RICH INTERVIEWS: Ben Lacy Creator/Writer/Artist for “Shark of War”
First Comics News: What life lesson have you learned since starting “Shark of War”?
Ben Lacy: To take things one step at a time, one piece at a time. I do all of Shark of War (except the lettering) myself. This includes marketing and production on top of the writing and art. If I look at the length of the to-do list, it can be overwhelming, so I instead focus on what’s the next thing I have to do, and then the next, and so.
1st: How does it feel to see your comic book succeed?
Ben: It’s been great to see my creation come to life and to hear from people who enjoyed it. Of course, I’d like to have many more people reading the book because I think anyone who likes sharks will like the book. And there are still a huge number of shark lovers who’ve never heard of Shark of War.
1st: What good qualities do sharks have?
Ben: Sharks are a critical part of our ocean’s ecosystem. As apex predators, they ensure a balance in the number of species upon which they feed. For example, sharks protect coral reefs by eating on smaller prey fish that in turn feed on algae-eating fish. When the local shark population drops, the prey fish eat too many algae-eating fish. And the algae overgrow the reef.
Also, sharks have little interest in eating humans. Most shark bites are from mistaking a human for a fish. It’s important to know that sharks cause fewer human deaths than lions or elephants, and vastly fewer than dogs and mosquitos.
1st: Why is Dr. Brooke Douglas so important in “Shark of War”?
Ben: Dr. Douglas is a lynchpin in the story. Not only is she a co-inventor of the Shark of War but her ego and greed lead her to use the technology in increasingly dangerous and frankly, evil ways. In the Shark of War universe, she’s well on her way to being the first supervillain.
1st: Who are Marisa and Daniel and why are they important in issue three?
Ben: Daniel is a nine-year-old orphan who was saved by the Shark of War in issue 1. He’s grateful to him and is his only friend. He’s also the only one who wants to save him after the brutal events of issue 2.
Marisa is Daniel’s 19-year-old sister. She’s had to take care of Daniel since he was 3. They live in the country of Centralia, which lies somewhere between the US and South America. It’s a poor country largely controlled by powerful drug cartels such as the Coastal Cartel, with who Dr. Douglas has teamed up.
Marisa is a gifted athlete and to provide for herself and her brother, she’s learned to spearfish along the coast and to dive off cliffs to entertain tourists. With no other support, she also got help from the Catholic church and as such is a very devout person who often prays to God.
1st: Can you tell us about the creator of Gnasher and why he created him?
Ben: Dr. Raye Fischer has doctorates in bioengineering, computer engineering, and computer science. He devised how to increase Gnasher’s intelligence using cloned brain cells and developed the artificial intelligence that co-inhabits Gnasher’s body. He’s a vain, arrogant, cold man who could not care less about the ethics of his actions.
He’s also dead, having been killed in issue 1 by Dr. Douglas. However, he set up a contingency plan that has survived his death and comes to full life in issue 3. For fans of Alan Moore’s Miracleman, Dr. Fischer has been partly inspired by Miracleman’s creator Emil Gargunza. His appearance though is meant to make you think of an evil version of Back to the Future’s Doc Brown.
1st: How did you decide on using an aquatic setting over a land one for “Shark of War”?
Ben: While Shark of War isn’t realistic, I am trying to stay somewhat grounded in science and logic (there are bonus features in the digital edition of each issue explaining the real science behind the sci-fi). As such the shark has to stay fairly close to the water. Fortunately, that doesn’t really limit the story possibilities.
1st: Does Gnasher have emotions like a human?
Ben: No, but now that he’s more intelligent, he is developing some emotions that humans would recognize, especially the rage he feels after what happened to him in issue 2.
1st: What is Gnasher’s goal in life?
Ben: Gnasher’s main goal is still to eat, swim, and eat, but he has built-in artificial intelligence that’s preprogrammed to enforce U.S. law and pushes him toward doing just that. So far, he hasn’t minded doing so since it allows him to explore his new capabilities. At some point though, his wants and the AI’s may diverge.
1st: In illustrating Gnasher how do you hope people perceive him?
Ben: I want people to root for him. I want them to see him as the hero of this story.
1st: What do you see the future holding for “Shark of War”?
Ben: The current arc will conclude in issue 5. I hope to start a new arc after that. I’d also like to do an all-ages Gnasher story for kids that like sharks but are too young to watch them eat a person even in a comic book.
1st: Will it be safe to go in the water for anyone in “Shark of War”?
Ben: Gnasher doesn’t eat humans unless they’re violating the laws of the United States. Don’t do the crime if don’t want to end up as shark food.
1st: What is it about sharks that you love so much?
Ben: Sharks are exciting to watch in action. They look cooler than most anything, and the large great whites are especially are the kind of awesome creatures that will become extinct if we aren’t careful.
1st: What words of wisdom do you have for the fans of “Sharks of War”?
Ben: Shark of War is launching issues 1-3 on Kickstarter on March 2 at SharkofWar.BitingComics.com. If you like a unique spin from any other shark tale, please consider checking it out. And you can read issue 1 for FREE at BitingComics.com.