Shawn Aldridge: Motorcycle Stunts, Talking Apes and Human FliesA comics interview article by: Jason Sacks
Shawn Aldridge's new graphic novel Vic Boone is a fun, crazy ride through a wild and unpredictable future. We really enjoyed the book and thought you might enjoy hearing Shawn's take on it.
Jason Sacks for Comics Bulletin: Tell our readers about who Vic Boone is and what his world is like.
Shawn Aldridge: Vic Boone is a former motorcycle daredevil turned private eye in a world shaped by the science fiction of early Hollywood. There are robots, ray guns and brains that wouldn't die. Boone plays as the antithesis of that world. He's a bit of a Luddite. In a world of flying cars, he still rides a motorcycle. He smokes an inordinate amount of cigarettes and has an unhealthy hatred for robots.
CB: Is this future world a dystopia or utopia... or both?
Aldridge: I'd say it depends on perspective. Boone sees it as a dystopian world, but Boone would probably see any world as dystopian. Everyone else sees it relative to their economic status, whether they're human, alien or somewhere in between.
CB: What made you decide to come up with a comic that's such a mash-up of different genres and styles?
Aldridge: One night I was sitting around going through some old pulp paperbacks. One science fiction novel and a pulp detective novel caught my eye. "Wouldn't it be fun to mash those two genres?" Yes, completely forgetting Blade Runner had done it. But I was seeing more of a mesh of '50s science fiction and '60s crime novels. As the idea evolved, the science fiction started coming more from the B-movies of early Hollywood, all these movies I used to sit around watching with my Uncle Paul.
Really I just tried to shove everything I love into it in case I never got the chance to do another comic.
CB: One of my favorite touches is the designer drug that turns Vic into a gorilla and his friend into -- oh, but that would be a spoiler. How did you come up with that idea?
Aldridge: It came down to wanting to turn Boone into a gorilla and having to find a way to do it. I remembered this old movie called White Pongo about a white gorilla going on a rampage. I thought, What if the blood of this thing was made into a drug that turned people into gorillas? As for Boone's friend, Andre, his, um, predicament is caused by something else. That's a story for another time.
CB: I like how Vic has a real backstory in this comic. Will we get to read more "Tales of Vic?"
Aldridge: I'm glad you felt Boone had a real back-story. That was something I really wanted to convey to the readers. It gives them a chance to ask "I wonder what happened?" as much as "I wonder what will happen?" I didn't want him to be this two-dimensional character or some automaton wondering through "Future World." The idea for the series has always been to be able to jump into anytime in Boone's life and pluck a story from it. For example, the next trade, The Fly Who Loved Me, takes place before Malfunction: Murder.
There will definitely be a Tales of Vic Boone book happening. There are stories I want to tell that are built more for short stories than full graphic novels. Plus, there's a ton of artists I know who I want to work with on Boone. It's easier to get them to commit to eight to twelve pages than eighty plus. It'd be something akin to Enrique Sánchez Abulí's Torpedo. Actually, there will be some Boone shorts in this trade.
CB: I know the first issue, at least, came out as a single issue last year. How does it feel to have the whole thing collected into TPB form?
Aldridge: It feels great. I know a lot of readers weren't able to track down all the issues from the original miniseries. It's nice to know that they'll be able to finish the story. It also opens up the chance for new readers -- the trade only crowd.
CB: Portland is, of course, notorious for all its cartoonists. Is it something in the water that causes everyone to want to make comics?
Aldridge: It's water related that's for sure. It's just water that falls from the sky, in this case. I speculate that Portland's notorious rain is what drives most of us. You tend to spend a lot of time indoors.
CB: How did you hook up with your artist Geoffo?
Aldridge: I put out a call online for an artist after I lost the original one. I received quite a few responses, but Geoffo was the best fit. I like his staging of panels and the simplicity of his lines.
CB: What does the future hold for Vic and for you, Shawn?
Aldridge: I'm currently writing the next Boone adventure, The Fly Who Loved Me. It'll come out as a graphic novel. The talented Jim McMunn will doing art for on it. Free Comic Book Day will see a Vic Boone short in the free comic coming out through Liber Distribution. Jim and I also have plans to work on another idea I have called Mr Zero. The main character has no dialogue or captions. You only learn about him through secondhand information. Another project I have in the works is The Mighty Paul with artist Spencer Douglas. It's a modern take on Paul Bunyan. And there's also Space Vikings with Dominic Vivona, which is exactly what it sounds like.
CB: Anything else you'd like Comics Bulletin's readers to know about you or the comic?
Aldridge: Just if they enjoy motorcycle stunts, talking apes, human flies and fun then they should go to their shop and pre-order Vic Boone Malfunction: Murder (Previews order code: MAR12 1214). Indie books like mine live and die by the pre-order.