This week, AHOY Comics unveils the TPB of Captain Ginger: Dogworld, the series by writer Stuart Moore and artist by June Brigman about a group of space-traveling humanoid cats seeking to rebuild civilization. In addition to receiving rave reviews, we recently had Moore explore “season two” as part of our regular Post-Game series. Now, he’s back once again, talking not only about the cats’ adventures with their “canine cousins” but also his work with Brigman, his ongoing inspirations, a growing cast of animal explorers, and much more. When it rains, it pours (cats and dogs, apparently).
Captain Ginger: Dogworld TBP is available starting today.
AIPT: “Dogworld” feels like a classic sci-fi story about the differences (or lack thereof) between alien species. What are the sci-fi stories that influenced you?
SM: That’s a nice comparison, thanks. I was a heavy science fiction reader as a kid. Cordwainer Smith, a brilliant writer of the ’50s and ’60s, wrote some stories about cats—they were called pinlighters, and they worked telepathically with humans to guide starships through the dangers of hyperspace. “The Game of Rat and Dragon” focuses most directly on the cats.
But I think you’re asking more about first contact stories. In our first chapter especially, our crew of intelligent cats has to weigh very carefully whether they want to initiate contact with the dogs at all. They have no idea how the dogs live, what their values are, or how desperate they might be. So yes, that was influenced by all sorts of material, from Murray Leinster’s 1945 novella “First Contact” (that’s where the term comes from!) all the way down to the continuing Star Trek films and TV series.
AIPT: You say you’ve never owned dogs so what was it like creating the dogs for this volume. In comparison to the cats? How much input did June Brigman have?
SM: June was a lifesaver. I pretty much know that dogs play poker, and that’s about it. Poker DOES play a part in the story—that’s a Star Trek thing too, as TNG fans know!—but I couldn’t just have the dogs anteing and slapping down cards the whole time.
So I went to June and asked for help. I told her the personality traits I had in mind, and she assigned breeds to them. She asked me to write in her childhood chihuahua (do not miss the extras in the back of the book!). That character, Fifi, changed a lot in the development of the story.
AIPT: The cast has grown since the last volume. Do you have a favorite character to write and do you have a favorite character to write for June to draw?
SM: Well, I knew one character wasn’t going to survive the story, and that was rough. I tried to give them a good sendoff. I also had some fun putting Deena and Sergeant Mittens, Ginger’s two most trusted officers, in slightly different roles.
The expanded cast was a real challenge. There’s a point where the dogs and cats are working together, and I struggled to give everyone enough to do. I think it all came together, though.
AIPT: There are some really emotional moments in the book, like the one in chapter four that still has us a bit rocked. What is your approach to writing moving and emotional scenes? Does that approach differ when the book is about cats in space?
SM: It’s the same and it’s different. I’m writing about recognizable emotions; otherwise the readers wouldn’t be able to relate to the story. But that’s all filtered through the sort of rapid-response, instinctual, fight-or-flee nature of cats. Hopefully that’s what makes the series interesting.
The dogs have a different hierarchy, too, and their lifestyle is worlds away from the cats’—literally and figuratively. They’ve developed a lot more rituals and group activities than the cats. That’s partly because their road to survival has been even tougher, but it was also my sense of what dogs would do if they received an intelligence boost. They can be very sentimental beings.
AIPT: The last time we spoke about Captain Ginger we asked how you would sell the book to a “dog person.” Given the plot of “Dogworld,” has your answer changed?
SM: I don’t remember what I said before (or what I said yesterday), but here I guess I’d say: If you’re a dog person and you have cat people as friends, you can read “Dogworld” and take sides! Or you can just try to get along, I guess. That’s good too.
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