SPOTLIGHT ON: DOBER-MAN

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Continuing our closer look at various comic projects this week we spotlight the DOBER-MAN one shot by Travis Holyfield and Edward Whatley.

 

 

GHC:  What can you tell us about Dober-Man?

Travis: Dober-Man is an homage and a love letter to Silver Age comics in general, and to a certain caped crusader in specific. It’s a fun, light, superhero story with its tongue firmly in cheek. The first Dober-Man story, “Timecard”, appeared in The Gathering’s “Silver Age” volume, and Edward and I clicked so well while working on it, and it was received so positively, that we came back to do our new full-length story, “The Great Caper of Crime”.

GHC:  Edward, how’d you design the look for not only Dober-Man but the rest of his rogues? Did Travis give you any specific direction or did you just go wild?

Edward: For better or worse, Travis left most of the designs up to me. But whenever I was undecided about something, I would ask for his input and he always gave good advice. Travis’ only specific request was that I make the Anglophile look like John Cleese. I wouldn’t say I was terribly successful in my attempt at a likeness, but I tried.

Travis: The Anglophile is SPOT-ON what I wanted him to look like, so I’d say you hit the mark.

Edward: For Dober-Man and his sidekick Beagle, I wanted to make the characters reminiscent of the typical Silver Age superhero (tights, capes, and chest icons) but still look distinct in their own right. And of course Beagle’s floppy ears were inspired by Snoopy.

Travis: Edward is also responsible for the idea of Beagle being “Beagle” and not “Poodle”, which he was in my original pitch. And Beagle’s floppy ears are one of my mom’s favorite things about the book, so thank goodness Edward made that call.

Edward: The rogues were a lot of fun to design. I tried to give them a campy retro sort of look. I spent quite a bit of time flipping through books of 60s and 70s fashions to find the right sorts of looks for many of the characters. I think my retro tendencies reached a critical mass with the Mudshark character and his shark fin bell bottoms.

GHC:  I don’t think it’s a big secret to say that Dober-Man takes some inspiration from the Batman 60s series. How much of it was planned? Were you fans of the series?

Edward: I was a huge fan of the show in my younger days and this book has given me a new appreciation for it. Over the course of drawing the story, I went online and watched several episodes again and found that I could still recite a lot of the dialogue. I think my familiarity with the show made it easy to give Dober-Man that campy look and feel. Who would have thought that having 60s TV shows seared into my brain would one day be so useful?

Travis: From the initial pitch for “Timecard”,Dober-Man was very much a reaction to the 60s Batman show. I grew up watching the show religiously, and still have nothing but warm memories of it. When it came time to pitch a Silver Age-inspired story, the show kept coming back to me, particularly the henchmen that the villain of the week always had running around behind them. I can never remember the villain just standing there without three or four goons in matching outfits also hanging around. I started to think about those guys, and what their lives must be like, and I eventually decided that there must be some sort of a temp agency that specialized in placing big, burly thugs with supervillains who needed henchmen. And that idea became “Timecard”, and then once we had created that world, “The Great Caper of Crime” grew naturally from there.

GHC:  Early reviews and feedback has mentioned what a great comic this is for young readers but that wasn’t your intention, originally, correct? How do you think it came to be that way?

Travis: I certainly didn’t write it with young readers in mind, but then again, I didn’t write it with older readers in mind, either (although I definitely don’t expect a younger reader to get the joke of a 40-something villainess named “The Cougar”). I wrote it very much in the “Silver Age” style that I remember, and I think that naturally lends itself to appeal across all-ages. I like the idea of “All-ages” in the literal sense of the term, that anyone from adult to child can open the book and enjoy it on some level. And that also harkens back to the 60s Batman TV show. As a kid I didn’t see it is silly or campy. I took it serious as a heart attack. And when Batman was fighting a shark, I was legitimately worried for him. Now as an adult, I can watch the show and get how silly it is and laugh along with it. “Bat-Shark-Repellent”gets a roundabout homage in “The Great Caper of Crime”.

I also think a lot of the all-ages appeal comes from Edward’s art style, which is crisp, clean, and gorgeous to look at. Also, Edward has a talent for sight gags that makes the book full of fun easter eggs for older readers.

Edward: I saw this book as being strictly for the older crowd who remembered the 60s TV show and the Silver Age. I was surprised (but happy) to learn that kids were enjoying it too. I think the appeal of the story for kids (and probably lots of adults) is that it’s a good superhero story but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Rather than trying to go “grim and gritty’” we just acknowledge that superheroes are an inherently goofy concept and explore the possibilities. Also, the story is a standalone tale, which is a something of a rarity these days, so it’s accessible to anyone.

