A few weeks ago I picked up a book called Reed Gunther at my local comic book store, without having read anything about it I dove in. The book is an all ages western comic whose main character is a little cheesy and a whole lot of awesome (I mean cheesy in a very good way). I liked the book so much I had to get in contact with the creators, Shane and Chris Houghton they were nice enough to answer a few questions for me, check it out.
If you don't know what Chew is I honestly feel a little sorry for you because it may be one of the best comics out there. It came completely out of left field and I couldn't be happier to have a subscription to this book at my local store. If you don't know what Chew is about here's a really short synopsis: Tony Chu is a Cibopathic which pretty much means if he eats something he can tell where it came from. If he eats pork he can see the pigs throat getting cut and everything from there to his plate. He's also a detective and if you put those together it makes for a really interesting book. I got a chance to meet Layman at Comic Con and he said he would answer a few questions via e-mail for me.
1. Is it easier for you to write creator owned books like Chew and Puffed (never read this) or books with pre existing characters like Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness (which was awesome)? Which do you prefer to write?
Each is fun in its own way. You get a fanboy thrill, even as a creator, into putting words in the mouth of a character you love. But there is a greater satisfaction to doing your own character. Using somebody else's character, it is sorta like you are borrowing them and trying to do justice to them. But writing you own character, you literally control their destiny.
2. How does it feel writing lines for a character as funny and sarcastic as Ash from Army of Darkness?
It was a blast. Again, the challenge was to do justice to him, to Bruce Campbell, and to fans of the Evil Dead films.
3. Are you surprised at the buzz around Chew and the amount of copies flying off the shelves? Its an amazing book but is a pretty crazy premise.
Yeah, I don't understand it, and I still don't quite believe it. It's been sort of unreal.
4. I told you at the convention that one of the booths was selling Chew #1 for $150, I actually went back and the guy had sold it which is insane. How does it make you feel that the book is in that high of a demand? And how does it make you feel when people sell the book for that amount?
It's nice that people really want the book, but I don't really care about speculators. It means a lot more to me that somebody reads and likes the book, no matter what they paid for it, even if they paid nothing for it.
5. Where did the idea of Tony come from and him being a Cibopathic?
I cannot remember, it's been so long.
6. The art from this book is what sucked me in to begin with, I love Rob Guillory's art work and than the story is just makes it amazing. Did you and Rob have to work to get everything the way you wanted or did you just let him run wild and do what he wanted?
I liked his style and told him to be himself. If his instincts were wrong for the book or I didn't like what he was doing I would have cut him loose as soon as I recognized a problem. Instead, it's a partnership that seems like a match made in heaven.
7. How difficult is it to write a comic book and have a full time job? I'm really interested in this because my job is pretty rough and I have really tossed around the idea of putting a comic together. I'm sure there are some sacrifices you have made.
Depends on the job. Right now I have a day job writing a video game, and it is no piece of cake writing all day for work and then trying to write at home. But I've had day jobs that did not require the same degree of concentration, and writing after work was much easier.
8. Did you have to shop Chew around for someone to pick it up or did you always have Image in mind? Image seems like a place where all kinds of stories are welcomed.
I bounced around ideas, but Image seemed like the best fit.
9. Do you have a story that you want to tell with Tony and than end the series or do you have it in mind to keep his story going on for a long time?
It has a definite ending, but it's going to go for several years. I'd say 50-60 issues would be ideal.
10. Heres an easy one to answer or maybe not. What is your favorite comic series of all time? After that what is your favorite series going on right now if its different from the other one?
Probably Stray Bullets is my all-time favorite. Currently? I'm real partial to The Goon.
Sorry this took me soon long, Robert. Lemme know when this goes up on your site.
OK so this is or was my very first interview with anyone. Now Robert Kirkman is by far my favorite comic book author, that combined with me having never done this before made me stumble a bit. I probably could have asked him so more questions but I was just happy I got this far. Also if there happen to be any kids here this interview has some swearing so I just thought I would let you know.
Sly Comics: Are you sure this is ok? I'm a little nervous. I only have eight questions for you. I didn't know how busy you were going to be. (At this point I bring out my questions typed up on paper)
Kirkman: This is bad
SC: Well I didn't know what to do.
