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Superpub
Unchaptered

Superpub

Starting from Comic #1: Superpub 1
Superpub 1
Ryan Lee Blu-ray Commentary – On the way home from the airport, I still couldn’t think of any funny bits so I just broke the thing down to its absolute basics. These heroes are in the bar…why? I guess people really don’t need much of an excuse, but what scenario might really require a superhero to need a few drinks? And the answer my subconscious came up with was that rotten little turd Mr. Mxyzptlk. He’s this annoying little imp with god-like powers who shows up and busts Superman’s balls until Clark can get him to say his name backwards, which automatically sends him back to his home dimension. So then I upped the ante…what if that was all nonsense? What if this irritating little omnipotent jerk was actually just lonely (hard to imagine his attitude won that guy a lot of friends back home) and you couldn’t get rid of him until he was……satisfied. If you spent your day doing that, you would definitely need to put back a few afterward.

On the nuts and bolts level, Mike had to doctor my script quite a bit to get it to go. Not understanding the physical limitations, I wrote a five panel strip. Nobody does that. I didn’t know that, of course. So Mike had to trim my bit down to three panels, and once he showed me how its done I’ve been writing three panel strips ever since.

Monster Mike Blu-ray Commentary – The gag for this first strip is great. It hints at the level of sacrifice the hero of a city will go to to protect the people he cares for. I really wanted that second panel to be silent, so I moved all of the dialogue into the first panel. If I nailed anything in this strip, it’s the eyes on the speedster in panel 2. That’s his moment of realization of what the big hero had just gone through. Both of these characters will be showing up again.
Superpub 2
Monster Mike Blu-Ray Commentary: I love the fact that I feel like I’m getting to know these characters already. The Arachnoid as a less than hygienic patron and ‘The Man’ as a gruff, take-no-nonsense bartender.

The feeling I get is that these guys have been interacting for years. Maybe that has a bit to do with the analogous nature of the characters, but I think the scene building is what drives it home for me.

As for the character design, I wanted it to appear that The Arachnoid is a Spider-Man doppleganger while at the same time injecting him with a bit of my own vision so I reversed the costume elements. This strip introduces him to you as well as to me, and my biggest take-away upon my first look at the script was that he should be a bit…gross. I hunched him over and avoided the heroic physique. I hate spiders (if you ever want to not be friends with me forever, just spider-prank me) so this guy would not be a guy I would hang out with. I added the multi-eyes to emphasize the bugginess of him, further making him a bit of a creep.

Stan is Stan, of course.

Ryan Lee Blu-Ray Commentary: Fans of Chronic Insomnia may have been wondering how long it would take me to dive into bathroom humor. Two strips, is the correct answer. Spider-Man has sticky hands, which is great for climbing walls, and not so great for handling your junk. I’m betting Peter Parker has complete command of these things…this guy does not.

I have to admit…I stole the “Splash Gordon” bit from my good friend Nick. During a particularly robust night of drinking during a cabin weekend trip, I coated most of the bottom floor with my own sick. It smelled fantastic, just in case you were wondering.

Nick then dubbed me “Splash Gordon”, because he’s a big jerk and fairly clever. Actually, I’m betting he stole it from somebody else just like I did. Pay it forward, folks!

PS: Mike’s character designs range from “great” to “super awesome”, but the design for Stan Lee as the bartender is a masterpiece. He makes me happy every time I see him.
Superpub 3
Monster Mike Blu-Ray Commentary: I love the fact that I feel like I’m getting to know these characters already. The Arachnoid as a less than hygienic patron and ‘The Man’ as a gruff, take-no-nonsense bartender.

The feeling I get is that these guys have been interacting for years. Maybe that has a bit to do with the analogous nature of the characters, but I think the scene building is what drives it home for me.

As for the character design, I wanted it to appear that The Arachnoid is a Spider-Man doppleganger while at the same time injecting him with a bit of my own vision so I reversed the costume elements. This strip introduces him to you as well as to me, and my biggest take-away upon my first look at the script was that he should be a bit…gross. I hunched him over and avoided the heroic physique. I hate spiders (if you ever want to not be friends with me forever, just spider-prank me) so this guy would not be a guy I would hang out with. I added the multi-eyes to emphasize the bugginess of him, further making him a bit of a creep.

