Christopher Hastings goes down a wormhole with the tiniest Guardian!
Don’t call him a sapling! He may be 1/12th his usual size, but he’s still the universe’s most powerful walking, talking tree. He is Groot!
Alone at the far side of the cosmos, unable to find the rest of the Guardians, and really, really small—that’s where we’ll find the galaxy’s most lovable piece of timber on May 24 with the start of the brand-new series I AM GROOT!
With writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano at the helm, the three-word wonder jumps headfirst into his own adventure as an underdeveloped, unintelligible, and very unlikely hero. To find out more, we spoke with Hastings about the difficulties—and unexpected benefits—of writing Groot.
Marvel.com: What’s the greatest challenge of writing Groot given his signature three word limit?
Christopher Hastings: Well that’s the challenge right there, he can’t quite express complex ideas the same way w’’re used to with the fancy language we communicate with every day. But with some body language, and the occasional assist from another character in the book translating for him, Groot can communicate all the base level important stuff we need in a story.
Marvel.com: And since there’s nothing else like it in comics, what’s the greatest advantage that Groot’s linguistic style brings to a story?
Christopher Hastings: It is a great relief to drop the need for a snappy protagonist who always has the right zinger. But that’s just for me! I’d say in the story, it is nice to change the focus to physicality, to non-verbal expression. Comics is a visual medium after all, so I like to see a character communicate in a purely visual fashion.
I Am Groot #2 cover by Marco D’Alfonso
Marvel.com: He might not say much, but he has such a defined personality. How would you describe Groot’s characteristics as this series begins?
Christopher Hastings: He’s a kid who is just enjoying being a kid. Now, he’s doing that in the most hazardous conditions that space adventure would suggest, so it causes a good amount of trouble. He gets separated from the Guardians, and he’s scared and alone in a place where nobody can understand him, that draws out a few characters that are pretty hostile to Groot for reasons unknown. So he’s still really impulsive, and curious and just running all over the place, but he’s trying to figure out how to get home.
Marvel.com: One of the greatest elements of any Groot story is witnessing other characters interact with—and attempt to understand—Groot. So who might we see hanging with the tree in this new series? How would you describe the dynamic they bring to the book?
Christopher Hastings: Groot’s first ally is some kind of alien dog’s head on a robot body named Buddy, because who doesn’t love a doggie buddy, especially in space? Buddy’s helpful, but dim, frustrating Groot’s issues with communication. Later on we meet Dhamsus, kind of a Ron Swanson type space farmer/ice elemental, and Diplatessa, a woman split into multiple versions of herself at different points in life. They all want to help Groot, and find that Groot awakens them out of a sort of complacency they had on this dead and corrupted world Groot lands on. Each one of them ties into the mystery of the planet’s past, and its key to reuniting Groot with the Guardians.
Also there’s a swarm of shape shifting robots set out to trick and capture Groot at every turn. They’re creepy!
I AM GROOT #1, by writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano, is available this week on May 24, with issue #2 following June 28!
Writer Christopher Hastings books Gwen a trip back to her own dimension!
In the upcoming UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #16—due out May 31 from writer Christopher Hastings and artist Gurihiru—we find our favorite, pink-clad hero back in her home dimension and pining for the Marvel Universe. Because honestly, who wouldn’t choose to live in the world of comics if they had the choice?
We chatted with writer Christopher Hastings about some of the main differences between Gwen’s native universe and the MU—and some of the things that make the “real world” so much less exciting.
A distinct lack of super heroes
Christopher Hastings: The biggest difference between the Marvel Universe and the “real world” that Gwen is from, is that there are no super heroes here, er…there. No vampires, no giant world-eating aliens, and I think the reason people are still so excited about Nikola Tesla is because he’s the closest thing the real world ever had to an actual wizard.
Less fancy science
Christopher Hastings: This brings me to the second major difference between the MU and the RW—real world. Technologically and scientifically speaking, the real world is far less advanced than the Marvel one. When was the last time you saw a helicarrier flying overhead? And that’s like one of the easy ones! Doctor Doom has been mixing magic into Tony Stark’s technology lately, and we can barely design a robot that can reliably walk around on two legs without falling over.
Unbelievable Gwenpool #17 cover by Gurihiru
Dead really, really means dead
Christopher Hastings: Many Marvel characters who have died have come back to life, in a variety of ways. Cloning, magic, time travel, alternate realities; there are so many ways for a dead person to stop being dead in the MU. As I write this in May of 2017, there has yet to be a single person who has figured out how to come back to life in the real world. It is frankly one of the bigger bummers of living here.
