TopatoCo Q&A with KC Green
It’s another installment of your and my favorite question-answer feature, The Masters of Internet Question-Answery! Today TopatoCo is pleased to shine the hot lamp of interrogation upon our good friend KC Green, the Oklahoma-based creator of the filthy, hilarious Gunshow and the late, quasi-autobiographical Horribleville, as well as the artist of Fred Grisolm’s frenzied Hate Song. Oh yeah and here’s a bunch more stuff he’s done too! KC sells some fly t-shirts here on TopatoCo, and he’s also got some books and the like which are highly recommended. We recommend them even though we don’t get no money for that! So you know they are the dopest. We spoke to KC about how he makes comics, and also some other stuff kind of related.
You make a lot of comics! You got your Gunshows and the Horriblevilles and custom comics and all sorts of stuff. How do we make sense of it all? Explain the KC comic world to us. What’s what and what’s the other and so on.
As a child, I had three things: an overactive imagination, a short attention and no one to tell me how to do it right. So during that time I started and finished (or for the most case, completely stopped) a lot of different comics. I didn’t really have a set goal of what I wanted to do, only some jokes and stories to try and tell. If you want to make sense of it all, well Get in Line!™, cus I was trying to do just that! If it helps, I would take them one at a time and maybe just once a week.
And in my defense, I really only do one comic now! I am focusing my energy like a ka-ma-ha-ma-ha Dragonball wave!!
And that’s Gunshow, right? So if someone’s unfamiliar with KC Green where’s the best place to start AND BE WON OVER?
Gunshow, correct! Gunshow is a good place to start. Horribleville ain’t so bad either!! I would recommend those to start off with. Custom Comics can be the Second Appetizer, that you can easily stop at and be satisfied with, or go ahead and dig into my older works, which might leave you stuffed and regretful.
Come on, don’t be shy. What’s the best Gunshow comic? Something that makes people think “I have to know more about this KC fellow!”
It would certainly have to be the ones that don’t truly have a clear punchline, and maybe read more like a weird poem, or the start of a interesting story. An early example would be “I’m a Cowboy”. But the Best Example Award goes to “Professional Masturbator”.
There’s a part of me that giggles and stomps and hoots and hollers when I write something like those, and I can’t really explain why. But man I just stomp and holler and wake up my roommate. There’s also the ones that just make you feel bad for even laughing at them.
You’ve said before that you draw with different media as the mood strikes — sometimes digitally, sometimes on paper, sometimes with this pen, sometimes another. That spontaneity shows through in your comics and sketches: your style’s super loose, but clearly very deliberate as well. Can you talk a little about your aesthetic? Has it come naturally, or have you developed it specifically…?
My aesthetic is…I like to see how other people draw and get into their shoes, or in this case pens or pencils or brushes or computer drawing programs, and give it a whirl. I feel it’s been a natural progression, as I just get bored with the way my work looks. I enjoy experimenting with other artists’ styles and seeing how they do a certain thing this way or that way.
I’ve also had a problem with just enjoying my own art. There are times when I have been published with a small anthology (or in some cases a bigger publication) with many other great artists, and then I turn to the page with my work on it and wonder who let their child scribble in this. Who allowed this to pass the editor’s desk, unnoticed?? Who let you in, I yell at the mirror.
It’s very alien to me, and I am slowly coming to terms with it, but will probably always have that little doubt in the back in my mind. So far, the only time I’ve stopped myself from trying another’s style is with the case of “Achewood,” only because it is impossible to use Illustrator.
It’s neat to watch an artist continually pushing to grow, trying new things. You’ve done one-shot comics, mini-stories, custom comics…what’s something you’d still like to do that you haven’t yet?
I think the next big step would be a graphic novel, which is white person for “a big dang comic book.”
I do plan on collecting the Anime Club story in its own book when it’s finished, but The Graphic Novel would be maybe a 100-200 page story. I do have an idea in mind I will be wrestling around with more, once I finish the Anime Club (my guess is that will be done before summer), and either I will just post it online or make a book out of it or both!
How did “custom comics” come about?
That was a practice started with John Campbell (Pictures for Sad Children). Once he moved to Mexico for that year, he did the custom comics (he and Ryan Estrada) to support himself. At the time I was also looking for other means to support myself. The Game Store just wasn’t cuttin’ it. I don’t know if I just thought to do the custom comics myself my own way, or if John or someone else said I should, but I did get the blessing from John to do them and, well, for about a year they were a good chunk of what I did.
I also had a bigger project with someone else that kept me on my toes, but the Custom Comics weren’t anything to sneeze at!
What kind of info did people give you, and what was the creative process like?
The info ranged from someone giving me a full script to people just saying “something about baseball” and letting me go hog wild! I didn’t mind the script-type stuff and that came very rarely, but the ones where people mostly just let me have fun with a simple idea or word, like “Awesome Milkshakes”, were fun to write.
