Holly Jolly Massacre

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TV funnyman Brian Posehn has long been known for his irreverent, taste-defying sense of humor in series like  Mr. Show and  The Comedians of Comedy. Rick Remender has come from writing and drawing hilarious small press books like Black Heart Billy to writing some of Image comics more critically acclaimed books, like Sea of Red, Fear Agent and Strange Girl. Brian and Rick along with co-writer Gerry Duggan met up with Broken Frontier at Wizard World Los Angeles to rant about their upcoming six issue series, The Last Christmas.

BROKEN FRONTIER: What’s the idea behind The Last Christmas?

GERRY DUGGAN: In a nutshell, it’s the true story of Santa Claus after the Apocalypse. It hasn’t happened yet, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

BF: Where the hell does an idea like that come from? I mean that in the best way.

BRIAN POSEHN: Where does it really come from? Marijuana? No, let’s leave her out of it. Honestly, where this came from was – my friend here went to… (to Gerry) Where were you? Brazil?

GD: I was in Spain and I had a funny idea to put a gun in Santa’s hand, and it was a little different.

BP: It was like more of a Film Noir thing.

GD: It was kind of a Noir that I brought back home and Brian and I were sitting around…

BP: We were playing Halo.

GD: We were playing Halo in his living room.

BP: There was marijuana smoke in the air. We didn’t inhale any of it, but there was some in the air from somebody else. My dog was doing bong rips and the smoke got into my brain, so when [Gerry] told me “Hey! I want to do something with Santa Claus and a gun,” I was like “What if it’s Mad Max meets Santa Claus?” and he was like “You’re retarded, and let’s do it!”

GD: “How soon can we start?”

BF: Gerry, what was your background in terms of writing?

GD: I came out here [to Los Angeles] from New Jersey.

RICK REMENDER: (jumping in) Let’s be honest. Most people come out here to be actors or write. He came out here to be in gay porn and wound up acting and writing.

GD: It didn’t stop me from doing the gay porn.

RR: Of course not, but that was how it worked.

GD: I came out here from Jersey and ran into Brian at Golden Apple. That was my first job out here. We worked together on a few things back in the day and became pretty good friends. Not long after, I met Rick. (to Rick) I guess it was in San Diego.

RR: I met Gerry in San Diego I guess in 2000, ‘99?

GD: Was it the letters column?

RR: Oh my God! No, that’s right!

GD: I actually wrote a letter to a book that [Rick] was doing.

RR: The first book that I did was a little known indie book --

GD: Gem. It was a little known gem.

RR: -- called Captain Dingleberry. I did about seven issues of this and Gerry had actually sent us in our favorite letter talking about the U.F.O.

GD: Oh, the “Upper Decker”.

RR: The “Upper Decker” is where you go to somebody’s house you don’t like, or you’re leaving a party and you didn’t really care for the host. You crap in the upper deck of the toilet and put the lid back on, and you leave it there because it festers and makes bad smells, and they never think to look back there for a couple days.

GD: That’s literally how we bonded.

BF: (laughter)

RR: So he had actually sent that in and we printed that letter and then he had met Brian soon after that at Golden Apple where he was working at the time. This is all really boring. Let’s get back to talking about hoboes and masturbation.

BF: When did The Last Christmas come about?

GD: Brian and I sort of worked out the entire story in a film script, so it existed as an idea which we very quickly realized would never be done right. The way it was written – a lot of big budget [effects] – Nowadays, you’d shoot a lot of it in front of a green screen, stylized with Rick’s art direction behind it. That would be the way you’d sit down and write that movie today. When it was written, it was really written so that you’d…

BF: Have to do it practically.

GD:  Everything’s practical and big, huge effects, and everything else. Really what it boils down to is we had this idea that we didn’t want to let go of: Santa Claus after the Apocalypse. We’ve always loved comic books. I learned to read with a comic book in my hand.

BF: What were the comic books that you were reading?

GD: Back then, comics were easier to get in places other than comics shops. My father would go to 7-Eleven; bring me home a Spider-man, Hulk, Batman. It didn’t really matter. I was exposed to all of that, and then I found the comic shops. I wanted more, so I went out and bought older issues. It was just this amazing experience. It was a very important part of my childhood. Now to be able to be making comics is a dream come true.

BF: Brian, is this your first trip into comic books?

BP: Writing? It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’ve been sorta bangin’ ideas around. Talked with DC for a while about doing something with some of their characters. I always wanted to put my sense of humor in, and it never really worked. Some of the subjects that came up were too serious and I really felt like the first thing I did could be an action book, but it had to have funny characters and it had to have funny dialogue and funny situations.

BF: What do you think is different about the way humor is done in comics than the way you would do it in TV?

