science Dog' was the series that Cory and I were going to do instead of 'SuperPatriot' and instead of 'Invincible,' but we just never got around to it," said Kirkman. "We pitched 'Science Dog' to Image and at the same time, Cory just so happened to do a 'SuperPatriot' pinup for Erik Larsen. They were like, 'This Science Dog thing looks kind of dopey. Why don't you do a SuperPatriot miniseries instead?' I talked Cory into doing the 'SuperPatriot' miniseries because I thought it was a good idea to do something with an established character to help get our names out there, but I had to promise him that we wouldn't do anything else after 'SuperPatriot' before we did 'Science Dog.' And I obviously broke that promise!"
"We always wanted to keep Science Dog alive, though," added Walker. "For the longest time, I thought he would only exist as Mark Grayson's favorite comic book character in the pages of 'Invincible,' but we started doing the back-ups and now here we are. After so long, 'Science Dog' is finally coming out with a book of his own. I'm really excited about it."
Kirkman said that the idea for a "Science Dog" backup feature first arose when the character appeared in "Invincible" #25, albeit as a shape-shifter who crossed paths with Invincible. "We thought that since he appeared there, it would be neat to do a backup story with Cory that kind of shows what a 'Science Dog' comic would be like," he said. "But because I'm kind of crazy, I thought it would be hilarious to do a continuing story that continues every 25th issue. The fun part about that for me is that, as I've written the third chapter, I kind of know what's going to happen in the fourth chapter. It's basically a self-contained four-chapter story, though we may do more later on. But I wrote these chapters years and years apart and in between chapters one, two and three, I never considered what I'd do with the story. I wrote the first twelve pages and was like, 'Okay, that's how it ends. Whatever, I don't know what happens to this.' Three years later I sat down and went, 'Well, alright, where does this go from here?' It's kind of turned into a cool little story and a neat little experiment. I think the third chapter is really, really cool, the one in 'Invincible' #75. When people read the four chapters together, hopefully it won't be too obvious that they were written years and years apart - but it should be a cool little story!"
As for the future of "Science Dog," Kirkman and Walker plan to continue telling stories with the character, but readers will have to wait until "Invincible" #100 for the fourth and final chapter of Science Dog's first story. "Maybe it's a little bit unusual to make somebody wait two and a half years or however long it takes to get twenty-five issues out - what is it, like, two years and a month? Hopefully the story is good enough that people will want to wait," Kirkman laughed. "I don't know that we exactly told people at the end of 'Invincible' #25 that they'd have to wait until issue #50. I think it just said, 'To be continued…' But hopefully they've figured it out by now!"
Beyond "Invincible" #100, both Kirkman and Walker are hopeful about churning out more "Science Dog" stories. "It's something that we want to do," said Kirkman. "I know that the earliest we would do it is after 'Invincible' #100 comes out, because that's kind of the goal we set for ourselves. We're doing different stuff now - we're working on another project that we're not going to announce yet, but we'll be doing it after we finish this 'Science Dog' story. We'll be keeping busy, but there's definitely more 'Science Dog' in the future. We'd definitely like to do a 'Science Dog' series eventually."
While the creators couldn't divulge much regarding their new secret project, Walker teased: "The new book is much closer in tone to 'Destroyer' than 'Invincible,' but it's very different, I think, from anything either of us have done before. I'm really excited about it, and as soon as it's announced, I think everyone in the entire universe will be excited about it as well. It's going to be a good one."
For now, fans can eagerly anticipate the arrival of the "Science Dog" one-shot and the new story in "Invincible" #75. "We've spent a lot of time with this character, even if there hasn't really been anything published, which is kind of funny. It's always fun to go back to this guy. Science Dog is an artifact of a time in my life when I didn't have two nickels to rub together. I was struggling and doing whatever I could to make it in comics. It's always fun to sit here and think back to what things were like and how utterly miserable I was - so, 'Science Dog' is actually kind of painful," Kirkman laughed. "That's why we only do this every 25 issues!"
"Science Dog Special" #1, written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Cory Walker, hits comic book stores on September 1, 2010.