TAKE 10! Man’s Best

BOOM! Studios: TAKE 10! is a new interview series asking writers and artists about their new series or graphic novels.

Pornsak Pichetshote, writer of the Eisner and Harvey Award-winning The Good Asian, along with Eisner Award-nominated rising star artist Jesse Lonergan (Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea), and letterer Jeff Powell (Infidel), are bringing an action-packed sci-fi romp with a lot of heart to the 2024 BOOM! Studios line-up with MAN’S BEST!

Homeward Bound on an alien world, MAN’S BEST follows three emotional support pets living on the Starship Horizon–a spacecraft searching for a new home to house a humanity compromised by bad decisions and corporate greed.

But after the ship crashes and the crew is captured, these loyal pets are their owner’s only hope. Outfitted in outrageous tech, these three best friends must traverse a hostile world to rescue their owners–leaving them the only hope for a humanity that might not be worth saving. In a harrowing adventure, the pets are faced with challenges that threaten to destroy their most valuable treasure: their friendship.

1. What was the most challenging aspect of working on this series?

Pornsak Pichetshote: I’m mostly known for horror books or things with a dark edge geared towards adults. This book is the complete opposite of all that. It is hopefully wondrous and amusing and positive, and while it’s written for adults, it’s intended to be accessible to all ages, while still asking some big questions. As a result, I had to throw out most of the tricks I’ve come to rely on up until now and really push myself to write something that was out of my comfort zone. Thank God I had Jesse here to make the book look amazing and take some of the pressure off.

Jesse Lonergan: The story moves pretty quickly, and there are so many alien worlds that make an appearance, even if briefly, that I felt like I really had to push myself in terms of the styles and dynamics of the art. Other books I’ve done have had maybe one or two big setting changes (like the Victorian London and primordial earth) that needed to be visually distinct, but with MAN’S BEST, there are so many unique environments.

2. Could you explain the title?

P: The title has a bunch of different meanings, I suppose. There’s the reference to man’s best friend. But also, there’s a slight The Right Stuff reference in how we tend to send the best of man into space. And of course, the series is grounded in the common belief that our pets of the best of us.

3. What is the elevator pitch for the series?

P: MAN’S BEST is Homeward Bound in space, following three emotional support animals (and best friends) as they traverse a strange alien planet to save their Starship’s crew. Made for adults, but accessible to all, it asks where those we look to for hope go when they need it. 

4. What does your writing and drawing space look like?

P: I sit at a very long desk, practically the length of a picnic table that I type at only one corner of while needlessly piling up papers and books on every square inch of the rest of the desk.

J: It’s a total disaster. I’ve got my main drawing desk, which I keep pretty clear, but then orbiting all around it in total disarray are pens, paper, triangles and rulers, compasses, circle templates, coffee mugs and dishes, post-it notes, screentones, comics and books… I always tell myself I’m going to get organized and stay organized, but it always ends up back in a state of total chaos.

5. What was your biggest inspiration for Man’s Best?

P: The biggest one for me was definitely Homeward Bound, but because my OCD brains loves lists, here’s the stew of my influences that found its way into the book.

Pet comics: Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely’s We3, Brian K. Vaughan & Nico Henrichon’s Pride of Baghdad, Tony Fleecs & Trish Forstner’s Stray Dogs, Garth Ennis & Michael Dipascale’s Rover Red Charlie

Sci-Fi comics: Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples’s Saga, Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin’s Barrier, Alejandro Jodorowsky & Moebius’s The Incal, Moebius’s The World of Edena

Animal literature: George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Bradley Denton’s “Sergeant Chip”

Sci-fi novels: Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001

Film / TV: The Secret Life of PetsToy StoryFinding NemoWatership Down

J: I’m not sure how much it comes through, I feel like I drew on a lot of manga: DragonballPlutoFist of the North Star. Then there’s also some of my personal touchstones that are ever present: Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library, Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, and Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo. I also felt that with all the different environments I could focus on having one sort of stylistic touchstone for a setting, so one setting is more Paul Pope’s THB-inspired, another draws from Goscinny and Uderzo’s Asterix.

6. What are you reading now and what’s on your pull list?

P: Oh, my pull list is obnoxiously long, so just to keep myself on brand and stick to the Boom! Studio books: James Tynion IV & Werther Dell’Edera’s Something is Killing the Children, Tom King and Peter Gross’s Animal Pound, David & Maria Lapham’s Underheist, Jason Aaron, Alexandre Tefenkgi, Leila Del Duca, and Nick Dragotta’s Once Upon a Time at the End of the World, Ram V. and Filipe Andrade Rare Flavours, and I’m really looking forward to Josie Campbell & Alessio Zonno’s I Heart Skulll-Crusher and Tony Fleecs and Dave Wachter’s Uncanny Valley.

J: : I’m always all over the place with what I’m reading, but some recent stuff I’ve read and have been enjoying is Dwellings by Jay Stephens (got him to do a variant for MAN’S BEST!), Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees by Patrick Horvath, Rare Flavours by Ram V and Filipe Andrade, Hexagon Bridge by Richard Blake, Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Nic Klein’s Incredible HulkEverything Sucks by Michael Sweater… I also just read The Interview by Manuele Fior (and translated by Jamie Richards), which just blew me away in every sense. Great story, fantastic art. It was one of those books that I bought and then it somehow managed to get on the shelf unread, and then just sat for a few years before I picked it up again. It was like finding buried treasure in my own house.

7. Describe your ideal way to sit down and read a comic or graphic novel.

P: In the mornings, still in bed, under the covers, worried I’m ruining my posture. Like Jesse, I don’t get to do it as much as I like anymore. Unlike Jesse, I don’t have a particularly good reason why.

J: I like to have a big pile of floppies, a mix of new stuff and old stuff, and just sprawl out on the couch and work my way through them over the course of an afternoon. With a two-year-old in the house, it’s not something I get to do that often anymore.

8. What is your favorite writing/drawing snack or drink?

P: I’m trying to cut down on sugar (If you hate me for saying that, please know I do too.) so a Coke, which I used to have every day, has now become a treat I really look forward to whenever the work day gets really long. 

J: It’s a boring answer but coffee. I have a minimum of three cups a day.

9. Who would you cast in your dream movie or TV adaptation of the series?

P: While I was writing, I heard Michael Cera’s voice as Athos. Porthos’s voice was based on one of my friends, so it’s hard for me to hear any other voice but hers. As for Lovey… Lovey’s a grump. Who does the best grump? Larry David? We should make deciding a contest!

J: I think that dog that went viral dressed as a Chucky doll running down the hallway would be pretty good for Lovey. I’m not sure of their availability, but that golden retriever from Air Bud was amazing and think they would be really good in the role of Porthos. For Athos, I think Blofeld’s cat from the Bond movies would be perfect.

10. What piece of advice would you give to the main characters? What about the villains?

P: To Athos: Chill out. To Porthos: Be careful. To Lovey: Lighten up. But of course, they’d all ignore me.

J: I’d tell our heroes that deep down they are more alike than different and they should take care of each other. I’d probably say the same thing to the antagonistic forces in our story as well (there isn’t really a full-on villain).

MAN’S BEST #1 will be available on March 20, 2024 in comic shops!