Joshua Fialkov (Elk’s Run) and Kody Chamberlain’s (Tag) much-anticipated Punks: The Comic finally hits stores this week. They were nice enough to answer a few questions about it and even nicer to answer all the personal questions I tossed in as well.
Who’s your personal hero?
Joshua Fialkov (JF): Kody. No really. He’s so charming and pony-tailed.
Kody Chamberlain (KC): Fist. He’s able to say so much with so few handheld signs.
What’s your morning routine?
JF: Wake up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head. I’m usually up and working by around 8:00 or 8:30 when the wife-to-be heads off for work. Aside from that, it’s just bagels and sugar-free juice.
KC: I crawl out of bed around 7:15am and make my way to the shower, and drive to work around 8:00 am. Sometime around 9:30 am I wake up and start working.
What’s your favorite item of clothing?
JF: My Country Music Western shirt. It’s got “Country Music” stitched in the back for chrissake!
KC: I have an old, yellow, leather jacket. It’s worn out and my cat clawed all the way up the sleeve once leaving little holes, but I still wear it every winter. I’m in Louisiana; that’s about a week and a half.
What do you always have with you?
JF: My pocket watch, cell phone, and a pen. That way I can know the time, check it’s right, and then write it down on my hand.
KC: I always have a pocket-sized ink pen. The worst thing in the world is needing to draw something and not having a pen handy.
What’s always in your refrigerator?
JF: Diet Soda. I buy cases by the truckload.
KC: Actually I’m not sure. It’s been months since I’ve had a peek. I’m assuming it’s something completely inedible.
What’s your favorite food?
JF: Indian Food. Nothing better than a nice Chicken Saagwala and vegetarian samosa.
KC: Mexican Fajitas with refried beans!
What’s your fitness routine?
JF: I try not to drive (‘cause I’ve got the partial blindness still), so I just walk around my neighborhood to get groceries or books or whatever.
KC: I tend to walk a lot. I work in the downtown area, so it’s a real center of activity for the city. Lots of stuff to do, news stands, copy shops, etc. I’m always out and about.
What superstitions do you have?
JF: It’s more “phobias” than superstitions. I wash my hands obsessively. That’s about all.
KC: When you believe in things you don’t understand, then you suffer. Superstition ain’t the way.
What do you do to procrastinate?
JF: Watch Buffy and Angel.
KC: I don’t procrastinate very often, but when I do it’s usually surfing the web or sketching.
What’s your biggest self-indulgence or guilty pleasure?
JF: Easy… Doctor Who. It’s the only super geeky thing I collect in any way, shape, or form.
KC: I’m a sucker for art supplies and books. I obsessively collect both.
What gadget can’t you live without?
JF: My iPod and my iMac pretty much allow me to get through the day.
KC: My video iPod and my MacBook Pro.
What’s your most prized possession?
JF: Probably my Elk’s Run art. I have a stack of original pages from the book framed up on the wall, and to see the hard work that Noel put in on the book, and what he brought to it, it really just makes me work that much harder.
KC: Probably my Will Eisner Spirit drawing, it hangs over my drawing table for inspiration.
What kind of vehicle do you drive?
JF: I have an old Subaru Legacy, but, like I said, the partial blindness thing makes me do pretty limited driving.
KC: I mostly drive my girlfriend’s 2005 Mustang because I haven’t replaced my broken car yet.
What’s your next big purchase going to be?
JF: I need a new laptop, and we have the wedding in a few months. Those two would be the expensive part.
KC: Probably a new car, I’m long overdue for some new wheels.
What’s your favorite place in your home?
JF: In my fancy office chair in front of my dual monitors working my butt off.
KC: My bed. I really enjoy sleeping when I can squeeze it into the schedule.
What’s your greatest artistic strength?
JF: Persistence, I think. I really pound away at things until I feel like I’ve gotten them right.
KC: My greatest strength is probably my lack of complacency. I’m never satisfied with the work I do, and that inspires me to work harder and do better.
What’s your greatest artistic weakness?
JF: I have a non-commercial streak a mile and a half wide.
KC: My biggest weakness is speed. I find it difficult to do quality work at a fast pace.
