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Space, The Funny Frontier

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With Outer Orbit, Sean Murphy and Zach Howard hope to send your funny bone rocketing into the atmosphere. The series follows the misadventures of Krunk and Quinn in an instellar setting. Let’s hear what the creators have to say for someselves.

In the Dark Horse mini series, Murphy and Howard show that space doesn’t have to be serious. The creators beamed by the Broken Frontier space station to talk about their upcoming book.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Can you give us a description of the series?

ZACH HOWARD: Idiots in space! Outer Orbit is an intergalactic adventure that humorously tackles the notion of friendship and how it can develop under the most unlikely of circumstances.  Throw in a crazy violent sex-driven vixen, add a priceless artifact, and you basically have our story.  Each issue moves pretty quickly and is packed full of crap you’d never see in one of the weekly 750 X-Men comic books out there.  Idiocy, sheep-cuddling, and pantsless heroes – what more could one ever want?

BF: How did the two of you meet?

SEAN MURPHY: I met Zach in Orlando when I was still in college.  I was all starry eyed at that point and I asked him to look at my stuff at his table.  I hadn't found a "style" yet and he gave me a lot of good pointers.  Because neither of us is organized, we never exchanged emails or phone numbers.  I'd travel the con circuit in the east and bump into him now and then and we'd always have a laugh about something.

We bumped into each other at the San Diego con and, once again, started laughing it up.  We got onto the topic of surfing, which I had done about a half dozen times.  He invited me to surf with him and his buddy early the next morning before the con, so I agreed.  I slept in a surf bag on the floor and Zach got stung in the ankle by a stingray the next morning.  He and I were on the beach for about an hour until help arrived, and when they did Zach was almost blind.  I think I was actually holding his hand... BUT IT WAS ONLY FOR EMOTIONAL SUPPORT.  Then we exchanged numbers and eventually I lived in his basement with him and his wife, Meghan.  I know I joke around with interviews a lot, but this story is totally true.

ZACH: Sean makes this story a little more homoerotic than it really is.  Yes, we held hands, but I punched him in the throat later to make up for it…

BF: How did Outer Orbit come about?

ZACH: Sean was living in my basement so we ended up working together almost every single day.   To pass the time in ways other than pointing out each other’s idiosyncrasies, we decided to talk about our “dream” comic book gig.  We soon came up with a story that starred over the top, stupid versions of ourselves (not too much of a stretch to be honest).  Our story was initially influenced by the movie The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.  We had to tell a story that equally shared two protagonists.  Once we had this direction, we just started to figure out things we found funny and would fit in our book.  We are pretty damn proud that this book even got off the ground.  It’s been uphill to say the least. 

Click to enlargeBF: What about Dark Horse? How did they become involved in all of this?

SEAN: I had been emailing Chris Warner at Dark Horse for a few years during college, always showing him new work and plugging away like a good boy should.  After Off Road he told me that he's like a look at any new projects I had.  Zach had similar connections to Chris Ryall at IDW.  It was back and forth for a few months, but we eventually went with Dark Horse.  IDW would have been great too, but the book felt more at home at Dark Horse.

BF: Both of you are listed as Writer/Artist. Can you elaborate on how much each of you is doing in these aspects?

ZACH: This is a tough one.  We came up with the story and its basic plot.  Then, once we sold it to Dark Horse, we had to figure out what happened in each issue (Hans helped us out tremendously with this).  Then Sean and I broke down our individual scenes, thumbing them out while writing loose dialogue.  After we draw our pages, we each work with Hans on the final dialogue.  During this process, Sean and I constantly tweak each other’s dialogue to make certain that it’s as crisp and funny as it can be.  It’s pretty much 50/50 until the end when I put the entire book together.  I unfortunately play the part of the editor by the end of the process. 

It’s not the most efficient way to make a comic, but the book has turned out so well with each of us doing our part.  We give and take every day.  The story really gets polished and lends to each of our strengths this way. 

BF: What are the benefits of having a co-creator?

SEAN: The best part is for emotional support.  For those of you who might not know, drawing comics is hard and the work artists do isn't always appreciated.  We live in a vacuum and send off art into a void and then surf the internet a month later looking for praise from any living soul who might have posted about your book.  No health plan, no office with other people, low pay if any at all, a lot of loneliness...it's good to have a friend like Zach.  If I'm depressed, he's there to talk because he knows the life and knows the score.  Off Road was fun because I had total control but it was really quiet in my apartment. 

