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

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!

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Brian Michael Bendis wraps his time with the interstellar super team by stranding them on Earth!

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Brian Michael Bendis knows this better than anyone after opening and closing his fair share of comic series over the years. His latest soon-to-end run will kick off with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #15 in a story called “Grounded” this December.

Thanks to a call for help from Captain Marvel, the Guardians traveled to Earth in an effort to help out, but with the Civil War II conflict coming to an end, they’re left with a problem: they’ve got no way off this green and blue rock. Luckily for the various members, they have new ongoing series ready to launch, but before the squad goes their separate ways, Bendis and artist Valerio Schiti plan on giving them an appropriately epic sendoff.

We talked with Bendis about his plans for going out in style.

Marvel.com: With Civil War II coming to a close, how do the Guardians feels about getting involved in this conflict?

Brian Michael Bendis: Conflicted. Like everyone else in the Marvel Universe. Sides are drawn. Everyone came back to Earth as a favor to Carol, but when they got here they were faced with the moral choice. Some, like Peter, see Carol’s hard choices as big truths that need to happen and others see Tony’s side totally.

And in the battle they lost their ship and now have no way home. Yes, there are spaceships on Earth—at least three—but they aren’t for sale and nowhere near as advanced as the one Rocket put together for them.

Marvel.com: What does being stuck on Earth mean for the Guardians themselves? I’m guessing some won’t take kindly to be being in just one place for a long period of time.

Brian Michael Bendis: Some get to go have their favorite pizza and reunite with old friends and maybe even call it a night for their Guardians tour of duty. Peter gets to see what life would be like as an Earthbound super hero. Kitty gets to go find the X-Men…

And then there is Rocket and Groot. That is an entirely different story.

Marvel.com: On the other hand, the readers might enjoy seeing these space-bound characters interacting with a few familiar faces. Were there some specific characters you’d been just waiting to meet the Guardians?

Brian Michael Bendis: Yes. I do want those to be a page turn surprise so you’ll pardon my vagueness, but it does give us a lot of “Star Trek IV” stuck-on-Earth-fun. They are almost all fish out of water and those who aren’t, like Venom, have changed so much from their travels that it’s a whole new world to them.

Marvel.com: This arc will also lead into solo ongoing series for the members of the team. What has the communication been like between you and the writers of those books?

Brian Michael Bendis: This is where Jordan [White] and the other editors shine. Other than the friendship-ending disagreements between me, Chip [Zdarsky] and Kris Anka over Peter Quill’s facial hair, the writers seem to get a big kick out of classic fish out of water stories for their characters.

When you’re writing a team book and a franchise book part of the fun is throwing out ideas and story concepts for other writers to pick up and play with if they see fit.

Marvel.com: How do you feel about the place you’ll be leaving these characters with this last arc after shepherding them along for several years?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well, even though we are ending most of the last arc on Earth we are still leaving big. Big! First of all, as some readers already know, Thanos is on Earth. When Gamora and Drax get ahold of this information all hell is going to break loose. We have an issue about Groot that is all told in a style that is a big tip of the cat hat to Dr. Seuss, one of those ideas that is much harder to pull off than you might think.

And a big triple or quadruple sized 100-page big finale that is going to wrap up my very long, longest actually, run on Guardians. A lot is going to happen.

All this plus, Ben Grimm comes back home; we discover why he went out to space in the first place and why he is going to stay on Earth. It ties right into INFAMOUS IRON MAN.

Witness the beginning of the end of Brian Michael Bendis’ run on GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY starting with #15 drawn by Valerio Schiti in December!

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Corinne Duyvis discusses her upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy prose novel!

What do young adult science fiction and Marvel Comics have in common? That would be author Corinne Duyvis, writer of acclaimed YA books like “Otherbound” and “On the Edge of Gone.”

Now, Corinne brings her experienced hand to writing an original prose novel for Marvel, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Collect Them All.” While we don’t know too much about the finer plot details right now, we do know that less-than-savory individuals have gotten their hands on a piece of Groot for their own nefarious planting purposes. As a result, the Guardians must become wary allies with Taneleer Tivan, The Collector, to stop a galaxy-wide conspiracy.

We spoke with Duyvis—who couldn’t be more excited for her Marvel team-up—about the highly anticipated novel, her love of sci-fi and favorite member of the Guardians team…

Marvel.com: How did you end up working on a prose novel for Marvel?