Kirkman: Alright, Don't read them, what you do is you just glance at them and then say them naturally.
SC: What do you care?
Kirkman: I'm just helping you out.(Right now he looks at my questions) WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH WITH THE NEW PROMOTION, yeah don't say it like that.
SC: So, what do you want to accomplish with the new promotion?
Kirkman: So this new promotion you got going on congratulations by the way, what do you hope to accomplish. Thats how you do it...... I want to make people who do interviews better at it, thats what I want to do.
SC: Sounds like a good idea.
Kirkman: No, Image is a really great company, Image is a fantastic company and I just want to make Image better whether thats a little better or a lot better, I don't care as long as its an improvement. I'm happy where Image is at now, it's chugging along fine, it's hitting it's sixteenth year soon to be seventeen and thats totally awesome. I just want to get in there and do my part, anyone that needs help I want to help them out, anyone whose got questions I want to answer them. I want to bring new people into the fold, I want to make sure the people who are already here are happy and at the same time I want to focus on my books, so.
SC: So if I was to write a graphic novel would you read it?
SC: Thought so.
Kirkman: Was that a question?
SC: Absolutely not.
Kirkman: Good, good, good. No if you were to write a graphic novel and you gave me the script I wouldn't read the script. I don't have time for that, I don't even read my scripts especially a graphic novel script, Fuck you, there's books I could read. Yeah it's all about getting an artist, if you're a writer you got to have an artist or its going to be very difficult to make it.
SC: Good to know. What firsts made you want to write comics?
Kirkman: Look at that you can't even tell, you're getting better. (referring to my interviewing skills). Comics made me want to write comics. I was reading Marvel books in 89 and 90 and I was really, really digging them. My dad had picked some up because he was a big fan of the Metal Men back in the day. Are you running out of time on that thing?(he's asking about my digital voice recorder).
SC: No, I'm good.
Kirkman: Ok, good. Yeah my dad was a fan of the Metal Men back in the day and he saw some Iron Man comics at a baseball card shop that I was at. He really liked the Metal Men and he thought Iron Man was one of the Metal Men you know D.C., Marvel. So he bought a big Fucking stack of Iron Man comics, can i cuss?
SC: Thats fine.
Kirkman: Alright, so it was all John Burns and John Romita Jr like it was the entire Armor Wars 2 saga that went into that Fing Fang Foom stuff that Paul Ryan eventually did. They actually solicited a trade of the Paul Ryan stuff just recently. But those were actually some of my first books and I read all those and really enjoyed them. Then I realized there were credits and I was like, what are these lists of names here? I was like oh shit people do this and then I was like WOW I wonder if they get paid to do this. Well then I found out they get paid to do this and I said sign me up. So then from there it was like a year later and I was doing comics.
SC: Thats awesome. Out of all your characters whose your favorite?
Kirkman: Out of all my characters who is my favorite? I don't really have a favorite, I like them all. It really depends on what I'm writing and when I'm writing it. Sometimes when I'm writing Invincible I'm like Oh Invincible's my favorite character or Nolan or someone's my favorite character. Or I'm writing the Walking Dead and I;m like oh, I mean I definitely have my favorite's in the books. I'm not going to say on Walking Dead because then its like, Oh that guys safe. You know, so I'm not going to do that but it changes. Thats like picking my favorite child, I cant do that, I have to lie and say I love them all equally.
SC: I started reading the Walking Dead and you made fun of me for not reading Invincible and he's one of my favorite characters. If you had to kill one off, any of your characters who would it be?
Kirkman: If I absolutely had to kill off one of my characters who would it be? I can't answer that, Invincible, in either book?
SC: I'm going to write that you said Invincible.
Kirkman: Thats fine. I mean I can't really say that because I don't know I would kill a guy that I'm thinking of killing next in the Walking Dead because thats easy. But I can't tell you who thats going to be so.
SC: Any clues?
SC: Alright thats good enough. On Invincible's new costume change. Whose idea was it for the change and do you like it?
Kirkman: It was my decision to change it because we were reaching issue fifty and I wanted to change it up and do some of that cool shit they do in book for years and years. They do that kind of stuff in books that have been around for years and years. I was like, Invincible's hitting fifty this is going to be awesome so I'm going to totally change the costume. And the do I like it? Was that the second part of the question?