Outer Orbit is fun because I can send him a page, call him up and laugh about stuff that I hid in the background.  Plus, when we plot out the issues, we'll come up with jokes over the phone and work them in.  I say a lot of dumb stuff and Zach takes it to the next level.  It's like tetherball but we're on the same team. For some reason we end up with a lot of jokes involving thongs. We joke that people are going to think we're gay. 

ZACH: Luckily, I’m a rugged looking mountain man.  I would make a pretty scary homosexual…   Sean however is really pretty.  

Click to enlargeBF: What are the drawbacks?

ZACH: You can’t just wake up and do whatever the hell you want to do.  When you do your own book, you can change your mind whenever the hell you want.  When others are equally depending on you, you have to be a bit more focused and selfless.  It can slow the process of drawing down considerably.  The great plus side is that collaboration is almost always going to be better than a solo project.

BF: How much have you taken from the space fantasy genre? Is it simply a comedy in that setting, or is it more of a parody of that style?

SEAN: We take a lot from the buddy movie, like The Odd Couple.  The setting is just gravy.  Lots of stuff has been done like that before; obviously the setting isn't anything new.  But we wanted something fun to draw and the idea of a universe where we could draw anything really appealed to us.  Zach and I like drawing backgrounds so we really go to town in this book.  The art is insane because we're both really into the project, something else that's rare for us in comics. 

ZACH: It’s definitely a parody style.  We don’t care about the physics of how things work or what intergalactic political struggles are happening.  Spaceships work because they just do.  People can float in space and not freeze to death.  Get over it.   Our characters are more concerned with how they are going to fart in public without being noticed, than how to work a teleporter.  However, we still like to come up with things that look like they work.  If a gadget looks cool and feels like it could work, it will make the story go smoother for the reader.   It’s definitely a weird balance.

BF: This is a four-issue limited series... any plan for a sequel?

ZACH: Ugggh!  Let’s get through this one first. 

But, yes, we have a crazy number of things we would like to do with these characters.  When we first came up with the story, it was about 12 issues - we obviously have a ton of crap left over.  The great thing about Krunk and Quinn is that their relationship is so entertaining; you can put them in almost any situation or story.  Their interaction is what drives the book, so yes, we could and plan to do sequels.  Although, it’s tough to look ahead when we are in the thick of things right now.

I’m sure we’ll check our bank accounts next year to see if we can afford to take another crack at Outer Orbit. 

BF: In the preview, we see a man in a thong. Why would you do this to your poor readers?

SEAN: We do it for us.  We think it's funny as hell.  Hopefully readers can laugh as hard as we do.

ZACH: Heroes in comic books wear entirely too many clothes.  Take his pants off and you can really see what type of “hero” he is.  …Seriously, pantsless people are funny.  Put them in thongs and you get funny times 2!  Add butt hair and your funny factor is off the scale.  This is a fact…

BF: Why are the bad girls always hot? I mean, really really hot?

SEAN: I know... I hate that sex sells.  I try to draw as many B cups girls as possible to even out all the Vampirellas.  But Neoki is hot for a good reason, and you'll have to read to find out.

ZACH: Honesty, Neoki’s hotness is a necessary plot device.  No one would buy the book if our characters had sex with fat ugly mustached women.  I know it’s what happens in the real world to most comic book fans, but we are trying to create an attractive fantasy here.  Maybe we will throw in a drawing of a fat sweaty man in a zebra-striped thong to help balance things out for you. 

BF: Uh, no thanks. Really, it’s not a problem. Are there any other upcoming projects the two of you would like to mention?

SEAN: I've got a cartoon that will hit the web at some point, but I can't say anything yet.  Hopefully it'll be bigger than Home Movies.  I also did a gig with Land Rover and some Batman/Superman stuff.  There's some Teen Titans stuff in there, too.

ZACH: Jeez, I bounce around all over to pay bills while I make my own books.  You can usually see my work pop up over at DC and IDW from time to time. However, next year I’ll be doing a Victorian horror comic with Zander Cannon. His work is amazing and I can’t wait to get started. 

If science fiction and comedy is your thing, be sure to check out Outer Orbit when it hits the stands December 13th.

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