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I was immensely impressed in early December, when Stephen Colbert recommended Glenn Eichler & Joe Infurnari‘s new First Second book, Mush!: Sled Dogs with Issues, to The Colbert Report viewers. Admittedly, Colbert is slightly biased, given that Eichler (the author of the frozen tundra/talking sled dogs/quirky humans comedy-drama) writes for the Comedy Central show. However, while many of the show’s writers have projects they’d love to have promoted by their boss, it’s relatively rare when Colbert uses the show’s forum to promote his staff’s projects. As a result, once I saw the endorsement, I made a mental note to track down the creators after the holidays for a potential interview. By some stroke of luck, the book’s artist, Infurnari, instead contacted me in mid-December to see if I was interested in covering his latest project (you bet I agreed to email interview with him and Eichler). I appreciate the collaborators’ willingness to discuss the project, particularly when Eichler shared the origin of his honed sense of comedic timing (having worked in an “editing room for a lot of animated half-hours for TV” [he was a story editor for MTV’s Beavis & Butthead in the mid-1990s, as well as creating and producing the television show, Daria]). Once you’ve read the interview, be sure to enjoy First Second’s preview of the book.
Tim O’Shea: Joe, I love the way you convey the intensity and energy of the dogs when they are working, how did you arrive upon conveying that particular style of kineticism?
Joe Infurnari: The story hinges on the idea that not doing what you love leads to discontentment and unrest. For the team of sled dogs featured in this book, running is their bliss and the time they spend not running breeds trouble. So it was important to make the times the dogs were running as full of energy and joy as possible.
Quick slashing lines, splashes of ink, dramatic foreshortening and powerful diagonals are some of the ways I tried to bring to life the rush of running through the trails. I also knew that if it looked quickly drawn, then that energy would come through in the movement of the characters. When it came to the final inks, I was very comfortable drawing the book and I think the art reflects that. The inks are decisive, gestural and full of energy.
The final piece to the puzzle was the use of sound effects to add a visual punch to the high action running sequences.