Corrine Duyvis: How I ended up wanting to do it is pretty straightforward: I write my own original prose novels, and I’m a long-time Marvel reader. Over the past years, whenever announcements of the prose novels they’ve been putting out came across my screen, I would go, “Hmmmm. How…intriguing.” Imagine me rubbing a non-existent beard [or] twirling a non-existent mustache. I talked to my fabulous literary agent about it, and she was totally open to the idea. She spent some time asking around and keeping her ears open for opportunities, and here we are!

Marvel.com: You’ve had experience writing science fiction—especially for young adults—in the past as evidenced by your first two books, “Otherbound” and “On the Edge of Gone.” Going off that, what draws you to the genre in general?

Corrine Duyvis: I’ve always loved fantasy and sci-fi. Novels, comic books, animation, movies, TV series, games—the works. I’ve been all over this stuff since I was a kid, and while originally it might’ve been because I got drawn to all the pretty explosions and cool magic, it’s definitely developed into something deeper over the years. One thing I love is that there are no real limits. Whether it’s comparatively minor, street-level fantasy elements, or mind-blowing cosmic-level stories—your imagination is the limit, as they say. So much of writing comes down to asking the question “what if?” and you can take that awfully far in the genre. The other part that draws me to the genre is that the above flexibility means you have a lot of room to explore characters and themes. I wanted to talk about which lives are valued most; that worked perfectly in an apocalypse-centric novel where people have to make difficult choices about who gets to survive on a generation ship and who has to stay behind on the planet. I wanted to talk about identity; isn’t a great way to do that by writing about a boy who sees through the eyes of a girl in another world every single time he blinks? All sorts of human conflicts, whether individual or societal, can be explored in speculative fiction in fascinating ways—sometimes abstract, sometimes head-on—and I love all the directions you can take that into.

Marvel.com: Similarly, how did your fondness and prior experience with sci-fi translate into your take on the Guardians of the Galaxy? In addition, how will your version of the Guardians be different from previous iterations of the team?

Corrine Duyvis: Although my Guardians of the Galaxy novel has a very different vibe and style than my personal work, I still bring the same kinds of questions to it that I normally ask. I’m always interested in exploring identity, for instance. What makes us who we are? Which choices, experiences, or inherent traits are responsible for our identity? What kinds of events could change who we are, or what our version of normal is? Asking these questions in a sci-fi setting like that of Marvel’s is great fun—I get to use the tropes of the genre, play with questions I have about the characters, and more. My version of the Guardians is a bit of a mishmash of the versions I’ve seen across film, cartoon, and obviously the comics themselves. As is usually the case with long-running super heroes, each writer has their own take on the characters, so they can differ a lot depending on the creators, medium, or time period. There isn’t any “One True Version.” This is oddly freeing as a writer. It doesn’t mean I get to simply ignore everything and use my own approach—I wouldn’t want to; I love the source material!—but it certainly offered more flexibility. I’ve mostly used a combination of elements that will be accessible to readers and elements that appealed to me as a writer, while trying to stay true to the characters as I understood them.

Marvel.com: Groot is a huge part of the story here. Without giving too much away, why was he chosen as the cause of the main conflict and do we learn anything new about him from it?

Corrine Duyvis: The first thing I did when the possibility of writing the Guardians came up was re-watch the film—which is hardly a chore!—to jog my memory and slip into the world before I branched out further into the comics. It ended up doing a whole lot more than that. It gave me the inspiration for a big part of the book, since by the end of the film, I wondered: Hey, what’s to stop someone else from planting one of those Groot shards? What’s to stop them from planting a whole bunch? So why was he chosen? One, he’s great. Who doesn’t love Groot? Two, there was a promising opportunity for a story there. I leaped on it right away. Lots of other parts slotted into place naturally after that. We’ll learn not only what happens physically when he’s planted en masse, but also how it affects him on a more personal level.

Marvel.com: Who would you say is your favorite Guardians member and why?

Corrine Duyvis: It will come as no surprise to anyone that I love Rocket—both the hilarious parts and the sadder parts that a lot of writers have highlighted in different ways. He’s such a great character, and his interactions with Groot are always a highlight. I also found it really interesting to get into Gamora’s head for the book. She’s often so closed-off that it’s not exactly easy to figure out what’s going on with her on a personal level, but since she’s one of the major players of the novel, I really had to figure out what drove her. It gave me a huge appreciation for her as a character to both write and read about.

