Joy Buzzards Rock the Frontier

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On the eve of their Volume 2 tour, The Amazing Joy Buzzards stopped by for an exclusive appearance at the Broken Frontier. Writer Mark Smith talked about the Buzzards, artist Dan Hipp, their meteoric rise to fame and their latest project (in stores October 19th)…

…then he started rambling about Rocky and shouting obscenities before trashing his hotel room.

Broken Frontier - So I guess the obvious place to start is by asking – who are The Amazing Joy Buzzards? What’s the comic about?

Mark Smith - The Amazing Joy Buzzards are the world's greatest Supernatural Stomping Rock and Roll Adventure band. The group consists of guitarist & lead singer Biff Ashby, drummer Gabe Carlyle, & bassist Stevo Vargas. The band also has a Mythical Genie Mexican Wrestler who travels on tour with them getting them out of all kinds of trouble. El Campeon can be summoned by holding a magical amulet and loudly shouting the magic words "GO EL CAMPEON GO!!!". The Amazing Joy Buzzards' manager Dalton Warner is usually up to no good, working for the CIA, unknown to the group. Dalton is using The Amazing Joy Buzzards celebrity status to go on wet ops missions in countries he normally wouldn't have access to. 

BF - What inspired the creation of The Amazing Joy Buzzards?

MS - Too many factors to name all at once, but mostly foreign cinema and films of the '60s. I think with a lot of foreign films from the '60s the great thing about them is the little touches and overall sense of characterization. With their manager Dalton Warner for example he's more of a hybrid of characters and loosely based on Marcello Mastrianni from 8 ½ and Divorce Italian Style which is one of my all time favorite films. In films like Bruce Brown's "Endless Summer", and Richard Lester's "A Hard Days Night" there's a real freedom and spontaneity that I love.

BF - What influences to you draw upon?

MS - For The Amazing Joy Buzzards it's more about drawing on energy. Comics wise, I like Mike Allred, Popgun War, Pablo's Inferno, Paul Pope, Cloonan, Cooke, Daniel Torres, TMNT, Mignola, Scott Morse, Crosland, Jay Stephens, Blue Mondays, and a bunch of others I'm forgetting.

BF - It seems like you came out of almost nowhere and now have a popular "buzz book" on your hands - are you happy with how The Amazing Joy Buzzards has been received? 

MS - Yeah we're happy but we're hopping to get bigger with AJB and to create something that's thicker than Bone when all is said and done. That said we're going to keep doing the book for sometime, on our own terms. The "buzz" is nice but I think we're in the eye of the
storm so we don't hear much of anything. That's also really nice.  

Aside from the usual "Where did you guys come from!!!" we also get "Finally a comic book written and drawn by sexy people". Sure you've got your Paul Pope alright I'll give that one up, he's not bad looking, alright same with Joe Casey, but If you're doing a comic book hunk calendar you definitely want to get Smith and Hipp. 

I probably get hundreds of e-mails each day saying where have you guys been all these years, and it's true Hipp and Smith are here to save Comics. Are we happy with how TAJB has been received? I never am satisfied, I always think there's room for improvement and room to do better just like Rocky and overall with the goal of being the best you can be. 

Rocky could have retired and gave up when he fought Mr. T aka Clubber Lang? But did he, huh? No he didn't! Rocky got together with Apollo, and they jumped rope in those knee-hi-socks, the ones with the red stripes around them, you know what I'm talking about, and then they ran on the beach, and Apollo yelled at him like "Oh you don't really want it" and then Rocky was like "Hey What are you talking about? Yes I do!" 

Then they jumped up and down splashing in the waves hugging each other in such an 'oh so manly' celebratory way. That's what making comics is all about.

Rocky rose up and become the best he could and out of that spawned one of the greatest fights in all of boxing history, it's right up there with Ali & Foreman.

Hopefully Smith and Hipp will get a montage sometime soon, I'm talking to my Hollywood contacts and we're working on that right now at the moment. It's all about being the best though and going the distance. 

That's what we’re about writing and drawing comic books, going the distance, listening to 'Eye of the Tiger' in those knee-hi-socks, you know the ones with the red stripes around the knees?

BF – [Stepping back cautiously]…Right…um…So, let’s say someone sees Volume 2 Issue #1 of The Amazing Joy Buzzards on the shelf, and hasn't read the first series. What do they need to know heading into the book?

MS - You don't have to have read the first series to get Volume 2, Hipp and I were merely doing stretching exercises and warm-ups with that one so we don't get a cramp. I think Volume #1 does set up the rules of the AJB world and if the readers have read it there will be a lot of jokes that pay off and little intricate things they will pick up on and notice. But you can actually get into Vol 2 without having read Vol 1. 

BF - How is Volume 2 going to differ from the first? Is this an ongoing series, or is their a definite end planned?

MS - Volume 2 launches us into continuity, there's "Here Come The Spiders I & II", & an intermission issue with "Monster Love" and then we'll pick up after that with "The Trouble With Dalton" mini and finish this volume off. In between we still wanted some fun shorts that stand on their own, and so we've got Khary Randolph, Sean Galloway, Mark Englert doing shorts in issue three in kind of a 1001 Arabian nights style of narration, then Dave Crosland will rock issue #4 with "Mars Needs Kittens" and there will be a "Monster Love" prelude in that issue. 

BF - Do you each have a character that you particularly enjoy writing?

MS - I usually write through Gabe the most but my favorite to write is their manager Dalton Warner. 

BF - If you were putting together a soundtrack for The Amazing Joy Buzzards, what would you put on the album?

MS - Music. Definitely Music. Haha sorry I couldn't resist.

BF - Any other projects in the works besides TAJB?

MS - I'm working on Beta Boys with Jason Howard, SBSH with Rob Guillory, Victorian Space Tales, & Aqua The Conqueror with Paul Maybury, among a million other things right now.

BF – So far, what’s been the best thing about being a comic creator?

MS - Probably Cons where you actually have people come up to you and tell you how much they enjoy your work, for me that's been the single best thing about being a comic creator. Creating comic books really is a thankless occupation so it's nice to interact with readers and meet people. 

BF - If you had one sentence to sell someone on The Amazing Joy Buzzards, what would you tell them?

MS - Wait like if they haven't bought it yet?

J***S F**KING S***T What the F**K is your problem?  What are you some kind of a JERK!!!! Why don't you get up off of your LAZZZZZYYYYY ASSSSSSSSSSS and get yourself to the comic books store to pick up this comic book?? If the owner is too lazy to carry it or yet alone order it for you, tell them they're a big ***** ***** **** gobbling ********** and that you're never coming back, you're sick of putting up with their S**T and you'll reward a comic shop that does carry it or make an effort to with all of your business. Help us help you. Help us help you.

(Mutters Something under his breath).


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