GHC: You’ve done a lot of short stories previously. How does writing a full length comic compare with the shorts? Do you approach it any differently?

Travis: The short stories I have done have been fantastic for me as a lesson in narrative discipline. Being able to tell a complete story in 4 pages is not easy, and I am very happy to have been able to get as much experience in that arena as I have.

I’ve written full-length scripts before, and I’ve written a 120-page graphic novel. I don’t necessarily have a definitive method. How I write really depends on the story, and what pieces of the story click with me first. Sometimes it’s the dialogue, and I put that all down before locking it into panels. Sometimes it’s the action, and I outline that obsessively to make sure it flows as well as I can make it.

The biggest learning experience for me about writing “The Great Caper of Crime” is that it ended up being a combination of a traditional script format and what they call “Marvel House Style”. The original script was (I think) 26 pages. Edward came back and said that he really wanted to expand a lot of the fight scenes, and I am never going to turn down more art from Edward. So he created those pages off of the beats and specific panels I had outlined, and then I went in and added dialogue to his roughs.

GHC:  You took a classic Batman image and did a spot on homage with the Dober-Man cover. Do you find it more difficult to illustrate something like that over a less well known piece or original one?

Edward: It was difficult to illustrate in that I was struggling to get the drawing up to a level where I felt like I was paying an acceptable tribute to Jim Aparo rather than just butchering his classic cover. I chose that Aparo Batman cover as the inspiration for the Dober-Man cover because I knew that any readers from the Silver Age who saw the Dober-Man cover would instantly know what sort of story Travis and I were going to tell.

GHC:  You guys packed a lot of story into a single issue. Feels like there’s more to tell with these characters. Any chances for more Dober-Man?

Edward: Well, we certainly have more ideas. Travis is a great writer and I really enjoy collaborating with him. He’s pitched Dober-Man plot ideas to me that make me laugh whenever I think of them, so I’ll draw them if he writes them. Alas, the ultimate fate of our Canine Crusaders is in the hands of the readers. Do they want more?

Travis: If Edward will draw it, I will write it. It’s not like there’s any shortage of dog puns in my brain.

 

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ORDER DOBER-MAN #1-

http://www.grayhavencomics.com/comics/dober-man/

GATHERING: THE SILVER AGE (Dober-Man’s 1st apperance short story)-

http://www.grayhavencomics.com/comics/11-the-silver-age/
DOBER-MAN REVIEW-

Comic Hypehttp://www.comichype.com/2013/10/14/dober-man-review/

ABOUT OUR COMICS-

The Gathering is an ongoing anthology with each issue focusing on a different theme. The stories are not interconnected so if you’re a fan of Westerns but not Romance you don’t need to read one before the other. Likewise you don’t have to read Horror 1 or 2 to pick up and enjoy Horror 3, etc. Most of the stories within the Gathering are aimed at general audiences. The stories fit the theme but there is no gratuitous violence, gore, language or sexuality.

Limitless is a more ‘mature’ imprint featuring the anthologies like The Dark or Erotica. While not overly gratuitous the content in these books is aimed for readers over 18.

Hey Kids is an anthology primarily aimed at younger readers though suitable for all ages. We wanted stories like Fairy Tales and Super Heroes that would be perfect for ages 12 and under.

One Shots like Kid Robo, and Decompressionism typically are collections of work that originally appeared online but are not limited to collected work.

Phase Two encompasses our self-contained titles featuring a single story (either one shot, mini or ongoing) by a set creative team such as Dober-Man, Living with Death, 1159 or Run Like Hell.

5 Responses to SPOTLIGHT ON: DOBER-MAN

  1. attila October 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    love the art and the premises of the story are very interesting
    not a big fan of super-hero books, but anything that takes the genre lighthearted is good with me
    definitely worth checking it out
    another great spotlight from ghc

  2. Sheridan October 31, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    Another great Spotlight interview with great insight into the development of Dober-man. I love the artwork and the “tongue in cheek” attitude. Congratulations, Travis and Edward!

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  5. Lawrence Bell September 29, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    Hi,
    I ordered Dober-Man #1 back on July 28th (Order: #4337) and still haven’t received it. I’ve tried using the contact form twice (today is the 3rd time) because when I check my account it shows it was ordered 3 months ago and completed over 2 months ago. I’ve been trying to find out what is going on for almost 2 months now but have never received any response from anyone at GrayHaven Comics. Now your site shows it is SOLD OUT??? Am I ever going to receive this comic??? I would REALLY appreciate someone at GrayHaven to email me and let me know what is going on. If I’m not going to get my book I want a FULL refund and I just wont bother ordering anymore books from you. This is ridiculous that I’ve not received the book or ANY response from anyone yet.
    Larry

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