Stan is Stan, of course.

Ryan Lee Blu-Ray Commentary: Fans of Chronic Insomnia may have been wondering how long it would take me to dive into bathroom humor. Two strips, is the correct answer. Spider-Man has sticky hands, which is great for climbing walls, and not so great for handling your junk. I’m betting Peter Parker has complete command of these things…this guy does not.

I have to admit…I stole the “Splash Gordon” bit from my good friend Nick. During a particularly robust night of drinking during a cabin weekend trip, I coated most of the bottom floor with my own sick. It smelled fantastic, just in case you were wondering.

Nick then dubbed me “Splash Gordon”, because he’s a big jerk and fairly clever. Actually, I’m betting he stole it from somebody else just like I did. Pay it forward, folks!

PS: Mike’s character designs range from “great” to “super awesome”, but the design for Stan Lee as the bartender is a masterpiece. He makes me happy every time I see him.
Superpub 4
Ryan Lee Mega-Sized Blu-Ray Commentary

Sometimes you just do what you want and the bit writes itself. This all started with me wanting to see what Mike would do with Dr. Strange, which is probably abusing my privilege, but….oh well! I can do that once in awhile, right? Please? So Dr. Strange led me to an incantation, which led me to a parlor trick, and if he’s showing off then the payoff has to be somebody taking him down a peg. Well, if the guy is a penny pincher…then the takedown should be administered by the guy who takes in the tips. (or doesn’t, as it were) The thing wrote itself. Wish they were all that easy!

This is my favorite strip we’ve done so far in our brief collaboration. Dr. Odd is such a delightful goofball, and the bit accidentally gives him a character element we can use later. If we ever need a cheapskate, I know where to find one. It also solidifies Stan as kind of an Old School Man’s Man… he’s kinda Jack in Stan’s clothing? To me, that’s a fun departure from the loveable sideshow carny we know in real life.

I know I’m running long, here, but one more thing – one of the happy surprises of doing the strip is that it’s really opened my eyes about the artist’s contribution to comic work. Assessing and appreciating art has always been a weak part of my game. But now that I’m writing scripts…I know what I put in there, and I know what the finished product looks like, and everything else is by definition Mike’s contribution. It’s a LOT.

What I’ve learned is that when you read comics, pretty much everything you’re reading off the page in terms of tone, vibe, attitude, emotion, audience connectivity…it’s all the artist. Or 80-93%, at any rate. All of the juice in this bit comes from Doc Odd’s goofiness combined with Stan’s perfect super-cool stone face. If Odd oversells the trick and is too serious and Stan delivers his line with a sloppy grin on his face….I think the skeleton of the joke is there, but it doesn’t work.

So just so you know….when you get done with a comic, and what you enjoyed was the way it made you feel, or the tone, or the depth of the characters? Whether you consciously recognize it or not, you’re mostly responding to the craft of the artist. And that’s….one to grow on.

Monster Mike Economy-Sized Blu-Ray Commentary

Ugh. I’m writing this on the evening after having Septoplasty – a surgical procedure to redirect my septum. I would wish this on my worst enemy. So, anyway, my comments will be short.

Bottom line is that this is what I would love to make this strip look like all the time. Something really clicked for me with this one. Dr. Odd is going to be a character I all really enjoy drawing over and over. One thing I wanted was for the ‘Eye’ clasp on his cloak to always be “looking around”. I call it “The Googly Eye of Yammamoto”.

Also; Ryan is too kind. The gags he’s coming up with are pretty entertaining and there is a lot in the descriptions and dialogue he supplies that hint to how things should be drawn, wether he is consciously putting it in there or not.
Superpub Bonus
Ryan Lee Blu-Ray Commentary
I roll out of bed around noon and I’ve got multiple emails from Mike. He says the FF is trending, he’s home for the day, and if I can get him a script toot sweet he can fire off a strip that has us directly on top of current events. Would I like to try and flesh out his springboard of an idea? (Stanley doesn’t recognize the Fantastic Four in their movie-morphic forms)

