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In December of last year, brothers Ethan and Malachai Nicolle concocted Axe Cop and posted the first five episodes as webcomics in January 2010. A mixture of factors–including being declared Entertainment Weekly‘s Site of the Day as well asa deluge of Tweets (as well as getting praised by Robot 6’s Sean T. Collins of course)–allowed the buzz to build on the webcomic fairly quickly. The stories (aptly described by Dark Horse as “We live in a strange world, and our strange problems call for strange heroes. That’s why Axe Cop–along with his partner Flute Cop and their pet T. rex Wexter–is holding tryouts to build the greatest team of heroes ever assembled.”) were collected and released by Dark Horse in Axe Cop Volume 1 last week. For those who have not heard about Axe Cop before, I kind of buried my lead regarding Ethan’s co-creator and brother: Malachai is six years old. I recently email interviewed Ethan about the collected edition and the creative process to date as well as going forward, including the three-issue Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth miniseries that launches in March 2011.
Tim O’Shea: It’s clear that you are careful to make sure your co-creator/six-year-old brother Malachai enjoys the creative experience and does not get burned out. How hard is it to involve him in the process while at the same time not burdening him?
Ethan Nicolle: I simply have to work at his pace. If he is burdened he simply will not write… he is not like writers in comics or in Hollywood who are writing to try to put food on the table. In fact thing he is kind of weirded out that I am still asking him “so then what happens?” a year later. He is just playing, and if it doesn’t feel like play, his short attention span will switch him to something else in an instant. Since most of our writing is done on the phone, I have to wait until he has some inspiration (usually after he has seen a movie or cartoon or has not noticed an update on the site recently). For the Bad Guy Earth series I actually went and spent an entire month with him writing it in person, and it was all based on a month of actual play time together doing fake car chases in my car, in his room playing with toy dinosaurs and going to the playground. I just kept bringing our narrative back into the playtime. He will say “we need to work, Ethan” but that’s him saying “let’s play”. The word work means play to Malachai. He is learning early why so many people want to be writers and comic artists.