In October, SLG Publishing will release Tales to Suffice, a new anthology comic from the mind of a new creator, Kenny Keil. The book features, according to its website, “DAMSELS IN DISTRESS!! MEN IN TIGHTS!! ZOMBIES IN NECKTIES!! Everything you ever loved about comic books, mercilessly skewered for YOUR amusement! Five senses-shattering stories for the paltry price of one, and SURE to be a collector’s item – So stock up on copies while they’re still cheap!”
I spoke with Keil about his background, his influences and the book itself.
JK: Hey Kenny, thanks for agreeing to talk to me. So, Tales to Suffice — is this your first comic?
Kenny: The pleasure is all mine. And yes, this is my first published comic book.
JK: Tell me a little bit about your background.
Kenny: I suppose my childhood was pretty typical, much like something you might see in a John Cougar Mellencamp video. Born in a small town, lived in a small town, sucked on chili dogs outside the Tastee Freeze. That sort of thing. I was one of those kids who drew constantly, although my focus shifted from cartooning to graphic design around the time I discovered that most colleges didn’t offer “cartooning” as a major. So I’ve been designing professionally for the past six years or so, with a little bit of comics and illustration on the side.
JK: What’s Tales to Suffice about?
Kenny: Well, this being my first comic I wanted to try and tackle something nice and manageable, so I figured why not do a book about, oh I dunno, EVERY COMIC EVER MADE? So, Tales to Suffice is an anthology-styled humor book that lovingly parodies our beloved medium’s richly weird and storied history. Spacemen, check. Monsters, check. Two-fisted detectives… you get the idea. Your host is Mort Finkleman, who is (among other things) editor-in-chief of Finkleman Publications, the fictitious comic company responsible for Tales to Suffice as well as many other titles you’ve never heard of.
There’s also a bit of history peppered with meta-commentary in there, but all you really need to know about the book is this: It’s awesome, and reading it will make you a happier, more attractive person.
JK: Based on the first issue, I’m going to make a wild guess here and assume you’re a pretty big comic fan. What were some of your favorites growing up?
Kenny: Growing up I was kind of all over the place – I definitely leaned towards Marvel, but if something caught my eye, be it Batman or Baby Huey, I’d pick it up. I was in grade schoool when the “speculation boom” happened, and I fell for it pretty hard. If it had an “X” prefix or a shiny cover on it, chances are I owned it. Multiple copies of it in fact, because hey, those things were going to be worth millions someday.
Then there was that summer that changed everything. I’m at my grandma’s house, digging around the basement, and lo and behold I stumble upon my dad’s old stash. It was like something straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark, only without all the nazis and face melting. There before me was a treasure trove of Mad Magazines, EC horror comics, a few Stan & Jack Marvel joints, and a ton of Silver Age DC. Those older books really captured my imagination, because they just seemed so far removed from any reality that I had ever known. Not to say Youngblood was slice of life storytelling, but at least it made sense in a context I was familiar with, you know? Reading Weisinger-era Superman was like being on a different planet. Lois Lane’s been turned into a centaur, Jimmy Olsen’s trapped in Camelot, Superman’s got a lion head and he’s shooting tiny Supermen out of his fingers, and to top it all off, someone wants me to sell something called “Grit.” My mind was blown.
So long story short, my art heroes ran the gamut from Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee to Curt Swan and Don Martin.
JK: Did you (or SLG) consider releasing the material as a graphic novel, rather than as a series of comics? What made you opt for the latter?
Kenny: Before the possibility of getting published ever entered my mind, I was just sort of constructing this full-color “floppy” (i.e. dying) formatted book for the hell of it with no real concept of how the market currently works. That’s simply just how I saw the thing, as a comic book. When I got to talking with SLG, we did consider some other formats, but eventually reached the consensus that Tales works best as a comic book. But hey, you can still call it a “graphic novel” if you want to. I mean, what sounds cooler to you – “I just read three comics on my lunch break,” or “I just read three novels on my lunch break”?
JK: Have we seen “Uncle Morty” somewhere before? He seems vaguely familiar …
Kenny: Strangely enough, you’re not the first person to ask me that! Guess he just has one of those faces.
JK: How many issues of Tales to Suffice will there be?
Kenny: There’s no set number as far as I know. Hopefully there will be at least two, because I am almost finished with the second issue. But, we’ll just have to see what happens. I’ve fashioned myself a nice little playground with this book, and I’ll be content to play in it for as long as they let me.
JK: Will any of the features introduced in the first issue continue in subsequent issues, or should we look for all new material in issue two?
Kenny: A little bit of both. With every issue, you’ll get a stand alone cornucopia of fake ads, short bits, and various throwaway gags. But I’m also trying to balance that out with a few recurring characters who will have actual stories. Ray Gunn, Space Sleuth’s relationship troubles are only beginning. The Red Atom is going to show you what would happen if a real person living in the real world decided to put on a cape and fight injustice. Corporate Zombie will continue to climb the undead corporate ladder. And of course, every issue will come with a healthy dose of Mort Finkleman.
I hesitate to say this book has “something for everybody,” because that implies that there will also be “lots for nobody.” The truth is that every single page of Tales to Suffice is meticulously catered to you and your discriminating comics palette. “You” being whoever it is reading this sentence right now.