In a field crowded with so much digital comic content, it is a true treasure to come across a read that boast a balance of humor and many of the conventions that make us love super hero storytelling. Atomic Rex Entertainement's: Massively Effective (written by Marco Lopez and Bryan Ginn, pencils by Michael Mayne) is such a title. Described as a " superhero buddy story wrapped up in a love letter to old school comics and cartoons", the title hits all the right notes to create something truly special. Series writers Bryan Ginn and Marco Lopez took time to share a bit about this immensely fun series, how they found balance using the convention of comedy in a superhero title, and much more. Check it out:
MT: Massively Effective features some very well crafted character banter. How did the two of you develop the flow? Do either of you possess any formal training in the industry? How did the two of you pair up? What is the creative process like in terms of creating the script and how long does it take?
BG: Well the banter is very much based on the actual banter between Marco and myself *laugh*. As far as training goes I do not have any but, Marco does and I will let him explain that. As far as how we paired up… we are best friends. I had an idea for a comedic web series that took place in a comic shop and was run by two ex super heroes. Then, the idea became a comic and we decided to write it together. The process is very organic. One of us gets an idea. We tear it apart, add to it, and flesh it out. Then Marco starts writing, hands it off to me to see what I think or what I want to add. It does not always end the same place we start but the outcome is where it is meant to be.
ML: I don't have formal training per say, but this isn't my first time at the rodeo either. I originally started out as an artist. I've been drawing since I was probably five and when I moved to New York City as a teen it became my dream to draw comics (Much to the chagrin of my mother). As I got older I got lazier with drawing, but then started to pick up on writing. I mean, I was always developing stories around my art and what I would do when I got the chance to draw the X-men. Imagining how it would be creating manga style art and writing the X-men or co-writing it with someone. So, naturally I just fell into it and gave up on drawing. When I graduated high school I did end up around a year later getting a handshake deal to release a comic through then small publisher Fanboy Inc. I don't know if anyone will remember them, but they put out a great comic book from J. Torres called Sidekicks (that later went on to be re-released by Oni Press) and the company was run by a former Marvel employee C.B. Cebulski. Because of business reasons and the industry at the time, that deal fell apart. Years later, I ended up getting a deal with a contract from Richard Emms head of U.K. comic publisher AP Comics (He later went on to form Ardden Entertainment) for a different comic story concept. It was called 'Darwin and Bob', but that fell apart after the artist upped and disappeared and other business reasons. So it's basically been a long journey. *laugh*
We ended up doing the comic together because Bryan and I have been friends for almost 10 years and we have a lot of the same tastes. The banter just comes natural because it’s basically us talking, complaining and ranting. The script process can take a week or two but it's basically coming up with an idea, beating it out, then stripping it apart and rebuilding it. Then I go off to write and things end up changing there. We don't try to stay to close to the page beats, because sometimes the story just takes on a mind of its own. Then, I go over it with Bryan and he'll add dialogue pieces, rewrite scenes, etc and we just do that over and over till we're happy with it.
MT: Good comedy is not easy to write, something that you two managed to do. The title also has strong conventions of the "buddy" movie/story. Was the concept for Massively Effective always to present the title as a comedy? What made you decide to pursue this route? Were there any influences that you looked to when modeling your characters?
BG: As far as the comedy goes, it was actually originally meant to be much more straight up comedy. At some point it evolved to be a more all genre encompassing. But the comedy will always be there. I feel that humor makes any other emotion fell stronger, as well as making it timeless. The characters are just exaggerated extensions of our personalities so, we are the influences essentially *haha*.
ML: I'm glad you think its good comedy, because I don't think I can write good comedy. *laugh* We've been told we're funny guys but, I think our comedy comes out of playing the situation straight or the absurdity of their lives. It was originally meant to be a more slapstick type comedy and we toned that back and went for a more Ghostbusters/Big Trouble in Little China/Army of Darkness feel. We decided to go for a genre mixed with comedy stew because our favorite movies are comedies mixed with other genres like the films I just mentioned. Influences? Definitely Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, Quantum and Wood, Abbot and Costello, Tango and Cash. Some of the greatest tales every told.
MT: Massively Effective is currently available in digital format. Was this a pure business decision based on economic reasons or a commentary on where your team thinks the format is moving in the long run?
BG: Well, I definitely feel that digital media is a big part of the comic industries future but print is something we very much want for the book. There is nothing quite like the feel of cracking open a fresh comic for the first time.
ML: It's a pure business decision. We can't afford to release it in print. We tried a Kickstarter and that failed, but that's because we probably aimed too high. We submitted to publishers, but were rejected. So, one day we discussed things and came to the conclusion that all we really want is for our work to get out there. We're not looking to make money off this book. We just want this book to support itself and lead to future mini- series. Is this where the format is going in the long run? Maybe in thirty or fifty years, but comic book sales are going up in print while other print industry sales are going down. The honest reality is while our sales in digital are okay, they're not good or great. But we also aren't known. That’s the thing digital only does good right now. It works really well when you have a built in audience (from print) or an audience you've built up over time (serialized web comics) or if you're a big name in the business. So, our hope is to get the comic eventually into print as a trade with a publisher behind it.
