I can't properly describe the feeling you get by reading Chumble Spuzz, but I think the foreword by Doug Tennapel best described the work as having the car wreck effect on you. You can't help but look. I was left in an indescribable state of bewilderment. Ethan Nicolle, author and illustrator of Chumble Spuzz, published through SLG Publishing, was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us here at Project Fanboy.
PF: So Ethan, after reading the submission hold at the end of Chumble Spuzz, I see that you've done art for some other comics before landing a deal with SLG Comics. What other titles have you worked on?
EN: Nothing you can really find anywhere. For stuff that's published... I did the art for three issues of Creep by Conspiracy Productions, I drew an issue of a book called Puppet Terrors on commission, and then I have a previous graphic novel I did on my own which is so different from Chumble Spuzz I should have done it under a pseudonym. The book is called the Weevil and is only available at Bad Karma Productions.
PF: You must have felt quite a feeling of accomplishment after being published by the very same company that sent you a rejection letter when you first decided to get into the industry. What sorts of hurdles have you had to face to make it as far as you have on the Indy market?
EN: The biggest hurdles are really right at the drawing board. Learning to draw, learning to tell a story, learning to write... learning to communicate with the reader. I always used to think this industry was really hard to break into- but the moment I had a book with an appealing style and content that people were interested in everything changed. The day I tool Chumble Spuzz around at Emerald City con was so different from any other time I'd taken other work around- not just SLG, but every publisher I went to treated me like a professional, they were interested in what I was doing and wanted to trade info. This was all because my art "crossed the line" and they were impressed. I learned that day that if you have something good, this industry is not hard to get into- what'd hard is making something good. I estimate I'd drawn over 500 pages of comics before Chumble Spuzz. That was the hurdle. And considering I'm a fat guy, I don't do well with hurdles.
PF: You describe Chumble Spuzz as your "brain poo splattered on paper". In the review I made the joke that Chumble Spuzz was created by mixing a sheet of acid, a Bible and falling asleep to Charlotte's Web, but seriously, where in the world did you come up with this crazy idea for a comic?
EN: Well, there was no acid involved, but I have to admit the bible was. No Charlotte's web either. I get asked this a lot, and I really don't have a good answer. I can explain my process, but it still doesn't explain what makes me come up with this stuff. I think the best way to describe it is like, when a group of friends is talking and someone starts joking about some fake scenario, and everybody starts building on it until it gets ridiculous. Alcohol may help. People joke like that all the time, but the difference with me is I joke like that all the time in my head, and when I get a good one I write it in a notebook, then when I have a bunch of them I try to organize it into a story. It's like Jerry Seinfeld says "everyone's a comedian", but he just decided to try to make it his job.
PF: If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice when you first decided to write comics, what do you think you'd say to yourself?
EN: I would have told myself that my first graphic novel was going to be pretty weak, and not really get me anywhere- but that I need to finish it as soon as possible so that I can move on. This is what I tell people all the time who want to make a graphic novel, but they saturate themselves on one idea, thinking it's their golden ticket. Get the sum' bitch done, and get to the next one. Don't worship your work, and know that whenever you finish something you'll hate it, but you'll love the next project even more.
PF: You mentioned that you "wasted a couple years being super religious" in your submission hold. Given the fact that your comic pokes fun at some aspects of different Christian denominations, has your own religious background had an influence on your work?
EN: Yeah, but not in the way some people think. My book wasn't made to bash religion. I poke fun at it, sure, but that's because I think that religion is great source material for comedy, especially with the cultural dogmas each generation adds to it. When Doug, in my Foreword, speculates that Reverend Mofo seems like sort of a sideways tribute to what he is a caricature of, he's dead on. I am a skeptical person, skeptical of all sorts of things, not just religion. I sort of float around in a sea of questions and I look at the those who really seriously believe in God and I know that the world needs people like that. Some of my greatest heroes are religious. So, when I say I wasted a few years being super religious, it's a personal statement- I am not saying that I think religion is a waste of time, as many people seem to think. I just think there's a lot to laugh at.
PF: Chumble Spuzz is definitely the longest comic I've reviewed so far, did the fountain of creativity just get stuck open position?
EN: Haha, well I should have warned you it was a graphic novel. The way the market has gone, especially for indy books, is the way of the bookshelf. People who aren't into superheroes aren't as into serialized comics either. So Chumble Spuzz was released as a Graphic Novel without ever being released in separate issues, except for digitally on www.eyemelt.com
PF: Do you have any other projects in the works?
EN: I should be done with the second Chumble Spuzz book this month, and it's scheduled for July. This time the story revolves around a man who was raised by pigeons. There's some messed up stuff in this book.
PF: Do you remember what your first comic book was? And who was your favorite character growing up?
EN: The first one I read? I think it may have been the original Spiderman stories which were collected in this frayed little paperback someone got me from a garage sale. I know that the comics I really got into as a kid were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics put out by Archie. From there I went to the original black and white series put out by Mirage and I became a serious lover of indy comics from then on.
PF: Thanks again for taking the time to answer some questions for us!
EN: Thank you!
Possessed pigs and a guy named Reverend Mofo? I can dig it!