Web-Head: A Weekly Column About Super Heroes on the Web
by Scott Bachmann
I’ve kept this interview in my pocket waiting for just the right atmosphere, because this column is really about heroes on the web while this week’s interview is about a creator who focuses on villains.
Brad Guigar & Evil Inc.
While wandering San Diego Comic Con, I came across Brad’s booth for Evil Inc. and stopped to say hi. I’d only just started reading his comic. It was recommended to me by a friend and I saw that Brad was selling tradebacks of his strips so I bought one. Brad immediately did a fantastic sketch on the inside cover without me even asking. We got to talking and he was the friendliest person I’d met at the con so far – full of energy and eager to talk about anything, not just his work. Not only did I devour the TB when I got home, I passed it on to my friend who recommended the comic because, as it turns out, Brad’s books contain a ton of extra material. There are many volumes to the series and you can get yours without having to go to a con by visiting The Evil Inc. Store.
Evil Inc. is an ongoing serial story punctuated with one off-gags. The story began with Evil Atom, an aging supervillain and the founder of Evil Inc. He founded Evil Inc. on the concept that you could get away with more evil if you did it legally. The story has taken many twists and turns over the years, including a super hero who takes over the company and tries to steer it on a better course, only to end up bringing the founder back into the fold. Mostly though, it’s a comedy that skewers superheroes, corporate life, relationships, and pop culture. Some of the characters include sentient paper, an evil brain in a jar attached to a dog’s body, a charter school of evil kids, and a mixed marriage of a hero and a villainess.
What have you enjoyed the most about your comic?
Brag Guigar: Ever since I was about eight years old, I wanted to be a cartoonist. In the beginning, being able to self-publish my comics on the Web enabled me to be able to feel what that would be like. Today, I feel as if I’ve realized that dream. I’m a professional cartoonist. And that’s a tremendous source of satisfaction for me. This is the only thing that I’ve ever wanted, and I take immense enjoyment out of every hour I get to spend in my studio.
[That exuberance is clear from the moment you meet him. ~Scott]
What was the hardest thing to accomplish when you first started out, and has it gotten any easier?
Brag Guigar: In the beginning, it was awfully hard to gain an audience. It was early 2000, and social networking was limited to Web rings and pseudo-syndicates like Keenspot and Modern Tales. I’m jealous of a webcartoonist starting out today. It is so much easier for readers to spread the word about good work than it was ten years ago.
What’s your favorite story arc in your comic?
Brag Guigar: I know the smarmy thing people say for a question like this is “the next one,” but that really is true. It’s the next challenge — writing or drawing — that I’ve set for myself. Actually, I’ll add this. I also like a lot of the stuff I wrote around 2008. By that time, I had found my footing with Evil Inc. I was a more-confident writer, and… most importantly… I’ve long since forgotten the punchlines, so when I go back and read them today, I actually get a feel for the humor in the punchlines.
My son was reading the first Evil Inc. book, and he said, “Dad, when did you write this stuff?” And I said, “That would have been around 2005.”
“Man,” he replied, “You used to be funny.”
I went back and re-read that stuff, and I found out he was right!
My only hope is when I re-read the stuff I’m writing today, five years from now, that he’s still right.
[There is a lot of family humor in the comic as Captain Heroic and the villainous Miss Match try to raise their son Oscar. ~Scott]
What’s been the most unusual fan reaction to your work?
Brag Guigar: I wrote a throw-away gag about Pong being the only game available to someone in 1975. It was part of a larger gag that took a few good-natured (I thought) pokes based on the gamer-living-in-his-mom’s-basement stereotype.
A reader took offense and listed for me every game that was available to a person in that year.
All 443 of them. One by one.
What inspired your work?
Brag Guigar: I was a ardent admirer of Berke Breathed’s Bloom County. I carried a subscription to the Detroit Free Press while I was in college for the sole purpose of following the strip. I threw everything else away. I still think it stands as one of the epic achievements in art. You can have your Calvin and Far Side and Peanuts. I’ll take Bloom County any day of the week, hands down.
Once I started my own Web site, I discovered a whole new world of cartoonists whose work I desperately envy — chief among them, Scott Kurtz, whose PvP Online also ranks among the very best in comics history. Over the years, I’ve become good friends with Scott, and I hear the amount of introspection and self-critique that goes into his work. It amazes me how his brain works.
[Yes I embedded a link to PvP Online. There has to be at least two people out there who haven’t been to the site. ~Scott]
Who deserves a public thanks for helping your comic exist?
Brag Guigar: My wife, Caroline. She believed in my ability to do a successful daily comic when no one else did. She has sacrificed over and over to allow me to chase my dream. She’s pretty amazing.
What haven’t you done yet in your comic that you’ve wanted to do?
Brag Guigar: That’s a great question. I’ve done two different strips, a weekly longform comic (Phables), and I do a weekly single-panel comic (Courting Disaster). I’d love to do a more serious superhero comic, and I have an all-ages graphic novel on my drawing board that I keep trying to find the time to work on. I need more hours in my day.
What’s the best thing that’s happened to you since this comic started?
Brag Guigar: That would be the friendships I’ve found through comics. I’ve made the kind of friends that I would wish on every person in the world.
What should we have asked you that we didn’t?
Brag Guigar: What else are you working on in comics?
I wrote The Everything Cartooning Book, published by Adams Media, which is still a terrific 101-level introduction to cartooning, and I co-wrote How To Make Webcomics with my pals Scott Kurtz, Dave Kellett and Kris Straub, of which I am still tremendously proud.
I also operate Webcomics.com which is a subscription-only site for webcartoonists with daily updates of tutorials, advice, discussion, and exclusive member discounts.
Following one’s dreams does work out on occasion. Kind of an uplifting sentiment for Halloween, so I’ll balance it out next week as I review heroic webcomics with a darkly satiric point of view.