Talking Comics with Tim | Jeff Parker & Erika Moen
Jeff Parker and Erika Moen had me at “dick and fart”. OK, not really. But recently when writer Parker and artist Moen (both members of Periscope Studio) launched the webcomic Bucko (the plot of which can be summed up in two sentences “A chance case of alcohol-fueled diarrhea at his job interview leaves him [Rich “Bucko” Richardson] desperately running for the bathroom where he discovers a brutally murdered body. Now it’s up to Bucko to solve this case!” [OK there's more than that, but I love short intros with long sentences...]), I immediately wanted to pester the two creators for an interview. They obliged. And Parker even dropped an f-bomb for free. Read the interview, enjoy the webcomic (which updates Tuesdays and Fridays), tell all your friends. That is all.
Tim O’Shea: How the heck did you two decide that the world needed to combine two genres like “dick and fart jokes” and “murder mystery”?
Jeff Parker: That genre heading was created by Erika. It’s not technically accurate, but it gets you in the realm of what BUCKO is. And well, someone may fart at some point I guess.
Erika Moen: Yeah, like Parker says, it’s not a literal description of what happens in the comic (well, aside from the “murder” part), but it more captures the feel of the work. I figured it was more effective than something like “a QUIRKY murder mystery!” or “a RIDICULOUS HIPSTER murder mystery” Although, really, “dick’n'fart joke” may not be that inaccurate, as we do have the promise of threesomes (“dick”), there is the case of diarrhea (“fart”) and the protagonists certainly think they’re solving a “mystery” So, y’know what? I take it back, my tag line is totally accurate.
O’Shea: I’m so glad to see the use of thought balloons in the story, it seems like internal monologues went out of style a few years back. Did either of you hesitate in using them in the story?
Parker: They only went out in superhero comics Tim, which as you know are NOT CHILDISH and are INCREDIBLY SERIOUS. Never mind how everyone is dressed and that they can breathe lasers, we do not have thought balloons! Of course the way everyone still uses them is just to have the narrative in italics in a caption box, and for some reason that’s respectable while puffy thought balloons aren’t.
Moen: Man, I just do what Parker tells me to do. I will admit that I enjoy drawing thought balloon bubbles.
O’Shea: The webcomic is not black and white–and yet it’s not in color either. What was the thinking on the blue tone on the pages?
Moen: One of my many limitations as an artist is that I’m not a great colorist, so if I can get around that hurdle then I absolutely will. When Parker and I started talking about doing Bucko, I was still wrapping up my six-year long strip, DAR!, which was “colored” using three specific tones of grey. I already had a handle on using three tones and blue is pretty so that’s what we decided to use. There’s also been some really lovely comics out there that are blue toned, so that definitely played a role in influencing that color choice. Comics like Return to Sender by Vera Brosgol, Emitown by Emi Lenox, K.G.B. by Becky Cloonan, etc. ….
O’Shea: OK, name another story that uses “alcohol-fueled diarrhea” as a plot catalyst. Did you consider other reasons to have Rich “Bucko” Richardson stumble upon the dead body?
Parker: Look, you just want me to admit that this plot point occurred to me after a similar mad dash, so I will. I take my inspiration from the world around us. And its bathrooms.
Moen: Well, Parker could have had another, perhaps “more legit”, reason for Bucko to discover the body. But let’s be honest here, that woulda been hella lame.
O’Shea: Did you two consider working with ACT-I-VATE or some other webcomic site to host Bucko, or did you always plan on hosting it on it’s own unique site?
Parker: Fuck no.
Moen: …I…. I believe what Parker is trying to say is that right from the get-go we had envisioned Bucko being its own comic on its own site. It just never even occurred to either of us to seek out somebody else to take care of that for us. We’re like Rosie the Riveter, We Can Do It!
O’Shea: How important will social media be in trying to build Bucko’s audience, considering that you crosspost the comic at Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter?
Parker: We’re thinking of using billboards too. Do those cost money?
Moen: Hm, I dunno, honestly. I guess it’s sorta important? I figure, I’ve already got people following me on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, might as well let them know when I’ve got new things for them to look at. But the majority of our hits, according to our site tracker, are coming from people directly typing in “buckocomic.com” or Googling it. Closely followed by Twitter and Facebook referrals.
O’Shea: Am I right in thinking you two have a blast working together, it seems that way just in the way you are clearly going above and beyond (like these recent reference shots that Erika did for a panel)?
Parker: Of course, Erika is like the Fergie of Periscope, who wouldn’t want to work with her? We kind of do put our episodes on like a little play in front of the rest of the studio, thereby getting an idea of what will work. Periscope Studio is live theatre.
Moen: Oh. My. God. For the last time, I am not the Fergie of the goddamn studio, damnit Parker!
O’Shea: Has potential jealousy threatened to derail your collaboration, what jealousy am I talking about?–The fact that Erika got her first boob signing recently–and you Jeff, have not (unless I am mistaken).
Parker: I’ve signed body parts before, YAWN. Actually it’s tricky because skin oils can repel many inks. You’ve got to have the right kind of marker.
Moen: Translation: YES.
O’Shea: Any parting thoughts?
Moen: Well, not so much a question but a statement: it’s been so much fun to draw this comic. I only get to read it one page of script at a time, a couple times a week, so I’m right there with the rest of our audience when it comes to being surprised by each new installment. And I freaking love it.