Jess Pendley: So, how are things?
Brandon Graham: Good, it’s been a morning of madness but nothing too exciting. And you?
JP: More of an evening of madness, but similar.
BG: I like those better mornings are meant to sit around and scowl at the day star.
JP: From within some sort of crevice.
BG: I call mine a pit but yeah.
JP: Crevice sounds much more metropolitan. The girls from Sex in the City would probably say crevice.
BG: All they talk about is crevice on that show.
JP: I think it went really crevice heavy in the 13th season. The writers got lazy.
BG: I’ve been watching this low grade Davod Duchovny show this week that’s like a Sex in the City for self important dudes. It’s lots of him chain smoking and getting called a genius in between women throwing themselves at him in 7-11’s.
BG: It speaks to my soul.
JP: It’s the true to life stuff that really sticks with you.
BG: Did I send you the first 3 Warheads?
JP: The first 77 pages. They were glorious.
JP: Not the original Oni issue though…
BG: Have you not read that one?
JP: No, but luckily I was able to piece together the were-penis smuggling story.
BG: Ok 77 pages was the first 2 issues of the new stuff— the road trip issues
BG: Ah good.
BG: Yeah, the old issue was basically showing that Sexica was an organ smuggler and then a space ship from a werewolf war in space falls on her house.
JP: Great, great stuff. I love your style, of writing and drawing. It’s like a frenetic cross between Tank Girl and Dr. Suess. That is one of the greatest compliments that I can give someone.
BG: Heh yeah, I like that. High praise indeed.
JP: I know it’s insane to ask you where you come up with all of this (racist vat-sqids, pastry years, etc) but where would you say your biggest influence in writing lies?
BG: The vat squids are based off of my Australian pal Sheldon Vella— he works on the new ninja turtles cartoon now. But mostly I think my style is based off of a mix of all the stuff that I was really excited by as a kid. It’s a long list.
JP: Give us some examples.
BG: A lot of Moebius and Shirow (his Appleseed stuff) I was really into the TV show Red Dwarf.
BG: And some real small press comics like Zooniverse by Fil Barlow and Matt Howarth’s bizarre sci fi Post Brothers and Savage Henry. I like Bukowski and Raymond Chandler a lot too— Heinlien. I’m a slow reader but I tend to reread a lot of the same books over and over and try to study them. But a lot of it is just what I think is funny at the time.
JP: It’s a good habit to develop as you age. Your sixteen-year-old eyes don’t pick up the same things as your twenty-six-year-old ones.
BG: Yeah, that’s a good point. I like going over stuff I loved as a kid and seeing it in a different light.
BG: I think a lot about getting to a level of comfort when I’m coming up with stuff where I can just do whatever stupid stuff I think is fun without being self conscious about it.
BG: I’ve been watching a lot of the 70’s Tom Baker era Dr who this week that my mom would watch when I was growing up and back then it all seemed so complicated and vast and watching it now Is such a different experience—I’m more aware of the rubber suits. But I still like them
JP: Sometimes you have to experience thing in the context of the time they were created. Rubber suits were a sign of the times.
BG: Right. I think my sci fi ideals are stuck in the time of the rubber suits.
JP: I was past rubber suits, right when terrible CGI was in full swing.
JP: Star Trek Voyager.
JP: Don’t bash Captain Janeway.
BG: Yeah, my misses is 5 years younger than me and was formed in those years. Lots of EGM magazine. and gradient purple
JP: Those were the days.
BG: Heady gradients of yesteryear.
JP: Those Elysian holograms. Now holograms have world tours and look like ghosts.
BG: Oh right the 2pac.
BG: They should make a hologram of him rolling in his grave.
JP: People would still buy the t-shirts, especially if the rolling was involved.
BG: That might be good for when the Stones all die.
JP: They will outlive us all.
JP: They might already be holograms, actually.
BG: Right. They gather no moss.
JP: You are the pun master. Where did you develop the passion and talent for wordplay?
BG: I’m not sure, I always liked puns.
BG: I think it’s connected to the rap music.
JP: How so?
BG: The wordplay in a lot of the rap I got into was really impressive to me. Maybe that was more when I was in my late teens and early 20’s. I got De La soul’s Stakes in high and played it into the ground.
JP: So your writing has very lyrical roots?
BG: Sure. I have a kind of warm up routine for writing where I read a lot of poetry.
JP: Nice! Who are your favorites? Poets, I mean.
BG: I mostly steal books from my misses. I like Don Patterson a lotand Jennete Winterson is great.
BG: I saw this cool interview with her on British TV recently where she’s talking about how much she disliked the Kick Ass comic.
BG: I love her.
JP: Fantastic! What did she hate most about it?
BG: She was commenting on the sexism — and how they added a kind idealized aggression to the female characters for a false sense of female empowerment..
BG: I had issues with it because of how poorly it handled graffiti and class stuff. So it was like —- oh I didn’t even consider that it was crappy on so many levels.
