Instead of our usual Tuesday Dark Horse Preview, we have something special for you. In anticipation of the upcoming third volume of Axe Cop, we got a chance to talk to artist and co-creator of the amazing comic series, Ethan Nicolle.
Firstly, Geek Crash Course is designed to be a resource for newcomers to geek culture: comics, movies, video games, anything. Can you give us a quick Geek Crash Course on Axe Cop?
Yeah, Axe Cop is, as far as I know, the only comic in the world originally written by a 5 year old (my little brother Malachai) about a cop with an axe. I have heard people call it “Adventure Time for adults” which is funny, because Adventure Time was made by adults and Axe Cop was thought up by my little brother. It’s sort of a no-holds-barred look into a little boy’s brain. It has been going for just over two years now and it’s the most insane project I have ever worked on.
What sort of process do you and your brother take create the stories?
Lots of experimenting on my part. I try to look at what I need and I try to think of creative exercises we can engage in to come up with stories, characters, situations etc. Sometimes it is role-playing, sometimes it is playing with action figures, sometimes it’s just a long phone call.
Is it hard keeping Malachai set on a specific group of characters (Axe Cop, Dinosaur Soldier, etc) or is he always excited to keep telling stories with that group?
I think he has accepted that Axe Cop is the hero of the stories we make. At first he kept trying to kill Axe Cop off but I would find ways to get him to bring him back. Now Axe Cop is so indestructible I don’t think he could ever die. But in general, Malachai’s attention span for characters is very short, and that is why we average a new character per page. That’s hundreds of characters in just over two years. Axe Cop is the anchor, for sure, but there is no comic that is quite as ADHD as Axe Cop.
What do you think were your younger brother’s sources of inspiration for the stories in Axe Cop?
Mostly video games. That is why there are things shooting out of people’s hands and bombs that only kill the good guys. He is also a huge fan of Ben 10 so that has been a big influence. But he really loves games like Kirby and Mario, but when Axe Cop does things that Kirby and Mario do it turns out to be a little more horrifying.
Did you have a specific artist or artists in mind when taking on the task of turning your brother’s stories into comics?
I didn’t pull up any reference, but I did want it to have an old sort of Dick Tracy/pulp detective kind of feel to it. That was the thought in my head anyway. The style has evolved for sure, the first page of Axe Cop looks a lot different from the way it looks now. That is mainly because I never thought I would be drawing the character so much when I was drawing those first comics, I drew them fast and sloppy, never intending for them to become the most successful comic strips I had ever drawn. At the time I was just goofing around with Malachai.
Axe Cop began as a webcomic and has transitioned to print, gaining notoriety all along the way. What has it been like seeing Axe Cop go from a smaller project to something with enough of a following to get its own Wikia, fan-made cartoon, and even a Munchkin card deck?
It’s really exciting to watch it grow and see how people embrace it. It’s a total adventure for my brother and me because this wasn’t something we saw in the cards when we started making Axe Cop. Axe Cop really is play time on paper, and people who get into it really join in that play time. I think it showed up in this industry right when people were getting a little tired of that Generation-X jaded, dark, emo kind of entertainment. Axe Cop is so innocent and sincere it’s a breath of fresh air.
What sort of craziness can readers expect in the upcoming third volume of Axe Cop?
Well, it is a collection of the web series, so if you have followed it online, the main things you will enjoy in it will be the commentary and the amazing pin up section. If you haven’t read everything online, the main story arch in this volume is “Bat Warthog Man Can’t Find His Friend” which is one of my favorites. We also put in a bunch of Ask Axe Cop episodes as well as the crossover with Dr. McNinja. It is a great collection.
Finally, a must-ask geek question: if you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Well, I wouldn’t mind the power of teleportation. That would solve a lot of problems for me, especially living in Los Angeles where it can be a real pain to get from point A to point B in traffic. If not that, maybe the power to print the comics in my head out instantly rather than going to all the trouble of drawing them. My name would be Inkjet Brain and I would be much more productive, and my hand would not be so sore.
We’d definitely read that comic too!
Special thanks to Mr. Nicolle, Aub Driver, and all of the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics. You can find Axe Cop at their website, www.axecop.com