What's Perhappenin'? Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau on Danger Down Under #1

While Craig Rousseau hasn't joined us quite yet--he will soon, and the story will be updated--this is the first time in a couple of years that there's been a new Perhapanauts story to write about. So we wanted to get right down to it.

For the uninitiated, the 'Haps are a super-secret team, a bit like the BPRD or something like that, which is populated by cryptozoological wonders. Led by a super-intelligent bigfoot named Big, the rest of the main team includes a ghost named Molly, a chupacabra named Choopie (they tried to do the super-intelligent thing on him and it didn't take), a mothman named Karl and some other folks who, as yet, are still missing from the team's last adventure in the Bermuda Triangle.

The remainder of the team are on the run to their organization's sister facility in Australia, when...

Buy this issue and follow along with us as we provide commentary. There are spoilers ahead.

So this is the first new 'Haps issue in a while. Are you guys doing a lot of store appearances and the like to keep visible?

Todd: We'll both be at the Coast City Comic Con in Portland, Maine this weekend--November 10 and 11--to celebrate, and then I'll be at Comic Book Jones on Saturday November 17th along with local girl Lauren Monardo Gramprey (Ham and Eggs, Jesus Hates Zombies) who gifted us with her artistic talents on issue 1's back-up story, "Goodbye Larry."

It's also the first time you guys have been day-and-date digital with the series, right? What's that like?

Todd: We were asking the guys at Image about it and they said, yeah, we can do that! So thanks to Kevin and Jonathan at Image and everyone at Comixology for that! Since it actually hasn't happened yet--I'm writing this on Sunday--I can't really tell you what it feels like, Russ. I imagine good. Lemme get back to you.

Do you think digital potentially helps a book like this find a different audience than the Wednesday faithful?

Todd: Personally, I'm a die hard and love the feel of a regular comic book in my hand. That said, I see lotsa people buying the digitals initially and then picking up the trades when they come out. It's your choice, so Craig and I wanted to be able to cover all bases. Nobody should have to live without Perhapanauts.

As a reader, it's interesting to be dropped into the series and have it be mostly new characters on the first page. Was there a temptation to pick up with the "series regulars" right away?

Todd: I've said before that this book is possessed and these characters write themselves. Really--the story comes to me (or is it being 'transmitted' to me...?) at the craziest times, when I least expect it. Much of the DANGER DOWN UNDER storyline reveled itself to me while I was stacking a huge load firewood a few years back and, once that was mapped out, I dropped the characters in and let them tell me what they would say and do. And since several of our "regulars" were lost in time and space at the conclusion of our last story arc, I wasn't really certain where we'd pick up.

There's a Sharon and a Karen on base at BEDLAM? Are they twins?

Todd: Yes, Russ--Everyone whose names rhyme are twins.

Are they named after anyone in particular? You guys haven't been above that sort of thing in the past.

Todd: Actually, Sharon (Dr. Sharon Botsford) is the Head of this Australian sister facility to BEDLAM--Our Chief's counterpart down under. She has some history with the Agency and is an integral part of Big's past.

As for naming characters after actual people we know...yeah, we do that a LOT. Sharon Botsford is my girlfriend's name and Dr. Trish Sheehan is named after Craig's ...domestic partner? Is that how we introduce you, Trish?

In issue one alone, characters based on real people include; Keith Hughes, Sharon Botsford, Kieran Chapman, Scott Weinstein, Warren Newsom, and Brian Mulcahy.

We haven't figured out how to put you into the story yet, Russ--Maybe you'll be the tormented yet tenacious reporter who Choopie tells, "Don't make me a chicken pot pie, Mr. Burlingame--You wouldn't like me when I'm a chicken pot pie."

You know, I remember there was a "redshirt" character on the TV series Bones that, like Emo Woody Franson, was always referred to by his full name, middle included. Is that something you figure you can get away with since you letter it yourselves?

Todd: Never watched Bones--my Dad loved it--but I'm sure the full name gag has been done before. Close friends (who've read the first issue already) have been asking me where that name came from, and I don't know, the character just 'said' it to me that day I was stacking the firewood. And it stuck. The funny thing is that now Craig and I find that we can't say it, even to each other, without saying it all. And, yes, since we letter the book, the only one I can gripe about it to is myself.

