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All this week at Robot 6 we’re interviewing some of the many contributors to First Second’s new anthology, Nursery Rhyme Comics. In today’s final installment, Chris Mautner talks to cartoonist Scott C.
If anyone in this new anthology seemed like a “must-get,” it surely was the cartoonist known as Scott C., a.k.a. Scott Campbell. His charming, anthropomorphic — and frequently sardonic — work, whether found in video games made by Double Fine Studios, in comics like Hickee and the Flight anthologies, or in his new book, Amazing Everything: The Art of Scott C. seems perfectly suited to the off-kilter, frequently surreal world that nursery rhymes frequently seem to inhabit. The fact that he chose one of the most manic rhymes of the bunch — “Pop Goes the Weasel” — seems equally fitting.
How did you get involved in this particular project and what led to you selecting this particular nursery rhyme?
I’ve known Chris Duffy for awhile through Nickelodeon magazine. When he asked me to take part in the project, there were not many rhymes left. I chose Pop! Goes The Weasel because it is the most nonsensical of any of the rhymes and I thought it would be fun to pick apart.
If memory serves me well, there’s a couple different versions (or at least verses) of Pop Goes the Weasel. What led you to pick these particular verses and did you have to do any research per se?
Oh, man. I researched this rhyme like crazy. Even after Chris had tried to convince me that such a thing was futile when it came to nursery rhymes. I guess I feel that even if there are a million versions of a rhyme and no real origins, there may be some inkling something that could spur an idea. This particular rhyme had an interesting common aspect to it in which Pop! Goes The Weasel was a popular dance back in the 1700s. I think. And the variety of wacky lyrics were merely roundabout ways to get to that awesome dance. So I incorporated that into the comic a bit and chose the version that I remembered from my childhood.
Did the fact that it was such a short comic — two pages — present any challenges for you?
Well, not for pop goes the weasel. It’s a short high energy rhyme, so two pages is perfect. It would be a funny thing to see stretched to a graphic novel length though. Really explore the popping of the weasel
What led to the decision to use circle panels with this comic?
The circle panels felt like pops. Like bubbles. And the rolling around energy that the story had. If you can call it a story.
Your comics in general seem to have a fondness for anthropomorphism. Did this particular nursery rhyme seem like a good fit for you for that reason?
I use cute little faces on things all the time. In this poem, it worked nicer than other times. It matched the nonsense of the poem.
So what’s going on with that weasel anyway? Is he jumping? Having a fit? Passing gas? He seems so placid about the whole affair.
He is bursting onto the scene and pop locking, I think. He loves hiding in there, waiting for the perfect moment to knock everyone’s socks off with his moves the least everyone expects it.