Christopher Hastings: In the Marvel Universe, I’m going to guess that every tenth person wears some sort of spandex outfit. And they wear it every day. There are far fewer costumes here, and usually you only see them at conventions. I think the real world could use more costuming. Let’s see that start to happen, everyone.
The daily grind
Christopher Hastings: Even a normal girl like Gwen Poole can find herself in far more extraordinary circumstances in the Marvel Universe than she’s used to. Back in the real world, there’s just a whole lot less fighting, laser fire avoiding, and yelling at flying people than Gwen goes through in her time in the Marvel one. But that isn’t to say there isn’t mystery and intrigue. In an adventure that sends Gwen back, what will readers discover about Gwen’s family, and the secret of how Gwen got to the MU in the first place?
Follow along as Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru unfurl the mystery and intrigue with UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #16 on May 31!
Christopher Hastings enrolls Gwen in Kate Bishop’s fan club!
One of the reasons we love following the adventures of Gwenpool: she gets to experience the Marvel Universe the way we all wish we could. She’s a fangirl who gets to meet her favorite characters in real life!
Most recently, our intrepid hero hooked up with Kate Bishop, aka Hawkeye, whom she totally loves, of course! We caught up with writer Christopher Hastings in advance of their continuing team-up in UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #15 on May 10 about what makes Gwen such a fan.
Mad sleuthing skillz
“First up, gotta recognize pure detective Skillzzz. That’s capital ‘S,’ three ‘z’s. Kate can look at a crowd and instantly know who has good abs, rank who among them has had the best lunches that day, and spot her lurking suspect. She’s like Jason Bourne, but better at knowing where to get good tacos.”
Great Hawkeye, or the greatest Hawkeye?
“Skillzzz Part Two: Bow Skillzzz. Kate can shoot like two or three arrows at once. This does not work in real life, ever. I feel certain there’s a video out there that starts with ‘…and this is Jackass…’ and ends with ‘OH NO! MY EEEEYES! NEVER SHOOT MORE THAN ONE ARROW AT ONCE! THANK GOD! THERE IS THE AMBULANCE.’ But Kate does it all the time! Kate gets bored with conventional archery, and I respect that.
“Bow and arrow based super heroes have a long tradition of ‘trick arrows.’ Kate continues this proud line, but kicks it up with bomb-y pins. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit one billion on why Kate Bishop rules: bomb-y pins. Bobby pins that are also bombs. I rest my case.”
She knows how to rock purple
“Even out of costume, Kate Bishop sticks with her color branding. Purple all the time, yo. And as a lady who wears a lot of pink and white, Gwen would definitely give a nod to Kate’s ability to work her color.”
“Gwen sees Kate as cool and funny, and probably totally wants to be her. NOTE: Gwen, when you meet Kate, at least try not to come off as a ‘goober fangirl.’ Play it cool!”
Hang with this dynamite duo alongside Christopher Hastings and Myisha Haynes in UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #15 on May 10!
Christopher Hastings guides the tiny tree on an interstellar adventure!
Groot has gotten himself lost. Lost and stuck in his baby-sized form. With the other Guardians of the Galaxy nowhere to be found, the tiny Groot must fend for himself in a strange world.
Thankfully, he does not have to do it all on this own. He has writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano in his corner for I AM GROOT, a new series coming this May.
Hastings took a break from his bonsai garden to discuss the series with us.
Marvel.com: As a writer, what is the creative draw of Groot? What challenges does he present?
Christopher Hastings: Well the initial draw is that he is hilarious and adorable. That “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” trailer is filled with amazing stuff I can’t wait to see, but the best part is Rocket trying to get Groot not to blow them all up. I’m really excited to put that little guy in all kinds of bad situations and see how he makes them worse.
The main challenge is of course Groot’s limited language. I’m trying to approach the story in a very specific way to make sure it’s not a hindrance, but actually part of what makes it fun.
Marvel.com: In the book, circumstances conspire to separate Groot from his teammates and he is stuck at small size besides. What’s the character’s state of mind as he finds himself alone on the planet?
Christopher Hastings: He’s scared at first. He’s basically a toddler who’s been separated from his family, and is immediately introduced to the strange new terrors of this unknown part of the universe. But that very quickly changes to an impulsive curiosity, driving him deeper and deeper into this weird land.
Marvel.com: Overall, how would you describe the tone you are trying to achieve for this title?
Christopher Hastings: I’m a big fan of stories where little kids have to navigate a weird fantasy land as some sort of metaphor for what’s going on in their normal life. In this case, I’m specifically thinking of “Labyrinth,” “The Neverending Story,” and “Return to Oz.” I’m also pulling a lot from the dreamier Zelda games—“Link’s Awakening” and “Majora’s Mask.” There’s a lot of story in those games, despite the fact that Link can’t even say, “I am Link.” We’ve got a massive advantage there with [I AM GROOT].
