Interview with Scott Wherle and Eric Wolfe Hanson
Part 1 (jump to part 2)


In late 2002, to coincide with the release of the Palisades retro series of Micronauts toys, Devil's Due Publishing embarked on bringing back to life a comic book title long ago written of by giant Marvel Comics...the Micronauts. Beloved by many a fan of the original work of the likes of Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden, Pat Broderick, etc...the crew at DDP had no easy task in front of them. Scott Wherle (admitted long time Micronauts fan) was hired as writer, and Eric Wolfe Hanson was on as penciller. Micronaut fans everywhere were extremely excited...and then the first issue hit.

Things seemed to go a little slow, but the book was accepted by the masses, and sold well. Then, what seemed like months later, the second issue hit. By the third issue, Eric was off the title and thus began a string of fill-in artists. Then by the fifth issue, the second half of the creative team, Scott, was gone as well. What was going on? Fans wanted to know. The downward spiral of the Micronauts series had begun, as Dan Jolley and eventually Steve Kurth were brought in to "save" the book...but by issue #12, it was too late. The title was done. Micronauts was then rebooted a year later, and (although sales were presumably great) the book fizzled out after only three issues! What the hell was really going on...and what could have went on in the beginning that may have caused the book to be canceled in the first place? In a no-holds barred interview, the creators behind the original relaunch tell their side of the story for the first time ever, in this exclusive interview with Inner Space Online. What really happened...? They say hindsight is 20/20...


ISO: To start: how old are both of you, how long in the comics industry, basic background info.

Eric Wolfe Hanson: I'm an old man of 30, and I've been doing this kind of thing for about a decade, give or take. Although more on the outskirts of the comics industry than really in it . I got a BFA in Illustration from Virginia Commonwealth University, which is a degree that is just as worthless as it sounds. I'm happily married with no kids and one cat. I like to draw ugly disturbing things, which you can see at Also, if you like cursing, go to my blog
Please excuse if any of my answers below sound harsh, that's just how I talk/type. It's meant to sound funny, more-so than angry, so keep that in mind. This whole Micronauts thing is water under the bridge. Although maybe it's just water, as the bridge burned down long ago. =)

Scott Wherle: I'm 33. Been in the industry since the mid-90s. Started out on a self-pubbing venture with Josh Blaylock called Minotaur, then a few years later when he got the license for G.I. Joe, he called me up and asked me to be his editor. When we nabbed Micronauts, I asked for the writing job and got it.

ISO: Were you both fans of the original series by Marvel? Who were your favorite characters from the Marvel series? Any thoughts or favorite stories from that era?

Scott: Totally. I think my first issue was in the teens, maybe #19? Bug was on the cover and was all wigged out because some Earth guy had experimented on him. I followed the series occasionally from there, eventually tracking down the first eighteen issues I'd been missing. My faves were Bug, Acroyear and Marionette. I honestly didn't even like the other characters until Huntarr came along.

Eric: I had read one or two issues of the original run, but didn't really get into the book until the New Voyages run. Even then I only bought it for a short while. I learned to appreciate the book better later on in life when I got to read the early Mantlo/Golden issues. I really loved Bug and Acroyear.

Devil's Due promo art by Steve Kurth

ISO: Did you collect/own any of the old Mego toys when you were growing up? Any favorites?

Eric: I got a set of hand-me-down toys that included some cool, if a bit worn, Micronauts toys. Some of the action figures, some of the ships, Biotron, that Giant Acroyear, maybe a couple others. I didn't even know what they were at the time (I think I just thought they were some really awesome Legos), but I knew they were really cool. Biotron was my favorite one.

Scott: I had the aliens and the magnetic Karza. I never really used them together. I kinda made all my action figures into super-heroes I'd created, so none of my figures ever followed the storylines they were designed for. As for toy faves, it was definitely Repto and Karza.



"Ryan Flyin'" and wing pack concept sketch by Eric Wolfe Hanson

ISO: Were all the character comparisons to the original Marvel series characters supposed to be that intentional and/or was this required by DD or A.G.E.? Do you think this was a good or bad idea?

Scott: Y'know, pretty much from day one, we wanted to follow Marvel continuity. We found out we couldn't because of some legal snafus, so we went willy nilly and created our own little thing. A lot of the analogues were intentional. I think most of us agreed we wanted some kind of Bug analogue, and so Knave was born. We had a Marionette analogue, whom Steve Kurth designed as an Asian assassin or something, but she got nixed early. Persephone was the closest we came to a Mari clone. Everyone else is pretty obvious, though there are lots of new characters in there as well.

Eric: I suggested some various takes on the book, some totally different from the old series. But I think we decided the best course of action was to do something similar in tone to the Marvel book. And once that decision was made, the parallels kinda popped right up. I came up with Ryan's name, intending for it to sound like Arcturus Rann, although I think I was suggesting Archer Ryan, but it got swapped around to Ryan Archer. So it wasn't so much an edict from DD or AGE, as it was just us nerds tossing in nostalgic in-jokes for the fans.

ISO: Do you think that working with a licensed property has it's drawbacks/advantages? Were A.G.E. easy or difficult to work with?

Eric: I never heard a peep about anything from AGE. If they loved or hated my work, I don't know. Maybe it just never made it down the grapevine to me; I was out of the Devils Due loop for most everything. I expected AGE to be a bit more hands on, really. Maybe the book would've been better for it if they had been.

