With Dynamite launching a new series of comics based on the King Features characters, most folks know of Flash Gordon, Mandrake The Magician, The Phantom and even Prince Valiant… Jungle Jim on the other hand is a bit more obscure. To get a better feel for the character and the series, Byron Brewer talked with writer Paul Tobin about what we can expect.
BYRON BREWER: Paul, what is it about iconic characters like Jungle Jim, Flash Gordon and others that make them so appealing for writers to work with?
PAUL TOBIN: I grew up with them in many ways. Flash Gordon was first, and the whole universe that he opened up… not only in the aspect of a fantasy universe, with worlds to explore, but it was a lead-in to understanding the depth and size of our own universe. Science fiction led to my love of science. And then Prince Valiant opened up the world of history, and Jungle Jim’s adventures really opened up my love of punching guys in the face and then flying off in an airplane with the beautiful woman, which is something I still enjoy.
BB: How does it feel to be part of this celebration for a century of King Feature Syndicate and its characters?
PT: Fantastic! It’s such a wonderful playground. I’m honored to have a little piece of it.
BB: Tell us about your iteration of Jungle Jim. How does he different from other interpretations?
PT: He’s vastly different. I was given the opportunity to really open up the character and play, so he’s now a part of the larger King Features mythos, entwined in particular with Ming. And his name is FAR more literal than ever before, as readers will see. Beyond that, he’s a rascal, a scoundrel, a ladies man and a complete bounder. And he may be the only comic book character that has a pet horde of poisonous spiders, which he has named Berlin.
BB: What is the storyline of this 4-issue mini?
PT: Lille Devrille (previously seen in the excellent Flash Gordon comics from Jeff Parker and Doc Shaner) needs help. A LOT of help. Her brother is scheduled for execution in Ming’s Imperial City, and there’s simply no one alive who can help. So Lille risks everything by not looking for a man to help, but a legend. An expedition is formed to seek out the legendary Jungle Jim. And find him she does, but he’s nothing like she expected. And then things go wrong, which is unfortunate for Lille, because not only is her brother’s life on the line, but she has a dark secret that could claim her own life as well. And Jim, ahhh Jim… how can he resist a pretty woman with a study booze supply?
BB: “Really really really weird monkeys”??
PT: Yes. This is true. There’re some odd monkeys.
BB: Is there a central big-bad in this mini? If so, tell us about the foe.
PT: Ming, I would say, is the ultimate bad guy, but for the most part the struggle is against the slavers on Arboria, Ming’s men/soldiers who are kidnapping villagers from all over the globe in order to transform them into Ming’s troops.
BB: Why is artist Sandy Jarrell right for this book?
PT: Three reasons, really. The first is that he can draw rogues really well. And the second is that he can draw jungles really well. And the third is because he survived the Test of Blood that Dynamite makes all their creative talent take.
BB: I take it Jungle Jim will be coming together with other King characters in a climactic crossover. Any hints about that May adventure?
PT: Faces get punched. By men and women. Also some bar scenes. Rocketships. Likely some more weird monkeys. And I can say for sure that some things explode.