JP: Idealizing woman on either aggression or sexuality is sort of the norm in mainstream comics, isn’t it? At least, it has been until recently.
BG: Yeah, there’s a side of comics that’s just not very well made and obviously a lot of that is subjective and I try to let people like what they like for the most part.
BG: But some stuff like the crazy sexism or racism or whatever I think starts to affect the whole community as far as keeping out creators or readers that are anything but white dudes.
JP: What do you think is the most disheartening/heartening aspects of working in the comics industry?
BG: I think for the most part I have a lot of control over who I associate with and the work I pay attention to— and there’s a ton of amazing work out there.
BG: So I’m really excited by how diverse the work being done is—as far as the art form and frustrated at how little of the best stuff actually makes it into comic stores.
JP: Do you think that this being the “Year of the creator” is changing that?
BG: I think that stuff is important but I feel like that’s almost a focus on the business aspect more than the quality of the work. Granted a lot of really cool stuff is going on in comics now, it’s getting harder for me to complain at Image.
BG: Like I’m really excited about Emma Rios doing a book at Image and what Stokoe is up to on Godzilla at IDW.
JP: I haven’t looked into Godzilla, but I really like Emma Rios.
BG: I’m also just biased with Stokoe since we pals— but he does great work. And yeah, I don’t read a lot of Marvel books but the Rios stuff there has been fantastic.
BG: She got me to buy a Spider-Man comic for the first time in —I dunno decades.
JP: Me too, actually! Although, mine was the first ever. Not a huge Spidey fan…
JP: Probably due to oversaturation.
BG: Oh yeah, I’m always joking about how no one on earth ever needs to hear again how Spider-Man got his powers but they keep telling you.
JP: It would be relevant if it was some alternate origin, but rehashing the same thing over and over is a little…redundant.
JP: Of course, I love Batman.
BG: I was thinking about how he’s been fighting this war on crime for like 40 years now with billions of dollars and Gotham is still a pit. He’s got to be awful at his job.
BG: But maybe going into town and beating people up isn’t the key to community improvement.
JP: It’s all about catharsis. He’s just as crazy as the rest of them, otherwise he would spend the billions on community improvement projects.
JP: Instead of bat-themed jets.
BG: “My parents are dead I will spend my life making jets that look like bats!”
JP: When you say it like that I can really see where he’s coming from.
BG: Yeah, bat jets have got to make the loss of your parents go down smoother.
JP: Now Batwoman, that’s where it’s at.
BG: Are you talking old Batwoman who ends up in a wheelchair or the new one? And there was the Asian lady who wore the whole face mask.
JP: Batgirl ended up in a wheelchair, Sir. Not Batwoman.
BG: Oooh I see. Apologies to the Batwoman.
JP: Damn right.
JP: I’ll let that go, otherwise this interview will be derailed with me explaining the massive differences between the 2 characters.
BG: Heheh. Certainly.
BG: I did notice that the new issues were pretty.
JP: Yes. Yes they are.
BG:JH Williams I think?
JP: Yes. His art pairs with the supernatural well.
JP: Batwoman fights ghosts and things, you see.
BG: I had no idea. That does sound cool. Does dressing up as a bat help for that?
BG: All I know is that the military didn’t like her being into ladies— but the bat army seems ok with it.
JP: Batman has been down for decades. As long as you can punch a bad guy while wearing bat-themed clothing you’re golden.
BG: That’s how America should pick its senate.
JP: The bipartisan system is now based on bat or non-bat attire.
JP: It rally simplifies things.
BG: I think it’s the change we need.
BG: But yes, don’t let me type at all day about bat politics.
JP: You’ve been involved with Extreme’s Prophet for a bit now. How would you describe your time on the series so far? You said Image wasn’t giving you much to complain about.
BG: It’s been fun. It’s an all new scene than I’m used to.
BG: Yeah, Image leaves me alone.
BG: I’ve been spoiled with no editorial involvement and every time I come up with some dramatic plan for Liefeld’s characters he seems cool with whatever I want. The problem for me is just making sure that the book improves at it goes on—or at least evolves into something more than the initial idea.
JP: Can you elaborate on that? Evolves in what ways?
BG: Like when we started it, the idea was just Conan in space and I think we did that pretty well but I feel like it opens up a lot of possibilities and rather than just continuing to make Conan one-shots I want to explore more and see where we can push the book.
JP: Is there a particular direction you’re pushing in?
BG: Yeah, I’ve got an ending and everything but a lot of it is showing different parts of the themes of the book— with what happens after humanity and slavery and whatnot.
BG: I’m excited about the set up of showing a war from both sides and trying to make both sides relatable.
JP: Nice. Spread the humanity around a little and add some empathy.
BG: Yeah and also just thinking about where humanity would be at if you took away our modern ideas of right and wrong.
BG: I always feel like a crazy person trying talking about my robots and barbarians comic.
JP: You’re in good company.
BG: Good. Good.
JP: This is an industry where things like that don’t really matter.