Look for “Guardians of the Galaxy: Collect Them All” in 2017!

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The artist talks about how his leads deal with Civil War II and shows off exclusive inks!

Earth might plunge into war every now and then, but what’s it to a pair of space-hopping pals like Rocket and Groot? Not much until none other than Captain Marvel calls on them for a little help.

Writer Nick Kocher and artist Michael Walsh just took over ROCKET RACCOON AND GROOT with issue #7 and already face a huge challenge: bringing the best buds in the galaxy into the fray of Civil War II. Of course, being the mercenary-minded sentients we know and love, they don’t quite feel the need to get tangled up in human affairs. Still, as Walsh explains, when a certain hero asks, you kind of have to listen. But which side will they ultimately fall on, if any?

We talk to Walsh about balancing comedy and action, working with Kocher, and designing Rocket and Groot in his own style.

Marvel.com: You and Nick kicked off a whole new arc together on this book with issue #7. How has it been putting your own stamp on these characters and moving them into Civil War II?

Michael Walsh: It’s been a blast and a bit of a challenge. Every take on them has been so unique, I just really wanted to leave my fingerprint on this world. There is a definite balancing act when trying to make them look like a raccoon and a tree but still emoting and speaking like humans.

Moving them into Civil War II has been really fun. It’s such a serious—and great—event that throwing in some absolutely zany action and comedy into a pretty serious clash of super heroes has the little mischievous kid in me giggling. Also, I’ve learned that I love drawing the Inhuman Medusa, so there is that.

Marvel.com: Speaking of Civil War II, what does the conflict do to the title team’s partnership?

Michael Walsh: These two dudes are actually actively trying to stay away from the conflict. As usual, they are more interested in misadventure and their own problems than getting wrapped up in the politics of the core Marvel Universe, but that doesn’t really matter when Captain Marvel is trying to drag them into the fold.

Marvel.com: What attracts you to the world of Rocket and Groot?

Michael Walsh: The sense of fun and adventure is really refreshing to me. For a while comics were pretty grim [and] dark and I enjoyed that stage but now we get to have all these genres and styles and atmospheres. Getting to draw characters having fun and being crazy is a nice change of pace. It’s great to mix it up once in a while and flex all kinds of artistic muscles.

And honestly these two characters are just so fun to draw; Groot I kind of felt at peace with right away but Rocket took me a little bit to find the feel for. Once I did he has become one of my favorite characters to draw.

Marvel.com: It sounds like you enjoy balancing huge action scenes with comedy bits from panel to panel.

Michael Walsh: Yes, it’s great. In this one I get to incorporate little comedy beats into the action as well which is always challenging yet rewarding. I can really play up the dynamism and get experimental with panel layouts and really just have fun. Having Gwenpool enter the fold makes it even wackier; we got to do a bit of a motorcycle chase which I haven’t done before so It was a good experience figuring that out and trying to express speed and motion in a static medium.

But really, action and comedy are two sides of the same coin. As an artist you are trying to build around the most important beat on the page, the punchline. Sometimes you want to hit it subtly while others you want to go huge. A giant punch to the gut smashing a guy through a window or a hilarious one liner can have a really similar build up if you look at the details.

Marvel.com: Nick’s pretty new to the world of comics. How has it been working with him so far?

Michael Walsh: Nick is a natural. His scripts are fantastic. I find myself laughing out loud constantly while reading. He has a sense of how much can fit on a page and is really well versed in the history of Marvel. He also has a really distinct voice which I always appreciate from a writer. I don’t think anyone could write this book like he did which is a huge compliment.  He’s been really open about when he was unsure of the pacing on a page and we’ve been able to lean on each other to get the best book possible on the stands.

Besides being a hell of a writer he’s a really nice guy too, we get on quite well which I find is important when getting invested in a collaboration. I’ve loved our four issues together and am really hoping to work with him again in the future.

Marvel’s best buds continue their adventures in the pages of ROCKET RACCOON AND GROOT thanks to Nick Kocher and Michael Walsh, with issue #8 coming August 31!

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Preview a mission patch that’s out-of-this-world!

