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“Firebreather” features teen issues, larger-than-life family problems in fantasy adventure

by Matthew Price Modified: April 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm •  Published: March 25, 2011

A lot of teenage boys have issues with their fathers. Duncan Rosenblatt’s issues go a little farther.

Duncan’s a half-human, half-dragon hybrid, and if being the new kid in school is tough with a bad complexion, imagine how hard it is when you have Duncan’s craggy half-dragon exterior.

“Firebreather” is an Image comic book by Phil Hester and Andy Kuhn, in which Belloc, the King of the Monsters, and Margaret Rosenblatt, regular human woman, gave birth to Duncan, who’s now facing everyday teen problems despite not being an everyday teen at all.

The idea, which has been adapted into a Cartoon Network computer-animated movie out on DVD this week, sprang from a pitch Hester and Kuhn prepared in the 1990s. The pair had an idea to do a book of teen versions of some of Marvel’s superheroes.

“We really wanted to do a teen hero book,” Hester said in an interview with The Oklahoman. “All of the heroes kind of wind up at this generic age of 29.”

Hester speculated that if it’s tough to be Ben Grimm, aka the Thing, as an adult, imagine how tough it would be to be orange and rocky as a teenager, when everyone’s concerned about image and looks.

When the book wasn’t picked up by Marvel, Hester and Kuhn continued to develop the idea.

“That idea stuck in my mind, what would it be like to be a teenage monster?” Hester said. “We kept working on it and refining it until it became ‘Firebreather.’”

Getting the film out

The series eventually launched with Image Comics as part of a superhero line that included Robert Kirkman’s “Invincible.”

The book, launched in 2003, has been in development since shortly after the comic book came out.

“One of the cool things about comics is, it seems like producers like to hang out in comic shops,” Hester said.

The “Firebreather” property was considered for a live-action adaptation and a 2-D animation before Cartoon Network decided on the 3-D CGI adaptation. Hester says he’s pleased with how the film turned out.

“They hired really talented people, and they just let them do their thing, so we didn’t have too much to worry about,” he said.

“Aeon Flux” creator Peter Chung (“The Animatrix — Matriculated”) directed the film, and James Kreig (“Ben 10: Alien Swarm”) wrote the screenplay.

“(They) just use our book as a springboard, and let those guys riff, and it turned out great,” Hester said.

What’s next?

A new printing of “Firebreather Volume 1: Growing Pains” includes the original miniseries and the 60 page one-shot “Firebreather: The Iron Saint” as well as an expanded sketch section.

The second issue of Firebreather’s third volume, “Holmgang,” is scheduled to ship in April.

“It’s a Norse term for a duel of honor,” Hester said. “It’s about Duncan dueling with some long-lost members of his family for the right to ascend to his father’s throne as King of the Monsters.”

Hester, who calls himself a “huge Godzilla fan” is currently drawing “Godzilla” for IDW and writing “Wonder Woman” for DC Comics, in addition to his work on “Firebreather.”

- By Matthew Price
From Friday’s The Oklahoman

by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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