Robot 6 Q&A | Comedy writers unleash The Devastator humor anthology
After running a successful Kickstarter campaign, Geoffrey Golden and Amanda Meadows launched The Devastator earlier this year, a humor anthology that features a mix of prose and comics by a variety of contributors. Each issue focuses on a particular subject; the first issue lampooned cartoons like Fat Albert, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Inspector Gadget, while the second issue will take aim at science fiction when it comes out later this week.
Contributors to the anthology include a mix of humor writers, Hollywood folks and cartoonists — James Urbaniak of The Venture Bros. fame, Masterpiece Comics creator R. Sikoryak, Wondermark creator David Malki!, Antz co-writer Todd Alcott and Metalocalypse‘s Jon Schnepp, among many others. Per their site, “The Devastator publishes quarterly, which naturally means twice a year.”
I met Golden and Meadows at the Alternative Press Expo in October and caught back up with them this week to talk about the anthology.
JK: So to start off, introduce yourselves. What do you do in addition to the anthology?
Geoffrey: I’m Geoffrey Golden, co-founder and editor in chief of The Devastator. In addition, I’m a freelance writer/editor – I’ve written for Cracked, MadAtoms, National Lampoon and recently finished writing an animated movie for Lionsgate and Mondo Media (Happy Tree Friends).
Amanda: I’m Amanda Meadows, co-founder and managing editor of The Devastator. I too am a freelance writer/editor; I’ve written for College Humor, McSweeney’s, and worked at a publishing company for some time.
JK: What made you want to start publishing your own humor publication?
Amanda: We both love the golden age of great magazine-driven parody and satire in the 60s-70s, and realized there isn’t much out there like that right now.
Geoffrey: Yes, and there are so many print humor groupies. We are swimming in tail.
Amanda: Doing the backstroke in tail.
Geoffrey: Dog paddling… in tail? That doesn’t work.
JK: What were some of the influences you guys bring to the project? I get a MAD/Cracked kind of vibe from some of the material.
Geoffrey: For Devastator, some of the influences we’re drawing upon are classic MAD, classic National Lampoon magazine, Bloom County, James Thurber, The Onion, Michael Kupperman, South Park and classic Steve Martin.
Amanda: Geoff and I were both big comedy geeks at an early age. I’m also a literary fiend, so sometimes you see some of that. In our most recent book, we spoofed those mash-up novels with “Mrs. Dalloway and the Reptillian Humanoids.”
JK: You’ve got an impressive group of creators who contributed to the first two issues. How do you go about finding material to publish and recruiting talent to work with? Do you mostly work with people you know, or is there a formal process?
Amanda: We happen to know a ton of uber-talented friends- like brilliant parody artist R. Sikoryak, screenwriter Todd Alcott, or James Urbaniak (The Venture Bros). Many times we simply approach people we love, like Metalocalypse’s Jon Schnepp, and they jump at the opportunity to do something fun and different.
JK: What’s the funniest thing you’ve gotten so far that you haven’t been able to publish?
Geoffrey: The Cartoons book has a piece called “A Knack For Knock-Offs,” which was a gallery of bootleg illustrations by a hack artist. The creator of the piece, Ryan Sandoval, gave us too many funny illustrations to choose from, so his “Calvin Peeing On Osama Bin Laden’s Decapitated Head T-Shirt” went cruelly unpublished.
Amanda: For the upcoming Devastator #2: Science Fiction, a hilarious comic script for “Blade Runner Bloopers” came across our desk a little too late.
Amanda: Our wishlist is long, but we are hacking away at it… we’d love to see original work from Michael Kupperman, Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics, manga-ka Filipe Smith, and Kate Beaton would be a coup.
Geoffrey: We’d also kill to have Robert Smigel and Ben Edlund on board. Kiiiill…
JK: Some of the submissions were funny but a bit, um, disturbing? I’m particularly thinking of the Slash Fiction Throughout History feature in the first issue. Is there a line you won’t cross when selecting more risque material?
Amanda: By the way, Popeye and Bluto snuggling in bed together during WWII is easily one of our most popular images. People chuckle nervously when they first see it, then buy the print.
Geoffrey: I think we’re still figuring out the line. Our goal is to publish stuff that makes us laugh and not completely freak out our parents. So far, we’ve only just disgraced them a bit.
JK: You’ve tackled science fiction and cartoons in the two issues you’ve published so far. What themes can we expect to see in future issues?
Amanda: CBR is getting the first word! Our next book’s theme is cats! Cats in pop culture, cat-owner culture, the cat industrial complex… it’s all ripe for clawing.
Geoffrey: Cartoonist and award winning cat breeder Jeffrey Brown is contributing, among other awesome folk!
JK: Are there plans to make Devastator available online or digitally in some form? And why did you choose to publish it in print rather than, say, setting up a website?
Amanda: We sell our ebook versions through WOWIO for lulz, which you can find here. The book is the true experience, but if you’re unsure about us we suggest getting a $1.99 PDF. But really, why be unsure? We’re great.
Geoffrey: We wanted to create the kind of print humor publication we read and loved as kids. If Devastator lived solely online, it would be artistically disappointing. Sort of like shooting a movie and distributing it direct-to-DVD instead of in theaters first.
Amanda: Although we are working on some awesome video content in addition to the books. One of them is animated! Squee!
JK: You guys have been hitting the convention circuit and making appearances to publicize the book. What do you have coming up?
Amanda: Next year will be awesome. We just got word we’re exhibiting at both WonderCon and SDCC ‘11! COMIC-CON!
Geoffrey: Also, if you’re a SoCal local, we are regulars at the Rose Bowl Comics Show in Pasadena. Bring us your $2 bills!
Amanda: $2 bills are shockingly popular in Pasadena.
JK: How did the Kickstarter campaign work out? Any tips or tricks for others who might be considering it?
Geoffrey: I’m not sure it would have been possible to make The Devastator at the scale we managed to make it without Kickstarter. It’s an innovative way to organize the savage beast that is the fundraising process.
Amanda: Some tips we learned going through the process: make a realistic goal. No one wants to give you $15,000 so can quit your job to record your ironic Juggalo band. Make awesome rewards. “Special thanks” credits on a movie are not good enough – give them swag! Always update the donors, because including them in the process is more fun. Lastly, do your best to get your project out there on Facebook and the blogosphere- you never know who could be a potential backer!
JK: And finally, you guys were heavily promoting subscriptions at APE this year. How have they been doing? And how does that help your overall business plan?
Amanda: BTW- thank you JK for being a subscriber! *confetti*
Our base is growing with every show. We always recommend subscribing–you get 4 books for a price so low, it leads you to question our mental faculties and ability to perform simple arithmetic. Plus they get a piece of awesome merch. So much win.
Geoffrey: Like with any publication, subscribers are the livelihood of business. The beginning is the hardest, but thanks to the groundswell of support we got on Kickstarter, we had something substantial to build on. However, if anyone reading this is in Business Development, we’d love to talk to you!
Amanda: You will be wined and, quite possibly, dined.