Do you play a musical instrument?
JF: Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Bass, Clarinet, a little Sax, a little Violin, and a bunch of other weird percussion and woodwind instruments.
KC: I play drums and all sorts of percussion. Hand drums, drum set, rudimental snare, etc.
Damn, you guys could start a band with just the two of you. What talent do you covet?
JF: I wish I could draw. More than anything in the world.
KC: My most functional talent is the ability to concentrate on something for a very long period of time. Even as a kid, I’ve been able to apply that to many things. Since I don’t have much natural ability at the things I do, I tend to compensate by working harder and longer.
What’s your best memento from your work?
JF: Phil Hester did a cover for this comic we’re giving out at our wedding. He sent the original art and it’s just an amazing piece of work. Plus I look sexy on it.
KC: I have a collection of rejection letters from publishers and editors through the years. I’ve found a lot of inspiration in those rejection letters; in a way they’re sort of like little walls I’ve had to climb to get where I am today. And that makes me appreciate the journey a little more.
What household chore do you absolutely hate to do?
JF: Cleaning the ridiculous number of litter boxes strewn about our house.
KC: Laundry seems to be my Achilles House-Cleaning Heel.
What obsolete item can you not part with?
JF: I have clocks everywhere. I’m obsessional about knowing the time. And the little tiny digital one on my computer just isn’t enough.
KC: I’ve got two very old Mac Classic SE computers on my desk, and I use them as bookends. However, they’re not completely obsolete since they both still work great.
What’s the best recent gift you’ve received?
JF: Christina got me a book for my birthday that’s essentially 10,000 different ways to kill somebody. It’s a great reference tool.
KC: Best recent gift is probably my iPod video. I use it every single day.
What’s your retreat?
JF: Galco’s Soda Pop Stop in Eagle Rock. It’s a vintage soda store with a great deli in the back. Comics superstar Tony Fleecs and I go all the time.
KC: Mello Joy Cafe.
Do you collect anything?
JF: Doctor Who and stuff I write. That’s pretty much it.
KC: I don’t really collect things with an effort to keep them mint or for resale; it’s mostly just stuff I like so I keep it around. But I do have piles and piles of comics. I’m not one of those creators that have stopped reading; I actually still buy read a lot of comics. I’ve also recently started collecting original comic book art. I’ve got maybe 10 or 12 great pages from some of my favorite artists.
Do you have any hobbies?
JF: I pretty much just work, watch TV, and hang out with Christina.
KC: Most of my hobbies are comic-oriented like sketching and reading comics, but I do enjoy drumming quite a bit. I’d like to steal a little more time behind the kit.
What movie have you seen more than any other?
JF: Fletch and Brazil.
KC: The Godfather and Pulp Fiction. Those are the two I always come back to.
What book have you read more than any other?
JF: Cyrano De Bergerac.
KC: Unlike movies or albums, I rarely re-visit books. Usually once is enough. However, I have read To Kill a Mockingbird five times for various English classes in high school and college.
What are you always asked at parties?
JF: “Wait… you actually came to a party?”
KC: I don’t drink, ever. So that’s usually the topic that comes up. I usually tell people, “I only drink when I’m drunk,” and if they’ve had a few drinks already, it confuses them enough to stop asking.
What’s your evening routine?
JF: Dinner, after-dinner walk, TV, sleepy-time. We wake up so early, and Christina works an irregular schedule, so there’s not really much night life for us. Luckily, we’re all the night life we need.
KC: I like to wind down with a bit of Discovery or History Channel and then some reading before bed. At any given time, I’m jumping back and forth between four or five different books. Fiction and nonfiction.
What do you always have at your bedside?
JF: Bottle of water and Coast to Coast AM.
KC: Books. Lots and lots of books.
What do you obsess over?
JF: The time, my work, and finding the best Italian sandwich in Los Angeles
KC: Not much. I’m fairly laid back and relaxed most of the time. But I do find myself overly obsessive about showing up on time. I really, really hate being late.
What’s your travel routine?