Marvel.com: How does artist Flaviano’s work on the book help you to realize that tone? How does his style complement your scripting?
Christopher Hastings: I’m really asking for strange settings and characters that will all tie into a core mystery of this forgotten world Groot’s landed on. Flaviano’s got exactly the kind of thoughtful and specific design mentality that’ll flesh it out perfectly. The characters are so expressive. They can charm you or unsettle you just as easily.
Marvel.com: What kind of supporting cast might readers expect to encounter in this title? Any villains in the early going?
Christopher Hastings: Like I’ve said, there’s an old secret to this planet that’s been completely forgotten, but leaves little hints scattered about. Early characters that Groot [meets] are scavengers, just trying to survive with bits and pieces of abandoned technology and infrastructure. It’s not a great situation, but it’s one they’ve learned to be comfortable with. And Groot’s just going to mess all that up in his quest to return to the Guardians.
As for a villain, there are higher status forces who have a more active approach to keeping things as they are on this planet, which simply can’t be if Groot is to return home.
Marvel.com: Speaking directly to fans, why is I AM GROOT one that they’ll want to buy?
Christopher Hastings: This is a book for anyone who wants to see more of this new really funny, really cute Groot, but pushed to the edge, completely on his own. It’s also for anyone who wants to read the words “I am Groot” a lot.
I AM GROOT #1 by Christopher Hastings and Flaviano plants its roots on May 24!
The most organic Guardian of the Galaxy gets his own ongoing series!
So we’re all in agreement: Groot is the best, right?
If you consider yourself a Groot fan—and really, how can you not—you’ve got a lot to look forward to, because he’ll soon get his own series! In the upcoming I AM GROOT #1—coming this May—our hero will find himself stranded on a strange planet, trying to make his way home.
We chatted with writer Christopher Hastings about what we can expect.
Marvel.com: It’s really interesting that Groot is getting his own series, given the way he communicates. Have you found it challenging to think of ways to convey his emotions and experiences without ordinary dialog?
Christopher Hastings: Groot’s lack of communication definitely poses a challenge, but I’ve really made it a point to tackle everything from that position, not to try and ignore or work around the problem. I’m really making it a point that the story works with his character, and that he finds himself in situations where he can clearly show emotional reactions, even if he can’t express something that more complex language demands.
Marvel.com: We’ll find Groot in a very vulnerable position: smaller than normal, and on an unknown planet where he has difficulty communicating with people. How did you go about exploring how he would handle this kind of situation?
Christopher Hastings: Groot certainly feels vulnerable on this scary world we strand him on, but I consider this little Groot a very impulsive character, so we won’t see him quivering in a safe cave for the length of the series.
And without Rocket, he does get very frustrated trying to talk to people. Part of his quest will involve finding a way to get others to understand that he wants to get back home.
I also try to explore how other characters interpret Groot. We often see him through the lens of the Guardians he spends time with, especially Rocket. How would someone who doesn’t know him interpret his intentions?
I Am Groot #1 cover by Marco D’Alfonso
Marvel.com: Groot has so much heart. Would you consider it particularly hard for him to get separated from the others?
Christopher Hastings: Of course! He’s a little kid tree. He feels devastated. All he wants is to get back to them, and he has no idea how.
Marvel.com: Everyone loves Groot! What do you think makes him so lovable?
Christopher Hastings: I think something about the oblivious glee he puts out there. I see him as a troublemaker, but you can’t get mad at him!
Marvel.com: Groot will need to find his way to the center of this new world. Without giving too much away, what challenges will he face on his journey?
Christopher Hastings: Like I said, Groot’s a little troublemaker. And the planet he lands on has remained in a sort of stasis for a very long time. The creatures that still live there would rather that stasis not get disturbed but…Groot doesn’t care! Groot wants to get home! He’ll upset everything to pull it off. But he definitely needs to figure out a way for people to understand what he says first.
Marvel.com: Would you like to tease or mention anything else?
Christopher Hastings: When I pitched the story, I mentioned that I envisioned it as something like “Labyrinth” or “Return to Oz.” A lot of that vibe comes from really fantastical location and character designs. We just started getting the first bits of artwork in from the series artist, Flaviano, whom I consider more than perfect for the job. This book will look totally unique. And he clearly knows how to make Groot as adorable and funny as possible.
Get your fix of adorable adventure with I AM GROOT by Christopher Hastings and Flaviano, kicking off this May!