Challenge accepted, sir! Before I even put pants on, I’ve got a really unwieldy script worked out. I learned very early that unwieldy scripts are a blessing, not a curse. It usually means I’ve actually got two strips in my head, and I just need to break them apart. (I often end up sending Mike pairs of scripts where the one follows right on the heels of the other)

The “problem” is that when I dash the pair of scripts off to Mike, he’s already got the roughs done for his own springboard! Because Mike is a Machine and you can’t possibly stop him! And this thing had Sue Storm with a beard, and I’m here to tell you, if that never sees print it’s a crime because it’s one of the most deliciously absurd things you’ll see all year! Those movie execs do like to toy with our toys, don’t they?
Long story longer, the finished product ended up as a hybrid of our two ideas, and this strip has to be the most purely collaborative piece we’ve done yet. My favorite part is Happy Benjamin, because it looks like Bender from Futurama crawled into a Thing suit, and that tickles me to no end. If you look closely, you’ll notice that Happy has a ridiculous smile painted on his face. That’s going to play a role in the strip very soon.
The other “important” thing that came out of the exercise was that my layout solution for cramming all those characters into a very limited space ended up being almost identical to Mike’s solution. So I feel like I’m starting to learn the “language of comics”, which is exciting.

Monster Mike Blu-Ray Commentary

We had just had the storm of the century in my neck of the woods, so my boss sent me home before the roads got too bad to travel. Just before I left for home, I checked my internet and lo-and-behold, Fox finally decided to give a little promotion to their new Josh Trank – rebooted FF flick. While driving home, in 30% visibility, I found myself thinking about what we could do to get on top of this as far as some nice, juicy satire…

…I came up with the seed of an idea that I fired off to Ryan as soon as I landed at home. At this point, though, I wasn’t sure if he was going to get my e-mail in a timely fashion and even if he did, would he be already too busy to lay anything down. Unable to shake the idea I had, I just started doing roughs of the characters in my sketchbook. Before I knew it, I had the strip in my mind fully committed to paper and 90% of it inked on the board.

That was the point that I checked my e-mail and Ryan had sent me not one, but two great scripts. Luckily, we were able to work my images into his initial gag with a few minor changes. In his script, it was Suki ordering the drinks from Stanley. A far more progressive plot twist than I had come up with.

My biggest take-away from this experience was just how quick we can turn one of these around. It also, to my estimation, is one of our better looking strips and it showcases the drastic difference between how I began drawing this thing and where I’m at now. After next week, barring any other ridiculous pop culture happenings (Jimmy Olsen what now?), we will revert to our original schedule and I think you will notice a slight step back in the evolution of the ‘look’ of Superpub. Not to worry, though, we are working hard at making this the best thing it can be.
Superpub 5
Ryan Lee Blu-Ray Commentary:

The crux of the Quality Quartet bit is all the horrible, horrible things that movie execs do to our beloved characters. Now, I’m not one of those types that loses a lot of sleep over costume changes and such. But my thing is – why would they buy a thing and then dismantle the core of it? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just buy what you wanted in the first place?
I decided I would symbolize that visually by having the studio paint a smile over the top of Thing’s craggy mug. And before you go thinking I’m exaggerating…go back and take another look at the RIDICULOUS expression they molded into Snake Eyes’ mask in that first GI Joe movie. This is not hyperbole…this is how movie people and their focus groups ruin things.
Then I tagged on the bit about Doctor Doom the blogger. It’s actually pretty tough to get me worked up about these things, but that’s the dumbest thing since grumble grumble moan complain……
Monster Mike Blu-Ray Commentary:
I thought I was going to hate myself for rendering every brick in the ‘Happy’ Benjamin character design but I’ve found myself really enjoying drawing him. It might seem that my characters are pretty much ‘copy/paste’ from panel to panel, make no mistake, I’m inking them all individually. Take a closer look and you’ll see minor differences from panel to panel.I’m uploading some of my process stuff and sketches and doodles to the Superpub Facebook page. I urge you to go join up if you haven’t already.
This strip is another instance in which Ryan really hit the message on the head. Usually, when I complain about stuff like this, I tend to come off as a whining fan-boy. Ryan is able to spin a little yarn that succinctly shines a spotlight on the ridiculousness of changing IP to fit into an agenda.
I also like the two-part strips he’s been sending me. more to come!