The most recent in DC's line of Hanna Barbera reinventions hits the stands this week in the form of Wacky Raceland. In a post-apocalyptic wasteland reminiscent of Mad Max, characters like Penelope Pitstop, Peter Perfect, and Dick Dastardly compete in a race against one another and the world itself.
The series, written by Ken Pontac and featuring art by Leonardo Manco, is the most wildly different from its animated counterpart; even Scooby Apocalypse retained a sense of lightness, goofiness, and could at least in general be fun for the whole family. Wacky Raceland is very much a dark, violent take on the characters that's aimed pretty squarely at the direct market comic book audience.
Pontac joined ComicBook.com to discuss the forthcoming series, where it differs from the classic animation on which it's based, and where DC felt like he didn't go far enough.
You can get the first issue on Wednesday at your local comic shop or pre-order it on ComiXology.
Wacky Raceland wears its Mad Max: Fury Road influence very proudly on its sleeve. Was it fun and/or challenging bringing this goofy kids property into a post-apocalyptic world of this sort?
It was STUPID FUN! The biggest note I got from DC on my first pass was that I hadn’t taken it far enough. That’s a line in the (radioactive) sand I’m happy to cross.
Dan DiDio has been really supportive of every crazy idea I’ve thrown at the book. My editor, Marie Javins, has the patience of a saint, and my artist and co-conspirator Leonardo Manco is at least as insane as I am and astonishes me with every incendiary page he sends.
And that’s just when they’re in black and white! After Mariana Sanzone colors them they're absolutely incandescent. Finally, letterer Sal Cipriano has given each of the cars a distinctive voice with colored type and unique balloons.
The cars... talk to the racers and each other... That's different. Where did that idea come from? Correct me if I'm wrong but that's present in neither Wacky Races or Mad Max.
I just figured since I was postulating this Science Gone Crazy world that the cars should have a voice in the proceedings. There was a spinoff from the original Wacky Racers cartoon called The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, in which the Ant Hill Mob had a talking car named Chuggaboom. I don’t remember watching it as a kid, but maybe that information was churning around in my brain when I came up with the idea.
They were all regular cars before the Announcer “woke them up," and they’re a little like Pinocchio at first. The cars all have different personalities, and some have complicated relationships with their drivers. The Mean Machine spends a lot of time complaining about Muttley, who he hates. The Compact Pussycat and Penelope are a tight team, while the Turbo Terrific kind of knows that Peter is a doofus and calls him out on his ass-hattery.
Would you characterize any of the racers as the "hero" of Wacky Raceland? The most theoretically likable characters (Peter Perfect) seem ineffectual while Dick Dastardly seems to be his usual "love to hate" self. Perhaps Penelope Pitstop?
It’s a little early in the game to call out a “hero,” but Penelope is more sympathetic than some of the others. We’ll see her backstory in issue #3, and let’s just say I kind of put the poor kid through hell.
Heroes are defined by the choices and sacrifices they make, and there will be plenty of both in the coming issues. I’m writing issue #5 right now, and Muttely (of all people, or dogs, or whatever) has a big, guns blazing hero moment that defines his whole origin.
The "back-up feature" of issue one is a rather grisly (pun intended) origin for Lazy Luke and Blubber Bear. Will we be seeing more of these as the series progresses?
Funny story there. I’d written and delivered the script for issue #1 when I got an email from my editor, Marie, telling me that the first issue was supposed to be 28 pages instead of the standard 22, and she suggested doing a backup feature rather than padding a story that was already completed. I’d also recently been told that a decision had been made at DC not to have the anthropomorphic animals be animals, but humans.
So, I suddenly had to deal with both things. I was riding my bike with my buddy Ivan at Samuel Taylor Park, when I started thinking about bear attacks (I’m not paranoid, I’m PRACTICAL, dammit), and Blubber Bear’s origin, suddenly I had it figured out. The whole backup feature crystalized in my head, killing two birds with one stone, and I sent it to Marie the next day. So, unless they spring another surprise 8 pages on me that was a one-time deal.
You seem to have recast the Narrator is less of the benign announcer of the original cartoon and more of an active antagonist for all the racers. Can readers look forward to his continued overbearing presence and possibly some intrigue as to his precise nature/identity?
First of all, the Announcer (nee: the Narrator) has a female voice that is smooth as honey (I’ve had the characters refer to the Announcer as “she” and “a witch” but haven’t addressed how damn SEXY her voice is). And yes, she’s in every issue, driving the action (no pun intended, but there it is), and doing some pretty sadistic stuff to the Racers.
There are clues coming up as to her origins and intentions, many of which will revealed in a two-issue arc down the line.
The world of Wacky Raceland seems to have visited the buffet of apocalypses and loaded down its plate with a whole variety from floods to radioactivity to possible droughts and earthquakes. Will this series be interested in exploring the genesis of the world as it exists at its opening?
Can I just say that “buffet of apocalypses” is a great phrase, and something I would order without hesitation at a Chinese restaurant with a poorly translated menu?
Some of the flashbacks deal with the world before the feces intersected the rotating blades, and at some point we’re going to see why and how everything went wrong all at once.0comments
Most importantly, will Dick Dastardly ever refer to the Narrator as "Boopsie?"
You know, he just might, now that you put the idea in my head!