Welcome to Inside Astro City, a column focusing on the Vertigo Comics series Astro City from Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, and Alex Ross! Each month, we’ll take a look at the current issue of the series, and ask series writer Kurt Busiek questions about the book. This time around: Who’s a good dog? It’s G-Dog, with Inside Astro City #47!
This is a spoiler-filled column, so if you have not yet read the issue you might want to come back later. You can find the issue at your local comic book shop or you can download it from Comixology here.
ASTRO CITY #47
“Meet G-Dog, possibly Astro City’s most unusual superhero ever. Half man, half dog—but who’s running the show? The answers will change a life, reveal another hero’s deepest secrets, and possibly, just possibly, save the world. Oh, who are we kidding… they’ll definitely change the world. Do you see that handsome face? Also featuring Honor Guard, with guest art by Mike Norton (Revival, Battlepug).”
MAJOR SPOILERS: Other than the obvious adorability factor, what led you to the idea of the half-man/half adorable dog hero, G-Dog?
KURT BUSIEK: It’s something I’ve had in the back on my mind for years. All these superheroes and villains who are The Scorpion or The White Tiger or the Man-Ape. Bats and wolves and snakes and on and on, all these impressive animals. But what if a superhero got their powers from something cute, something domestic? Would it be embarrassing to have to say you were half-man half-corgi?
That’s where it all started. And over time, I started to figure out more ideas, thinking about what this character’s story should be about, what if it wasn’t just animal powers but an actual partnership, and so on. So once we finally had the right story — and Mike Norton to draw it — it was time to get it done.
MS: So, is it just me, or did Andy’s B&E/origin also show us insight into the origin of Stormhawk? Back in #17, his death sequence left one human and one bird skeleton… Or am I just stating the obvious?
KB: You’ll learn more about Stormhawk next issue, but yes, this was a way of revealing his past as well as G-Dog’s. We hinted at it here and there in Stormhawk’s story, but now a little more info comes out.
It’s all one world, so we get to explore it in interesting ways.
MS: With G-Dog, Kittyhawk’s team-up with Rocket Dog and next issue promising Ghost Ferret, you’ve got a lot of animal heroes in play in Astro City. Was this intentional to serve a particular story, or just a matter of things just working out that way?
KB: We’ve mentioned animal heroes here and there over the years — Rocket Dog was first mentioned in the “Lovers Quarrel” arc, for instance — and there are stories I want to do with other animal heroes. So I figured I’d better start getting some of them on the page, to make sure they didn’t feel like they were coming out of nowhere.
I didn’t intend to do Kittyhawk’s story and G-Dog’s so close together, but that’s just the way it worked out.
KB: He’s literally the model for Alex’s covers, at least, and Mike loosely based his approach to G-Dog on him. We took lots of photos and shared them around.
We’ve actually had two corgis, though, and they’re both influences on G-Dog. Fenway’s sitting next to me now, and he was the physical model for Hank, but Hector, Fenway’s predecessor, is in there too. He had very firm ideas about how my day was supposed to run, and was quietly insistent about me being on schedule, and in the right places at the right time. So G-Dog’s sense of “rightness” comes from Hector a lot.
And Hector influences the story more next issue, but I won’t lay that all out before it hits the stands.
MS: This issue’s Honor Guard cameo reminds me: You said there’s an N-Forcer story in the works, is that something we can expect to see in the near future?
KB: Fairly near. It’s a long story, so we want to have the room to do it right and be on schedule. We’ll be starting it after #52, but may plant some hints as we go…
MS: What’s coming up next month in part two?
KB: Well, more about Stormhawk, for one. New powers for G-Dog. The Mecha-Nerds. The return of Rocket Dog and Kittyhawk. Big changes for Andy and Esme. Robo-Rilla! An invitation to join a super-team — actually, TWO super-teams. And, well, we’ll catch up to the scene at the end of this issue, and that’ll have repercussions too.
Hopefully, it’ll all fit together as one story. We all got emotional working on it, and I hope readers will feel the same.
Astro City #48: “A tale of redemption and farewell, as G-Dog learns the secrets of his origin, faces personal tragedy and joins a very unlikely superhero team. Featuring the return of Kittyhawk and Rocket Dog, and the debut of Ghost Ferret. Part two of a special two-parter with art by guest artist Mike Norton (Revival, Battlepug)..”