Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Virtual Comic Con 2012: Shawn Aldridge, writer of Vic Boone

Day 3 of the Virtual Comic Con is upon us. Today, I talk with Shawn Aldridge, writer of Vic Boone: Malfunction Murder.

Shawn lives in Portland, Oregon, as do many comic creators, and has published his series Vic Boone with Philadelphia-based comic publisher 215 Ink. I asked Shawn about his inspiration for Vic, how he balances the various genres that blend together to make the series enjoyable, and his views on comic creators relationships with publishers.

Brian: Where did the ideas behind Vic Boone come from: the former daredevil turned private eye, the mixture of old school noir and science fiction, Vic's destructive personality, etc.? I know your father was a big influence on the series.

Shawn:  It was my uncle who was the biggest influence on the creation of Vic Boone. Growing up, I spent a lot of time around him. He'd watch anything that had science fiction or fantasy elements no matter how bad it might be. The classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet were a part of his childhood and by extension became a part of mine. He was also responsible for my love of comics. He'd bring over a stack every couples of weeks and leave them for me to read. 

The initial idea to mix noir and science fiction came one night when I was looking through some 60s pulp novels I had. Two covers, one science fiction, the other a tough guy pulp, just happened to be juxtaposed in a way to spur the idea of mixing the two genres. Not the most original idea, but the first spark seldom is. I think it's how you expand it that makes it yours. For me that came from the question, What if all those early science fiction movies had actually happened, that they weren't Hollywood fiction but were historical fact?

With that world in place, I knew it would only be as interesting as the character who walked you through it. Enter Vic Boone. Making him a private eye seemed a good way to set up situations to put him in, but I also wanted there to be something unique about him. His being a former motorcycle daredevil seemed to work on a few different levels and played into the themes I wanted to explore. I view Boone as this guy who is always trying to prove his worth in a world where the worth of a human is slowing fading away. He firmly believes that good ol' sweat and grit can trump any amount of technology. To him technology is a crutch that will eventually turn you soft.

Brian:  Do you see any of yourself in Vic's character?

Shawn: There's probably a little of my own personality that comes through in Boone. I can definitely be a bit of a smart ass and we both share a love for vintage motorcycles. Oh, and we both have bad knees. haha.  But I can safely say I don't have the destructive personality that Boone has, nor have I ever had a bad thing to say about a robot. 

Brian: Humor plays a big part of the Vic Boone experience, yet it never undercuts the action and the dangerous situations Vic finds himself in. How do you find the right balance?

Shawn: That's a tough one. It's probably a mix of trial and error and experience gained from those errors. What I try to do is approach the scene first and do what I think best serves it. Does a joke take something away from this scene? Is this bit here a bit too serious? Once I lock in the scene, I pull back to see how it fits into the overall story. Is it necessary? Does it flow with the overall mood of the story? Of course, you never know how well you pull it off until the reader reacts to it. 

Brian: Artist Geoffo has a unique take on Boone, simple but very expressive. How did he come on board the project?

Shawn: I actually lucked into Geoffo on a message board. I posted that I was looking for an artist. In the tons of response I received, his art just seemed to fit what I was looking for the best. I loved how he framed panels and action and really understood subtle facial expressions.  
Brian: How did you become involved with 215Ink as your publisher?
Shawn: I had answered an ad they posted about taking submissions for writers and artists. As part of my samples I sent in the original 8-page Vic Boone story from Zuda [DC Comics' former Web-only outlet featuring creator-submitted comics] . Andrew, the main guy at 215Ink, fell in love with it. One thing lead to another and Vic Boone found a home.

What appealed to me about them was they're a great creator-friendly company. They're really behind the idea of creator-owned comics and trying to expand the readership and diversity of comics. There's a good group of talented creators over there and that ain't a bad thing to be a part of.  

Brian: You're outspoken on creator's rights on various social media sites. What would you like to see happen to comics creators that isn't happening now?

Shawn: I'd like to see creators given some sense of security by the industry, a bit of hope that when the jobs dry up and they're down on their luck someone will be there to help out. We shouldn't have to hear about creator x being penniless and struggle to pay hospital bills. We shouldn't have to crowdfund someone's life. I'm not sure how we accomplish that. Perhaps we could give a cut of the hundreds of millions of dollars generated by blockbuster superhero movies to Hero Initiative?  

Brian: Would you ever entertain a work-for-hire offer by the corporate comics companies?  

Shawn: Oh, definitely. I'd do a Mr. Miracle and Big Barda series in a heartbeat. As much as I love working on creator-owned comics, I also love paying the bills. haha. I think the thing you have to remember when doing work-for-hire is that you can build all the sandcastles you want, just know the sand belongs to somebody else.

Brian: Finally, what other projects do you have in the pipeline, or what would you like to create in the future?

Shawn: Right know I'm knee deep in the next Vic Boone graphic novel and a Vic Boone anthology. The anthology has me really excited. I've somehow convinced some extremely talented people to jump in and do they're take on Vic Boone. I've read a handful of the scripts so far and they're all brilliant. I've got a few pitches I'm lining up also. One is an all-ages book called Kid Gloves. It's about a boy with gloves made from Merlin's robes. There's one I'm doing with Jim McMunn called Mr. Zero. It's best described as a 60s whiteploitation comic. I'll also have a short in the upcoming FUBAR Vol 3: American History Z that's put together by Jeff McComsey and Fubar Press.

Thanks Shawn!

You can find Vic Boone: Malfunction Murder through 215 Ink's digital comics apps.

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