MT: Do either of you have any dream projects that you would like to work on in the near future?
BG: Massively Effective is very much my dream project. I do have many other stories in mind for this universe as well as some spinoffs. I would absolutely love to do some specials that team these two underdogs with some of my favorite indie characters like The Tick, Invincible, Hellboy, Savage Dragon and the list could go on forever.
ML: I'd like to do more Massively Effective. We want to do this as a number of mini- series and we would love to do team ups with some of our favorite comic book characters like Bryan mentioned. But, I would also love to one day get a crack at working for Valiant or Top Cow or Marvel, DC, Darkhorse or even a licensed book for IDW or Dynamite Entertainment. I also have a dream of one day writing a New Men comic for Rob Liefeld. So if you're reading this Rob... hit me up! Or, if any of his fans are, let him know! *Laugh*
MT: From many of the in issue pop geek culture references; it would be safe to say that your team has a firm grasp on what is often discussed in those circles. What is really big for you right now (what are you into, reading, watching, listening to, playing, etc)
BG: Well, as far as what I am reading: Invincible (Image), The Tick (New England Comics Press). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW). I love what IDW has done with them. Psych and Venture Bros are my two favorite shows. I do not get to play as many video games as I would like but, I feel I am just creating a list of games for a super marathon. I have been playing a lot of chess with my Goddaughter though lately, if that counts.
ML: Playing? The Last of Us. Naughty Dog makes the best videogames around. No one can compete (Except for maybe Hideo Kojima) Watching? Game of Thrones, Continuum, Falling Skies, Defiance, Da Vinci’s Demons and an assortment of other TV shows, cartoons and anime. I watch too much TV. Reading? Anything by Kirkman, Peter David, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Ed Brubaker, Savage Dragon, Hellboy, Atomic Robo, Empowered, The Goon, Skullkickers... man I read too many comics too. On the book side I'm slowly reading Ready Player One (Ernest Cline). I don't keep up with current music, but I love every genre of music except for polka.
MT: Is Massively Effective planned as an ongoing series or limited?
BG: We want to make multiple mini- series. We have countless stories in mind and some spinoffs. The books future is very much reliant on how it sells. Another reason we really want print so we can reach the people who still very much read print only.
ML: This first one is four issues. The next one is going to be a three issue horror mini- series with an A and B story.
MT: Any influences in the industry that inspired you to get into comics? Have both of you always been fans?
BG: Peter David is probably my favorite writer. Robert Kirkman is inspirational in all he has been able to accomplish from a little comic called Battle Pope. Ben Edlund's career with starting out with a black and white and turning it into a television career and such a beloved character. Eastman and Laird created a property that to this day in all its incarnations is one of my favorites.
ML: Too many to name. Peter David, Robert Kirkman, Jim Shooter, Karl Kesel, Kurt Busiek, Joe Maduereira, Humberto Ramos, J. Scott Campbell, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Matt Hawkins, Rob Liefeld and so many more. I've been a diehard fan of comics since I got my first comic around 6 or 7, I think. It was a Marvel Comics Presents with Wolverine in it.
MT: As independent creators, what would you say is the biggest challenge you face in finding an audience?
BG: Absolutely. The comic industry currently is very wary of new properties (especially those created by people who they have never heard of) Comics are expensive now, so taking chances is not something everyone can do. I also find that Comic fans tend to be very passionate about single characters or companies. We need more rich “Omni-Geeks “out there to support this industry lol.
ML: The biggest challenge you find, especially in digital, is giving people a reason to spend their hard earned money on your book. Especially in digital. The digital market isn’t as big as print and maybe one day it will be or bigger, but it's trying to convince the guy who’s buying Batman or Spider-Man or Invincible why he should spend the extra two bucks to buy your book. If we were in print that two bucks would be three fifty or four. And in the comic book industry readers taking a risk is a big thing and I can't blame them. You can do a lot with four bucks,especially if you're living paycheck to paycheck. Every penny counts.
MT: Where can fans find Massively Effective and anything else that you might have worked on?
BG: Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are my all time Favorite characters! ( But I do love Power Man and Iron Fist) Ted And Michael always had that great friendship. You could see it on every panel. They always succeeded or failed together.
ML: Okay, now that's just wrong! It's like asking a parent to pick his favorite child!! But with a gun to my head, I would have to say Blue and Gold man. Blue and Gold.
MT: Anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?
ML: I want to give a huge “thanks” to Michael Mayne, Walt Barna and Josh Krach because without them this comic wouldn't be possible. They are all stellar people, fantastic writers and artists and they had a lot to do with making this comic awesome!
Thanks for sharing Mario and Bryan. Fans, be sure to check out Massively Effective, available now!