Take the energy of a history-loving show like The Librarians, and add in a talking dog, and that’s kind of what reading Dudley Datson and the Forever Machine is like. In the new series by writer, Scott Snyder, and artist, Jamal Igle, Dudley aspires to be a great inventor, but a decision to work late at the lab one night could have unforeseen consequences. In a new email interview, Igle explains how Dudley’s smart clothes work and why Daedalus (the talking dog) is a Corgi.
Rachel Bellwoar: I really like how you use the gutters in issue #1 and #2 to set apart the beginning for a history lesson. I don’t know if this will continue in future issues, but where did that idea come from?
Jamal Igle: It’s absolutely going to be a part of the series overall. The idea is really an outgrowth of some of the other projects I’ve worked on recently, including The Wrong Earth. I always loved looking at comics that took the extra steps to immerse their readers visual in the narrative and it’s something I’ve tried to embrace as well.
Bellwoar: At the start of the pandemic there was a lot of interest and reading into what people had on their shelves during Zoom calls. What is your favorite item that you got to include in Dudley’s bedroom or on the shelves by the dining room table?
Igle: Dudley’s bedroom in particular is a fun space. I wanted to get across the idea that Dudley is smart and very steeped in pop culture. There’s a gaming set up and a 3-D printer, he has his awards displayed and his medals. But he’s also an anime fan and a sneakerhead (You can see the boxes on his bedside cabinet of drawers), lightsabers, etc. The living room has a lot of personal items as well. I wanted to create lived in spaces.
Bellwoar: The idea behind Dudley’s duds, or smart clothes, is that they can transform into any outfit. Like Charlie Brown and his zig zag shirt, though, there is a baseline outfit that the duds keep reverting back to – a red hoodie and cargo pants. How did you come up with the final look, and were Dudley’s flip-up glasses always a part of it?
Igle: Well to be clear, The Duds don’t transform as in they change shape. They’re holographic LCD microfiber that are woven into traditional clothing. He appears to change but if you were to try and touch him, it would feel like his normal outfit. So, the baseline is the outfit that he wears through the series. The look was almost immediate. I have a kid about Dudley’s age, and I worked on their middle school’s Family Equity Team, so I had a lot of time to observe what kids were wearing and how they were wearing it. The flip shades were definitely always part of the overall look. They’re not just decorative, though. As readers will see in issue #2, they’re slaved to the Duds and they have their own functions as well.
Bellwoar: One of the main characters in Dudley Datson is a talking dog. Was there ever any discussion on what breed of dog Daedalus would be?
Igle: The breed was up to me to come up with, the idea was to make Daedalus small and yappy initially and I decided to make him a Corgi. There’s more to Daedalus than meets the eye of course but we’ve only scratched the surface with him.
Bellwoar: How did you approach the action sequences in issue #2 (including Daedalus’ cannon dog)?
Igle: The idea was to give a sense of speed to Daedalus and my biggest inspiration for that right now is One Punch Man artist Yusuke Murata. Scott wanted Daedalus to knock down the Prometheans but didn’t say how, and I thought it would be fun if he could roll himself into a ball like an armadillo and hit them at full force.
Bellwoar: For something so many people want to get their hands on, the watch Dr. Shae gives Dudley looks pretty ordinary. Are appearances deceiving?
Igle: Absolutely, but you have to read issue #3 to find out exactly what it is and why everyone is trying to get it off our hero.
Bellwoar: Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Jamal!
Issues #1 and #2 of Dudley Datson and the Forever Machine are available now from Comixology. Issue #3 comes out November 8th.