BP: The actual writing isn’t any different at all, but I think comedy in comic books is not very well respected. I don’t know if there’s a huge audience for it anymore. I think there’s a good audience for a great book that happens to have funny characters. If it delivers the things that they’re used to: a great action story. Then if we sneak some comedy in, then they’re like “Holy s**t, that just made me laugh! I haven’t laughed at a comic book in twenty years!”

BF: I remember that Mad was a revolutionary book back in the 50s.

BP: Try reading it now. You’ll want to punch your face off from not laughing.

BF: How did The Last Christmas get to Image?

GD: That was pretty much all Rick. We knew that we wanted to do the book with Rick. He had done a few things with some other companies, and we were talking to other companies. It just made sense for us to do it at Image. Rick was really happy there, and is happy there. It’s been just a really wonderful experience working with those guys. They’ve been really supportive.

BP: The fact that they’re creator owned is what’s really great about them, and what drew us to them is how they treat creators, because they are creators. [They] know how some of these other companies can be and they try to stay away from that. We haven’t had any editorial notes or anything. It’s all been “Do your book. Make it funny. Make sure you have it when we’re supposed to have it.” That’s it.

GD: They really backed us up.

RR: Image is the last deal in comic books where – These books are our books. If we do whatever we want to do with them and make a million dollars, Image doesn’t take any of that money or have any control. As far as I know, they are the last place you can do that in comics.

You were bringing up Mad Magazine (sic). I’m a big fan of Will Elder, [Harvey] Kurtzman, [Wally] Wood, [John] Severin; that’s who I look to, to draw from. For me a book like The Last Christmas is the perfect amalgam of what was going on at Mad Magazine with sort of a post-apocalyptic, modern day, action hero [sensibility]. It’s like a nice blending of the two.

I also think that Image Comics, now, is… If you look at Image for what Image is going to be remembered for this decade, people are going to recognize that Image is the new EC comics.

BF: Image is so different from what it used to be.

RR: It’s a different company. We have crime. We have war. We have pirate books.

BF: How many anthologies has Image released in the last year?

RR: The Belle and Sebastian anthology [Put the Book Back on the Shelf] is genius! Especially my story. The Belle and Sebastian thing is genius because you’re going to appeal to people outside of comics. I don’t want to beat a dead horse with this. God bless superhero comics (and I like them too), but this fixation on only superheroes… There’s a reason that the medium is dying. There’s a reason that it’s disappearing. With the Belle and Sebastian anthology selling huge numbers in record stores, you’re going to get an audience of people who love sequential art. The indie scene and the punk scene have always been ripe for this stuff.

That’s why Image treats us so well, and on a project like this, where else are you going to find the support? It’s not falling into the current trends.

BF: Gerry and Brian, what was it about Rick’s work that drew you to him.

GD: Right off the top of the head, not everyone can do comedy. You can say that about an actor. Really it’s just as true about any artist. There are beats and there are a lot of little elements that not everybody is going to get.

BP: That’s how I was introduced to Rick. “Here’s a guy who gets things and is funny. He has a sense of humor.” The first stuff I ever read of his was LCD and Black Heart Billy, which were all funny.

BF: Over-the-top humor.

GD: When we started gearing up for the book, he and Hilary [Barta] were on Man with the Screaming Brain. That’s where they started clicking. We were like “let’s harness this lightning in a bottle!” We actually swiped the whole team. We got Rick. We got Hilary. We got Michelle [Madsen].

BF: What can readers who have no idea what to expect from a book like The Last Christmas… What would make them pick it up? Who would you want to pick it up?

BP: I would say to them “Do you like Zombies? Do you like gunplay? Do you like Santa Claus? Do you like midget jokes? If you like two of these things, you’re gonna love it. If you like all four of these things, you’re gonna really f**king love it.” That’s who we’re writing it for: people who like all four of those things.

And who doesn’t like midget jokes, except for midgets, and who cares what they think?

RR: What are they gonna do about it? I’m not afraid of a midget. I’ll say it. I don’t even care. Check it out America!

BP: You know what you do? Wear a chimp costume. Midgets are deathly afraid of chimps. It’s true. ‘Cause chimps are threatened by midgets and midgets know that. If a chimp sees a midget he’s going to f**k him up because he thinks it’s another chimp wearing a people suit.

All Around: (laughter)

BP: It’s true! It’s true!

RR: (chuckling) Another chimp in a people suit.

BF: So we can say you don’t have a PC approach to the elves in this book.

BP: I don’t have a PC approach to anything.

GD: We really wanted to make something that would please us.

BP: Back to the question or who the audience is, it came from making us laugh. That’s how everything I write is: What makes me laugh. I just became confident that there were enough people out there who have the same likes as me. They’re going to love it. It’s for them.

For a preview of The Last Christmas #1,  click here.

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