JF: I’m a super-prepared, early-to-the-airport, raring-to-go kind of guy. But, once I get where I’m going, I like to freewheel and relax without any real plans or anything. Unless it’s a convention, which instead means planning every second and running frantically from place to place.
KC: Mainly I try to travel light, but with comic books, that never seems possible. Lugging books, pages and prints around really takes some extra effort. But I do still try and pair it down to the essentials. I’ve got a detailed checklist, so I tend to pack at the last minute.
What’s the worst thing about traveling?
JF: The germs. They always get you.
KC: I actually enjoy traveling quite a bit, but the expense is the worst part for me. I do really wish traveling was a bit cheaper so I could do it more often.
Which historical figure would you most like to meet?
JF: Abraham Lincoln… and not just for the obvious Punks thing. He seems like he was a real kickass guy.
Just in case someone reading this doesn’t know the first thing about Punks: The Comic, what’s the pitch on this baby?
JF: Four jerks living in a house, getting in trouble, and punching each other in the nuts. Undue hilarity ensues.
KC: It’s a punk rock “sitcomic” done in the style of punk-rock flyers. It’s laugh-out-loud funny and it’s unlike anything else on the shelf, guaranteed.
It seems like Punks is a difficult comic to describe. In your interview on the Newsarama mothership, Josh described it as “the kind of comic we both liked to read as kids, but just don’t exist anymore.” Gimme some examples of those. What was it you liked about them?
JF: Magazines like Weirdo come to mind, and of course Mad and Cracked. There was something really comforting about them. You can just shut off the criticism side of your brain and just let loose. I think as a writer that’s a particular treat, because you learn to be so hyper-critical of what you read in order to better yourself.
KC: I never actually read comics as a kid, so Josh is once again proven to be a compulsive liar. But I was a huge fan of Monty Python, The Young Ones, Mad Magazine and Warner Brother’s cartoons. But when I did get into comics after high school, I was immediately drawn into DHP, Keith Giffen’s Trencher, and anything Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave McKean and Duncan Fegredo had to offer. While in college for graphic design and advertising, I began making tons of gig flyers, album jackets and posters. That’s when I discovered experimental designers like Art Chantry and David Carson. More than anything, the subculture design movement was my inspiration for the design of the characters and the overall look of the comic.
I get that Punks is about a punk band and that the art is inspired by punk flyers and poster art and whatnot. But how does the comic reflect the punk sensibility other than just the premise and the visual style? Or does it?
JF: Well, they aren’t actually a band… not in any sort of “We play shows” kind of way. I think the book plays at a couple of different aspects of Punk. First, it captures that complete absurdity that early Punk Rock had. There was such a sense of humor in the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, etc. that I think is more or less lost in modern punk (save for like NOFX). But there’s also the classic attitude of “Screw it” which I think is very much in the heart of the comic. And then, there’s also the play on crass consumerism which is really what Punk music became in the 80′s till today. I mean, marketing anarchy is just so repugnant and disrespectful to an audience we just had to jump on board.
KC: From my perspective, Punks is more of a reaction to the punk scene rather than a contribution to it. There’s a very unique attitude in the music, icons, lifetsyle and the visuals from that era. But in the end, Punks is really us. It’s me and Josh pouring our brains into this unique creation that happens to exist in that world.
What’s the greatest misconception about your life?
JF: That I look this good naturally. It takes hours of invasive rectal surgery to shape and carve out the beautifulness you see before you.
KC: I’ve found that an unusual amount of people think that my ability to draw is a gift. I don’t doubt that some people are born with a gift for doing something (I actually know a few), but that certainly didn’t apply to me one bit. What they don’t see is the previous 12 or so years of long hour and hard work and practice. I didn’t draw as a kid, so when I started around the age of 17 or 18, it probably took me five or six years before I had any progress at all, but I was determined to learn how to draw, so I stuck it out. Drawing is a whole lot of fun, but the learning process can be frustrating, and very time consuming.
What are you going to work on tomorrow?
JF: I’m working on my first original manga. It’s a return of sorts for me to the Western, but it has a modern twist, and is, I swear, going to kick all kinds of ass.
KC: I’m drawing issue #2 of Wight and Associates for Spacedog.