The ones that got weird and challenging where the multiple-idea ones. The ones where they had a friend and here’s what they look like, it’s their birthday so work that in, and hey they also like dragons/Transformers/peanut butter/Andrew Jackson/etc.
How do you make a Gunshow comic? Can you walk us through the process?
First and foremost, it starts with an idea. An inkling of a thought that could, would, and should be something more. Those can come from anywhere. If you look hard enough you can even buy some.
Let’s take the idea of one party insulting another party. A tried-and-true idea that leaves options open for multiple interpretations and the opportunity to pioneer a new method of insult-generation. I take the idea and decide the correct number of panels to use for it — and there is always a correct answer. Too many or too little can make or break your idea.
For any idea you have, it’s the best to get it out as soon as humanly fast and possible (ASAHFAP). So I start by constructing the comic in the closest program at hand, which usually happens to be a text editor:
Getting the idea out in some way is the best starting point to mold it and decide the best locations for jokes (signified by the X’s).
In the same text-based writing program, I continue to write out possible dialogue options for the characters, while still keeping true to the original algorithm of the idea that one person should insult the other.
As I let the vast options wash over my brain in an unconscious selection process, I go back to my ASCII construction of the comic, deciding then to upgrade to pencils and papers to re-envision the look of the strip.
We are ever closer to Providence.
Finally, the decision is made. The setups and punchlines are selected, and the strip is ready to be officially drawn by even more paper and even more pencils — and we even ask pens to be a part of this process. The stage is set. All we need are the actors, and you, the director, to bring your play to life.
Alas, anxiety sets in. Were the right choices really made? Is your writing up to par to others’ masterpieces? What would Mother say?? We must recitfy. We must scale back production to an almost ironic state, so the fault is not truly on you for a “bad job.” Quick, post-haste!!
There! We are relieved! The pressure is no longer on you, the creator, for a bad job done. You, of course, “meant” to “do that.”
“yes his arms ARE supposed to be on just one side of his body! that only furthers the joke, you plebian!”
You can finally relax for the night, for it has been saved by quick thinking. But always be wary, for tomorrow our dance begins again. What a life to lead, but we lead on! Godspeed!
Let’s talk about your shirts a little! What can you tell us about Demidog? Why is he so stern?
I wouldn’t say Demidog is stern, he just wants it his way and he has realized early on that the world can bend to his whims (what with being a half-god and all). He’s a sweet dog, just don’t forget to feed him or bap him on the nose for poopsies on the living room couch.
I am a little afraid of shades.app, but he seems to want to be on my body. WHAT IS HIS STORY??
Look he knows you are bad a computers, he knows a lot of people are. He knows that his new OS is too advanced for certain things, and he knows you ain’t got the cash to get anything else. He just wants you to admit it and deal with it. He wants to help, he really does. He just might not show it that well.
What do you like to see in comics?
I like to see the dialogue and the way characters act with each other. They way they pick at each other and get on each others’ case. It makes them feel real and have a history.
I like to see well-timed gags!
I like continuity in a strip. It doesn’t have to for me to enjoy it, but a callback here and there is a little extra something that goes a long way.
I also just like the weird stuff. I am a big fan of variety.
What visual artists or styles have influenced your artistic development?
I am a fan of regular old black and white art, so anyone with a good inking style will catch my eye. Let me go compile a short list of some artists from my bookshelf…
I would say that Tony Millionaire (“Maakies”) and R. Crumb (Zap!, Mr. Natural, Genesis, the list goes on) are two people whose style really took ahold of me during my late high school/early college life. When I started buying more comics and graphic novels and junk.
As a kid, however, cartoons more than comics took hold of my artistic development. Old Looney Toons, Rocko’s Modern Life, Ren and Stimpy, Powerpuff Girls, old MGM cartoons, Anything on Cartoon Network in the late 90’s/early 00’s… That’s the stuff that really got me into making a comic, ‘cuz I didn’t know how to make a cartoon!
And really, a lot of different artists influenced my style in one small way or another. I can’t really say there was one or two big ones. Even Jim Davis took hold of my brain stem as a kid and taught me how to draw one eye overlapped on another eye, and half lidded and welp it’s a cat. THE MAGIC OF CARTOONING!! POOF!!!!!
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw?
Oh my goodness. These two girls were walking by my table once at Megacon in Orlando, FL, and they were carrying their dolls with them. We’re talking one-foot-high dolls that looked like big anime characters — very similar to these.
I asked them if they wanted a free sketch or something, and they said “hey, draw our creepy, more-lifelike-than-they-should-be anime dolls!”
And then they started talking about them like they were real and had lives to live and were being naughty, etc. It just made drawing them more uncomfortable. Like you were drawing someone’s baby, but it was a one-foot-high anime doll.
Now imagine two 17-18 year old girls treating them like real people. And you watching them, already verbally obliged to draw the dolls. That was by far the weirdest/most uncomfortable.