Marvel will be launching into space and taking some of its most iconic interstellar characters along for the ride. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space unveiled a new mission patch last week at San Diego Comic-Con, designed by Marvel and its Marvel Custom Solutions Group. The patch itself will represent scientific payloads delivered to the International Space Station for 2016 and depicts Rocket Raccoon and Groot, two members of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

CASIS oversees the scientific research undertaken on the ISS to benefit life back on Earth; 100 research projects are expected to launch there in 2016 alone in the fields of life and physical sciences, material sciences, technology development, Earth observation, and student questions.

Rocket and Groot’s inclusion on the mission patch comes from hopes of inspiring a new generation of STEM scientists and an educational flight contest centered around the two heroes is expected to take place later this year.

“These are characters who have a bit of space-based background to begin with so both of those characters already embody some of the characteristics associated with what’s happening on the space station,” said Patrick O’Neill, Marketing and Communications Manager for CASIS and the ISS National Laboratory in a promo video for the patch.

We spoke with Editor and Associate Manager of Marvel Custom Solutions Darren Sanchez to get more details on the out-of-this-world collaboration.

Marvel.com: How long ago did this collaboration come about and how did it first come about? Will it be tied to “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” arriving next summer?

Darren Sanchez: We started work on this project back in early spring, though the idea had been in discussion since February. CASIS had approached us with the idea of doing something cool with Marvel to promote a S.T.E.M. Initiative contest they were planning for October. This wasn’t directly tied to the upcoming movie. It was more of a happy coincidence.

Marvel.com: Can you describe the development and creative process? For instance, was the artist given free reign over the design? 

Darren Sanchez: The development process was a collaborative one where CASIS let us know what they needed to have on the patch: the International Space Station, specific text, and our characters. Once we knew the parameters of what they needed, we came up with a few more suggestions. I wanted it to invoke an aspirational tone, and I also knew exactly which artist to call on. We went with Juan Doe for the art because not only does he do outstanding covers in a unique fine art style, but he is also an excellent graphic designer. That combination of skills made him my first choice. Juan Doe is a space nut, and was thrilled to work on a project for CASIS, the International Space Station and NASA. Knowing his design would be going into space made it an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Marvel.com: Out of all the Guardians team, why did you choose Rocket and Groot to represent the patch?

Darren Sanchez: CASIS wanted a galactic character, which narrowed it down quite a bit for us. Rocket and Groot made the most sense because they were the best match with the STEM contest that CASIS was planning. In the contest there are two categories of entries, Organic and Tech. There is no more organic character than Groot; he’s a tree. Rocket fit the Tech category, so they were the natural choice. Plus, who doesn’t love Rocket and Groot? Rocket can be surly but he has a good heart, and he is a hero of the galaxy.

Marvel.com: Based on their personalities in the Marvel comics/cinematic universe, how do you think Rocket and Groot would feel about being the faces of this mission patch?

Darren Sanchez:  Rocket and Groot would be honored to be featured on a mission patch. I imagine the rest of the Guardians would get tired of constantly hearing about it.

Marvel.com: Will there be any more collaborations between CASIS/ISS and Marvel in the future? Anything you can tease?

Darren Sanchez: There is a limited edition lithograph planned for [New York Comic-Con] 2016, that will feature the Juan Doe art from the patch. It’s going to be a highly sought after item.

Marvel.com: Will fans have a chance to get one of these patches for themselves? 

Darren Sanchez: The CASIS team is considering making some of these stickers to hand out at NYCC. Right now they haven’t communicated to me if they are doing that or not. We do know that the full sized lithograph of the image will preview at NYCC. The patch will not be massed produced, and therefore [will be] very rare.

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A cave-dwelling creature confronts the Guardians in a clip from 'Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy,' airing Sunday morning!

The Guardians come face-to-face with an unfamiliar foe in a clip from “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy”! Check out the clip above and tune in to an all-new “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” this Sunday at 8:00 AM ET on Disney XD.

The hunt for the location of the Cosmic Seed leads the Guardians to a series of underground caves and right into the subterranean stronghold of a massive monster! Although Star-Lord claims he might know what the creature is, the Cosmic Seed’s effects have transformed the beast into something otherwordly. Witness the behemoth in the clip above!

Tune in to a brand-new “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” this Sunday at 8:00 AM ET on Disney XD! Stay tuned to Marvel.com for all the latest news and updates on your favorite Marvel animated series.