SC: Yeah I just wasn't sure if it was your decision or somebody else's.
Kirkman: Yeah it was something that Ryan(Ottley), and Cory(Walker) and I sat down and we discussed. There were sketches that were passed around and little tweaks and stuff and we ended up with what we got and I think we all like it. I really really like it, I think it looks excellent. I know there are a couple people on line that miss the yellow and they can kiss my ass. You know everyone hated Spider-Mans black costume and then everybody loved it. If it doesn't grow on you it will just be a temporary thing so calm the fuck down. You know in text this is all going to read horribly but I'm smiling when I say that, its funny see HA HA. Its just a fun little thing. When he dies and comes back, I'm just trying to do those kind of things. Everyone does that character dies story, everybody does that costume story you know. Its just one of those things and I just want to do my take.
(Right now one of the Image guys is telling Kirkman that NBC wants to talk to him. He says yeah just let me finish this first. I feel really important for a second because NBC just got put on hold for me.)
SC: Did he just say NBC?
SC: You're finishing my interview before NBC?
Kirkman: Yeah, was I supposed to be like SEE YA, no. I'm having much more fun talking to you then I'm sure i will have with NBC so don't worry about it.
SC: Thank you.
Kirkman: Don't put that in there, put it in if you want.
SC: I was going to ask you where the Walking Dead was going but I was in the Image panel yesterday so I'll just do that update later. I was also going to ask about any upcoming projects you have but you guys talked about the Image universe project. (This project looks awesome, its all the biggest characters from the Image universe in a six issue mini series. All characters will be drawn by their creators and each person will be heading up and laying out one issue with Kirkman writing the story. It looks Bad Ass.)
Kirkman: I leaked that Rex Splode thing at the panel yesterday. (This will be like the two shot Atom Eve books but with Rex Splode obviously) S yeah and then Image United, Haunt, Destroyer, Kill Raven. I also have a one shot coming out from Marvel so there's one more thing from Marvel but I'm already done with it so I'm technically done. But the stuff going out from Marvel I think is the best stuff I've ever done. Kill Raven is going to be fucking awesome, and Destroyer is one of the best things I've ever written in my entire life, I'm totally thrilled and Cory Walker is going to be kicking ass on that. And the one thing I'm doing, the one shot is being drawn by a guy that I've wanted to work with forever. I tried to kick as much ass as I could in the script so hopefully I'm gong out with a bang. Make sure everyone picks up all that Marvel stuff. I mean pick up the Image mostly, the Image stuff is much more important.
SC: My last question since I didn't write many down, what question are you sick of people asking you the most?
Kirkman: Like you know NBC is waiting for me and your like, Now I have another question. This convention, this is the question I'm sick of hearing. I do this (lifts cell phone up) because I'm getting a text message and some one asks if thats the new iPhone and I have to say no. You know because I don't care, my Internet seems fast enough and I don't know that it does any different shit. I like my phone and its fine, I just went out and bought this damn thing I'm not going to go out and buy another one. Every single time I touch my iPhone, which is a lot because I love it and every single time someone says, is that the new iPhone. So yeah thats the question. You know I'm fine if someone wants to know when the next issue of Walking Dead is out, the next hard cover, or the next trade. Invincible same thing, Wolf-Man whatever I'll be happy to answer that question. I get those all the time those aren't bad its that fucking iPhone question.
SC: Is there
Kirkman: Another question?
Kirkman: Go, hurry.
SC: I was just curious for my self because I spend a lot of money on it. Is there another hard back Walking Dead coming out with issues 26-50?
Kirkman: It would be 25-50 or 24-48 because the other one was 1-24 and that comes out in November.
SC: So I have to spend another $100.
Kirkman: Or you could wait and spend more on eBay, HOO HA.
SC: Alright thanks a lot man I really appreciate it.
Kirkman: Cool, no man this was a lot of fun you're doing a really good job.
He then went on to tell me about an interview he did with a guy where the guy wanted him to say thanks then the guys name and you've been great. Problem is he didn't know the guys name, pretty funny stuff. Well thats the first interview here and eventually there will be more. Robert Kirkman was extremely nice and approachable and it was a lot of fun talking to him. Thanks a lot.
Thanks for stopping by,