By Superherologist - April 22, 2009
We’ve come to know more and more of the people who have competed in DC Comics’ monthly Zuda competition which awards contracts to winning webcomics. Last month we recommended Children of Armageddon by Chris Meeks, our fellow Reddie who was #1 in the March Zuda competition until the continent of Australia united behind someone else in the final 48 hours. Our pal, the Action Flick Chick, recently interviewed Lisa Fary and John Dallaire whose Intergalactic Law: Grey Squad is up for a vote in this month’s contest, which got us to thinking about which Zuda comics would be most interesting for the Rocket Llama audience. So here is the first of what we hope will become many interviews with the creators of Zuda webcomics which we think might appeal to our own readers. In some months there may be no one who strikes us as an obvious match for our audience, and other months might see several. We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.
We spoke with the creative team behind Mecha-Simian, a science fiction/superhero parody starring a cybernetic ape. The team: Rich Lovatt (writer and creator), Gregory Woronchak (artist), Lisa Moore (colorist), Amadarwin (letterer, whose work we also follow at iratefilms.com).
Llama HQ: Why are monkeys so darn funny? (Yes, technically your hero is not a monkey, but any anthropomorphic ape is going to get called a monkey by fans and arch-nemeses alike.)
Rich: Because they just are, dammit! They’re just like people, only shorter, hairier, and more honest. You know exactly where you stand with a monkey – he likes you, he’ll hug you; he doesn’t like you, he’ll fling poo at you; he really doesn’t like you, he’s going to rip off your arm and beat you with it! There’s a certain purity in that.
Ama: I’m easily amused. Anything that drinks its own urine and flings poo strikes me as darn funny.
Rich: Plus, they have tails that can do stuff!
Gregory: Monkeys are darn cute! Designing Mecha was a lot of fun. I tried to make him look powerful, yet slightly goofy.
Llama HQ: What’s your background in comics? That might mean telling us about your past work. That might mean you believe Ma and Pa Kent raised you on a Kansas farm.
Rich: Reading them, reading them, reading them and more reading them. Oh, and I blog about them over at comicbycomic.com! This is my first ‘published’ work, but by no means the first thing I’ve written – it’s just the first one that’s seen the light of day. Hopefully there will be more to come!
Lisa: My foray into comics began a couple years ago. I picked up some freelance work as a flatter for another colorist. After working full time flatting for other colorists for a little over a year I decided to have a go at learning how to color myself. Picked up a how to book and some tips from some friends and pros and got started from there. Mecha was the second project I colored, and it was a blast! Since then I have become addicted to the process. It is such an amazing medium and I’m so glad to be involved in the industry in some way.
Ama: I’ve always been a jack of all trades, master of none. I’ve written, drawn, inked (not well), colored, and lettered. So far, my lettering is the only thing getting exposure. I did a brief stint in flatting for a colorist, but found it too tedious and involved for the pay. Lettering is fun for me. It’s always a challenge to find the right way to guide the reader’s eye without taking them from the story. Part of my job is not to get noticed, and to do that, the letters have to integrate seamlessly into the story.
Gregory: I’ve loved comics as long as I can remember, and drawing even longer. I remember producing a New Teen Titans comic on lined paper back in the 80s, and have always dreamt of making a living in comics. I’ve produced penciled/inked pages for several small press books. I’ve worked on The Chronicles of Reverend Moore for Main Enterprises, a couple stories for Argo Comics, and Adventure for Modern Myth Press. I’m currently artist/colorist/letterer for Negafighters, a small press book available as pdf.
Llama HQ: Zuda lists three creators but you actually have a team of four — writer, artist, colorist, letterer – much like we’d see with a comic book in print. How does this work? What’s the process your team goes through to get this done?
Rich: This was entirely my fault; I completely forgot to put Ama on the creative team when the good folk at Zuda asked me for names. Ama should definitely be up there!
Gregory: Working from Rich’s script, I pencilled and inked the strip. The colorist and letterer worked over my artwork.
Rich: It was pretty traditional. I sent the script (which you can find at http://www.richlovatt.com/writing/comics-writing/mecha-simian/) to Greg, and he knocked the pages out of the park, really capturing the feel of Mecha straight away. Lisa colored them beautifully, really making them pop, and I then reworked some of the dialog – and Ama lettered everything. I’m sure I drove everyone crazy with small revisions along the way, but everyone was great about it!
Lisa: Rich would send over the inked pages and from there I would take them into photoshop and color em up. I got color direction from Rich on the basics and for the things he didn’t specify I just did what I thought worked. There are some things in this project that I think turned out amazingly well and I am very proud of. For example page 4 just makes me happy every time I see it, I love the way the colors turned out and the art is just so dynamic. Love it!
Ama: Rich was great, other than the script and a few minor alterations, he allowed me to do my job with minimal stress. Thanks, Rich!
Rich: I actually added one speech bubble myself the day before the entry was finalized, after it had been accepted – you can see if you look closely which one it is because it’s nowhere near as professional looking as all the rest. That’s why we need Ama!
Llama HQ: How does your comic distinguish itself from the many other parodies of the genres you’re spoofing?
Rich: I think – or hope – that the love for Saturday morning cartoons shine through in this. I really just wanted to capture the sense of fun that you used to get from watching those shows. Plus, if you look through the strip you’ll see that there are tons of homages in there – everything from Superman to Toy Story to Star Wars to Atomic Robo. If you’re going to rip off, er, honor the work of others, then make sure you use the best!
Llama HQ: I’d say that’s part of why Mecha-Simian caught our attention. Alex had been writing Rocket Llama for months before he realized how much he’d been influenced by cartoons like DuckTales — and therefore the old Disney comics they were based on — or other cartoons he’d watched as a kid.
Ama: Mecha-Simian is a lot of fun. I mean, it’s got a monkey, a talking ship, and a bad guy whose ship resembles his face – what’s not to love?
Gregory: I think the art style is ‘cool’, yet a bit retro, fitting the feel of the concept without being too cartoony.
LLAMA: Where do you hope to take the story? What can we hope to see Mecha-Simian get into in the future?
Ama: I hope we see a lot more sass and explosions. I like things that go boom.
Gregory: That’s up to Rich, but he can always count on me to draw Mecha anytime.
Rich: There’s plenty of places Mecha could go from here. I know that Greg has some great ideas for additional characters, and I’d love to get into exactly how Mecha ended up as a cyborg if he’s the last of his race – who rebuilt him anyway? The one thing I can promise you is that General Karakas isn’t Mecha’s father! We’ll have to see how things play out once the competition’s over.
Llama HQ: We know a previous Zuda competitor for whom the competition was just an avenue to break into comic books. Where do you hope to take your career?
Ama: I think it would be fun to get into a comics career in lettering. It would be a great first step into world domination.
Gregory: I hope to someday publish several concepts I’ve been developing for many years. Creating my own books would be extremely rewarding, although collaborating with others is also much fun.
Rich: From my side, at least, I don’t see Mecha solely as a way to break into comics – but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was something I’d thought about. I have another comics project I’m writing at the moment that I need to find an artist for, and I’m always pestering another current Zuda writer with ideas to co-write with (he knows who he is!), so I’m hoping that this will lead somewhere – but you know what, if it doesn’t, we’ll always have Mecha!