INTERVIEW: Jay Fotos, Mark Kidwell, And Jeff Zornow In A Dinosaur Sized ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex’ Sit Down

The last time I brought you an interview with Jeff Zornow it was uncensored… with a picture of two dudes, a goat, and some good old-fashioned bestiality. This time Zornow brought Jay Fotos and Mark Kidwell along for the ride, and they were nice enough to talk with BD about Tyrannosaurus Rex. Released last February by Image this one-shot tells a story about a man, a journey, and a T-Rex that will kick the living hell out of everything in its path. Don’t just take my word for it. Read on to see what they have to say…

WARNING: The Following Interview Is Uncensored And Contains Language And Suggestible Material That May Not Be Safe For Work.

Johnny_Trouble: In T-Rex the storyline basically parallels the medieval tales of a knight sent to slay a dragon. (Minus the twist at the end and the difference in time periods.) What inspired you guys to create the story in this way?

Jay Fotos : Yeah, you’re right. It definitely parallels the “good vs. bad” aspect, but I think we twisted it enough so that what you would expect to be the White Knight’s happy ending doesn’t really work out. We’re cheering on T-Rex more than anything. T-Rex is not really the bad guy either, he does what he does and others are affected by it and that’s what triggers the drama.

Mark Kidwell: There’s slight parallel there, but I think the story in T-Rex veers from that idealized medieval trope in that our hero Gorn, (Knight in shining loin cloth) isn’t doing his thing out of some false sense of chivalry or honor. Dude wants to get his newly evolved mitts on some Jurassic Jugs. I think a lot of male readers can identify with having done something lame brained to get the attention of a woman and if honor and fame amongst their peers (Tribe) come along with it, so much the better. If Gorn is a classic knight of old, he’s not the brightest one…just the horniest.

Johnny_Trouble: You two have created a T-Rex that destroys everything it encounters, and while leaving the people of Tana-Na homeless, it also kills a horde of creatures that would normally prey upon the villagers. Would you say that with this tradeoff in mind, that the Tyrannosaurus is a necessary evil, whether or not they realize it?

Jay Fotos : Yes, totally a necessary evil for sure. But what kind of fun could we have if in that world they all just got along?

Mark Kidwell : That’s a mixed bag. In our world, spiders are a necessary evil. They eat all the irritating flies and mosquitoes and “thin the herd” in the insect kingdom so we don’t get buried in bothersome pests. However, if a five-story, thirty-ton spider showed up on my back porch, I’d probably consider buying a can of Raid rather than let him shamble around and do his thing. In the history of the human race, we’ve only put up with “necessary evils” as long as we’ve had to. Once enough people decide that something is too bothersome or costly, we find a way to kill it. If that resulted in a horde of velociraptors showing up the day after the T-Rex is slain…well, we’d probably just chalk that up to not thinking things through and get busy formulating a plan to kill them.

Johnny_Trouble: What was your favorite part of creating this story?

Jay Fotos : For me it’s collaborating with other artists. Creating comics is a very solitary profession, I’m a social guy and I like getting together with like-minded creators and “creating” something. To me that’s what gets my juices jumping, sparking ideas and building off them and producing a cool product.

Mark Kidwell : I always love working with guys like Jay and Jeff. They’re like crazy brothers in different cities around the country, sitting around like me, thinking up wacky, violent, original stories and then picking up the phone to share their lunacy with like-minded comrades. Once the fuse is lit, it starts to burn toward that creative powder keg and it’s not long before BOOM! Ya got a comic book. On T-Rex, the best part of that process was coming up with an excuse to have our human character suicidally following the path of a giant slaughter machine so he could witness all the dino battles and working the story toward Jay’s Looney Toons ending. Sweet collaboration, man.

Jeff Zornow : I concur! I love collaborating with these guys. It isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last. I also had a wonderful time designing the “world” of T-rex and Taka-na. As well as all the creatures and dinosaurs that appear in it, I wanted to cram every panel with even small creatures, as if the entire jungle was just a giant living thing.

Johnny_Trouble:What was the most challenging part of putting this story together?

Jay Fotos : To be honest, nothing was really that challenging. Mark and I clicked in a snap of a finger on what we both thought would be a cool T-Rex comic. We had a phone conversation on our ideas and Mark hammered out the story, I think like that same night- it was that quick. Mark is brilliant that way. He gets as excited as I do when we think up shit and we can’t sleep until we get it done. Down the line as we got into production of the comic we might chime in with other ideas and add to the whole. For example, the squid…all Zornow…and that was awesome!

Mark Kidwell : Challenge? Don’t remember any on T-Rex. We’re all goofy smart-asses and we set out to create a goofy, smart-ass dinosaur comic with a punch line at the end. I’ll say that Jeff probably dealt with the most challenges, researching and drawing all the stuff that I stuffed into the script, but as Jay and I knew going in…he was more than equal to the task.

Jeff Zornow : Yeah I definitely researched dinosaurs for this book. I hadn’t drawn any dinos professionally before, but being a huge Dinosaur and giant monster fan since I was 2, I was more than ready for this challenge. I went into the art of this book thinking, “this may be my only chance to truly express my love for Dinosaurs, and giant monster battles” so I went all out with the art. I really threw everything I had into it. There was a balance that had to be dealt with in making the book dramatic and visually funny as well.

Johnny_Trouble: What made you guys decide upon the ending that you chose?

