I happen to be a person of faith who also has a sense of humor. As a result, the effort by writer Mark Russell and cartoonist Shannon Wheeler to accurately, yet comically, condense the Bible, God Is Disappointed in You, amused the hell out of me. In Catholic high school, I once offended several people by characterizing a newly unveiled statue of Christ (hands outstretched blessing a crowd) as showing the son of God opting for a “basketball zone defense.”
Fortunately Russell and Wheeler, are far superior at comedy (and religious scholarship) than I have ever been. The book clicked with me from the opening pages. While it will not be released until August, you can preorder it now from Top Shelf.
Tim O’Shea: First question goes to Shannon, thanks to his part of the book dedication. Just to clarify: In the dedication, in which both you and your mom were glad you were not struck by lightning, you also thank Patricia, who survived a lightning hit. I have to hear the story about that.
Shannon Wheeler: My mom manages to be in the middle of all sorts of zeitgeists. Elvis played at her high school. When I was little we went to see Jim Jones preach (before Guyana). She managed to stop by the Koresh compound mid-standoff (she bought me a novelty Frisbee from a roadside vendor). She seems to be at the right place, or wrong place, at the right, or wrong, time. In college she was hit by lightning. It knocked the shoes off her feet and threw her into a ditch. She couldn’t move her legs. A couple of co-eds carried her back to her dorm. The doctor told her to take a warm bath and call back if the feeling didn’t return. Over the next couple hours everything returned to normal. She said it was “tingly” — the same as when your foot falls asleep. She had a circular carbon mark on her side for a bit. Some Native Americans believe that being hit by lightning makes you a shaman. She tells the story like it was no big deal.
At some point in every comic book readers life, they have frequented a store that has quirky ambiance, fellow customers and/or employees. Chris Walker is a writer/director/producer who thought a comedy built around a comic book store would make for a great webseries. And from that initial concept the webseries Anti-Matter launched in late 2010. Filmed in New York’s Jim Hanley’s Universe, Anti-Matter features “hilarious hijinks that happen with the staff and idiosyncratic regulars of a NY comic book shop who treat the store more like a clubhouse than a place of business”.
Tim O’Shea: Can you give some insight into the character development and casting process for the series?
Chris Walker: Anti-Matter was created to be a humorous snapshot of hanging out at the comic store. I wanted to move past the conventional geek/nerd cliché and give a candid, witty look at this world. My goal was to show the broad spectrum of people one might encounter at their local comic shop.
Casting is always a challenge, especially at an indie level. Since the series is based in New York, a lot of talented actors came through for auditions. We had the fortune of casting from the same talent as pool shows like SNL and 30 Rock. Gratefully, we had one of the more unique challenges of production: “How do we fit all this talent on one show?”