With the second issue of his comic series Lose just released, the Canadian creator met with us over the internet-waves earlier this week for an interesting discussion about his work. Read on for his thoughts regarding his working process, The Flash, classic cartoon characters, faux-video game soundtracks, collecting children's books and more. Any interview that simultaneously includes both Roger Ramjet and Prince has got to be worth checking out, right?
What’s the most frustrating thing about being asked to introduce yourself in interviews?
Probably just trying to think of a way to make it more than just the one line - "I'm Michael and I live in Toronto."
On your blog, you describe Lose as your first “real” comic. What was the impetus behind making the step from illustration work and short strips (like Cave Adventure) into full-length comic production?
About the stories in Lose - do you have a fixed narrative in mind, or is it a more organic process, like doodles and sketches building together over time?
Lose #1 features parodies of Green Lantern and the JLA. Would you ever consider doing an official homage/ parody, similar to Marvel’s recent Strange Tales anthology?
Plastic Man and the Flash are both characters I really like drawing. I used to really love the Flash.
Barry Allen, although it was Mark Waid's Wally West issues that got me started on the character. I lost interest when Geoff Johns started writing the title. Johns just made the comic weirdly dark. I mean, the appeal with the Flash is that he's sort of goofy, and all his villains have these neat science based powers. It's a wimpy comic, which is why I liked it.
Lose #1 features a fantastic panel containing over twenty cartoon icons in hell. Did drawing them all so faithfully them come easily to you, or was it a laborious process?
It was a pain in the ass. It took me longer than any other page in the comic, trying to redraw everything accurately. The only element I actually had to trace in that panel was Astro Boy's face - for some reason, I couldn't nail it. Shoe was fun to draw though. I could draw Shoe forever.
Do you have a favourite cartoon strip?
My all-time favorite is Peanuts. My favorite currently running is Cul de Sac. I really love Bloom County, too. My dad had the collections, so I'd read a lot them as a kid.
A hugely important psychological question: why Roger Ramjet?
I just really like Roger Ramjet [laughs] I honestly don't have a better answer than that.
It beat Adult Swim to the punch by whole decades!
Yeah, it was a really smart show! It's one I come back to a lot.
Recently, you were nominated for a Doug Wright award for Best Emerging Talent. You must be pretty excited. Are you planning to focus your time more on comics (as opposed to illustration) in the future?
I'm very excited, and very honored to be nominated. I'm always trying to balance my personal work with commercial gigs. The commercial work basically supports all the other drawing I do that doesn't make any money. I'm hoping to get a lot more comics done this summer, though. I feel like I have the time, and I have a bunch of short strips planned.
I'm planning on a Cave Adventure strip for a newsprint zine my friend Jesjit Gill publishes called Free Drawings. The other ones are all new.
Oh, I actually like a lot of autobio comics. I just would do a pretty bad job writing one straight. Peepshow, I Never Liked You and Uncle Bob's Mid-Life Crisis are some of my all time favorite comics.
If you could recommend three recent comics/ zines/ minis to us, which would you choose?
In my notes, I accidentally wrote "masturbation habits" as "masturbation bandits", which would probably make an awesome comic.
I'll leave the logo up to you! I was first exposed to your work via your heavy metal Sunday funnies logos. Are you as passionate about typography as your work suggests?
I am! I do a lot of poster work and am influenced by a lot of poster designers, so that's probably what sparked my interest in lettering.
I read that Legend of Zelda was an influence on your desire to draw cool monsters. How much influence generally have video games had on your comics and design?
I never did, although there might actually be one in the works. The idea is to do a zine with the soundtrack. Someone is "mastering" all the tracks, kind of. It's really early, so I probably shouldn't talk about it in case it falls through.
Sally Go Round the Sun. Edith Fowke gathered all these children's songs and Carlos Marchiori provided the illustrations for them. Marchiori is amazing, it's a really gorgeous book. I love it enough to own two copies of it, and a record of kids singing some selections from the book with Marchiori's art used as the LP cover.
On an appropriately musical answer, I've saved the most important question for last: what is your all-time favourite Prince song?