Biff! Bam! Pow! Comics aren't just for kids anymore! Except of course, when they are. Take, for instance, Penny Powers vs. the Maniacal Meatloaf Monster, a new comic from cartoonist Charles C. Dowd. Dowd, an Outhouse reader (but don't hold that against him), is currently seeking funding for the book on Kickstarter, and by seeking funding, we mean he already has it, so this is an easy job for us, right?!
Still, if you know some children that like comics, but you don't know how to get them any because a disproportionate number of mainstream books are geared toward 40 year old men, you can head over to Kickstarter and preorder a copy of Penny Powers. Or hey, maybe you're a fully grown adult and you want to read a comic about a super-powered fourth-grader and her cat sidekick. Listen, we're not here to judge you. Just head over to Kickstarter and pledge some money for a digital or physical copy of the book.
In addition to getting your grubby hands (or the sticky hands of your grubby children) on a great comic, you can also help Dowd donate copies of the book to kids in need. If you're already sold, you can visit the Kickstarter page right now. If not, you can read an interview with Charles C. Dowd below.
Tell us a little bit about Penny Powers.
Penny Powers is a superpowered fourth-grader and defender of her hometown of Plainsburg, which for some reason tends to attract more than their fair share of building smashing monsters and bad guys.
This will be the first of what I hope will be at least a three book series, and tells the origin of the Maniacal Meatloaf Monster. The Meatloaf Monster is impervious to Penny's patented Power Punch, so she, Penny Powers, must use her brain instead of her brawn to stop the menacing meat-man.
Your Kickstarter describes Penny Powers vs the Maniacal Meatloaf Monster as "inspired by the classic comics and heroes we all grew up with." Don't you know nobody reads those anymore? Have you considered going grimdark?
As a matter of fact I already went grimdark with my first comic, Lilith Dark, which is about a little girl who finds an underground world of cannibalistic beasties. That comic featured plenty of grimdark concepts such as body-horror by way of an evil werecat, implied consumption of human flesh, and a dinosaur getting punched in the face.
With Penny, I wanted to work on a story that was a little more upbeat and silly for kids who are too scared of the monsters in Lilith Dark. Penny Powers is designed to be bright, colorful, and funny. The story is ridiculous and has an over-the-top villain like a classic Stan Lee era book where nothing really makes sense and just sorta happens.
You're an independent comics creator who has published several successful comics, such as Lilith Dark, the A-Z Guide to Jobs for Girls, and Kidthulu. So tell me, what's it like living in poverty?
One saving grace about being poor in America is that there's always an abundance of cheese, and the government just gives it away for free! We're all terribly constipated.
Your books tend to be geared toward kids. Are you trying to influence our children for your own nefarious purposes? The jig is up, Dowd. What's your endgame?
Well since no one at Marvel or DC seems to care about selling books to kids, I saw an opportunity to slide into the market. It's a long game for sure, but I figure if I can get kids hooked on funnybooks while they're young, maybe, just maybe they'll want to buy more funnybooks when they get older. The Big Two have proven that adults will pay upwards of $6 per comic, so I'm just biding my time. My goal is to be a thousandaire by 2030.
There's been a lot of discussion and debate in the comics community about representation and who should write what. With that in mind, how did you approach the creation of a young female character. Don't you think girls have enough representation in comics, and your efforts could have been better served writing about the severely disenfranchised older, straight white guy with a beard demographic?
Speaking as an older straight white guy with a beard, I must admit that at first writing a young female character was a bit of a challenge, but once you realize that girls, much like most boys, are just regular people, it gets easier. It also helps that I've spent time with actual females in real life like my mom, wife, and daughter. Not to mention all the women I've come across in the workplace and at school. Women are everywhere if you just look!
As far as representation is concerned, the whole reason I started making comics at all was because I wanted to share comics with my daughter, but there weren't any comics targeted toward or appropriate for a seven-year-old girl on the shelf, so I decided to make some. Once I started showing off Lilith Dark, people just instantly got it. They loved the whole concept of a non-sexualized female hero aimed at kids, and Penny Powers was created in that same spirit.
Six years ago when I started down this road, there weren't any Squirrel Girls, Miss Marvels or Captain Marvels, just Catwoman banging Batman on some random roof. I have no problem with roof-banging if that's your thing, but it wasn't what I was looking for at the time.
For the art nerds out there, tell us about your process. How do you produce your comics?
At this point in my career I'm almost completely digital. I do most of my rough thumbnailing on actual paper like a caveman, but once I have a good enough sense of how the pages should lay out I get to work on sketching the full size pages in a program called Manga studio. I use a Cintiq, which is a monitor that lets you draw right on the screen, so it's just like regular drawing except there's no scanning and cleaning. It cuts out the middle man and allows me to work faster and more efficiently.
After the pages are drawn I usually color, letter and add special effects in Photoshop. Once that's done, I save them and send them off to the printer. Once I get the shipment of finished books I pile them up in a huge stack on my porch in hopes that someone will want to buy some one day. If the order's big enough you can arrange the boxes like a big throne. Comics are fun!
Okay, that's enough of that.
Do you fear the ramifications it might have for future generations that, in a single paragraph in the Kickstarter, you've depleted almost 76% of the world's supply of the letter "P"? Don't you care about our planet?
I find that question to be positively preposterous. How dare you present my penchant for alliteration as problematic. Puh-lease!
What do you have against meatloaf? Related question: what do you have against Meatloaf (the singer)?
Meatloaf is an ongoing theme in my books. I've always had kind of a love/hate relationship with meatloaf, as in I love to eat it and when I do I hate myself because I'll eat too much of it and feel fat and bloated. Especially after eating all of that free cheese.
And don't get me started on Meatloaf (the singer). If you see that guy, you tell him I'm still waiting for him to return that blender. I haven't had a smoothie in almost a decade because of him.
Why should readers back this project on Kickstarter?
Penny Powers is a fun book for all kids, not just girls. There's a kid who eats a radioactive meatloaf and morphs into a meatloaf monster! Penny punches a kaiju in the face! There's a bully that gets whats comin' to him! This book has everything!
I'm also donating copies of the book to underprivileged kids who live in poor neighborhoods with underfunded schools and libraries, so even if Penny Powers just isn't for you, you can still help me give a book to a kid in need. Thank you!
Head over to Kickstarter to pledge now, or check out the rewards below: