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August 20, 2013

SDCC 2013 Part 3! Interview: Paul Tobin!

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Hello and welcome back to the San Diego Comic-Con 2013 interviews that are slowly making there way out. Thankfully the questions are ones we can ask at almost any time so now you just get to bask in the answers. This time I got to talk to Paul Tobin, currently writing Dark Horse’s Plants Vs. Zombies and Monkeybrain Comics’ Bandette. Bandette had one an Eisner for Best Digital Comic shortly after conducting this interview so I didn’t get to say this then but, congratulations to Paul Tobin, Colleen Coover and everyone involved with getting Bandette out into the world. You should go check out these comics and now, let’s get to the interview.

Comic Attack: You mentioned on Twitter the use of robot duplicates for SDCC, am I talking to the flesh-and-blood original?

Paul Tobin: Absolutely, the duplicates took over and are back at the hotel sleeping or watching Adventure Time.

CA: How long did you play Plants Vs. Zombies for research?

PT: For research? I didn’t need to, I’ve been playing for a long time before this. I got into it because it was comic artist, Steve Lieber, we were traveling to Las Vegas to do a job that didn’t pan out and he had an iPad and he was playing it. I asked him what was that and the next day I was playing it. I like it a lot, it’s a good game, I can play it in the middle of the day taking a break from writing for clearing my mind. You can play for 3 minutes or 3 hours, it’s great for stuff like that, you don’t have to play it forever but you can come back whenever you want.

CA: Have you gotten to play the sequel and will any of that be showing up in the comic?

PT: I have not gotten to play it. PopCap took me up to the office to the office and showed me some of that and the first-person shooter but I didn’t get to play them but I know about it. We didn’t want the comic to become a preview for the next game so we stayed away from that and we keep it within the first game’s stuff.

CA: What is the premise for the comic?

PT: Basically the zombies are trying to take over a smallish town called Neighborville and as we’ll learn, Doctor Zomboss is in charge of it all. He’s making a big gas cloud to blot out the sun so plants can’t get any sunlight to fight back. It was a lot of fun, it was a bit of a challenge to figure out how to expand that to a greater whole. There’s not just the lore of the series but of zombie stories and adventure stories.

CA: How “out there” can you get with the series?

PT: We had to be true to the game but they stepped back a lot. They said as long as you’re having fun and making a fun book then go. I’ve made a lot of media tie-in things and some do plenty of “Here’s a list of ten things you can’t do.” While PopCap was very much about one rule: stay true to the game and have fun. I guess that’s two rules but it’s two good things.

CA: Did you make any of your own plants or zombies for the comic?

PT: I stayed away from that. They didn’t have any trouble with me making Nate and Patrice, the two kid characters, and even Patrice is Crazy Dave’s niece so there’s that connection. They didn’t want me to make new zombies and plants and not because they didn’t want me to, it was just that there was no need. There are so many characters with the plants and zombies that it was already a challenge to showcase them all without introducing new ones.

CA: Do you have a favorite plant and zombie?

PT: I didn’t really use them in this cause they just didn’t fit, but the water ones, the cattails that shoot. You put those down and you’re done. I think for the zombies it’s the bucket heads, except when they beat me. Just watching them march across saying “Don’t do this to me!” They just defeat me so much so I have a love/hate relationship with them.

CA: You also do Bandette, can you try selling that to our audience?

PT: It’s a little bit of everything I’ve wanted to do. I like mystery, I talked about adventure earlier, teen, thieves, I like Tin-Tin and things like that. So Bandette is, I never know her age, but she’s a teen thief, the greatest thief in the world. She has a group of support kids, teens, and even younger called The Urchins working for her. She’s sort of an artful dodger/Tin-Tin faux-French comic. It’s doing really well for us, four Eisner nominations (they won!) and a Harvey nomination. My wife, Colleen Coover does the art for that, oh and shout out to Ron Chan who does the art on Plants Vs. Zombies. He was a perfect one for that too. Last Halloween, before we had this series, he made a cap that was a Pea Shooter plant, so he was into the series too.

CA: Does Plants Vs. Zombies have an end point?

PT: It’s got an end point, it’s possible we’ll do more if it does well. It will go to six issues, at least.

CA: Since this is SDCC, everyone I know is talking toys, what would the Bandette toy or toyline be like?

PT: Pick-pocket action? I don’t know if you could do that. Extras could be things she’s stolen, like maybe a Van Gogh original, not an original. That would be an expensive action figure. I wouldn’t there to be just one Bandette toy. The world of Bandette is important to me. It’s so important to me that what we do is my wife Colleen Coover is the artist but while she does the regular stories I normally bring friends and fellow artists to draw these short stories about the side characters called “Urchin Stories” to help flesh out the world. I want the world to be a cohesive whole and I’d want toys for all of them.

CA: Would you want a figures like Batman toys, an “Aqua Bandette” or a “Bandette with Parachute” set of figures?

PT: No, until you said that! Coleen is big on getting Bandette in space. I think of Bandette as such a down to earth character so I don’t know.

CA: There is a flag on the moon that is just waiting there, unguarded.

PT: (Laughs) That’s true!

CA: Finally, you’re going off to save the day, what dinosaur do you ride in on?

PT: A spinosaurus for battle, and then a sauroposeidon for ceremonial victory rides.

Hope you had fun with that interview, I know I did! I want to thank Paul Tobin and Dark Horse for letting me have the chance to do this. I want all you out there to know that the entire six issue run of Plants Vs. Zombies, with art by Ron Chan, is available now through Dark Horse digitally for 99 cents each! Speaking of 99 cents each and digital, the Eisner-winning Bandette, art by Colleen Coover, is available on Comixology for 99 cents each, you should definitely go check those out too! Great comics, a fun interview, what else does San Diego Comic-Con have to offer? Well we still got a few more interviews before this trip is truly over, so join me next time for more!

Alexander Bustos

drbustos@comicattack.net

 

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