Welcome to the latest edition of FreakSugar’s DIY Comics column. DIY Comics focuses on creators who are not currently featured by larger publishers and are successfully navigating the somewhat nebulous end of creating comics completely on their own. This edition features the talented folks behind Penguins vs. Possums: Sebastian Kadlecik, John Bring and Lindsay Bring. Over the past two years, they have successfully completed two Kickstarter campaigns for their project and they are now in the process of collecting their first trade paperback. Penguins vs. Possums is a somewhat serious yet tongue-in-cheek comic about inter-species war and it contains a lot of homage to the comics and pop culture that have inspired the creators of the project.
I sat down with Penguins vs. Possums‘ creators to talk about a three-way creative dynamic as well as their experiences and success creating with their project thus far.
FreakSugar: Where did Penguins vs. Possums come from? What can you tell our readers about the book?
Sebastian Kadlecik: Penguins vs. Possums began as a school project for my Art in the Digital Age final exam. It lay dormant for a while, kicking around in the dark recesses of my brain, and found new life as a series of spray painted t-shirts, which is where the “Choose a Side” slogan began. After another bout of dormancy, the universe saw fit to intervene. When John and I met we hit it off immediately and started sharing our art with each other. We began a post-it art war and as an inside joke John threw one of the badass penguins into the mix. That spawned a Penguins vs. Possums webcomic which then led to collaborating on a real-honest-to-goodness comic book. The union of John, Lindsay and myself is what has given birth to the most epic comic book story of all time, Penguins vs. Possums!
John Bring: Penguins vs. Possums is the story of a secret conflict that has existed since the beginning of time – interspecies Armageddon. It is a story of prophecy, mythology, destiny, friendship, love, and of course war.
Lindsay Bring: The thing that I’d want to share with readers of the book is that Penguins Vs. Possums is a hilariously ridiculous concept that we take 100% seriously. We really take pride in the story we are telling and wish to share it with as many people as possible. We are truly invested in every one of these characters. Even Sebastian, John and myself are all torn as to which side to choose.
FS: You guys have a pretty tight-knit little group of creators going. What are your individual roles and how does your creative process work?
John Bring: We’ve been called a creative “jam band” before. The three of us write it together, with Sebastian and I handling the art chores. I have contributed to the pencils/inks of the series, but I consider Sebastian the lead artist on the book. I handle grayscales and color covers, Sebastian letters, and the entire team edits/proofs together. It’s a highly collaborative system, just how we like it.
FS: What sorts of inspirations have led your group to producing comics?
John Bring: When I was a wee tyke, the Image guys got me to pick up a pencil and start drawing my own comics. Penguins vs. Possums began as a one-off idea, so the inspiration was to produce a true-blue comic book that we could hold in our hands. But as it continued, I found inspiration in my fellow Indie creators. Every time I see a stellar book from one of our friends, it lights a fire under me to reach the bar they set, and hopefully raise it.
Kadlecik: I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember. When I was in 4th grade, my friends and I fell in love with comic books and decided to create our own. We produced tons of stories, and inspired each other with the completion of each one. I feel similarly about all of my indie comic friends today. Erik Larsen, Jim Lee and Image Comics were all huge inspirations for me when I was young, but today what inspires me most is working with John and Lindsay and Fanboy Comics.
Lindsay Bring: I’ve always been a huge movie and television buff. All of the greats have the same thing in common and that’s incredible characters. There were a handful of comics I’d read in my youth that inspired me, such as Maus and Watchmen, but Comics really weren’t my medium of choice. Collaborating with Sebastian and John on Penguins vs. Possums really opened the door to comics for me. And now I’m inspired to read and learn more. I find myself salivating for the next issue of Saga to come out and so excited to get to the next Con so I can support other indie creators. It doesn’t hurt that our creative outlet is incredibly fun because of our relationships with each other. There’s joy and respect among Sebastian, John and Fanboy Comics. I’ve never experienced that in collaborations before and it’s truly inspiring.
FS: There have been TWO successful Kickstarters for Penguins vs. Possums so far. What challenges have you guys faced with production of your comics?
John Bring: I’m happy to say that it’s been pretty smooth sailing thus far. I think our biggest hurdle is time, honestly. There’s not enough hours in the day to produce every idea we have. Our intention is to take Penguins vs. Possums to issue 8, but we have enough stories for at least 80 issues. It’s the lone drawback of doing everything ourselves – our output is usually limited to only two or three issues a year. That being said, we try to pack in every ounce of story possible into each issue so our readers get the most bang for their buck.
Lindsay Bring: I cannot express enough how amazed I am with what John and Sebastian do. I get so much fulfillment out of contributing to this story but as somehow who is admittedly NOT an artist, I just don’t know how they do it. Seeing the process they go through with penciling, inking, coloring and lettering is profound. Sounds like a full time job and it is. Only, they have full time jobs. We all do. I think sometimes your personal life can get in the way of your passions. We are all making leaps this year to consider ourselves true artists and writers and not just people who do this sort of thing on the side. I think accepting yourself as an artist can be a true challenge.
FS: Where do you see your project heading? Are you going to stick with your current property or are there other concepts coming?
John Bring: The current plan is to take Penguins vs. Possums to 8 issues, and print a 2nd Trade Paperback, finishing out the current arc. But as I said before, we have a LOT more stories to tell if time permits. We also have other projects in the works, such as the continuation of our superhero anthology series, Crossover.
FS: Is there a lot of comedy/ satire and homage in Penguins vs. Possums? Writing “funny” comics is considered a huge challenge, with three people writing content, how does the work even out? Can the process get complicated?
John Bring: There is a level of humor inherent in a book about marsupial scavengers fighting flightless arctic birds, but we like to include a certain level of humor in the book. Despite the title, it isn’t a comedy book. We strive to make every story as well-rounded as possible, including action, emotion, depth, and a little humor in each issue. As for the process, when the three of us get in a room together, it’s hard for every line of the book to NOT be a joke, but somehow we manage.
Lindsay Bring: If there is a challenge when the three of us are together, it’s to focus on the serious. I’m happy to say that humor seems to come naturally to us. Our intention is to create a GOOD story. We have always said that what should be most important is that Penguins vs. Possums is a book we’d love to read ourselves. Treat your audience the way you would want to be treated. We really work hard on that.
FS: Will Penguins vs. Possums be featured at any conventions this season?
John Bring: We published our first four issues ourselves, but starting with our first trade paperback, we will be published by the wonderful Fanboy Comics. They will be representing Penguins vs. Possums at many events this year, including the Long Beach Comic Expo, Stan Lee’s Comikaze, and Long Beach Comic Con, as well as many more local events. Check their website (www.fanboycomics.net) for information on their appearances.