Legendary comic book author and novelist Chuck Dixon is full steam ahead as he is about to launch his sixth novel in his Bad Time series, Pirates of the Cretaceous. Dixon has written some of the best Punisher stories for Marvel Comics and he and artist Graham Nolan are the team behind the vicious Batman villain, Bane. We got to chat with Chuck about Pirates of the Cretaceous as well as his thoughts on the comic book industry.
Bounding Into Comics (BIC): You’ve got a new novel coming out Pirates of the Cretaceous, what’s it about?
Chuck Dixon: It’s the sixth book in my Bad Times series about five time-traveling former Army Rangers and the trouble they get in, in wars and on treasure hunts everywhere and everywhen from prehistoric Nevada to the future of an alternate universe. This novel finds the group torn apart by events and separated to present day Mexico, the Pacific Ocean 70 million years in the past and a parallel universe where the descendants of Viking and the descendants of the Mongols battle over possession of North America. And, yes, there will be dinosaurs! And pirates!
BIC: When writing about the descendants of Vikings and Mongols, do you do a lot of historical research or do you let your imagination run wild on how you think those civilizations would have developed?
Chuck: Six of one, a half dozen of the other. These versions of Norsemen and Mongols are centuries removed from their classic portrayals in a world where history took any path. So I was able to base them in fact then extrapolate like crazy!
BIC: I also hear that the Aztecs are involved? What role do they play?
Chuck: One of the characters, Dwayne Roenbach is taken captive by Aztecs slavers who take him on down to Tenochtitlan with the idea of sacrificing him. He’s not in favor of that. We spend some time with a decaying Meso-American society as the backdrop to the action.
BIC: Are there any specific themes you examine in the book?
Chuck: I’m not a big theme guy. I leave that for the reader to decide what the story means to them. But we do find out who Chaz Raleigh would kill if he had his choice of anyone in history.
BIC: I understand you have a contest underway to promote Pirates of the Cretaceous, can you tell me about it?
Chuck: The covers of the Bad Times books are photographs by one of my sons of prop objects taken from the story. For this book I had to have a special pirate flag made. It’s a Jolly Roger with a T-Rex skull in place of Roger. It’s a real, ready-to-use nautical flag designed by my pal Bill Wiist. All anyone has to to do to enter is send an email to [email protected] The drawing will be on March 1.
BIC: The last time we spoke, the Alt-Hero: Q series you were writing was pulled down from IndieGoGo. How far along are you with Alt-Hero: Q?
Chuck: I’ve written the third issue and seen all the art from issue 1. We’re going on despite the IndieGoGo kerfuffle. A LOT of people supported this series and continue to support it.
BIC: You’ve been rather outspoken about ComicsGate in the past, do you think the movement has changed over the past year?
Chuck: It’s fragmented as these things do. But I think things have settled down among the opponents to free speech that were arrayed against self-described ComicsGate creators. Mostly, I believe opposition has petered out once the naysayers realized how little effect (re: NONE) they were having stifling the creators.
BIC: The comic industry also posted another negative year, making this two years in a row where have sales have declined. Why do you think the industry is currently in a downturn?
Chuck: Inferior product is to blame, for the most part. And, let’s face it, Marvel takes up most of the air in the room even when they aren’t #1 in market share. They’re the industry leader and bellwether in a large part due to their draconian policies toward retailers as well as their brand name. If they fall, we all fall. Like it or not. And for the past few years they seem less interested in finding new readers than they are in pissing off the old ones. You HAVE to cater to your current readership AND make an effort to find new fans. The last time I can remember anyone making an effort like that was when Vertigo was launched.
BIC: How do you think it can recover?
Chuck: Try to coax a new, young readership to get into the comics buying habit. Through library programs and school book fairs and anything else that gets comics in front of kids again. That’s gonna be tough. We skipped a generation or or two of readers when comics left the news stands and supermarkets. Digital is not the answer. Getting a kid to pick up a physical comic book or trade is.
BIC: What else are you working on? Do you have any comic book projects in the works?
Chuck: Bob C. Hardin and I are completing our 70s car chase movie homage & Deadly Sinners. So look for that out there. The third of issue of my superhero book Avalon just came out from Arkhaven. My new VanHelsing series from Zenescope is still running. And I’m in my fifth year, with Gary Kwapisz, of the Pellucidar weekly strip we produce from ERB.com.
BIC: Do you have an update on Sylvester Stallone adapting your Levon Cade novel series?
Chuck: I only know that there’s some very talented folks working on it at the moment, I’ve heard nothing of casting but I’m looking forward to seeing the first scripts soon.
BIC: Are there any talks about adaptations for Bad Times?
Chuck: I’ve had some interest a few years ago but nothing came of it. A producer is looking at the series now. We’ll see.