Just weeks away, Image Comics is set to release D.O.G.S. OF MARS, the thrilling 120-page graphic novel from Philadelphia-based writers Johnny Zito and Tony Trov. We sat down with the artists over a few beers to chat about the new book, digital publishing and how Fishtown sort of looks like Mars.
Set on Earth’s first Martian colony where the Division of Global Survey (D.O.G.S.) are stationed on a terraforming mission, this fast-paced space-horror title opens with a mutiny. But that’s not the worst of it – there’s something out there. Something deadly.
“There’s a love triangle, there are power struggles, and at the center of it, a horrifying monster,” says Zito. Originally published as a four-issue digital series on ComiXology, D.O.G.S. OF MARS introduces us to Zoe, the captain of this doomed military mission, and a crew that threatens to fall apart once the nocturnal monsters invade. “Isolated on the farthest frontier of civilization…Zoe faces mutiny, death and dishonor; she must sacrifice her humanity if she hopes to survive,” the creators describe.
Adds co-writer Trov, “We take you to the edge of the future and find that people haven’t changed all that much. Things go ‘Lord of the Flies’ pretty quickly and these characters discover who their friends and enemies really are.”
The artwork for this gruesome tale is done by Paul Mayberry, who Trov and Zito previously worked with at Zuda Comics, DC Comics’ now-shuttered webcomics publisher. “With Zuda Comics, they found the best artists in the world, then they shut it down and everybody went back to their lives,” Zito says. Mayberry, the award-winning artist whose work has been featured by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and many others, illustrated the project with a graphic, industrial style. The entire book is awash in dusty reds, stark white blood and Japanese gore.
“We were fans of his, wanted to work with him,” says Trov. “We have a lot of the same influences and knew he just ‘gets it.’ There’s a thematic match-up there.”
The artists’ favorite part of the comic: naturally, the reveal of the monster itself, which was “designed by a monster effects guy [they] know,” and bursts on scene as a “grotesque, alien twist on the classic werewolf.” Very film friendly stuff, this comic. And that makes sense: the duo is also releasing a movie this month, Alpha Girls, another horror project about an evil sorority.
“We also did a lot of weird research on this project, like figuring out ‘How would you terraform Mars?’ You’re creating life where there is none,” Trov says. The space station, where the story takes place, is based on a power plan in Fishtown, with its six giant smoke stacks inspiring the setting for Mars Base Bowie. “It’s amazing there. You wouldn’t believe it.”
The graphic novel debuts May 2 and is available for pre-order from Image and Amazon.com (Get it now for a limited time at half price. In fact, get two.)