First Comics News: What about your background made you want to get into making comic books?
Ben Lacy: I’ve written fiction off and on for years. Mostly sci-fi and fantasy. I’ve self-published one novel and have 3 more on my hard drive waiting for the right moment. But I’ve wanted to write comic books ever since writers like Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman showed what could be done. The problem was, I didn’t know any artists and couldn’t draw a straight line, so I’ve spent the last year plus learning enough art to be able to make the book I wanted. (There’s an extra on the art of Shark of War in the issue 1 bonus features).
1st: Did you ever have pet fish while growing up or do you now?
Ben: Ha, no. We got some fish and an aquarium when our kids were little. The fish didn’t last a month. We got a dog soon after. He’s lasted much longer.
1st: What would you most like to accomplish next in your comic book career?
Ben: I want to finish the first five issues of Shark of War, then I’d like to focus more on the writing with others doing more of the art chores. If Shark of War really takes off, I have ideas for an all-ages version. I also have an idea for a more traditional superhero book I’d like to pursue.
1st: Why use piranha to face off against a shark?
Ben: Dr. Douglas’ idea was to focus on small fish she could quickly mass produce. What better small fish than a swarm of piranha to use to attack a shark.
1st: How are piranha effective in fighting a shark with bulletproof skin?
Ben: They’ve been similarly modified. Their teeth have been titanium plated and their jaw muscles have been enhanced. While unlike Gnasher, they’ve not had their intelligence upgraded, Douglas can control them as a swarm and send them flying in a mass at whatever target she chooses with devastating effect.
1st: What kind of weapons does Gnasher the shark have?
Ben: Gnasher has blades on his pectoral fins. He can retract them if he likes but rarely bothers. He has a 30 caliber automatic rifle mounted to each jet engine, but he is very low on ammunition when the story begins. His teeth have been titanium-plated so with his massive strength he can bite thru most anything. But his most devastating weapon is his 25 foot, 4-ton armored body which combined with his jet engines allows him to strike something with the force of a missile. Of course, there are some limitations to that as he learns in issue 2.
One of the issue 2 bonuses will be a Science of the Shark of War feature that will go into more detail on some of Gnasher’s weaponry just as the issue 1 bonus feature explained how he turned the people he ate into fuel for his engines.
1st: Why is Dr. Brooke Douglas doing what she is doing?
Ben: Ego, greed, ambition, and power. Initially, she’s angry at her boss, who’s disrespected her. She also believes they shouldn’t be wasting time making one intelligent shark when they could mass-produce hundreds of smaller fish. And she can make a lot more money selling those creations to the highest bidder.
But I think the real key to her actions is that she enjoys the raw power of controlling her own swarm of piranha. She’s the Shark of War universe’s first supervillain.
1st: Who is behind wanting Gnasher dead and what are his reasons?
Ben: Gnasher has been striking at criminal activity all along the eastern seaboard. A lot of that activity is under the control of the Coastal Cartel and its brutal chief, Lobo Tiburon. In issue 1, they try to trap Gnasher with disastrous results (for them), so they’re willing to pay Dr. Douglas millions to take care of Gnasher for them.
1st: Will Gnasher ever team-up with any other animals?
Ben: Probably not, Gnasher is unique. And one of the underlying themes of the story is the immorality of what was done to him and in some ways still being done to him by the Directives he’s required to follow even though he’s escaped military control.
1st: Will we ever see any other fish enhanced such as barracuda or manta ray?
Ben: We will eventually though it’s a surprise what’ll be next.
1st: What will issue three bring?
Ben: Without giving too much away, he’s in terrible trouble and is battling for his life. Meanwhile, Dr. Douglas and Lobo Tiburon start to show the havoc they can wreak with a combination of mob money and thousands of cyborg piranha.
1st: Would you like to ride on Gnasher?
Ben: Probably not, he’d only be willing to allow it in a life or death situation and I don’t want to be in one of those. Also, I think sharks, in general, should be admired from a distance.
Of course, Daniel Aguado, who actually got to do just that in issue 1, might disagree.
1st: What is the Kickstarter link for “Shark Of War # 2” and why do you use Kickstarter?
Ben: The link is SharkofWar.BitingComics.com and we’ll be live on 9/2 for 23 days. I use Kickstarter because comic book fans go to it to find Indie comics so it allows someone like me, who isn’t well known, to be found by people who will hopefully enjoy my book.
1st: Any words for those who picked up Shark Of War # 1 and or plan to get # 2 as well?
Ben: I was very pleased with Shark of War #1 but it was also an origin story. Shark of War #2 gets into the heart of the story and into the heart of the characters, especially our shark hero. If you liked issue 1, you’ll love issue 2. If you thought issue 1 was just an over the top concept, you’ll see in issue 2 that there’s more depth to the story then you may have thought.
Also, I hope I’ve improved as an artist.