While strolling around the main floor of the Convention Center at San Diego Comic Con, I was lucky enough to have an opportunity for a sit down interview with comics legend Dave Gibbons, who was on hand to help promote ‘Rogue Trooper Redux,’ a re-release of the video game ‘Rogue Trooper’ which is based on the ‘Rogue Trooper’ comics he did years ago, even before ‘Watchmen.’
Gibbons is a very cool guy, and had a lot to say about ‘Rogue Trooper’ and its origins, as he remembered the original concept being that of a solitary hero in a “future” war, with the main character whose curse was that he was “born to fight.” From there they got into the genetically engineered super-soldier stuff, though he admitted that he was never really a fan of the biochips angle of the series. However, when Gibbons returned to the comic after 6 or 7 years and tried writing it without the biochips. There was a lot of fan backlash, so he had to admit that those chips had become a part of the mythology of the character. He even spoke on how the biochips of Rogue’s fallen comrades did work in the story to give the character someone to talk to, which let Dave have his solitary hero while also having more characters as well.
When I asked about the resemblance between Rogue and Dr. Manhattan, Gibbons laughed and told me that originally ‘Rogue Trooper’ was in black and white, so the color choice was not his fault. He originally thought the character would have more reptilian skin, but an artist for the magazine ‘Rogue Trooper’ made the skin color blue, which Gibbons agreed was at least a better choice than green, which he thought would have looked silly. He did comment though that nowadays Rogue looks like he “could almost be Dr. Manhattan’s brother.” As for Rogue being bare chested, Gibbons said that was a choice to show his strength and the fact that he did not need armor.
Gibbons was also asked about the fine line between of making a character too powerful or invulnerable and he pointed out that Rogue can still be killed with a powerful enough blast, and if he is badly wounded he “might have to lie down somewhere quiet so his leg could grow back.” So Rogue is not completely invincible. Gibbons went on to talk about how he likes his characters to be more realistic:
“I don’t like magical powers or silly powers… I like believable, within the realms of science. [Powers]…always a decision that depends on the story.”
When talking about creating original characters and stories, Gibbons gave us some insight into his process, talking about looking for things out of the ordinary, even if at first it sounds dumb:
“In the beginning come up with as many ideas as you can, sometimes what you think is stupid turns out to be a really good idea.”
The interview ended talking about his experience with Comic Con and the comic book industry in general, with the comic book artist/writer telling us his first SDCC was in 1985 (or 1986) and that he has been to SDCC 15-20 times since. He is amazed at how mainstream Comic Con is now, saying “it’s like Disneyland!” when back in the day, comics and comic book conventions were not something people talked about a lot, or admitted to enjoying, with Gibbons going so far as to say:
“When I was in school, they literally burned comic books. Now libraries LOVE comic books.”
It was a very entertaining talk, and Gibbons had more stories and interesting tidbits about the industry and his experiences than I had time to write down. Before the interview, I actually had no idea that he worked on this before working on ‘Watchmen.’ The man truly is a treasure to the comic book industry, and I will have to check out the back library of ‘Rogue Trooper’ to see his early work with the comic. Make sure to check out ‘Rogue Trooper Redux’ when it hits video game consoles this fall!