Debuting in December, from Z2 Comics, is the comic book debut of writers Will Tracy and Gabe Kopolwitz along with artist Miguel Porto will be chronicling the adventure and reluctant quests of Allen, who despite being the son of the mightiest hero ever to plunge his sword hilt-deep into the dark heart of evil……as well as horse donkeys! Comic Crusaders caught up with Will and Gabe to discuss their book, the differences between mediums as well as inspirations. Just watch out for the horse donkey!
CC: Hey guys, thanks for taking time out to talk about your new book Allen: Son of Hellcock. You are both better known for writing in other mediums, Last Week Tonight and work for Vh1 respectively. How is writing for comics different?
Will: Probably the biggest difference is the degree of control we have over the material. Working on a television project generally requires massive amounts of collaboration with dozens if not hundreds of people, and it becomes an exercise in accommodating multiple points of view. You are always just one step on the assembly line. With comics, the vision and execution on everything is much more focused and single-minded because it’s just three of us making it. So the final product comes out exactly how we want it. That also means, of course, that when the book fails spectacularly and Gabe and I become the laughingstock of the comics industry, there are fewer people to blame it on. But we’re going to pre-emptively blame it on somebody anyway: Friends actor David Schwimmer. If it fails, it’s his fault.
Gabe: I mean, who does he think he is?
Gabe: Initially, I was the story guy and Will was the script guy. After roughing out ASoH, (Allen Son of Hellcock), in broad strokes together, I sat down and wrote the story beat-by-beat, then handed it off to Will, who cranked out the script. We then edited the heck out of it, of course. The entire process has been extremely collaborative, despite the initial division of duties. Will and I have very similar senses of humour, so we constantly bounce ideas, lines, and character ideas off each other. If both of us laugh at an idea, it will probably wind up in the story.
CC: The story covers the expectations of living up to a family heritage, in this case Allen living in the shadow of his heroic father Hellcock. How did this element develop from your initial thoughts?
Gabe: Honestly, it all derived from the name. You’ve got a mighty, Conan-esque adventurer named “Hellcock”, and you’ve got his son, named “Allen”. There are obviously going to be some inferiority issues!
Will: And once we literalized the “living in the shadow of Hellcock” idea to include Hellcock’s ghost actually looming over Allen throughout the entire book, egging him on and mocking his puniness at every turn, the whole story truly came into focus. Who wouldn’t want to see the arrogant spectre of a muscleman named Hellcock berate a little weakling named Allen?
CC: When it comes writing who are your heroes?
Will: As far as TV goes, it’s a pretty broad mix, everything from more subversive shows like SCTV, Alan Partridge, The Thick of It, Look Around You, The Larry Sanders Show, and Monty Python to more classic, mainstream character-based comedy like The Andy Griffith Show, which I watched a lot as a kid and had a big effect on me. I think what ties all of those shows together is the sense of a world that’s being created. And a lot of the fun writing of writing Hellcock was making our own world, with its own rules, power structure, and logic. As far as comics, the big ones for me were Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!, Mignola and Davis’s B.P.R.D., Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and From Hell, and any of the weird, trippy, Day Glo-colored sci-fi books Marvel put out in the 70s, like Warlock and Captain Marvel.
Gabe: Ditto all those TV shows, plus a healthy dose of Adventure Time, Tim & Eric, and MacGyver. As for comics, Alan Moore (duh) is a big one. I constantly go back and read Top 10. Jeff Smith’s Bone is probably my favourite comic ever. Rich, funny, exciting, heartfelt. And self-published! Ed Brubaker, Dash Shaw, Alison Bechdel, Frank Miller, Adrian Tomine. Brandon Graham keeps creating fascinating, magical worlds. He’s incredible.
CC: Question for Gabe, has your brother forgiven you for stealing his copies of Groo?
Gabe: I don’t think he knows I did.. Thanks a lot
CC: Recently, Terry Pratchett passed away, what sort of legacy do you both feel he left behind?
Gabe: Mostly a legacy of both of us getting up off our butts and finally reading Terry Pratchett
Will: Look, we never said we were well-read. Have you read our comic? We’re idiots.
CC: What the Sam Dickens is a horse donkey? Are they similar to Bone’s stupid stupid rat creatures?
Gabe: Pray you never find out. If a rat creature had a baby with Spawn’s “Violator,” their unholy spawn would only be scared of one thing: horse donkeys.
Will: That question is, quite frankly, insulting to horse donkeys, and you never, ever want to insult a horse donkey, a rule so obvious I shouldn’t even have to remind you of it. In fact, never print this interview. If the horse donkeys see it, we’re all dead.
CC: What do you feel is the attraction of having humorous book set in a fantasy realm?
Will: We get to make ridiculous jokes about objectively ridiculous fantasy tropes, and yet, as two fans with a real fondness for the genre, sneakily get to write an actual fantasy quest narrative with wizards and orcs and swords. In other words, we get to be total jerks who have our cake and eat it too.
Gabe: Exactly. It’s that Edgar Wright school of paying homage by making fun. We kid because we love.
CC: How did you two meet?
Will: In a hot air balloon over Geneva at a celebration honoring the third birthday of former Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa’s firstborn child.
Gabe: Weird, I thought it was at the Blockbuster in Marina Del Ray when we both reached for a DVD of The OC season 3…
CC: Z2 Comics are putting out a diverse bohemian range of books. What are the benefits of working with such a fresh faced up and coming company?
Gabe: Well for starters, Josh Frankel is some kind of publishing wunderkind. He believes strongly in creators’ rights, he fosters collaboration wherever possible, and he’s got damn good taste. If the other two creators (Ian McGinty and Chris Hunt) putting out work in Z2’s initial slate of floppies are any indication, I really believe Z2 will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. (I didn’t get paid to say any of that!)
Will: I did get paid — $12, to be precise — to say this: Z2 is the greatest comics publisher in the history of the medium and Josh Frankel is hung like a particularly well-hung horse donkey.
CC: If you could describe the book in a tagline, what would it be?
BOTH: Probably “‘The best comic book written thus far in the 21st century.’ – Comics Crusaders”
CC: Thanks guys for taking time out of your schedule. I am definitely looking forward to seeing the book.
Allen: Son of Hellcock #1 arrives in shops on December 9th and is currently listed in Previews World with item code: OCT151838