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The duo make a break for it with surprising assistance in a clip from 'Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy,' airing Sunday!

Korath pursues prisoners through a terrestrial jail in a clip from “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy”! Check out the clip above and watch a brand-new “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy,” airing Sunday at 8:00 AM ET on Disney XD.

When Star-Lord and Cosmo find themselves contained by local law enforcement, Korath makes quick work to spring them and take the duo under his control! The trio of intergalactic travelers leave a path of destruction in their wake as the pursuit intensifies, only for some surprise visitors to add to the messy situation. See the destructive escape attempt in the clip above!

Tune in to an all-new “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” airing Sunday at 8:00 AM ET on Disney XD! Stay tuned to Marvel.com for all the latest news and updates on your favorite Marvel animated series.

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Star-Lord inadvertently aims for the Inhuman in a clip from 'Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy,' airing Sunday morning!

The Guardians fly out of the frying pan and into the fire in a new clip from “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy”! Watch the clip above and tune in to an all-new “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” this Sunday at 8:00 AM ET on Disney XD.

When the Guardians find themselves in need of an exit strategy, Star-Lord blows a hole in the hull of a shielded ship to make for an awesome escape! Quill fails to realize that his celebration won’t last long with Black Bolt standing directly in the way of their ship. See what Black Bolt has to say in the clip above!

Check out a brand-new “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” this Sunday at 8:00 AM ET on Disney XD! Stay tuned to Marvel.com for all the latest news and updates on your favorite Marvel animated series.

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Artist Michael Walsh shapes up the Guardians of the Galaxy's power-packed pairing for a somber turn!

While he may wear ammunition on his sleeve rather than emotions, the Guardians of the Galaxy’s small-sized strategist supreme has plenty of feelings, as we’ll find out in ROCKET RACCOON & GROOT #7, due out July 13 from writer Nick Kocher and artist Michael Walsh. When Rocket’s mentor in the art of the con passes, he and Groot set out for the funeral but end up mired in mayhem per usual.

We grabbed Mr. Walsh to shed some light on the visual end of this mirthful memorial tale.

Marvel.com: How did you come to be involved with ROCKET RACCOON & GROOT?

Michael Walsh: [Editor] Jake [Thomas] and I had been talking for a while about working together and just hadn’t got the timing right. We finally connected at the perfect time; he thought I would be a good fit for what [writer] Nick [Kocher] was going for and approached me about doing a short run together.

Marvel.com: How does your style lend itself to these characters and where did you have stretch some artistic muscles you maybe don’t use as often?

Michael Walsh: I’ve been working on my comedic timing and storytelling a lot on the last few books I’ve worked on—X-MEN: WORST X-MAN EVER, HANK JOHNSON: AGENT OF HYDRA, and SECRET AVENGERS—I really got to play with those skills on this book which is pure action comedy. 

As for artistic muscles, I’m getting to really play with cartooning considering I’m making an anthropomorphic raccoon and tree express a whole variety of emotions. It’s a new experience but I’m having a blast with it.

Marvel.com: What’s the tone of the story like and how did that affect your approach?

Michael Walsh: The story is very action packed and dynamic interspersed with a mix of big and small comedy beats. I’ve been getting to really play with the storytelling depending on the scene and toy with juxtaposing more straightforward layouts and experimental.

Marvel.com: Did you look to any influences when drawing Rocket and Groot?

Michael Walsh: I really tried to do my own take on the characters. I had read a lot of their stuff already as I’m a big fan of the Guardians but didn’t rely too much on looking back on what other artists had done. I very much want to do my own thing and bring my stylistic flair.

Marvel.com: How conscious are you of Groot’s limited speaking ability when drawing him?

Michael Walsh: I actually think of Groot like he is saying full sentences of dialogue but we as an audience just can’t understand the nuances of his speech. I try to convey his emotions and reaction through body language and facial acting. 

Marvel.com: What are you most proud of from this story?

Michael Walsh: I think I’d have to say maybe a few of the layouts which are very unique from anything I’ve done before. That and the acting I’ve done with Rocket who is a bit of a daunting character to take on. I tried to really simplify my take on him which is one of the hardest things to do. 

Pick up ROCKET RACCOON & GROOT #7 by Nick Kocher and Michael Walsh on July 13!