Having never heard of the Bunyip until this series, and hearing your explanation in our last interview, I kinda feel like this thing is The Gruffalo. Just kinda tossed together. How did you guys first hear about it?

Todd: I'm always scouring books and the internet and, especially, pumping foreigners for cultural myths and legends, folklore and ghost stories! I was first told of the Bunyip by our pal, Aussie artist, Matt Pott and decided to dig in and do some research. Although some reports describe this fierce and terrible monster, Aussie culture seems to have also embraced the Bunyip as a playful--sometimes cuddly--national mascot. Ours is not that.

Do you get a lot of these odd myths thrown at you by readers, too?

Todd: I've had a few good leads recommended by Readers. Friends like Warren Newsom, Mike Estelle, and Ernie Cooper have forwarded me some great articles over the years and my pal, Rich Woodall and I have marathon e-conversations revolving around various links he's sent me. But everybody's got a ghost story and I'm just dyin' to hear 'em!

I think we've discussed this before, but is the decision to keep the Director's nose obscured most of the time one of those "everything in secret" kind of things? We get a decent look of it in profile here...!

Todd: Yeah--there are some characters that we're just going to reveal a little at a time... Ha!

I'm guessing we'll be splitting time between the infirmary and the battle scenes? We can't leave Choopie out of the story!

Todd: Like I said, the story kinda told itself and some characters ended up not figuring into the initial plans. Choopie is on the DL here in issue one, but he will factor in to more of the big picture later.

It's good to see Dr. Mike again! I was wondering if he'd be more of a one-off type of character.

Todd: Dr. Mike is also a character based on a real person, Dr. Michael O'Neil, the vet that used to take care of my dog, Jake. He pulled Jake through a really, really tough patch and was our hero and I wanted to honor him in the book. In building the 'support cast'--the BEDLAM staff and personnel--Craig and I wanted to populate the facility with characters that each had a backstory and personality of their own. BEDLAM is all the more richer for these real friends.

I'm a little surprised by Sampaquita. With that cover, I was half-expecting the Chimaera. After having had him recur so often in the previous stories, did you decide it was just time to give him a rest?

Todd: While the Chimaera is one of the Perhapanauts "Big Bad" adversaries (another will be introduced later in this very series...), Choopie dispatched him real good in our Triangle storyline. He's off the table for a while after being cleaved in two. This tale is more... monstrous and holds a few twists and turns along with all the action. And Sampaquita has her own role in all of this as well.

So...how long have you guys been waiting to pull out the Cheeto-fingers-as-incriminating-evidence joke? That was pretty good.

Todd: At this huge, bi-annual family reunion/vacation on the Outer Banks last summer, my four year old cousin, my nephew, and I were eating lunch--which included a bag of crunchy Cheetos--which the kids call tiger chips. Ben, the little one, just couldn't keep his fingers out of his nose and the orange dust told the tale.

So I recognize at least two of the names of the BEDLAM scientists. Are they all people I should know?

Todd: Okay, I suppose I really need to make an official list of everyone in BEDLAM that's based and named after real people, huh...? Of the Scientists, Technicians and Security guys in issue 1; Kieran Chapman is our awesome webmaster/designer, Scott Weinstein is a close confidant and writer of several 'Haps stories, including the highly-accalaimed "Molly's Story", Warren Newsom is a long-time Perhapanauts fan and a fine artist himself (and winner of the "Get a part in the next Perhapanauts series!" contest we ran last year...), and Brian Mulcahy is a friend and official 'Boothboy', helping us out at various shows. Brian also wrote the noir short story, "Kiss Me Carol" with art by Tim Sale.

I was hoping we'd see the Gremlins! Any chance of us getting a King Nosmo t-shirt?

Todd: We have so many designs on shirts now that it's hard to keep up with them! Mostly 'cause we have so many characters...

But, yeah, I could easily picture a cool King Nosmo 't' with Choopie sporting a basic crown, jauntily cocked to one side. Craig...?

So--what do Sara and Cuttle do?

Todd: Well, that all comes out in the next issue, but I don't see any harm in tipping you to that one... Sara Vera possesses the ability to render objects intangible as long as she remains in contact with it. Cuttle is a sort of aboriginal shaman, having an innate relationship with the earth, communicating with it, calling upon it from time to time. The Staff he carries--the crystal/gem in it--amplifies this ability.

But they're not the only ones who fill out the Australian team. There's one more, and we'll see him next issue too!