Jay Fotos : That was simple, we didn’t want to kill off T-rex and if you heard the ridiculous ideas we have on expanding this storyline you would want to keep T-Rex around as long as possible.

Mark Kidwell : It’s that classic cautionary tale. You know, the old warning: “If you go around chasing gigantic, murderous thunder lizards, ya might get squashed by a friggin’ boulder.” God, if I had a dime for every time my grandfather used that one on me…

Jeff Zornow : I remember at one point early on, the ending came into question. I remember claiming that no matter what happens at the end T-rex must win! hahaha. I wasn’t gonna let him die or LOSE! Hahaha

Johnny_Trouble: Gorn, the “hero”, volunteers to kill the Tyrannosaurus Rex in order to win Teela’s hand in marriage, then decides he is in over his head, you show this via his dialogue. Why do you depict him as a character that struggles with his own self-confidence versus the typical image of a hero that is secure in his own abilities?

Mark Kidwell: Basically, you have to start with the understanding that Gorn is not a hero. He’s an everyman, invisible amongst the other flea-bitten cavemen of his tribe until one tense moment when his libido gets the better of him. The idea in the book was to keep Gorn on an emotional roller coaster, depressed and defeatist one minute, sitting in a giant footprint surrounded by rain water, then excited, running and smiling the next, as a fleeting image of lowered eye lids and pouting lips ripples out of the same puddle. Gorn is confident and enthused so long as he “keeps his eyes on the prize”, but when he’s faced with the blood-soaked, razor-toothed reality of his quest, his enthusiasm understandably wanes.

Johnny_Trouble: When working the one-shot, did you use any specific references for coloring the dinosaurs? Since nobody has seen one that is still alive, you could have made the dinosaurs all hot pink and none of us could say anything about it. (I am glad you didn’t though.)

Jay Fotos : Nah, not really. I knew T-Rex was going to be in a lush green environment and I wanted his color to contrast that, same as the Raptors. It’s more “color” than I usually go for but this story calls for more of a classic look and I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Johnny_Trouble: How did you get involved in doing the art for Tyrannosaurus Rex? Did Kidwell and Fotos approach you for the story or were you approached by Image?

Jeff Zornow : Jay and Mark came to me. Basically asking if I wanted to draw a Dinosaur book, and I was like ” HELL YEAH!”

Johnny_Trouble: Jeff, the last time I interviewed you was for your contribution to the Moon Lake anthology. Your artistic style is completely different compared to your work on Desensitized Deidre. What is the main difference in how you have approached these stories artistically?

Jeff Zornow : The main difference between T-Rex and Desensitized Deirdre, is that I didn’t color T-Rex. With Deirdre I had complete control of all the visuals including color, and I inadvertently created a new coloring style for myself with that story. T-Rex is me penciling and inking my ass off for Jay to color. So T-Rex may appear to be more detailed overall, in the drawing.

Johnny_Trouble: What was your favorite part of the comic to work on as the artist?

Jeff Zornow : The whole book actually. hahah each page was a new cool thing to draw. I REALLY enjoy drawing nature and wildlife art. So to be able to do an Action/adventure/Creature/fantasy book was an epic win on my part. As I stated earlier, my mindset was about this being probably my only chance to express my love for Dinosaurs or Giant monster battles in a comic book, so I took that ball a ran, and ran, and ran, and ran… Holding myself and the T-Rex pages to the high standards of guys like Joe Kubert, Frank Cho, Joe Orlando, Wally Wood, Takehiko Inoue.

I think I did a damn good job on the book, I brought everything I had to it. And the fans and reviews were all positive. And they ALL loved the scene with the T-Rex chomping a giant Squid in half! That was MY little contrubution to the story! Hahahah! A proud moment!

Johnny_Trouble: Would you happen to have an uncensored image of the T-Rex fucking something? (Keep in mind this question happened to be a “yes” the last time I asked.)

Jeff Zornow : No, just T-Rex fucking stuff up haha!

Mark Kidwell : Yeah, just wanna take a quick second here to thank everyone who picked up a copy of T-Rex. Comics should be fun and that’s what this book was all about. From the lion’s share of reviews and comments I’ve seen, nearly everyone got it and had a great time with the book. That makes us creators feel good. It’s also refreshing to see readers, especially the male ones, gravitate toward a book with tons of action and a scantily clad hotty instead of just more over-muscled men in masks and stretch pants.

Jeff Zornow : I SHOULD point out, that in the aftermath of Tyrannosaurus Rex, I achieved what has been literally for me a “lifelong dream” Which was, since I was at least 3 yrs old I wanted to grow up and one day work on Godzilla in some capacity. And I am proud and thrilled to announce that I will be contributing art to IDW’s upcoming GODZILLA comic series!! YES IT’S TRUE ZORNOW MUST BE DESTROYED BY GODZILLA! For now I’m supplying full color covers to Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters. We’ll see what Godzilla and I have in store for the world a little further down the road!

ALLLLSSOO Mark, Jay, and I are re-teaming for the Special ’68 Vietnam war/zombie epic one-shot ’68: HARDSHIP. Coming later this year from Image! So you should interview us about that next…cuz it will be a PILE OF SCREAMING BLOOD –DEATH!

I would like to say a special thanks to Mark, Jay, and Jeff for their interview, and their work on a visually amazing and delightfully twisted story. I look forward to talking to the three of them again when ’68: HARDSHIP’ comes out later this year.