BG: I feel like with my usual stuff I’m always kind of poking fun at the sci fi that I love but with Prophet it’s the first time I’m trying to do it as deadly serious
JP: Does that make you nervous?
BG: It’s easier in a way. I wouldn’t want to have to come up with jokes for a monthly book —the jokes take longer than serious.
JP: It looks like it comes easily to you. It’s all so clever.
BG: Well thanks— a lot of it is just me throwing out nonsense but then I’ll get caught on some dumb joke that takes hours to figure out and a lot of the time the jokes I like best are the last minute ones that I don’t care about when I’m coming up with them.
JP: What’s your favorite one from the new issues?
BG: I was happy with the self heating root vegetables — beets the heat and turnup the heat
JP: Very classy. I loved the Alphabet speak bit as well.
BG: Oh thanks. I was watching a lot of Marx brothers stuff when I did those so I got caught up in how fun and crazy they get in those.
BG: “You can leave in a huff, if that’s too soon then you can leave in a minute and a huff”
JP: Ha! Some of your best gags occur in the areas around the main characters. Like the “falling druids” sign. That’s another one that I loved.
BG: Thanks, the Druids that are all killing themselves— the grateful dead.
BG: The idea is that magic in that comic is all based off of ghosts so wizards get their followers to kill themselves so they have more ghosts.
BG: And also ghosts look like comic word balloons so it’s fun to mess with that so the magic looks like word balloons when it shows up.
JP: You’re a genius.
JP: Seriously, you’ve made an art out of what other people avoid and it’s awesome.
BG: Well thanks, I’m really excited about all the stuff that’s possible in comics.
BG: It seems to be a wide open art form.
JP: It’s my favorite. Flawed or not, I love it dearly.
JP: You said that you’ve got an ending for Prophet in mind, What about Multiple Warheads? Is that completely wrapped up?
BG: No, Warheads is more open.
BG: I tend to write my own stuff with a idea of a direction but —with Warheads I have so many threads that I haven’t bothered figuring out an ending yet. I was thinking it might be twice as long as King City but it’s looking like it’ll be much longer.
JP: Really? That’s awesome. For me.
BG: Well cool.
BG: There’s a lot of stuff I have planned that I haven’t gotten to yet. Like the character Nikoli has dreams of the wolf whose penis he has attached to him—and I don’t even get a chance to show the dreams he has until issue 5 or book 2 issue one— the stuff for next year. That’s what I’m drawing now.
BG: The scene I’m on is in a restaurant built into a whale that serves food made of the whale it’s on.
BG: Baleen Cuisine and Blubberry Blinicakes
JP: You are a magnificent creature, Mr. Graham.
JP: Qummy Slugs!
BG: Oh yeah, those guys.
JP: They were casually mentioned and I swear I knew at that moment I was going to harass you about them. Then I saw the one page story at the end of the first issue and it warmed my lil’ fangirl heart.
BG: Nice, thanks. Those guys are unreasonable.
BG: I should send you the 3rd issue. The hotel they’re staying in gives them out as hand warmers and Nikoli makes an engine powered by their heat.
BG: And people eat them a lot.
JP: Please send me that.
BG: I just sent it.
JP: You are a super hero.
BG: And there’s a heist set up because I was meandering a lot. Meandering is kind of the point with that comic but it’s hard to always be casual.
JP: Drag it out for as long as you like. You’ve got my cash behind you.
BG: I appreciate it I do worry a lot about making something that’s dense enough to be worth the cover price.
JP: I don’t think you have to worry. The King City collection that just came out was very affordable.
JP: Although, after this illustrious interview you’ll surely be able to jack up all of your prices.
BG: Yeah, I’ll be selling my socks to buy summer homes
JP: Just remember where you came from, Kid.
BG: I seem to have surrounded myself with mean friends that won’t let me get too high on myself.
JP: Those are definitely the best kind. Before we go, do you have any words of wisdom to leave with our Comics Crux readers?
BG: Recently I’ve been really into the idea of trying to enjoy what you do. Like I have this life that I’m really happy with where I just get to play around all day and come up with whatever I want and collaborate with some amazing people— and I still get sour on it.
BG: I guess it’s all relative. So for me it’s been important to remember how much fun things can be
JP: That’s good advice no matter what you’re doing.
JP: Unless you are a septic person. Then you should hate it.
BG: Heh, well I think I am but I’m fighting it.
JP: I meant septic tank person. I wasn’t being nearly that deep.
JP: I was making a poop joke.
BG: I can’t believe I missed a poop joke.
JP: I’m a little sad for you as well.
JP: Let’s pretend you didn’t miss it. Follow through.
JP: “Unless you are a septic person. Then you should hate it.”
BG: I think that goes with my rant actually— (looking up at the stars) you can’t get every poop joke, the universe is too vast…
JP: Thanks so much for doing this. I am a fan of your work and I really appreciate it.
BG: Certainly, thanks a lot for asking me to— I hope you like the 3rd Warheads issue.
JP: Hopefully we can do this again in the future.
BG: Cool, yeah totally. Later Jess!