"Take My Love" was written by Mark Bourne as a tribute to the classic Looney Tunes cartoon "Duck Amuck." It's one of three scripts he submitted a few years back for "Serenity Tales" -- a site collecting fan-made comics about "Firefly" and "Serenity." (Mark adds: "I'd say that in addition to the hat-tip to 'Duck Amuck,'
'Take My Love' was my means of catharsis after Wash's death in the
movie, which caught me utterly by surprise -- I felt as though a beloved
character had been yanked away from me. So it was my way of giving Wash
the last laugh. Nice to see dear ol' Book putting the button on the
scene, as well.")
Be sure to check out "Yarn," another story Mark wrote for "Serenity Tales."
I'd launched "Serenity Tales" on a lark in early 2006 -- following a conversation at a party with my dear friend and fellow cartoonist Bill Mudron. We were talking about how impatient we were for more official Joss Whedon "Serenity" stories. We figured we'd make some totally apocryphal, totally unofficial fan comics for free while we waited. Just a fun way to celebrate Whedon's universe, which we both love.
(Bill went hog-wild with his submission, "The Black," which tells the story of a teenage Mal Reynolds and runs for 28 stunning pages.)
Anyway. Flash-forward to a couple of months ago. I get an e-mail from Dark Horse editor Scott Allie, whom I'm known and occasionally worked with for over 15 years. Scott was wondering if I'd be interested in doing a small, spoofy backup strip for the letter-column pages in Dark Horse's "Serenity" comics.
I knew Dark Horse was working on new books about Wash and Shepherd Book -- the two characters who bought the farm in the movie -- so I immediately pitched a full-color redraw of "Take My Love," because Mark's story comments in a funny way on "Serenity"'s rampant carnage.
Scott said he'd consider it. Mark was cool with revisiting the material. And so I recruited Bill Mudron (with whom I work on my comic strip "CulturePulp") to help us get the job done.
I laid out and penciled the first two-and-a-half pages. Bill inked everything. He also drew the big-reveal final panel from scratch in his own more figurative style -- and snuck in a few cool Easter eggs. (You can download a gigantic version of that final panel right here.) Bill also had WAY too much fun coloring all that blood.
Unfortunately, "Take My Love" ended up being too long for what ended up being the allotted space -- but we're happy to get it online, helping promote the upcoming "Serenity" books. (I've seen a fair bit of both books-in-progress at this point, and they're fantastic. I think fans are going to love them. A lot. They've got a funky/indie feel that really suits the "Firefly" universe.)
Since then, I've also written and drawn another, different backup comic that's much smaller (and nearly as cruel). It's slated to appear in the letters-column pages of "Serenity: Float Out" by Patton Oswalt and Patric Reynolds.
Paul Pope didn't wait for anyone to discover him. The Ohio native kicked his way into comics during the mid-'90s self-publishing boom with work that included "THB" -- his as-yet-unfinished sci-fi adventure about a 13-year-old girl running from robots and bureaucrats on Mars.
Pope stood out for a number of reasons in the mid-'90s. He was one of the few Americans at the time to work in-house at Japanese megapublisher Kodansha -- and his crazy-fluid style and mammoth page counts merged European, Japanese and American comics styles in a way that proved prophetic. (I'd argue "Scott Pilgrim" and its ilk owe a lot to Pope's groundwork, consciously or un-.) Pope also had fun playing with personas and the notions of what a comics artist can be: He put cheeky rock-star photos of himself in his comics, gave himself Ziggy Stardust-style names like "Pulphope" and "Comics Destroyer," and took his illustration into the realms of rock and fashion in New York, where he now resides.
Right now, Pope is working on three big projects. For First Second, he's writing and drawing "Battling Boy" -- his young-adult graphic novel about a kid superhero fighting monsters for hundreds of pages -- and "Total THB," a partial redraw of "THB" that will finally conclude that series. He's also working on "Psychenaut," a dream-analysis project for French publisher Dargaud.
Pope is making a rare guest appearance this weekend at the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Oregon -- with two-hour signings on Saturday and Sunday, April 24-25. (I'm told it's a chance to pick up his limited-edition vinyl toy, "The Masked Karimbah." ) On Sunday, he'll also give a talk with a Q&A. Then, on Sunday night, Pope will DJ and show his experimental sci-fi mashup film "Psychenaut" (a different project than the French comic) on the main floor of the Bossanova Ballroom during the "Stumptown Volunteer Appreciation and After Fest Party." Pope's girlfriend, the New York burlesque and circus performer Harvest Moon, is coming to Portland with him; she's performing at the Bossanova at "The Royal Tease" (April 24) and "Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School" (April 25).
When we spoke last week, Pope had just wrapped a deadline for a French magazine. We talked for an hour-and-a-half while he walked around New York. ("I'm like The Fonz," he joked. "The street's like my office.") Topics of conversation: "Battling Boy," "Psychenaut," burlesque, manga, sex in comics, the ultimate Bat-Cycle, how to draw 70 pages in a month, "THB," Moebius, "Close Encounters," Jeff Smith, what makes a good superhero movie, and how to make toys, camouflage and a rock-star comics persona.
Oh, and we also talked about Pope's surprising connection with AICN's
own Mr. Beaks....
Catching up with a month of "Cort and Fatboy" podcast appearances:
• Friday, March 26: We talk "How to Train Your Dragon,""Hot Tub Time Machine," politics, and my perspective-destroying diving-bell trip into the dark Sea of Nerdica.
• Friday, April 2: Cartoonist and actual Perseus expert Dylan Meconis joins us in-studio as we discuss "Clash of the Titans." Learn the truth about Medusa's Pegasus-disgorging neck!
• Friday, April 9: I talk "Ran," "The Runaways," and "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains."Erik Henriksen Portland Mercury film editor joins us to review "Date Night" and the Iron Man Slurpee cup.
• Friday, April 16: It's Morally Objectionable Movie Week! We discuss "Kick-Ass," "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and Roger Ebert's hate-fueled spoiler screw-up, among other things.