Scott: I can't honestly say I've ever spoken word one to anyone from AGE. I would've liked to, but I think Josh was trying to keep control of that for some reason, acting as a go-between. It was kinda frustrating, honestly. I'd love to have been able to interact with them personally. I think it would've made knowing what they were looking for so much easier.



ISO: Was there anything they flat out disapproved of or canned altogether? Any concept majorly changed?

Scott: Not that I was ever told. I remember hearing what they liked, and a few things they wanted added in, but never anything that was flat out denied.

Eric: Not that I recall. I had a background story-arc idea for Biotron to basically be gestating a baby Time Traveler inside himself. I seem to have some vague recollection of them being iffy on that, but maybe that was Josh. I don't recall. I stopped reading the book after issue #2, so maybe they used that idea, I'm not sure.

original pen and inks from issue #2, pg.15 (r)

ISO: Who were the main guys involved in the character designs and characters chosen? Eric, you mentioned that Steve Kurth designed the initial Karza. What would you have done differently with him if anything?

Eric: I designed everything pretty much from the characters to the environments. Steve had already done a promo piece featuring Karza. So even though I had worked on some Karza designs, before I could even run them by Josh, I was told I was stuck with the Kurth Karza. It was a good design, but not what I would've come up with myself. And I hated that looks really cool on Scorpious from Farscape, but I think it works there because he's a gaunt, thin character. Karza is bulky...the skirt didn't work on him I don't think. I did modify the helmet a bit.

Scott: I remember Steve being in on a lot of early designs, before Eric was announced as the artist. Hell, before I was even on as writer. But once Eric signed on, he pretty much took over the visual department.

Eric: Also, Scott had few old sketches that he provided for me to redesign and use for some of the characters for the book. I think I only used one of them and radically redesigned him for the Ordall character. In hindsight, I'd do most all the designs differently. Acroyear would probably be the same though. And stylistically I'd go a little nuts, make it more kinetic. I wasn't sure what I was doing there with the style I used. Several times Blaylock very strongly worded to me that "Micronauts can't look like Tellos!". So I was like "Shit, how is this thing supposed to look?" I was trying to fit into a mold I do not fit into style-wise. The characters and general style of the book should have been better. But I still believe there were some awesome designs in there. Nova is my favorite. And I thought Knave was great; although I designed him with the intent that he would be a frenzied, manic brawler. Fists and feet everywhere, but he ended up hunching over and looking scared mostly.
Azura Nova and Knave concept art by Eric Wolfe Hanson

original pen and inks from issue #1, page 23

Scott: It was a collaborative process. I created some names and/or character traits, and so did Eric. Where he created a visual, I took it from there and created the character. Where I created a name and a basic idea, he created the visual and fleshed it out. It worked fairly well, I think.

ISO: Why was Biotron designed out of scale with the other characters? (side note: this is just a basic info question, I actually like the idea of him being in scale with the toy ie: larger, and as a "villain" to begin with.)

Eric: That's me. I demanded that he be that big (big enough for a guy to fit in his chest cavity). Otherwise he's just a frickin' robot (*yawn*). I think Scott and Josh both hated this.

Scott: I think it was just to bring him line with the toys, and I just ran with it. It was my idea to make him a bad guy, though. I honestly did it to stir up controversy. Whenever you do that, you're bound to fuck things up. In hindsight, I still like the idea, I just didn't expand on it the way I should have. A good idea gone bad. But there were many of those…

ISO: Was there a conscious effort not to use more toy reference in the first parts of the series? I think fans were wanting to see more of that.

Scott: Yes and no. We were trying to harken back more to the Marvel comic than the toys. We (at least I) didn't want to try to make the toy characters cool, because - and forgive me if I piss anyone off here - the toys would've looked incredibly dorky in a comic as is, with no effort to bring them up to today's comic speed. We wanted the ideas of the toy characters to be in the comic, just given a more modern look. There was just this feeling, or maybe need, to cram a lot of things into a small amount of space, and that's where a lot of our troubles began.

Eric: Well, here's the thing: not to sound insulting, but the Micronauts fanbase isn't really large enough to cater a book directly to; unlike, say, Transformers or G.I.Joe. We had every intent though of fitting all those cool toys, or at least elements and variations thereof, into the story, but in a natural story-based way. We were going to make the long-time fans of the old comic and the toys happy, but we needed to draw in new fans first. Get them hooked, introduce them to these cool concepts, and hope that they'd enjoy it just as much as the old-timers. Like the fact that the toys had those cool silver heads...I intended to have liquid-metal like technology that was used for a variety of purposes, not the least of which were cool, form-fitting space helmets (I think they used this later on in the book) but intended for it to have other applications as well.

concept art by Eric Wolfe Hanson

The tech of the Microverse was to be totally interchangeable. Buildings and vehicles changing form and swapping parts in a fluid way. The liquid metal was sort of the mortar to the big tech bricks. I meant for this to be something for the fans to dig, but also conceptually integrated into the book so that it just seemed like part of the story to new readers. We had plans for Force Commander, Time Traveler, those cool aliens, etc. But there was so much more to establish at the start. I did say from the very start of production that we should get the "origin" story out of the way quick. I thought that by the end of issue 3 our status quo should be set up. If you can get the groundwork laid out quicker, you can also pull the rug out from under the reader earlier on in the series.

click here to see the rest of the interview Part 2