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Comics Comics: An Interview with Starburns' Simon Oré And Brendan Wright

Written by Tim Midura on Wednesday, August 22 2018 and posted in News with Benefits

Comics Comics: An Interview with Starburns' Simon Oré And Brendan Wright

Comics Comics is an anthology pairing comedians with comics artists.

Source: Kickstarter

Starburns Industries newest release is Comics Comics, a quarterly anthology written entirely by stand-up comedians and drawn by funny cartoonists. I had the chance to interview publisher Simon Oré and editor Brendan Wright about the project.


Tim Midura: Comics Comics can be summed up as comics written by comics. Could you make that more confusing for our readers?

Simon Oré: Actually, it's comics writing comics. Illustrated by comics artists who vibe with the style of the comic. And by comic, I mean the writer, the one who writes the comic.

Brendan Wright: Many are also comics about comics, but it's impossible to tell which kind.


Poop Knife by Carolyn Main and Crank!


TM: Each issue contains at least 48 pages. How come there is no set number?

SO: In terms of sets, we know most comedians tend to run a little long. So we account for that in the comics. I personally would love it if it were 42 pages—a nod to the answer to the ultimate question.

BW: It's true—my most consistent note has been, "Could it be eight pages instead of ten?" But part of making Comics Comics as flexible as we can for our contributors is being loose about page count. If someone has a story that is perfect at 20 pages, we're not going to say no, and if the only way someone can fit a comic into their schedule is to do a one-page gag or a Far Side–type comic, then we'll make it work. Issue #1 hit 48 pages on the dot (and that is story pages—any design pages and ads are in addition to that, so you really get 48 pages of comics, whichever kind it is), but future issues could potentially run over by a few pages.


Real-Life World's Finest by Patton Oswalt, Troy Nixey, and Michelle Madsen


TM: How did you find the talent for the anthology?

SO: Casey Rup, producer and editor at Starburns, and Brendan's contacts and friends. I depended on them. Casey created and hosts a monthly Los Angeles comedy review called SUPER TIGHT, and we were able to reach out to many of our contributors. And as for the art—in addition to Brendan's life in the comics—where he knows or has access to anyone we could want—we are also an animation studio and get to work with great artists who are fans of ours and of the comedians we are working with.

BW: We started with a wish list of both writers and artists I pictured when I pitched the book. The writers list was a mix of stand-ups that I knew were nerdy and others I just wanted to see in print either way, while the artist list was made up of people who draw funny comics or who I see talking about stand-up online. Casey added a lot of names from LA's deep bench of comedy, and it's also grown organically. A bunch of the writers had ideas about who they wanted to draw their stories, while comedy nerd artists I know also suggested comedians they're friends with, and we've brought in both writers and artists that way.

TM: Stand-up comedy is an aural medium. How was it working with the comedians to bring jokes to a static medium like comics?

SO: At the end of the day, a good comedian is telling you a series of stories; we've just asked them to write one down for us so we can bring it to life in a different fashion than some of them might be used to. Others, who have written for comics, understand what they have to do.

BW: We worked with whatever comfort level each contributor was at. Some sent full comics scripts that were basically ready to draw, others sent something closer to a screenplay, which I helped them break into individual moments. Not every writer was already familiar with how to tell a story in comics, but stand-up can require developing jokes on a really granular level, sometimes spending months adjusting a word here and a word there until it gets the right laugh, so making small adjustments to heighten the impact of a word or pause in a comic came pretty naturally to everyone, and they all seemed to enjoy the different way pacing works in comics. Ultimately, stand-up is writing, and good writers can learn the conventions of a format and get down to the writing.


Unlikely Patriot by Jackie Kashian, Sarah Burrini, M. Victoria Robado, and Sal Cipriano


TM: How much editorial oversight did you have on the stories?

SO: I'll let Brendan speak to that.

BW: I guess technically we have a lot, but we aren't exercising that much. This project is all about unique voices and offering a different kind of stage for stand-ups to use that voice with as little interference as possible. We haven't said no to any story ideas, and the closest we've come in when someone will pitch us three ideas and I'll pick one I like best.

In stand-up comedy, the audience is the editor, with jokes evolving based on the reaction they get on stage. I approached editing the stories pretty much how I edit anything, which is to think of myself as an experienced and knowledgeable audience member. So I'll read a script, write down how I reacted to it, and then try to figure out why I reacted that way. I never make notes based on what I think a thing should be; I go based on what I think they were trying to accomplish and make any suggestions I have on how to accomplish that a little better. But the notes are always suggestions—these aren't my stories—so while the writers and artists appreciate them and often take most of them, it's up to them. I wasn't sure how people used to talking directly to an audience would take to getting these kinds of notes, but so far it's gone great. Issue #1 writer Sara Benincasa reminded me that most of these writers have written for TV or other media, so it's not like notes are a new thing, and I suspect I'm giving fewer than they'd get in a lot of those environments.

TM: Marvel has been having stand-ups writing comics such as Deadpool for some time now. How much pressure do you feel letting them write actually funny stories?

SO: We know they are funny and creative storytellers, and we also know that they have a lot of layers and levels to them—we know sometimes the stories will be more sweet, or bittersweet, than they will be funny, and some will be high-concept, gleeful insanity. We want these funny and creative people to know they have a playground at Comics Comics where they can explore and we can help them tell stories that they might not have ever imagined could fit into this medium.

BW: There is also no mandate that the stories be comedy. If a stand-up who works with us wants to write something more serious, or more straight-ahead genre, we're all for it. The stories will mostly be funny, but I'm really interested in the whole worldview of the kind of people who tell jokes alone on a stage for a living. That's such a unique lifestyle and creative process, and part of the idea with this series is to see what else the worldviews of people who do it have in common, even when they're not joking. The point of the comic isn't to constantly elbow you in the ribs and make sure you know how funny the comic is. And as long as they all have those yellow captions with meta jokes about how DC sux, then they are welcome to write The Sorrow and the Pity.


The Comics Comics Kickstarter launches August 22 and continues through September 20.


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About the Author - Tim Midura

Born in the frozen tundra of Massachusetts, Tim Midura has long possessed a love for comic books and records. After stealing the beard of Zeus and inventing the pizza bagel, a much more heavily tattooed and bearded Tim Midura has finally settled in San Diego. He's the world's first comics journalist who doesn't want to become a comics writer. Find him on twitter, facebook or by email.

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