Exclusive CBN Interview:
Planet of Apes' Bechko, Hardman discuss mini series, new ongoing
As the creative team of
The duo discusses creating a comic based on the classic film franchise, Planet of the Apes, on some of their favorite characters and, for Hardman, the difficulties of illustrating a comic book, plotting and scripting with a partner.
Also be sure to check out our exclusive interview with Daryl Gregory, writer on BOOM's Planet of the Apes, and what's next for the sci-fi author.
Cosmic Book News: You have been praised by fans and critics alike for your handling of the Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes mini-series. But tell me, when you first began, what were the biggest challenges, especially since you probably wanted to stay true to the films yet make them different or distinct from the ongoing comic?
Corinna Bechko: It’s so nice of you to say so! It definitely was a challenge. We’re both huge fans of the movies, though, so getting the tone right was almost second nature. The hardest part was really knowing when to cleave to the originals and when to veer off. We wanted our Apes stories to be clearly set in the same universe as the films but we didn’t want to imitate them. That’s why we’ve tried to introduce new characters and to expand the world a little bit. We spent a lot of time before we even started the writing process discussing exactly how to do that. As to the ongoing comic, we both love what Daryl Gregory has been doing with his Apes stories but they are set so far apart in time from ours that there wasn’t any real danger of overlap.
Gabriel Hardman: The biggest challenge was to tell a self-contained story that was both undeniably set in the movie world of Planet of the Apes but that could still be accessible to a reader who had never seen those films. Luckily, the basic concept and conflicts in the POTA world are a clear and easy jumping-off point. I’ve always felt like it would be an interesting challenge to create a book that’s genuinely feels like a pre-established world but is telling a new story. So often licensed comics aren’t able to give you the tone and atmosphere of the original. Though considering the influence superhero movies are having over the comics these days, I think the definition of licensed comics is becoming blurred.
CB: We collaborate on every aspect of the script. We plot out the direction of each issue, breaking it down page by page and often panel by panel. After all of that, I go through and type everything up in script format, and then we pass it back and forth a few times to polish up the dialogue and pacing.
GH: We work on every aspect of the scripts together. We write full scripts even when I’m drawing the book myself. I’m pretty good at visualizing the panel breakdowns for the final art so we just put all that info in the script up front. That’s made for an easier transition to writing for other artists since we never wrote in shorthand just because I was drawing.
CB: I’ve really loved Aleron, our gorilla protagonist from Betrayal and Exile, from the beginning. He’s such an iconoclast and he never makes things easy for himself. And of course, nothing is more fun than writing for Doctor Zaius. He’s a rebel in his own way, always so convinced of his position. And I’m really enjoying writing Zira and Cornelius now, the chimpanzee couple from the original Planet of the Apes film. They both have such distinct personalities on screen. Capturing that is both a challenge and a joy.
GH: Aleron is easily my favorite character. He’s battle-hardened and weary but he never lost an idealism that drives him forward. He’s the kind of character I love! Granted, that’s a pretty self-serving thing to say about a character we created but what can I say, it’s just true.
CB: It was fantastic to have Gabriel draw Betrayal. No one can draw a gorilla on horseback like he can! That said, we also loved working with Marc Laming on our second Apes miniseries Exile on the Planet of the Apes. With Gabriel as the artist, we get to mainline what’s in our heads straight to the comic book page. But sometimes working with other artists can bring unexpected delights to the story, and that’s always exciting.
GH: In a word, it’s great. Having the power to tell a story I’m passionate about and draw it as well is extremely satisfying. Every once in a while “artist me” gets frustrated with “writer me” for coming up with such difficult stuff to draw but what can you do? The story has to be what it has to be. I’ve had a lot of fun working with great writers like Jeff Parker at Marvel but I plan to focus on drawing stories Corinna and I write as much as possible for the time being.
CB: We’re definitely going to be continuing on with Apes. We’re hard at work on and very excited about the new POTA ongoing that will launch in September from
GH: We are very excited to be writing Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm as a new ongoing series. It’s set eight years before the 1968 POTA movie and while some of our earlier characters carry through, it will be a clean jumping-on point for anyone who hasn’t read our mini series. Also, setting the series closer in time to the first movie gives us a chance to bring in familiar characters like Cornelius and Zira which is a tremendous amount of fun. We also have three more projects, creator-owned and freelance, that we will be able to announce soon.
"Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm" #1 hits in September from BOOM! Studios.