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Author Tom Angleberger gets cosmic in a new children's book starring this Guardians of the Galaxy duo!

Two of Marvel’s most beloved comic book and big screen pals will bring their unique brand of friendship to the world of children’s books thanks to Tom Angleberger’s “Rocket and Groot: Stranded on Planet Strip Mall!” which debuted last week.

The story, written and drawn by Angleberger, not only pits the two Guardians of the Galaxy against mall-born threats like crazy cars and potentially murderous toilets, but also brings in a third entity: Veronica, the super-smart tape dispenser. Readers finds themselves moved through the story thanks to a series of entries in Rocket’s journal that include quotes from all three—in different fonts of course—as well as drawings by the not-a-raccoon space adventurer.

We talked with Angleberger about discovering these two wild characters, the creation of Veronica, and what else you can expect from the book!

Marvel.com: What was your first introduction to Rocket and Groot? What was your initial thought when you saw this raccoon and tree hanging out?

Tom Angleberger: Somehow I missed reading [Bill] Mantlo and [Mike] Mignola’s ROCKET RACCOON when I was a kid. My friend Tony DiTerlizzi told me how awesome it was. He was right! They packed so much entertainment into those four issues! Groot was an awesome killer tree from the start. The personality that more recent creators have given him is so much fun!

I’m not sure exactly who had the idea to team them up, but it was brilliant. They just fit! Somehow it instantly makes sense. Honestly, I wouldn’t be that good at writing an X-Men book or Spider-Man or Iron Man or Avengers, etc. But I knew immediately that I could have a ton of fun with Rocket and Groot.

Marvel.com: You have plenty of experience putting your own spin on famous characters with all of your Star Wars books. How was it turning that focus on two of Marvels most beloved pals?

Tom Angleberger: It was a blast! Basically, it was like a kid playing with toys, except I wrote it down as I went. I realized this was my big opportunity to try some crazy sci-fi ideas like two of my favorite writers, Douglas Adams and Stanislaw Lem.

And because of the age group I was targeting, I knew it couldn’t just be Rocket shooting all the bad guys. So I had to find ways to keep him from doing that, while still letting him cause planet-shaking levels of mayhem. My dream is that fans of the Rocket and Groot comics and even the Guardians movie will enjoy the mayhem so much they’ll hardly notice the toned down violence.

Rocket & Groot: Stranded on Planet Strip Mall!

Rocket & Groot: Stranded on Planet Strip Mall!

Marvel.com: What went into the creation of Veronica, the super-intelligent tape dispenser, and how does she play into the story?

Tom Angleberger: Rocket had a talking device in one of the [earlier stories I read]. I just started with that. But Veronica quickly developed a personality and then a wild streak. And she ends up getting in there and slugging it out with the killer robots along with Rocket and Groot. But she never quite stops being an office supply.

Marvel.com: Looking at some of the sample pages, the book has a really interesting design with very different fonts and presentations for Rocket, Groot and Veronica. Did you design those elements? 

Tom Angleberger: That was Disney/Marvel Press designer Megan Youngquist Parent! It’s amazing when you have a crazy idea and instead of telling you that it’s crazy, a designer is able to make it happen. She really hit a home run with it! It was so important that this not look like a novel with big blocks of grey text. It’s not that kind of book.

Marvel.com: How did you come up with Rocket’s art style in the book? Was it a long process or did you hit on it pretty quickly?

Tom Angleberger: That’s how I draw. I always wanted to draw comics, but I honestly wasn’t good enough. However, it turns out that I draw exactly like a hyper-violent, bio-engineered raccoon trying to draw on a tiny touchscreen with a claw while being clobbered by robots!

I can imagine a lot of Marvel readers looking at this book and saying, “I can draw better than that.” They probably can! But this book isn’t about fancy artwork anymore than it’s about fancy words. It’s about letting Rocket do his thing.

Marvel.com: What kind of challenges will Rocket, Groot and Veronica face as the story continues?

Tom Angleberger: In the next book, they land on a planet over-run with self-driving cars. Unfortunately during the latest update, the central computer accidentally downloaded every car chase and crazy trucker movie ever made instead of the proper driving program. So Rocket and Groot—and Veronica—have to steal vehicles and drive even crazier than the crazy cars.

“Rocket and Groot: Stranded on Planet Strip Mall!” by Tom Angleberger can be purchased in print and digital formats now!

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