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Indie Spotlight: Malcolm Magic

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Greetings Indie comic fans! Welcome to another exciting edition of Indie Spotlight. This week I heard from the Etherington brothers, creators of Malcolm Magic. This was a fun interview. Hopefully after reading it you’ll give their book a try!

The MIGHTY TEN!

1. Who are you and what is your book?

We are Robin and Lawrence Etherington, a.k.a. BLINK TWICE, and our current self-published title is called Malcolm Magic.

2. What’s your book about? Can you compare it to any other books out right now?

Malcolm is a delusional alcoholic rabbit who lives in a peaceful little town called Fuzzton with his pals Fikov (a giant Russian bear), Pygmy (a blind shrew), Chester (a Chipmunk with a whole bunch of eating disorders) and Reggy (a straight-laced Badger business mogul). The comic follows the antics of this unlikely group of heroes as they attempt to survive one disaster after another. There’s a big plot in there too but all you need to know for now is that each issue is jam packed with gags galore, slapstick violence and more movie quotes then you will EVER spot... now there’s a challenge. Malcolm Magic is the comic book equivalent of Spaced meeting Futurama in a head on alcohol-fuelled collision... with animals... and the odd robot... Right now I can honestly say that there’s nothing like it on the market but I’m sure Image are in the process of constructing a carbon copy called something like Simon’s Sorcery, while JK Rowling desperately tries to discover if we’ve infringed on her copyright legacy by using the word ‘Magic’ in print.

Erm... I guess the funnier moments of Bone and the slapstick moments of Liberty Meadows come closest to the books style. But that’s to do both Jeff Smith and Frank Cho a disservice... apologies gentlemen!

3. Who (or what) are some of your major influences?

ROBIN: Money, cheap liquor and fast women (you can’t say money! – Ed.). Okay so that was a cheap shot at a little something we like to call humor, but being serious for a second, pop culture in general has shaped the way I think about a story and the style of comedy we’re crafting in this black and white bi-monthly. Particular story-telling icons that I love are Michael Marshall Smith (now just Michael Marshall for his horror/thriller work), Joe Kelly, Chris Ware, Stan Sakai and the mind-numbing genius that is Katsuhiro Otomo.

LAWRENCE: From a purely fantastical point-of-view the work of Massimiliano Frezzato has always been a joy to behold. The style of Malcolm Magic pays, if not homage, then certainly an affectionate nod to the UK’s 1930’s comic book supreme Roy Wilson, while Ed Cartier’s 40’s sci-fi pulp illustrations, Frank Hampton’s wonderful stylings and Uderzo’s sequential genius have all left a big ol’ ink mark on my own blue-line scribbles.

4. What inspires you?

ROBIN: Money, cheap liquor... okay, okay. I’ll behave! It’s gonna sound sucky but Lawrence has and always will be my number one creative inspiration. There’s a very strange connection that occurs when you work so closely with a sibling on something like this. Arguments can be very explosive and stubbornness over key issues can occasionally derail rational thinking but the simple fact remains that we share a very unique and idealistic bond with this project. We know our world and we both know where we want to take our characters and our readers. Handing a script to Lawrence and seeing him flip at the opportunity to draw the gang performing whatever fevered piece of insanity I’m currently finding amusing is pretty cool but it now tends to make me try and outdo myself with each instalment.

LAWRENCE: “GAAAAAY”... as Ed would say (Shaun of the Dead). Despite Robin’s soppy response I’d have to agree that creating our own world is an inspiration in itself; crafting characters and environments from my brother’s undecipherable scrawl then watching that big stupid smile spread across his ugly mug is great. Other than that, the thought that if we get really successful I might one day be able to play with the action figure set of Malcolm in the privacy of my own sand pit is enough to keep me striving.

5. Would you ever like your book to be mainstream, or are you pleased with where it is?

Is this a trick question? Hell yeah we’d like it to be mainstream but mainstream in a Hard Times, NYC Mech kind of a way. An Indy title but with backing. Either that or a better promoted Bear (SLG) sort of thing. I can’t imagine Malcolm ever out-selling the X-Men but it could certainly give a lot of so-called ‘popular’ small press titles a damn good kick in the ass!

6. Do you aspire to make it into the mainstream? For instance, if you were offered a job at Marvel or DC would you take it?

At the end of the day, our goal is to succeed as a Studio; to be acknowledged for the titles we create and the products we bring to life. But that’s not to say that Lawrence wouldn’t love to work on some guest cover stints, or the odd 1-shot, while I would enjoy turning my hand to a small run on an interesting mainstream title. Problem is Marvel and DC don’t offer much in the way of creative freedom anymore (well unless you’re Jim Lee or someone) and I reckon we’d both get pretty frustrated at being told what we can and cannot do. Okay, let’s face it, we’re control junkies!

