There is, perhaps, no better tribute to Mark Russell and Steve Pugh’s look at the frustrations of modern life through the lens of a Stone Age family than the fact that Pugh spent half our interview fighting Skype. For a book that lingers on whether innovation really makes our lives better, even Pugh found it hilarious.
DC has been updating Hanna Barbera’s classic cartoons in comic book form, some with radical reinventions like dropping the Scooby gang in the middle of a monster apocalypse, and others being a bit more traditional, but still updated. The Flintstones is very much the beloved cartoon in some respects, but Russell and Pugh aren’t content to just play it cute. We talked to them about reworking an animated classic.
The book isn’t exactly grim, but it definitely has a sharper edge than the original series. How’d that come about?
Mark Russell: I got this gig because I’d done some darker edgier satirical work on Prez, and that was the sensibility they wanted. What appealed to me was being able to take a more satirical eye towards civilization as it is. I wanted to say it all started in Bedrock, all the flaws started there. I hope it’s not too dark. What I liked about the show was the world-building. The animals, the appliances, the architecture, that was my touchstone for what I wanted to have in common with the original series. The show was a critique of the times, and I wanted to keep that.
One thing that’s decidedly the same is the absolutely shameless puns, like a visit to the Outback Snakehouse. Who comes up with more of the gags?
Russell: I came up with Outback Snakehouse as a list of initial puns, but Steve adds all these little details. The cover for #2 is all of them trying on shoes, and he came up with ten ridiculously good Stone Age puns. It always surprises me when I see something in the comics.
Steve Pugh: Hello! [Both laugh.] I’m so frustrated with Skype! Nothing works! This would be better if we had the bird with the pen who looks at the camera and says “It’s a living!”
The animals are here as well, but they’re a bit more realistic than the Dino of yore. How do you keep that balance?