7. Do you aspire to stay in comics? Or do you just want to tell a few stories and be done with the medium?

The current Malcolm story arc runs to issue 12. We’re launching the series again from Issue 1 through Diamond at the end of the summer so we’ll be tied into the series until mid 2006 at the very earliest. At the end of the day though we simply love telling our weird little tales in a sequential format and hope we can maintain our involvement in this overlooked medium for as long as possible. It’s the greatest kick to see a finished issue in print. I doubt that sense of magic will ever fade.

8. Do you have any other projects lined up?

We’re currently working on a special series of yearly one-shot stand alone comics called TUSK – think Cheers but with animals... oh… and funny – set again in the town of Fuzzton, where Malcolm lives but featuring a new cast of freaks and weirdos. The first of these hits the shelves in April 2005. We’re launching the first Malcolm Magic computer game, in conjunction with the technical genius at the heart of our studio Mark Clements, around the same time and there’s a very exciting project entitled MOON!, on the horizon... not to mention some tasty Malcolm Magic merchandise!

9. What books are you into right now?

Already mentioned NYC Mech and Hard Times but it never hurts to plug ‘em twice! Street Angel continues to get a smile and a giggle and PVP has been raising more than a few laughs from us. Oh and anything that Kazu Kibuishi doodles or pens over at www.BoltCity.com. The man’s a genius.  

10. Where can folks go to see more of your work and purchase your comics?

For everything Malcolm related go to www.malcolmmagic.com where we have created - again with the very able assistance of our web wizard Mark (Lawrence and I SUCK at this stuff!) - a lovely little world for you to play in. If you’d like to look at some 4-page previews of any of our issues then simply click on the ‘BUY’ icon on the homepage and then select the issue of your choice. You can purchase any of these comics directly though the online store. Malcolm will always be there to guide you as you explore the site – be sure to search everywhere and pay attention to what that furry fall says! There’s never-to-be-published pencil sketches, original cover and page layouts, characters info, building designs, vehicle designs and our superb store – soon to have one HELL of a makeover! I kid you not. For everything relating to the company from reviews, news, announcements, sneak peaks, interviews to the rambling Bob’s Blog, simply visit the official company site www.studioblinktwice.com. We update these sites frequently so keep your eyes peeled. Oh and if you live in the UK you can also purchase Malcolm Magic through the following reputable comic stores:

London:
GOSH! - 39 Great Russell Street
Comic Showcase - 63 Charing Cross Road
Avalon Comics - 143 Lavender Hill

Bristol:
Area 51 - 143 Gloucester Road
Kathies Comics - Unit BG 29, The Galleries
Travelling Man - 8 Park Street
Beat Inc. – Basement BS8, Park Street

The BLINK TWICE team will also be appearing at the Comic Expo Convention in Bristol from May 14th-15th at the British Empire and commonwealth Exhibition Hall and the Ramada Plaza Hotel http://www.comicexpo.net/home.html PHEEEEEEEEEW!!!

BONUS QUESTIONS!

Now I went to your site to order some books but all the prices are in European currency. How can we American’s buy your book?

Currently our online store only caters to the UK/Europe market (largely as a result of a conscious decision to test our title out on a smaller audience). Malcolm Magic will be available through Previews in the late summer and therefore readily available to everyone, but in a slightly different format to the present UK 'super-plush' cartridge stock JOY. They'll be a stack of new artwork (an entirely redrawn Issue 1!) new covers and new bonus material. For those of you Stateside who wish to own the original gems, you can pick it up via AVALON COMICS who will ship our wondrous 1st collected Edition worldwide HERE!... http://www.ekmpowershop.com/ekmps/shops/avaloncomics/index.asp?function=DISPLAYCAT&catid=144

We're planning to get the whole credit card store thing set up as soon as we re-launch the series through Diamond, especially as the T-Shirts, Limited Edition Prints and Computer games are a-coming...

Any plans to hit any of the cons here in the states?

With regard to the US Conventions, hell yeah! We'd particularly love to visit STAPLES in Austin and APE in San Francisco but unfortunately we may have committed to too many projects already this year. As I mentioned we'll still be present at the Comic Expo in May, hosted in Bristol but as for America? Well, we may have to wait for 2006. Trust us though, when we do show up, EVERYONE will know it! Ten foot display stands, con-only sketch book giveaways, ultra-limited edition art work bidding wars and three of the most amiable guys on the UK comic scene can have that effect...

Thanks so much guys! Seriously, these are two of the nicest guys I’ve met since starting the Indie Spotlight. Check out their site and keep and eye out for Malcom Magic in Previews!

And don’t forget we’re always taking submissions for new Indie Spotlights. All you have to do is copy and paste the Ten Questions and send the answers to me at JPDorigo@brokenfrontier.com.

- J.P. Dorigo

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